Colville Confederated Tribes council members huddled 11-1/2 hours Friday to decide what to do about a purge their new executive director, Lou Stone, initiated just days after he started work.
Stone reportedly surprised elected officials Tuesday by ordering the dismissal of six of eight department directors.
Tribal spokeswoman Sheila Whitelaw said she couldn’t comment on Stone’s action, but “any tribal administrative personnel actions that were taken this week have been rescinded.” No one will be fired or laid off, she said.
Instead, the council, Stone and the department directors will work together to reorganize the tribal government, Whitelaw said.
“The process will be long term in nature and probably will take quite a while to implement,” Whitelaw said. Tribal Chairman Joe Pakootas couldn’t be reached for comment Friday, but told the Grand Coulee Star earlier this week that Stone’s action “was a real surprise to everybody.” Pakootas told the weekly newspaper that the tribal council had been considering a reorganization for about six months.
“Our new executive director kind of did a reorganization on his own real quick like,” Pakootas said. According to the Star, those who would have lost their jobs were: Eldon Wilson, law and justice; Colleen Cawston, health services; Virgil “Smoker” Marchand, planning; Tony Atkins, natural resources; and Charlanne Quinto, tribal education.
Only controller Diana White-Messing and counseling services director Lynn Holder were spared.
Stone, 48, is a tribal member from Inchelium who was thrown off the tribal council 10 years ago. The council voted 10-1 to oust Stone for “gross misconduct” after he made personal use of frequent flier miles from tribal business trips.
Stone said only about 20 percent of the frequent-flier miles were from tribal business trips, and there was no policy against keeping the credits. Anyway, he charged, the real reason for his ouster was his efforts to reduce the number of council members, who were each paid $38,000 a year at the time.
Voters put Stone back in office a year later, but turned him out in the next election.
A Democrat, Stone ran unsuccessfully against 7th District state Rep. Bob Morton, R-Orient, in 1992. Most recently, he has been outspoken in calling for Colville High School to change its “Indians” mascot.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: JOBS SAVED The Colville Confederated Tribes council took action to stop a purge by new executive director Lou Stone. The council saved the jobs of: Eldon Wilson, law and justice; Colleen Cawston, health services; Virgil “Smoker” Marchand, planning; Tony Atkins, natural resources; and Charlanne Quinto, tribal education.