Quick someone better check your Citizen Lobbyist for bedsores! Not only did the assembly gavel out at 9pm this week offering the opportunity to get home early in the frozen dark of night, but there was a BIG BONUS! Settle in and read on for your lobbyists report.
Every meeting needs a pre-meeting doncha know..
No matter how much Assembly members Arvin (from his rickshaw in China) and Colver (from his sandy beach in Hawaii both via Skype) try to convince everyone that there are problems with the borough procurement process, they just keep coming up with nothing. Staff and management were called to the carpet again for a special 4PM meeting on Procurements. Probably Assemblyman Salmon who breaking from his normal practice of agreeing with the boys club said it best by asking near the end, “I don’t understand why we are even here? I don’t believe in the Assembly micro-managing”. Exit Assembly stage left shortly after. Maybe it was beginning to get hard to ignore those smells of hot tax payer paid pizza arriving for dinner. No one asked for another chest puffing meeting to discuss the topic.
Got Ethics? Let’s kick this can down the road a little farther..
The Ethics Code that has become the subject of a long Assembly badminton game without much discussion again was postponed until Feb 16th by Assembly member Arvin. Nope, it wasn’t passed nor referred back to the Ethics Committee to bat around. No real substantive reason we could grasp other than just a case of the “We can’t think about this today, we’ll think about this in February”. At least it leaves us limping along with a dated ordinance (as opposed to no ordinance for towers or tall structures) and an opportunity to convince the decision makers to take the immense amount of public input they have and pass a good healthy ethics code then. Stay tuned!
On to the show stopper ..or Bring on the duct tape to quiet those pesky citizens ordinance
Mr. Manager and whichever Assemblyman put him up to it (and unsurprisingly no one is likely to fess up to it) got their first trip of the year to the woodshed on ORD-12-002 which attempted to limit to one hour the maximum time for public testimony at during audience participation at future Assembly meetings. Citizen Lobbyist made it pretty clear in previous posts why this is a bad idea and encouraged leaders to leave the duct tape in the drawer next to the WD 40. There was some pretty robust public testimony on the subject. Important points on reserving the public’s right to speak and what a “chilling effect it would be to the democratic process,” ,the importance of encouraging public input and not discouraging it. There were poignant reminders to the Mayor on his campaign promises for an open and transparent government and ease of testifying particularly for our neighbors in the north who are geographically challenged to personally attend. The Borough Attorney reminded the body that by state law they are not allowed to vote on an ordinance before everyone that wants to be heard is heard although it’s sadly not the case on resolutions brought forward which seems to be a favorite ploy of Mr Mayor and other Assembly members. Assemblyman Colver speaking from the sandy beaches in Hawaii made some weak attempts to support the ordinance with statements like look “we have to get our business done” which apparently means he didn’t get the memo that its “the people’s business” he’s elected to do. Assemblyman Arvin not surprisingly seemingly getting more user friendly by the day now that its an election year added a comment that he didn’t even like the current 3 minute rule on the maximum time to speak. Perhaps that was just his warm up for later in the agenda when he pulled a couple consent items to comment on what great projects they were and hand out a few atta-boy’s which is not the normal practice or reason for pulling items on the consent agenda. You get the picture. The important thing is the PUBLIC with perhaps some help from the common sense editorial in the Frontiersman forced the band of Assembly boys to have a rare and lucid moment. We didn’t see it coming but we’ll take it!
Yet another can kicked down the road…or We don’t need no stinkin water rights
For no real reason, a resolution brought forward by Assemblyman Keogh was not greeted with enthusiasm or supported by the ceremonial Mayor or his brethren. Let’s remember that the ceremonial Mayor has his own stack of resos about every meeting and is practically giddy with anticipation to pass and sign them on the spot. RESO 12-004 would authorize the manager to establish a water rights public awareness campaign. It would be done through radio public service announcements (which Assemblyman Colligan seemed surprised were FREE) and the rest of the campaign accomplished at a minimum cost through the existing budget. This would include in-house staff posting information on the borough web site on how to link to DNR to obtain water rights. This just wasn’t good enough to some Assembly members who insisted on a “solid dollar amount for the campaign” before they accepted the resolution. Quite amusing when you consider those same Assembly members want to tack on special meetings and additional attorney time for some pet project, or their own senseless legislation that’s doomed to fall flat with no mention of a solid dollar amount or cost. But now that they have allowed lots of big shovels to be waved about in the borough ready to dig in the water table in an unmapped aquifer and potentially negatively impact homeowners domestic ground water supply or mine in open gravel pits practically in folks back yard, well “Whoa Nelly”! Some Assembly members and the ceremonial Mayor don’t seem to want to be rushed into helping residents that have 22,000 private wells supplying their drinking water how to protect their rights which seems odd for a body so wrapped around the axel of the people’s “rights”. Who knows what they “boys in the band”are thinking? Maybe it needed further vetting by their corporate warlords but it won’t see the light of day until Feb 07th. Never mind that two other resolutions on the agenda regarding gas development in Cook Inlet, and one other regarding a Visitors Center in South Gateway slid through like a kid on a icy hill.
The rest of the meeting isn’t really worth the ink. But the ceremonial Mayor promises more upcoming changes to the agenda and the aviation board (please for the love of fairies someone get this man into a book club or suggest a new hobby) and a hard look at business and inventory taxes (who knew we had them) so we can continue to open the borough for business. Guess he didn’t get the memo ITS NEVER BEEN CLOSED. Sigh…..