San Juan County Commission Chairman Calvin Black defended himself against charges of racism recently leveled against him by the southern Utah county's lone Navajo commissioner.
Black spoke to students at the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics Thursday on his 22 years of serving "all the people of San Juan County."Three weeks ago, however, San Juan County Commissioner Mark Maryboy, a Navajo Indian, also spoke at the Hinckley Institute and said said that Black and fellow commissioner Ty Lewis discriminated against the county's 5,500 Navajos.
Maryboy charged that Black and the county only spent 10 percent of the county's budget on services to Navajos in the past 10 years.
But Black said on Thursday that he "categorically" denies Maryboy's charges.
"Mark Maryboy spoke at his forum a few weeks ago and said he was raised to hate whites and that whites were the enemies," Black said. "I want to tell you that I was never taught to hate anyone."
Maryboy has complained frequently that San Juan County has failed to provide services for Navajos living on a portion of the Navajo Indian Reservation that extends into San Juan County in southeastern Utah.
Black said the 8,000-square-mile county is sparsely populated, particularly on the reservation, where a lack of roads and rough terrain mean Indian residents live few and far between.
"That creates some very significant difficulties in providing service," Black said.
Still, the county has provided well for the county residents living on the reservation, Black said, noting the county has built roads on the reservation portion of the county amounting to 24 percent of county's road system.
Further, Black said, the county recently spent $6 million paving a road from Bluff to Montezuma Creek. Some of that money, however, came from state and federal sources, Black said.
Maryboy's racism charges were triggered by an audit conducted for plaintiffs in a lawsuit. The audit, conducted by Arthur Young and Co., found that over the past 10 years that the county spent only 10 percent of its budget on the Navajo Indian Reservation.
San Juan County recently released its own audit, showing that the county spent 26 percent of its budget last year on services for the reservation.