Tribal members say they were eight people short of the 86 needed to vote tribal leaders out of office July 7. The group gathered despite Chief Gilbert Blue's assertion such a meeting would be illegal. Blue has said the tribe cannot meet until it approves a new constitution as required by the 1993 settlement that granted $50 million to the tribe and ended a 153-year-old land-claim dispute. Many who came said they were unhappy with the executive committee (the elected leaders). "In a nutshell, it's just poor management," said Jackie Bagley, who said she recently quit her job on the reservation because she was tired of the corruption. The Catawbas have not held a general meeting, a gathering of all eligible voting tribal members, since 1998. Those gathered signed a petition calling for such a meeting. In May the number voting on a new constitution fell short of the necessary percentage. Blue said the tribe will let those unable to vote in May have another chance to vote on the constitution July 27 and 28. A 1998 lawsuit filed by 16 Catawbas demanding that the executive committee abide by the 1975 constitution until a new one is passed, is pending in federal court.
The York County Council halted a community policing program for the Catawba reservation, saying the tribe has not paid for the program. The tribe owes about $200,000, County Manager Al Greene said. They will pay the money back, said Carson Blue, tribal treasurer and secretary. The three full-time deputies were removed from the reservation in this year's budget which went into effect July 1. The tribe hoped the program would evolve into a full police force based on the reservation, Blue said. However, the tribe's executive committee became concerned when two of the three deputies transferred to other areas around the 730-acre reservation. "We were paying the same amount for one person when we were supposed to have three around-the-clock deputies," he said.