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Nez Out of Appeals Office; Begaye to Run Against Shirley

December 18
15:33 2014
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Russell Begaye is on the ballot!

They won’t have Richie Nez to kick around anymore on the Navajo Nation. The chief hearing officer of The Office of Hearings and Appeals, who has been in the news quite often of late, was fired this week.

The reason behind his being let go was reportedly because he did not have a required state bar license from either Utah, Arizona or New Mexico.  Anyone would have allowed Nez to keep his job, but he said it was his job that kept him from obtaining the license in the one year period he had to do so, simply because he was too busy.

Mr. Nez was very much a part of the Chris Deschene story, when the Lechee native was having his problems concerning his alleged inability to speak Navajo fluently….an allegation never proven, and one that Mr. Deschene continually denied.

But Nez was also involved in the candidacy issues experienced by Russell Begaye.  Nez’ qualifications to rule on Begaye’s candidacy came into question during the candidate’s long trip through the Navajo courts when a grievance was filed with the tribe’s Office of Hearings and Appeals alleging Begaye wrongly collected stipends during his tenure as a shareholder representative for the Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Company.

In the Meantime, the Navajo Supreme Court has decided once and for all that Mr. Begaye will be on the ballot facing former Navajo President Joe Shirley Junior. But when the election will be held is anyone’s guess at this point.

As it currently stands, if a new leader is not elected by January 13th, the current Navajo President, Ben Shelly, will have to step down because his term runs out on that day. It’s possible, though, that the Navajo Nation Council could introduce legislation that would extend Shelly’s term under the circumstances. If that doesn’t happen, Council Speaker Pro Tem Lorenzo Bates would assume the duties of President until such a time a new President is elected.

Lake Powell Communications has been attempting to find out if Speaker Pro Tem Lorenzo Bates can speak Navajo fluently, as required. But it’s been tough to get an answer on that question. The question of whether a Navajo President can speak the language fluently was at the heart of Mr. Deschene’s bid to become President. And though nothing was ever proven, in an indirect way, that’s why he was taken off the ballot.

To complete the story, when Deschene was removed as a candidate, that’s when Russell Begaye stepped into the picture, and all his candidacy problems began.

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