Archive for Saturday, September 23, 2000

Board supports foundation, for now

Resignation called for; Haskell’s relationship with group to be re-evaluated

September 23, 2000

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The Haskell Indian Nations University Board of Regents will continue to support the troubled Haskell Foundation, at least until May.

That is when the regents plan to re-evaluate any future relationship between the two organizations.

Alexia Grey, a homecoming queen candidate, throws candy to Haskell
football players during the annual homecoming parade at Haskell
University. Haskell's football team will play Principia at 1 p.m.
today in the Fighting Indians' homecoming contest.

Alexia Grey, a homecoming queen candidate, throws candy to Haskell football players during the annual homecoming parade at Haskell University. Haskell's football team will play Principia at 1 p.m. today in the Fighting Indians' homecoming contest.

In the meantime, regents want Paula Postoak-Buffalomeat to resign her foundation president's position and be removed from the board, a new slate of officers on the foundation board and apology letters sent to foundation donors.

The vote of support was not unanimous. Three of nine members present voted against the motion.

"I don't have any trust in them," said Alberta Friday of Fort Hall, Idaho. "I want a a new foundation."

The Haskell Foundation, an independent, nonprofit agency, has found itself in turmoil following the abrupt resignation of its director in December and the revelation that it was more than $1 million in debt. The FBI is investigating the matter.

Friday's joint meeting of the regents and foundation trustees was set up to allow regents to consider an agreement prepared by each group's attorneys.

The agreement called for creation of a regent-appointed oversight committee that would receive regular updates on the activities and finances of the foundation and would be invited to attend all meetings as nonvoting members.

"The Lawrence community is wanting to help the foundation, and they were waiting on a positive response from the board of regents that they were going to back the foundation."

Paula Postoak-Buffalomeat, former Haskell Foundation president

If the foundation violated the agreement, the regents could force the foundation to delete "Haskell" from its name.

"You can tear it up. We're out of business," said Thomas Mullinix, an attorney representing the foundation.

But some of the trustees said they were concerned the agreement did not give the regents enough power.

"If we are going to set up the committee, then we are going to be a token committee," said Ruben McCloskey, vice president of the board of regents. "They are not decision-makers."

Regents voted to amend the agreement within the next few weeks and return it to foundation trustees for consideration.

Mullinix said the foundation could add a regent or two to its board, but there needs to be a separation between the two boards.

"They have different missions and different goals and different philosophies," Mullinix said.

Too much overlap might jeopardize the foundation's status as a charitable institution, Mullinix said.

After foundation trustees left to meet on their own, regents decided without an official vote to deliver the other recommendations from the regents, including the apology letters and the changes in leadership.

By that time, the foundation already had shuffled officers.

Treasurer Raymond Goetting was elected president. Secretary H.E. Llewellyn was given the secondary title treasurer pro-tem. Executive committee member Dr. Dee Ann DeRoin was elected first vice president. And Postoak-Buffalomeat was still on the board, now as second vice president.

Haskell Regent George Tiger said Postoak-Buffalomeat's resignation from the board was important due to the "perception of nepotism and conflict of interest" on her part.

Postoak-Buffalomeat's mother has worked for the foundation as has her father, Wayne Postoak, who did construction work for which he believes he is still owed $60,000.

Postoak filed a lawsuit to collect that money, but Postoak-Buffalomeat said her father had decided to withdraw the suit and consider the money a donation to the foundation.

Postoak-Buffalomeat said she does not want to resign from the board entirely and is anxious to participate in rebuilding the organization.

"If that's ultimately going to be a problem, then of course I'll step down," the Haskell alumna said.

Postoak-Buffalomeat said she was disappointed with the vote of the regents, because it did not hold a commitment past May. She said it leaves the organization in limbo, particularly where potential volunteers are concerned.

"The Lawrence community is wanting to help the foundation, and they were waiting on a positive response from the board of regents that they were going to back the foundation," she said. "How much time and effort are they going to want to put in to help us knowing we may turn around and get shut down in May?"

Regents did not say what their course of action would be if Postoak-Buffalomeat refuses to resign.

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