Southern Ute Indian Tribe of Colorado
Chairman John Baker Jr. vigorously defends himself against charges of mismanagement that led to a recall election scheduled Dec. 8. Baker said Nov. 16 he is being targeted for asking too many questions about the misuse of tribal funds. "When you come to play, you better come with your ammo, because my ammo is the truth," he told an audience of about 50 tribal members during a meeting of the Southern Ute Grassroots Organization. "You're recalling the wrong man. You're recalling the man that's trying to protect you." Critics, including Tribal Councilor Pearl Casias, submitted a recall petition with 247 valid signatures. They accused Baker of abuse of power, arrogance, intimidation of tribal employees and reckless management of tribal funds. "Previous councils and administrations have worked incredibly hard ... to overcome ... challenges facing the tribe," Casias said. "We cannot allow one individual's agenda to tear down (past) successes." Baker said he holds tribal employees and institutions accountable to ensure they work efficiently and in the best interests of the tribe. "I'm trying to make things stable so your children have money and I have money. I would never, ever kill my own financial possibilities, because I'm going to be old, too."