Tribal Council OKs Public Records Ordinance amendments

Tribal Council approved amendments to the Public Records Ordinance on Wednesday, Nov. 1, that will expand Tribal members’ ability to request and receive public records and allow for electronic dissemination of Tribal records through e-mail.

“Tribal Council … believes that Tribal government should be open and transparent, but recognizes that the protection of Tribal sovereignty and culture prevents disclosure of some Tribal records,” the amended ordinance states.

The ordinance says that Tribal records “are generally presumed to be available to the Tribal membership” except for records considered confidential under applicable Tribal, federal or state laws or policies, such as personnel, medical and individual financial records, among others.

The amended ordinance limits obtaining Tribal records to enrolled Tribal members and allows delivery of electronic copies of Tribal records free of charge if possible.

Tribal Staff Attorney Brooks Wakeland said the proposed amendments received only one comment when they went out for membership input.

“The purpose of this is to make records more available to the Tribal membership and make it an easier process,” Tribal Attorney Rob Greene said during the Tuesday, Oct. 31, Legislative Action Committee hearing. “We would like to see more people requesting those records and having availability to them.”

“I think, as a Tribal government, we’re trying to review our policies and update some of them,” Tribal Council member Kathleen George also said during the same meeting. “Approved records that are available for sharing, in this day and age there is no reason that we can’t share those via e-mail.

“We needed to update our practices because, without intentionally, we were making these kind of obstacles to Tribal members getting information that there is no reason that they shouldn’t have access to. These amendments will really modernize the ways our Tribal members can get information, and make it much easier for them and much easier for our staff.”

The Nov. 1 meeting was the last 5 p.m. meeting of 2017. With the end of Daylight Saving Time on Sunday, Nov. 5, Tribal Council meetings will start being held at 4 p.m. every other Wednesday to allow staff and meeting attendees to get home earlier during the shorter daylight hours of winter. Tribal Council meetings usually return to 5 p.m. in April.

In other action, Tribal Council approved the Nov. 5 General Council agenda, which will be held entirely in executive session. Before lunch will be a hearing on the 2018 proposed budget and after lunch will be a Tribal member-only briefing on Spirit Mountain at Wood Village.

Also included in the Nov. 1 Tribal Council packet were approved authorizations to proceed that set the 35th Restoration Celebration for Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, to avoid a conflict with Thanksgiving Day; permits staff to proceed with the Early Childhood Building expansion project with a construction budget set at $740,000; authorizes Audit Services Director Trudi Yoshikawa to conduct a six-week review the 2017 Tribal Election process and make recommendations on how to improve the process and create efficiencies; and transferred $8,680 from contingency to fund the purchase of 560 turkey/ham certificates for employees and committee and special event board members for the holiday season.

General Manager David Fullerton also announced that Tribal Council approved viewing parties of General Council meetings in the Portland area office, 4445 S.W. Barbur Blvd., starting with the Dec. 3 meeting.

The entire meeting can be viewed by visiting the Tribal website at www.grandronde.org and clicking on the News tab and then Video.