It’s a wrap. And I don’t mean the kind with turkey, beef, lettuce or other condiments. The last regular assembly meeting with a side of a special meeting for 2011 is all over but the mopping up by citizen lobbyist. And since it tis the season to be frantic, in short order here are the highlights or should I say low-lights.
The special meeting described here as the Bad Road and Taxpayer Exploitation Act was taken up, and lived up to the name we have coined for it. Your assembly has voted to give "43" the new number to this ordinance. You know the sum of the two ordinances (16 and 27) they are trying to keep together in a loveless marriage? Like giving it a new number should make us all feel better? That’s about the least harmful action that was taken. Regardless of the numerous cautions from more than one borough attorney (and it should be noted here it takes at least 2 clerks and sometimes 2 attorneys to try to keep this bunch in the corral at almost every meeting) to not renew an old practice contrary to state law of serial wavers, the majority (other than Keogh, Halter and Woods) voted to do it anyway. Assemblyman Colver led the charge to continue throwing the dice on serial wavers since it “hasn’t been challenged” and “we haven’t been sued” and “my outside council is better than yours” wooed the boys of the band to a yes vote. Just as in committing a crime until some are caught, they don’t know how that prison jumpsuit will look on them. There were a couple other ugly amendments that passed including one that sure looks like it ties the hands of future assemblies on a couple of counts. The kabuki dance continues on this one in early February at yet another special meeting.
Folks in Talkeetna won’t have to pay increases in their sewer and water rates just yet. By unanimous consent the assembly decided to bounce that back to the manager and staff to come up with some other suggestions to pull the utility out of the red. Like perhaps using a portion of the bed tax (about $900,000 that is collected borough wide) to apply for more grants or perhaps include a couple of the outstanding notes in the capital budget. Then the borough could collect a smaller increase from the users. All options that need to be looked at before it makes its way back to the assembly.
Who said the all boys club of an assembly wasn’t in the holiday spirit? The rest of the agenda which included set back requirements for the Alaska Railroad that the assembly again was at odds over with their attorney on his opinion passed unanimously. This topic will be at the forefront with the expansion of the railroad line at Pt Mackenzie.
Assemblyman Colligan representing the Wasilla area successfully sponsored his first piece of legislation in a resolution supporting HB 88 regarding individual rights under the constitution. Mr. Colligan was doing some lifting for Representative Gatto on this anti-“sharia law” bill that ran out of steam in last year’s session. I guess because big issues like where to park a ferry we own and driving on the most dangerous roads in the state aren’t as pressing, Colligan picked this one to shepard and sponsor. There was some flag waving public testimony that you might expect from such legislation. Basically it invokes a reaction from citizen lobbyist of “keep on walking, nothing to see here”.
Reconsideration on the gravel ordinance made a pass through at the end of the meeting. There were a few technical changes and a bit of foot stomping but it was given the Assembly stamp of approval. Assembly member Keogh did advise the body he was troubled by much of the ordinance as passed and will be bringing forth an amendment on bonding which is sorely lacking from both the state requirements and borough for reclamation. Heck if you’re renting a school gym you have to have proof of insurance but drilling in the water table or reclaiming a gravel pit..yeah not so much.
Next up will be a meeting December 29th from 10am-2pm at Assembly chambers for the yearly assembly planning session. Normally an all day Saturday event well into the New Year held at various places in the borough has been an opportunity for the Assembly to prioritize and get their act together. However, to share the love this year in the name of efficiency ala Assemblyman Colligan it will be a held at the borough during the day, during the holiday week between Christmas and New Year. That outta invite a huge crowd for input doncha think? But alas if you can’t make it, there will be some snow boots on the ground for a report. Next regular scheduled meeting after that is January 17th and there will be some juicy topics on that agenda. There will be the update of the ethics code. Perhaps you have seen folks sporting buttons that say “got ethics”. And then the ever popular “let’s limit public input and participation”new code ordinance in the big bunch of fun headed our way. If you care to have your voice heard on all things “Borough” you just have to make the time to let the ceremonial Mayor and Assembly know you do not like this code change that limits the public’s voice. We’ll see if our assembly has any other surprises at their first meeting of the New Year on January 17th .
This meeting wrap up without condiments also puts the bow on citizen lobbyist’s work for 2011 except for the upcoming last post of the year …the 12 days of Christmas. It will be under your blog tree before Santa comes to visit. You can ignore the don’t open to Christmas label.
Thanks for reading and sharing. Now get out there and agitate and participate!