Principal Chief Richard Sneed is now under investigation following the Cherokee Tribal Council’s unanimous vote Jan. 4 to look into a settlement agreement he signed off on to pay seven former tribal employees a total of $698,000.

Seven tribal employees who were fired or demoted when former Principal Chief Patrick Lambert took office in 2015 have received a combined $698,000 in settlement payouts following a November agreement that Lambert made public this week.

During its last days before swearing in newly elected members, the Cherokee Tribal Council unanimously passed an ordinance amendment that will prevent future tribal councils from getting cumulative backpay with pay raises.

A resolution that would have negated a 2007 vote to up Tribal Council’s pay by $10,000 was withdrawn last week following debate about what exactly the legislation’s impact would be.

For months now, a committee created by the Haywood County Board of Education has been looking for ways to entice teachers to remain in the system, with little success.

Harry S. Truman’s Secretary of State Dean Acheson said upon his return to private life, “I will undoubtedly have to seek what is happily known as gainful employment, which I am glad to say does not describe holding public office.”

SEE ALSO:
To serve, Haywood Commissioners leave money on the table
Carrying commissioner duties a juggling act in Jackson
Macon commissioners not there for money
Swain commissioners give little thought to salary
Cherokee council makes more than state reps, less than congressmen

While holding public office in the United States isn’t usually all pain, it is usually no gain. American culture has long held disdain for those who enrich themselves by suckling at the public teat, and a Smoky Mountain News investigation proves that — at least locally — the salary and benefits offered to county commissioners in Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties aren’t making any of them rich.

At just 22 years of age, Kevin Ensley became one of the youngest licensed land surveyors in the entire state after earning an associate’s degree in civil engineering from Asheville-Buncombe Technical College.

When Mark Jones first ran for a seat on the Jackson County Board of Commissioners in 2006, he was the general manager of High Hampton Inn and Country Club in Cashiers, a demanding and well-paid position. But when he won the election, Jones knew he wouldn’t be able to keep the job while also fulfilling his newly acquired civic responsibilities.

Macon County Commissioner Ronnie Beale was pouring concrete on a job site when he was contacted about this story.

“You know, I really can’t tell you what we get paid,” Swain County Commissioner David Monteith said when asked about his commissioner salary. “I’ve never done it for that purpose. To me, serving the people in the community is the main benefit of being commissioner.”

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