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Q&A With the SRPMIC President

What would you like Community members to know about the FY18 SRPMIC Budget?

In January, my conversation with Community Manager Bryan Meyers included a 5 percent budget cut across the board. My view on past SRPMIC government spending was that we were spending money because we had the money to spend. I’m old school—I would prefer that we spend money based on need.

However, in light of demographic changes within our Community, I had to change my tune a bit. We have an additional 173 seniors now, and that brings additional impacts on Community departments and programs focusing on seniors, such as the Senior Home Repair and Replacement Program and the Engineering and Construction Services (ECS) department. So I changed the plan from cuts to reallocations.

Council is having serious discussions about funding at the needs-based level, and I’m glad to see that departments are submitting needs-based budgets. On the other hand, we do see from some departments what I call “wish lists.” So, a department might ask to hire 15 new employees, and they might get one. I’m just asking everyone to go back to the philosophy of “Let’s do a better job with what we got.”

What does the Tohono O’odham Nation gaming settlement with the State of Arizona, announced earlier this year, mean for SRPMIC?

First of all, the stress level regarding gaming concerns and activity has dropped from a 10 to a 2, because now we can sit at the table and deal with the issues face-to-face. We still have competition in the Valley, because [the Tohono O’odham West Valley casino is] going to have Class III [gaming] in a year or so, which means we need to expand funds, maybe for an analysis to help us find ways to best meet that challenge.

For me, it’s always been about relationship building. I’ve always extended the hand and invited [the T.O. leadership] to take part in our Four Tribes meeting.

What can you share about a recent meeting with Gavin Clarkson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Economic Development at the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs?

Dr. Clarkson is a member of the Oklahoma Choctaw Nation. He is a very educated individual. He and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke both believe in the empowerment of tribal nations through revisiting age-old policies that serve to impede tribes from achieving self-sufficiency and self-determination.

Dr. Clarkson’s plan to meet with the SRPMIC Council failed to materialize, but he is going forward in conducting listening sessions on the issue of taxation of tribal nations. (SRPMIC Vice-President Martin Harvier attended a Clarkson listening session on August 17 in New Mexico; see the Vice-President Q&A for details.)

The new school year is underway. Do you have any advice for the Community’s young people when it comes to education?

Regardless of your age, please remember that the decisions you make about your education today have a profound effect on your future. Surround yourself with family, friends and teachers who care about you and your future. Take care of yourself.

Is there anything else you would like to communicate to Community members?

My message is to live your life to the fullest and make yourself available—spending more time with family, mending relationships, whatever it might be. It is true that we only come through this life once. We can leave happy if we make someone else happy by encouraging them, by recognizing their achievements, or by being with them during tough times.

Open-Door Policy

President Ray and Vice-President Harvier continue to have an open-door policy for Community members to discuss their concerns or share their ideas. Please call Elyse Lewis at (480) 362-7465 to set up an appointment to meet with the president or vice-president to address any issues you may have.

Executive Office Open to Questions

If you have questions that you would like answered in the monthly President/Vice-President Interview in Au-Authm Action News, you may submit them to Dodie Manuel at Au-Authm Action News, 10005 E. Osborn Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85256. Fax (480) 362-5592, e-mail dodie.manuel@srpmic-nsn.gov, or phone (480) 362-7731.