A new governing council was sworn in this morning on the Meskwaki settlement near Tama and the tribe’s casino could be open within a few weeks. Tom Jochum, a spokesman for the new council headed by Homer Bear, Junior — says the new council expects criminal charges to be pursued against the ousted tribal leadership team that was headed by Alex Walker. Jochum says the “abuse of power and the arrogance shown by the Walker council is not something that can be overlooked.” Jochum says the new council suspects the Walker group cost the tribe millions of dollars and “somebody is going to have to answer for the things that have been done and the wrongdoing that has just permeated this whole process.” Jochum says the Walker group’s attempt last month to takeover the closed casino offices and remove accounting records is an incident that should be examined by either the U.S. Attorney or the County Attorney. Jochum says the Walker group spent an awful lot of money on lawyers and security and investigations. And Jochum suggests law enforcement investigate people outside the tribe who were hired by Alex Walker. Jochum says the Homer Bear group spent about 600-thousand dollars over the past year to bring about a vote. By comparison, Jochum estimates the Alex Walker group spent up to six million in the past year trying to hold off a recall election, and that estimate does not include the extra “per capita” payments made to tribal members. Jochum says the new council plans to rework the tribe’s constitution. Jochum says the council plans to change the recall process so once valid petition signatures are submitted, a recall election will be held whether the council members who’re the subject of the recall want one or not. Jochum says the just-ousted council tried to block the recall process, and “that’s what initiated this whole mess.” The tribe’s casino has been closed since May as a result of the leadership squabble, and Jochum says casino managers have already contacted the 13-hundred employees who were laid off. Jochum says there are about one-hundred employees who are choosing not to return. There will be other changes on the settlement. Jochum says the superintendent of the settlement school is out. Jochum says the superintendent wouldn’t have had his contract removed by the settlement’s school board, but Walker abolished the school board.
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