From: alra@governance.net
Subject: George Skibine Says It Ain’t So

Land Rights Network
American Land Rights Association
Alliance Against Reservation Shopping
PO Box 400, Battle Ground, WA  98604
(360) 687-3087 – Fax:  (360) 687-2973
Web Address: http://www.landrights.org
Legislative Office: 507 Seward Square SE - Washington, DC 20003 
mike@hardimanconsulting.com -- 202-489-4893

George Skibine Says It Ain’t So

The Interior Department and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) are now saying that they always intended to have an open public comment period.  That may well be so.

They sure seemed to plan it in secret.  Nobody that I’ve talked to understood that was what they are going to do.  That includes Members of Congress and their staff.

The good news is that BIA they will now come out with draft regulations sometime after the end of April.  You now have until Friday, April 28th to get your comments in for this initial consultation process.  It is still very important for you to comment on the draft regulations.  

Your calls to your Congressman and Senators are still very important.  There must be at least a 90 day comment period.  

A copy of the proposed regulations should be up on www.landrights.org by Thursday morning.

Here is George Skibine’s message to American Land Rights after we sent out our message.
From George Skibine:

Chuck:  You are totally mistaken in stating that the process is bypassing the traditional comment period.  I do not think it is constructive to make these type of statements without knowing all the facts.  Let me explain what we are doing with the proposed Section 20 regulations.  We have sent letters to all tribal leaders pursuant to the Federal Government's policy of consultation with Indian tribes, advising them that we are seeking input on our draft regulations of    3/15/06.  We also advised them of our intent to hold consultation sessions in March and April.  These sessions, although framed in the context of tribal consultation, are public meetings open to anyone interested in this matter.  We have also sent our draft regulations to various state organizations with interest in the matter.  After the end of the consultation sessions, we will examine all comments received and prepare a proposed rule to be published in the federal Register. 

The public will have 30 or 60 days to comment on the proposed rule after it is published in the Register.  After the close of the official comment period, we will then analyze the comments received and  publish a final rule in the Register.  In the meantime, you can submit comments on our 3/15 draft to me via e-mail or by mail by sending the comments to my office.  We hope to have all comments before the end of the month of April in order to prepare the proposed rule at that time. Our  fax number is 202-273-3153. 

Response to George Skibine from Chuck Cushman 

Thank you for your response.  I do the best I can with the information I can get.  Nowhere that I have seen have you said that these drafts are in preparation for a new draft which will be put out for public comment.  Informed staff and Members of Congress have the same impression we have.  Every group and individual who have a continuing interest in this issue confirmed that they thought I was correct in what we were putting together.  There has  been nothing in the press except the tribal press.  You know of our interest and you failed to notify us or any group with which we are aware.  No cooperating agencies that I know of have been notified.  So at best, this is a bad communication process. It certainly looks to us like a closed communication process. We will advise our recipients of your communication although our communications have been widely circulated.  We'll do our best to catch up to them. 
I would advise you that the manner you have handled these "consultation" sessions comes dangerously close to violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).  Attendees who were not from tribes were roundly criticized for even being at the meetings.  I will hope there will be better communication as we continue through the Administrative Procedures Act process.  I would recommend no less than a 60 day comment period.

Thanks again for your communication.

Additional response to George Skibine from Chuck Cushman:  I am putting another e-mail together to inform people about what you said. I'm assuming what you said was the plan all along and not something cobbled together after the criticism.  It is too bad we were never informed about what the overall plan was.  Is it fair to say that comments that come in by the end of the month will be used in this initial phase?  Thanks.  Chuck

 *****Action Items

-----1.  You still need to call your Congressman at (202) 225-3121 and insist that he or she request a 90 comment period on these proposed regulations.  Ask him or her to request more meetings where the general public is invited.

-----2.  Make the same request of both your Senators at (202) 224-3121.  This is an easy request for them to grant because it is not taking a position.  It is just about making the process fair and open.

-----3.  Be sure to attend one of the two remaining consultation meetings to be held by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  It is critical that they not just hear from the tribes.  Communities need to have a say.

The schedule is as follows: 

Tuesday, April 18: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Radisson Hotel Sacramento, 500 Leisure Lane, Sacramento, Calif.

Thursday, April 20: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Crown Plaza, 2200 Freeway Blvd., Minneapolis, Minn. 

-----4.  Write a letter with your comments by April 28th about the new regulations and fax AND e-mail it to George Skibine, BIA, Fax: (202) 273-31253 – E-mail:  george_skibine@ios.doi.gov;   James Cason, Action Deputy Secretary, Fax:  (202) 208-1873 – E-mail: james_cason@ios.doi.gov;  and Acting Secretary of Interior Lynn Scarlett, Fax:   (202) 208-5048 – E-mail:  lynn_scarlet@ios.doi.gov 
Your comment can be one page or as many as you need.    

-----5.  If the formatting did not hold on this e-mail, you can get a copy of the regulations at www.landrights.org by Thursday morning. 

Please forward this message as widely as possible.  

To unsubscribe  from this mailing list; please visit
http://governance.net and enter your email address.