February 21, 2024

The Pizen Switch Times

Established 2021

In a Controversial Decision, WRPT Council Fires Tribal Chairman Amber Torres in a 3-2 Vote

On Tuesday, January 17, 2023 a Special Meeting was convened by Walker River Paiute Tribal Council, posted publicly 3 days earlier on Saturday, January 14th during a federally observed 3 day weekend. The single agenda item listed, ” Action: Notice of hearing of expulsion against Amber Torres (Chairman).

4-5:45pm Open session:

@4-4:20pm:

Treasurer Andrea Martinez read allegations against Tribal Chairman Torres:

“Official Allegations of Misconduct of Chairman Amber Torres. Neglect of Duty: The chairman consistently failed to address the issues brought forth in numerous emails. Miss Torres failed to address the FY 2020 audit…regarding the finance director. She did not wear a mask during the pandemic while demanding others to do so…not adding requested items to the agenda, not posting the agenda on time, or submitting documentation late or during council meetings. Miss Torres fails to provide information to council members in a timely manner to allow council to make informed decisions while voting on matters. Elder abuse and neglect of tribal members as per Social Service’s Rosemary xxx  complaint and letter from Nate Whistler in closed session.

Council meeting June 9, 2022 Miss Torres was patently unprofessional and disrespectful to an Elder when an Elder asked her questions, many of them remained unaddressed. Miss Torres informed the Elder that her questions were not on the agenda therefore were not addressed. The Elder stated when she put the agenda request in they are most often denied. Miss Torres neglects to honor a voice of the people by ignoring certain agenda requests. The treasurer has personally experienced this as well.

Miss Torres acted in such a way as to cause a non-tribal native to write a letter addressing how Miss Torres disrespected her family, her culture, feelings…

… violated her duty by failing to provide statement of revenue and expenditures for each general fund on or before the 15th day of each month stated in the financial management policies… violated her duty and 2cfr200, 500, page 91  of the  WRPT financial management policy. Tribe single audit act, all audits were due no later than 6 months after the end of the Tribe’s fiscal year… violated her duty by failing to submit audits to the Federal Clearing House by June 30th annually.

Miss Torres was in gross violation for travelling without council’s approval… by  not completing the police substation per agreement… by not completing the homeless project.

Miss Torres failed to obtain and make available required financial documents necessary for government function.

Miss Torres violates her oath by unprofessional demeanor and personal attacks… by accepting gifts from 3rd parties.

Miss Torres acted outside of her authority by approving federal government Navy agreements without council resolution as required… by negotiating federal government Navy contracts without council’s approval.

Miss Torres acted outside of her authority by utilizing the Tribe’s attorney to write an opinion on an employee.”

Andrea Martinez then read 2 letters (with the permission of the writers of those letters) that the council had received from Nate Whistler regarding a homeless Elder and (Unintelligible) J. Wright regarding a buckskin dress.

Click on photo to begin gallery:

@4:20-4:35pm:

Amber Torres , addressing the audience,  “I have been on Tribal Council since 2010, dedicated to you as a tribal citizen… I have been your chairman since 2016, first taking over for a friend that was in need…and then elected by you as the Tribal Citizens in an official election capacity since then to current.

I feel what is happening today is a gross travesty…I am owed due process. We took an oath: an oath to support and defend our constitution. Yet in this instance we are not even following it.”

Chairman Amber Torres went on to say that she was not given due process regarding this expulsion hearing as scheduled by Vice Chairman Stacy Hicks. Torres provided the council with documentation on the steps to due process and read these requirements to the council and audience.

Torres asked for timely notification of allegations against her, notification of public meeting & agenda within notification guidelines, and for the right to have sufficient time to prepare a defense for the allegations made against her.

@4:35-5:45pm:

Audience members in the standing room only conference meeting room were able to give public statements on support for due process, timely notification, and the Chairman’s right to have sufficient time to prepare a defense for the allegations made against her.

In general, most audience comments did not favor the removal of Amber Torres in her role as Chairman / Leader of the Walker River Paiute Tribe. One male audience member defended Torres’ action in finding a solution to rehouse a tribal elder; and in returning a buckskin dress the tribe had possession of to it’s original owner per the then-sitting WRPT Council.

Despite Torres’ support within the audience, Tribal Council Treasurer Andrea Martinez made the motion to, “Remove Amber as the Chairman of the Walker River Tribe for neglect of duty, and gross misconduct effective immediately with 2 weeks severance pay to be reaffirmed at the next council meeting.” When no one seconded the motion, Taylor O’Daye asked that Martinez read the motion again. When no one seconded the motion again, Torres asked for the motion to be repeated again. No one seconded it upon the 3rd reading after Vice Chairman asked 3 times for a second to the motion.

Vice Chairman did not state that the motion had died, but instead call the council into a closed session for 15 minutes.

 

@5:45-6:20pm Closed Meeting

(Update: One important thing missing in this Pizen Switch Times recap is that immediately after closed session, Tribal Councilmember Gina Wachsmuth motioned to set a hearing out 2 weeks to allow Chairman Amber Torres to have due process. The only other Councilmember to support this motion was Genia Williams.)

At 6:20pm the Walker River Paiute Tribal Council re-convened in open session.  Andrea Martinez (treasurer) motioned, Council Member Shannon Williams seconded  a motion to : “Remove Chairman Amber Torres for neglect of duty, and gross misconduct effective immediately with 2 weeks severance.”

Vice Chairman Stacy Hicks called for a vote of the motion: council members voting in favor for the motion: Andrea Martinez, Shannon Williams, and Taylor O’Daye. Those members voting against the motion: Secretary Gina Wachsmuth and Geina Williams.  Hicks declared a vote of 3-2, motion passes. As presiding officer, Vice-Chairman Hicks did not vote.

@6:25 When voice level in the conference room increased at the finalization for Amber Torres’ expulsion, Vice Chair Hicks asked  one of the attending Tribal Officers to remove Amber Torres from the meeting room. A tribal officer escorted Amber Torres to her (former) office to pick up her personal belongings.