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A Closer Look at a Navajo Newspaper Story

A Closer Look at a Navajo Newspaper Story
January 19
08:00 2021

A Misleading Navajo Times Article??

By John Christian Hopkins

Seth Damon

An article in the Navajo Times was misleading, according to Navajo Nation Speaker Seth Damon.

The December 23 story made it seem like some employees and Navajo Council delegates received bonus payments.

“The Speaker’s Office is responding to the misleading Navajo Times article out of respect for all Navajo Nation essential workers,” according to Damon.

The speaker said that the council believes all essential workers, including support staff that are vital to the functioning of the government, should be compensated fairly for risking their health and well-being in coming to work.

The memorandum reported on by the Navajo Times was a request to the Controller’s Office for special duty pay for Legislative Branch employees who continued to work during the pandemic. That request was not accepted by the Office of the Controller before special duty pay funds were reverted.

The Navajo Nation Office of the Speaker, as directed by the Controller’s Office and the Payroll Department for all programs, prepared all proper documentation to justify special duty pay for our employees from the account established by the Office of the Controller with CARES Funds, Damon said.

The speaker said that Legislative Branch employees, including the political appointees employed by the Office of the Speaker, put in as many as 1,350 extra hours, beyond their regular tour of duty, since the start of the government closures on Mar. 19, 2020.

The work was essential to keep the government functioning – and no employee received more than $5,000, Damon added.

The $5,000 amounts paid to Legislative Branch employees are actually some of the lowest special duty pay amounts paid out to Navajo Nation employees, Damon said.

“The Navajo Nation Legislative Branch is stating, unequivocally, that it is being transparent with these numbers,” Damon insisted. “We challenge the Navajo Times reporter of the misleading article to try harder to obtain the true amounts of special duty pay that have been paid out to all branches of the Navajo Nation government, including the Judicial Branch, Executive Branch and the Controller’s Office.” 

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