Proposed Navajo Nation legislation would add Tuba City land to the Escalade project

Tuba City, AZ

This week’s Navajo Times had Deswood Tome, Navajo President Ben Shelly’s special adviser, who said the “Grand Canyon Escalade project is all but guaranteed.”

But what is more interesting is what Tome did not say.

The Navajo Times reported the following:

  • Outgoing Council Delegate Duane Tsinigine reportedly is introducing legislation that would prohibit local businesses within a “20-mile long and five-mile wide corridor stretches from the Escalade Site back to U.S. Highway 89 near Hidden Springs Church.”
  • The bill restricts development along U.S. 89 south to its intersection with Highway 160 and the junction to Tuba City.
  • To protect Escalade profits, the bill would waive the three-year renewal requirement for conditional use permits.
  • In case of bankruptcy, Escalade partners would be able to sue the Navajo Nation under Arizona and Federal law to recover their losses.

The story presents yet another false claim made by self-serving sources, said Renae Yellowhorse, Save the Confluence spokeswoman. (The partners want Bodaway and Tuba City property held in reserve while they hunt for investors with money).

“We’ve been here before,” Yellowhorse said. “People are fed up with these predatory developers. “They promise the moon, but steal all the money. Albert Hale and his Escalade cronies cannot be trusted.”

Arizona lawmaker Albert Hale, Scottsdale political consultant R. Lamar Whitmer and former Apache Superior Court Judge Michael Nelson are major members of the Confluence Partners.

Tome’s boss, President Shelly, lost a re-election bid in the September primary.

Tsinigine, a lame-duck Navajo lawmaker who did not seek re-election, should not introduce a bill because of his absenteeism from the Fall council session, said Dee Wilson-Aguirre, who grew up with her family less than three miles from the Confluence.

“It’s wrong for him to try to pass this bill in his last days before leaving office,” Aguirre said. “This is all being done without consent from families who are directly impacted. Escalade partners (also) did not go through proper procedures . ”

Southern Bodaway or (Tuba City) grazing permit holders also have not granted access to the proposed Escalade site or the land the developers want to add.

The Navajo Nation Council also has not approved an agreement with the Confluence Partners LLC about the Grand
Canyon Escalade project. Secrecy shrouds the alleged agreement although President Shelly let out that the tribe’s share would be only 18 percent of the gross proceeds and the partners would take 82 percent.

Last week’s claim by Tome about how the Navajo Nation is poised to approve the Escalade development are similar to remarks made earlier this year, Yellowhorse said.

“Hale, Whitmer and Tome say things to fool us into seeing them as saviors,” concludes Renae Yellowhorse. “Escalade will be defeated because people now know they (Confluence Partners) are lying.”

Here is an example:

  • Weeks before the Navajo Nation Council’s summer session, Navajo-Hopi Observer reporter Katherine Locke wrote, “R. Lamar Whitmer, managing partner of Confluence Partners, said over the last year and half he believes opposition to the project from Navajos has lessened…Our documents are in the legislative process with the Nation and we’re hopeful to have the Council act on it in June or July.”
  • Later July 17, Navajo Times Reporter Cindy Yurth wrote, “Contrary to information on the developer’s website, a bill committing the Navajo Nation to partner on a resort on the rim of the Little Colorado Canyon has not reached the speaker’s office and will not be on the Navajo Nation Council’s summer session agenda.”
    In the same July edition of the Navajo Times, a full-page ad asked: “Why are profiteers still pushing Grand Canyon Escalade? It also asked, “Where is the solid public support President Shelly said he needed before December 31, 2012?
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