MacDonald asks: Where are the Navajo millionaires?
By Kathy Helms
WINDOW ROCK -- Former Navajo Nation Chairman Peter MacDonald is writing abook. This has required him to do hours of research into resource issues andhas led him to a burning question. Where are the Navajo millionaires? For nearly 90 years, since the 1920s when oil and gas were firstdiscovered on Navajo, up till now, MacDonald said Wednesday, "Using Navajos'resources -- water, oil, gas, coal, uranium, and also the land forright-of-way -- the Navajo have made several thousand millionaires." "Millionaires in Gallup, Farmington, Flagstaff -- border towns. But notone Navajo is a millionaire. Isn't that something? "We've made millionaires in Russia, Britain, China, and every place else.... In the United States, some of them are in California, Texas. "How long are we going to do that?" MacDonald asked. "We're going tocontinue to increase that process by doing this Desert Rock." The Navajo Nation is projected to receive $50 million a year from theDesert Rock Energy Project, a proposed 1,500 megawatt mine-to-mouthcoal-fired plant in the Nenahnezad/Burnham area of the Navajo Nation. Dine Power Authority, a Navajo entity, and Sithe Global Power LLC arepartners in the project. MacDonald questioned state and federal legislations which make itlucrative to invest in developing clean-coal plants. "It's funny the way this project, Desert Rock, has followed exactly theway Congress has written how clean fuels should be developed," he said, "andall those who are involved in developing these clean fuels in A-B-C manner,that they would get all these subsidies and grants." MacDonald said it reminded him of "the Halliburton situation -- all thesebig money people." "The legislation appears to be made for Desert Rock. We are the guineapigs for these huge financial exercises by the 'big people,' " he said. "Ifit fails, everybody made money except Navajo. No permanent jobs, no power. "But if it succeeds, there's a huge government subsidy in that (federal)energy legislation. That's what they're using," MacDonald said. Given that Sithe is funded 80 percent by Blackstone and 20 percent byReservoir Capital, MacDonald asked, "You know who is going to get theirmoney first? Blackstone. And most of that money will come from the feds." Members of the Dooda Desert Rock Committee said that as of 9:30 a.m.Wednesday, HB 178, which would give Sithe an $85 million tax break over thelife of the Desert Rock project, was "permanently tabled" in the HouseEnergy and Resources Committee. Elouise Brown of Dooda, who was at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe, said theoutcome brought a "sigh of relief" from opponents. "Organizations inopposition of the bill rejoiced with hugs and interviews with media inattendance," she said. Lori Goodman of Dine CARE said the bill now will be taken up by theSenate. "I'm told that if it moves in the Senate, they (Senate committee)could assign it to another House committee," she said. If the plant is built, and the investors make money, MacDonald said,"Fine, they continue to make money. If they don't, they're not hurting. Theymade their money (through subsidies). "The only one that's left holding the bag with maybe a plant that's halfconstructed is Navajo Nation. It's a game at the very highest level," hesaid. * * * * *Gallup Independent OP/Ed 3/1/07Now, here's a man who knows how to party.By Kathy HelmsDine Bureau WINDOW ROCK -- I can't help but laugh when I see the lobbying going on inSanta Fe to give Sithe Global Power LLC an $85 million tax break on theDesert Rock power plant. Especially in light of the Jan. 27 cover story on the Business Daysection of The New York Times. At the top of the page, above "Business Day"in large letters, it states: "Other Perspectives on Social Equity: $60 Million is less than theinterest Blackstone's chairman earns on his $3.5 billion personal fortuneevery few months." Blackstone, a private equity and hedge fund giant, owns 80 percent ofSithe Global. The remaining 20 percent is owned by Reservoir Capital. According to The Times article, Blackstone Chairman and co-founderStephen A. Schwarzman was turning 60 on Valentine's Day and there was abirthday party in the works. His wife, Christine Hearst Schwarzman, an intellectual property owner whohas organized many of her husband's previous celebrations, also was largelyplanning this one. The Schwarzmans' annual Christmas parties at their 24-room duplex at 740Park Avenue apparently are legendary. Schwarzman set a Manhattan record in2000 when he purchased the duplex for $38 million. According to The Times, one year the couple turned the duplex interiorinto a "replica of Mr. Schwarzman's favorite beach, La Voile Rouge, in St.Tropez, where he has a home." "Another year they turned their living room into a giant Las Vegascasino. Last month, (December) the theme was James Bond, with Mr. Schwarzmandone up in a suave tuxedo and model Bond girls circulating among a crowd,"the article said. Now, there's a man who knows how to live! And apparently he has a lot ofprestigious friends. For his birthday party, one of New York's biggest party planners washired to decorate the 35,000-square-foot armory hall. Rod Stewart, who TheTimes said is known to charge $1 million for private parties, was the mainattraction, while Patti LaBelle had the honor of singing ³Happy Birthday² atthe Feb. 13 celebration. The guest list was a closely guarded secret, but included the chiefexecutives of Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearn, as well as Cardinal Edward Eganof the New York Archdiocese. Sen. Edward Kennedy, Secretary of StateCondoleeza Rice and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Jr. declined, The Timessaid. In a Feb. 14 story, the newspaper said the party also was attended by NewYork Gov. George E. Pataki, John Thain, chief executive of the NYSE Group,which operates the New York Stock Exchange; Donald and Melania Trump, andABC anchor Barbara Walters accompanied by Vernon Jordan Jr., a Washingtonpower broker and confidant to former President Bill Clinton. The party came just a few days after Blackstone completed the $39 billionpurchase of Equity Office Properties, the biggest landlord in the UnitedStates, in the largest leveraged buyout ever. With backers like Schwarzman and Blackstone behind them, I don't thinkthe Navajo Nation will have to worry about Sithe Global going insolvent. I'm thinking the $85 million tax break Sithe is seeking from the state ofNew Mexico is pocket change to Schwarzman. But, if you're a company like Sithe, and you're building a power plant inNew Mexico, one in Nevada, two in Canada, one in Ma'arib, located in theRepublic of Yemen, and one in Italy -- every little tax break counts, Iguess.GALLUP INDEPENDENT 3/1/07