A boycott of all Roosevelt businesses put into motion by the Ute Indian Tribe in September has had the opposite effect the tribe had hoped it would have.
The 8-month-old economic sanctions failed to push the Roosevelt City Council into returning criminal misdemeanor jurisdiction over tribal members back to the Ute Tribe or agreeing to allow tribal members to remain exempt from sales tax in the city.A 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling issued last May removed Roosevelt from the Ute reservation and gave the city jurisdiction over tribal members.
Roosevelt Mayor Dennis Jenkins expressed frustration at the outcome of a 3-2 City Council vote Tuesday that vetoed further jurisdiction negotiations with the tribe.
"I'm extremely disappointed. I feel this will take the city in a different direction than we wanted to go. I feel this will have far-reaching effects on our tax base and won't help relations with the tribe," Jenkins stated.
As mayor, Jenkins only has a vote if a City Council member is absent and his vote is needed to break a tie. Council members Beverly Hansen, Sterling Rees and Roger Dart voted against continuing negotiations with the tribe over the criminal jurisdiction and sales tax issues.
They said the tribe's decision to penalize Roosevelt businesses because they were upset when a federal court judge lifted an injunction that prohibited the city from exercising jurisdiction, didn't help matters. The tribe has also threatened further economic sanctions against the city if council members fail to enter into negotiations.
Council members Steve Yack and Mike Guinn voted in favor of continuing negotiations with the tribe.
Hansen and Rees had already announced their opposition to surrendering criminal jurisdiction, but Dart - who was undecided a week ago - was the swing vote.
"I admit I ran the gamut of emotions. . . . I was torn, but the bottom line was that I represent 5,000 citizens of Roosevelt and we should not and cannot compromise our jurisdiction and code of law and order in any way, shape or form. To do so would have been a great injustice," Dart said.
He also said that having two sets of rules for different races would "eventually cause the chasm of mistrust and prejudice to grow wider and deeper."
Dart said that since the vote was made public he's had positive feedback from his constituents. "I've heard from more people pleased with the decision than who haven't been."
He expressed frustration with the state for not offering guidance in the matter, but said he still believes there are positive things that can happen between the tribe and city, particularly when it comes to economic development.
Hansen said she based her decision not only on the legal aspects of court rulings and the morals of the issue, but also on the concerns and desires related to her by the citizens of Roosevelt.
"These citizens are the people I represent. My commitment will always be to treat everyone fairly and equally within Roosevelt city. I feel that we can all still live as friends in an atmosphere of mutual respect for each other," she said.
On the opposite end of the issue, Guinn said he's heard only negative comments from those upset with the outcome of the vote.
Guinn and Yack were the only City Council members to attend a negotiating meeting in Salt Lake with members of the tribe as well as county and state leaders late last month. Guinn said he felt the positive dialogue at the meeting was proof the issues could have been worked out.
"Roosevelt is a unique area because we are technically in the center of a reservation - therefore we have to be conscientious of what will work for both of us without compromising public safety."
Guinn said he favored a resolution that would have allowed city police to arrest and detain tribal members accused of misdemeanors but then allow the tribe to prosecute their own members in tribal court where their punishment would be determined by the Ute Tribe Law and Order Code.
"As far as I'm concerned this (the vote) isn't the end of our conversations with the tribe, it's just the beginning. I'm still an optimist" Guinn said.