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Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Colorado


A petition calling for the ouster of Chairman John E. Baker Jr. has enough signatures to trigger a recall election, a petition supporter said. The Tribal Election Board certified Nov. 7 that 240 of the tribe's 770 registered voters signed the petition, Tribal Councilor Pearl Casias said. Only 231 signatures, or 30 percent of the tribe's registered voters, were needed. The petition accuses Baker of arrogance, intimidation and favoritism. Baker said he would not comment until he had proof that legal requirements were met. It will be up to the tribal council to set a recall election within 30 days, Casias said. The petition alleges Baker repeatedly insulted tribal employees, ignored personnel policies, exhibited favoritism in hiring, and disregarded tribal budget and spending policies. "Previous councils and administrations have worked incredibly hard in the past to overcome the challenges facing the tribe,'' Casias said. "We cannot allow one individual's agenda to tear down (past) successes.'' The petition says Baker's practices have threatened the economic strength of the tribe. Three chief executive officers have served under Baker since his three-year term began last December.

The Four Corners Iron Horse motorcycle rally which draws thousands of people to Ignacio may be roaring down the road to Cortez. Organizer Warren "Easy" Bernard approached Montezuma County commissioners this month about holding the rally at the county fairgrounds. He said facilities at the Sky Ute Events Center in Ignacio are inadequate and proposed moving the annual Labor Day weekend event in 2002. Commissioners said several issues would have to be addressed before the event could move to the fairgrounds. The rally, which started in 1993, drew 30,000 people this summer and although it raises money for charity, it has become more controversial. Residents have complained about traffic problems, alcohol and drug use and increased arrests. The La Plata County sheriff contended the event, officially sponsored by the tribe, was marred by drug sales, wanton nudity, public sex acts and violence. Organizers estimate the event pumps $13.5 million in local economies from Farmington, N.M., to Durango and Cortez to Pagosa Springs. They said $50,000 was raised for charities this year and $400,000 has been donated to local nonprofit groups and motorcycle rights organizations over the last seven years. A commissioner said the fairgrounds are available to any group which can meet certain standards.