Ho-Chunk Legislature files for declaration against General Council chairperson

By Ken Luchterhand

The Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature file a Complaint for Declaratory Judgement against Gerald Cleveland Sr. on Nov. 15 in Ho-Chunk Nation Trial Court.
According to the legal complaint, “… the Chair of the September 16, 2017, General Council meeting acted beyond the scope of his authority in ignoring the General Council’s approved motion to adjourn and in allowing the General Council meeting to carry on as a Special Meeting.”
Legislature is seeking a declaration from the court upon the Legislature does not have to act upon any resolutions that were adopted after the first adjournment and subsequent reconvening.
On Sept. 16, 2017, at the annual General Council meeting, 18 resolutions were placed on the ist to be addressed and voted up by the gathering of tribal members. However, before all resolutions could be addressed, a motion was made, voted upon and passed to adjourn the meeting. Since there several more resolutions to introduced, Chairperson Gerald Cleveland Sr. reconvened the session and resumed with the meeting.
The passed General Council resolutions are advance to the Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature, where they are to be acted upon within 45 days after the General Council vote, decreed by the Ho-Chunk Nation Constitution. Legislature passed a resolution that acknowledged that the 2017 General Council lawfully adopted Resolutions A,B, E, F, G, H, J, K, L, and O, but then went on to state that it would only recognize the resolutions up to the first adjournment.
After Resolution H was adopted at the meeting, the General Council voted on a motion to adjourn, according to the legal document. The vote of the members was 1,093 in favor, 706 opposed, and 85 abstentions. According to the minutes, the meeting was adjourned at 3:14 p.m.
“After the discussion, the minutes indicate that ‘Chairman Gerald Cleveland continues the meeting. 3:25 p.m.,’” the document stated.
Immediately after Chairman Cleveland continued the General Council meeting, the General Council voted on, and approved, a motion to call a Special Meeting to continue on.
Once the meeting resumed, Resolutions J, K, L, and O were adopted by supporting votes.
The Legislature contends that meeting procedures do not include provisions for continuing a General Council meeting after the action of adjournment, the document stated.
According to Article IV, Section 6, of the Constitution, “Special Meetings of the General Council shall be called by the President upon petition by 20 percent of the eligible voters, or upon written request of a majority of the Legislature, or when deemed necessary by the President. Notice shall be provided by the President for all Special Meetings of the General Council.”
No notice was given for the meeting, the document said.
“The basis for the Legislature’s action in Legislative Resolution 10-17-17I is that the Chairman of the General Council meeting of September 16, 2017, acted outside the scope of his authority by ignoring the General Council’s approved adjournment at 3:14 p.m. and, in so doing, acted outsider the scope of the General Council’s meeting procedures, the document stated.”
Besides this filing in Ho-Chunk Trial Court, General Council has filed a suit against the Ho-Chunk Legislature for not acting upon or accepting the four resolutions after the initial adjournment.
Neither case has a date set for a hearing in the Ho-Chunk Trial Court system.