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KNBA News - House stalled on bill to reduce oil tax credits, overhauls criminal justice

House Majority divided on payments to oil companies

By the Associated Press

Republican House Speaker Mike Chenault said his caucus is not ready to vote on oil tax credit reform – a program that has the state paying 775 million dollars to oil and gas companies this year. Some think House Bill 247 doesn’t reduce payouts enough. Others oppose making changes as companies struggle with low oil prices.

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House adopts legislation to change approach of criminal justice system

By the Associated Press

The state House has adopted legislation that shifts from tough-on-crime programs to rehabilitation and job preparation for criminals. The aim is to keep Alaska's prison population down and lower the number of repeat offenders.

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Tribes’ call for special convention ignored by Y-K regional nonprofit

By Anna Rose MacArthur, KYUK – Bethel

Tribal representatives from across the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta met in Bethel earlier this week to hold what they called a Special Convention of the Association of Village Council Presidents, or AVCP— the regional, tribal non-profit for 56 villages across the YK Delta. The goal of the meeting was two-fold: to discuss forming a regional tribal government and to get answers to recent controversies surrounding AVCP. But the group left with their questions unanswered.

 “We are AVCP. We should not be ignored. We have questions that need to be answered," said Ivan Ivan, chairman of the gathering and Chief of the Native Village of Akiak. In February, Ivan resigned from the AVCP Executive Board.

About 25 people showed up both days of the meeting. Eight were delegates, representing villages across the Delta. But to make a quorum, the meeting needed 38 delegates.

Unable to take action on their agenda, the group turned to defining AVCP’s power structure and claiming authority within it.

Their message—AVCP members are the organization’s true board, and the administration and executive board answer to them.

Here’s how Nick Andrew Jr., delegate from the Native Village of Marshall and Vice Chair of the gathering, put it.

 “We are entitled as board members for disclosure, answers, honesty, transparency,” said Andrew.

All those things the group claims is what they aren’t getting and haven’t been getting for months as a series of AVCP issues have come to light.

In December AVCP laid-off 30 employees, citing “changing economic times.”

In January KYUK reported the administration’s almost decade-long mishandling of money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Family or TANF funds, which are federal dollars designated for low-income families. Later that month, the Executive Board rescheduled a special convention from February to June without consulting its delegates who voted for the earlier date. Then in February, the Executive Board announced the shutdown of its Allanivik] Hotel.

Again Vice Chair Nick Andrew Jr.

 “When something has gone terribly wrong, which [it] has, the board has every right to exercise and flex our political might,” said Andrew.

The meeting’s agenda called for the AVCP Chief Financial Officer and Executive Board Chairman to explain under oath the decisions surrounding these controversies. But neither official appeared at the meeting, which disappointed Willie Atti, vice president of the Kwigillingok [Kwig-ill-ing-auk], IRA.

 “These are valid agenda items. That’s what I came for,” said Atti. “And for the E Board, for the AVCP administrative level, it seems like there’s a hindrance to its village members who they represent.”*

In March, Executive Board Chairman Henry Hunter Sr. sent a letter to the tribes, saying the meeting is not an AVCP sponsored event. The word “not” in the letter is capitalized and underlined.

AVCP bylaws say a special convention requires the approval of two-thirds or 38 tribes.

Harold Napoleon said he helped write those bylaws when he served as Executive Director of AVCP in the 1970s.

Napoleon said regardless of what the bylaws state about holding a convention, the AVCP executive board and administration is accountable to its members, and if the members have questions, then the executive board and administration must respond.

Napoleon called into the meeting via cellphone.

“All of you who are in that room, you are sitting in that room as board members,” said Napoleon. “You might not be the majority, but there are enough of you there to warrant the respect and the attention of the people who are running AVCP.”

Napoleon said the members have not only the right but the responsibility to get answers, especially concerning financial matters because, he said, AVCP applies for funding on the tribes’ behalf.

 “You—the 56 villages, the tribes—you are theones responsible for this money. When they apply for money from the federal government and from any agency, they do it in your name,” said Napoleon.

At the end of the first day, the gathering appointed three members to go to the AVCP building and summon President and CEO Myron Naneng to attend the next day’s meeting. Vice Chair Andrew was one of those selected and said, Naneng responded through a receptionist that he was too busy to attend. The next day neither Naneng nor anyone from AVCP administration or the executive board showed up.

The group plans to network among the tribes to get their questions for AVCP on the agenda for the AVCP sponsored June special convention.

This year is an election year for AVCP leadership. Representatives at the meeting said they can vote to replace the administration and executive board at the annual fall convention. Naneng won the last election by one vote and has served as president for 24 years.

Naneng did not respond to KYUK’s requests for comment.

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