A member of the Lumbee Tribe recently filed a petition with the tribe’s Supreme Court requesting that the Tribal Council’s current “freeze” on the tribe’s operating budget be lifted.
Eric R. Locklear, who self identifies as a community activist, in his petition to the court is asking for the freeze to be lifted so that he may be considered for a consulting position with the tribe. Because the hiring “freeze” keeps him from getting a job with the tribe’s administration, he contends that his constitutional right to be “secure in person” is being violated.
The tribe’s operating budget has been frozen since September. The action was taken to keep the operation of tribal government on an even keel until an election could be held in November of last year to elect someone to finish the remaining one year of former Chairman Purnell Swett’s term. Swett was replaced by Sharon Hunt, the tribe’s vice chairman, after he resigned in May because of health concerns.
In November, members of the Lumbee Tribe elected Paul Brooks to be their chairman.
Locklear contends in his petition that the consulting work he would like to do for the tribe is a permitted expense under U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations.
“Housing and Urban Development affirmed that any improvement to the tribal governance of a grantee is presumed by HUD to improve the grantee’s capacity and administration of its federal funds,” Locklear said. “That being the case, the consultant activity that was being discussed was indeed an allowable cost under HUD.”
Under Lumbee law, the tribal administration headed by Brooks is responsible for the day-to-day management and administration of the Lumbee government. That includes the hiring and firing of tribal employees.
The council passes laws and establishes the tribe’s annual budget. Once the budget is adopted, the chairman and administration decide exactly how funds will be spent.
Locklear has said more than once that the reason the council has not lifted the “freeze” is so that it can exert control over the chairman.
“There are some who would like to see the chairman’s administration not succeed,” Locklear said.
No date has yet been scheduled for Locklear’s petition to come before the tribe’s four Supreme Court justices. The court is currently short one justice.