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Monday, February 13, 2012

AND SO THE WHEEL TURNS....



Time’s a wasting to report on last week’s Assembly meeting and get you up to speed on a series of meetings that are headed our way possibly like a dark storm cloud.  So, hang on, take notes and weigh in, cuz here we go on the next roller coaster ride.

For your attendance score card; it was a full table at the  horse shoe at the Feb 7th Assembly meeting except for Mr. Halter who was excused for a big sled dog race.  Assemblyman Arvin was in his standard mode of participation, attending via teleconference.  We can’t recall what Mr. Arvin looks like other than a big speaker in the corner of the room.


SCHOOL BONDS ARE ROLLIN OUT…
The School District report, delivered by Dr. Paramo contained the good news that the state has pre-approved projects for approximately $169 million dollars worth of bonds as part of the $215 million voters supported last fall.  It appears the School District and Borough are communicating well so far on this big buffet of projects that will allow the bonds to be sold and line up a couple of years of work on the long list of projects. Bond projects can be found at the district website.


TAXPAYER EXPLOITATION AGAIN & WHO NEEDS ETHICS
The start of the Assembly meeting brought forward discussion on the upcoming Borough Ethic’s code set for a special meeting this Thursday/Feb 16th at 4pm.  The original scheduled time was at 6pm. However,  Assemblyman Colver who is still seeking some support for his “Colverization” (our new word  for your dictionary) of the current, albeit “the bad road & taxpayer exploitation act” subdivision code would like to be able to attend the Local Service Area Advisory board the same evening to obtain their support for his “Colverization” of the subdivision code. Reportedly and for good reason members of this board are none too happy about proposed changes in our current subdivision code proposed by Mr. Colver. Changes that your citizen lobbyist has referred to here as the “Bad road and taxpayer exploitation act”. An ordinance change that could bring serial waivers (no, not cereal wafers) back to their road service areas, expand Borough land sales to properties with no road access etc. and in our opinion create not only more headaches but possible serious financial ramifications to the service areas they represent and in the end taxpayers (you know you and me).  The ceremonial Mayor would like to attend this meeting as well and probably defend his desire to allow road service areas to opt out of being a road service area at all.  Assemblyman Arvin (cue visualization of speaker box in the corner) chimed in that during the now scheduled 4pm Feb 16th special ethics meeting he was planning to request the body “consider the value in creating a board or committee to give feedback” on ethics. Isn’t that what the Ethics Board is for?    After two years of work, the Ethics Board delivered a rewrite to the Assembly in January 2011, along with mountains of testimony during the Board’s public hearings.  That is hardly a lack of “feedback.”  We would suggest that perhaps another punt to give it the opportunity to get it right with a model code is what is needed.  The state is examining parts of its own ethics code this session and has bills in the Senate and House on the move. The importance of taking this opportunity to craft a strong independent ethics code cannot be understated. We will just have to see what the man in the speaker box has in mind for “creating feedback” and the agreed upon process by the Assembly to do so.  


CEREMONIAL MAYOR STRIKES AGAIN
The changes to code for the Aviation Board that allows the Mayor to be “flexible” with appointments ironically just flew as if on its own wings through this Assembly meeting with a vote of 6-1 in favor of the ceremonial Mayor’s ordinance.  The long term consequences of loading the board with political appointments are such a disservice to the Borough we hardly know where to start. There were absolutely no good arguments for making this change other than the one that wasn’t voiced when it was approved. The change in code allowed the two applicants brought forth by the ceremonial Mayor that weren’t qualified at the start of the meeting according to the current code to now by magic be perfect with the new “flexibility” the Mayor enjoys with this board now. That’s right they were confirmed at the same meeting as the changes were made. Blinding coincidence huh? Cue your furrowed brow.


BONUS POINTS
As another Assembly meeting bonus for the Mayor and empire builders sitting alongside him, the ordinance brought forth to change who can cancel calendared joint meetings of the Assembly and School Board ended up in the ceremonial Mayor’s favor again with a little help from his deputy Mayor Mr. Arvin. All the language that had been brought forward to clarify that the Mayor could only act to cancel in case of emergency or lack of quorums was cancelled out itself with new language added allowing the ceremonial Mayor or School Board President the power to cancel meetings pretty much on a whim. That apparently is how 6 of the 7 Assembly members interpret how democracy works to just hand the gavel to one guy.   Preferably their guy.

Need more or has your acid reflux kicked in enough for this report?


THE FUTURE; BE THERE
There is plenty to weigh in on coming up.  Including the special meeting on Ethics @4pm this Thursday which might be short and sweet but hugely important none the less. An Assembly work session Feb 21st starting at 3:30pm (before the normal 6pm assembly meeting) includes a presentation from respected state economist Neil Fried on the Borough economy and demography, transit services and presentation from Larry Persily on the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Project.  Both presenters are excellent in their fields, interesting and well worth putting on your radar. Since consideration of the facts doesn’t seem to be a strong point with some Assembly members let’s hope this group listens to half of what they have to say.  As far as the transit services component in this meeting, expect the Mayor to bring something forward to pull the plug on the agreement worked on for years with prior Assemblies for a regional transit authority between the Borough and Municipality of Anchorage.  That pesky public wanting services again.

So there you have it.  Citizen Lobbyist wishes it were made up but yet it’s real.  You have a veto proof Assembly that some of which would sell their grandmother to a Somali Pirate if he claimed he was from a corporation. 
How’s it working for you so far?  Whenever you are confused as to why the majority of this assembly seems to be doing something that makes no sense or is crazy, you really need to come back to this. The goal of this ceremonial mayor and some members of this assembly is not good governance. The goal is to make governing only done for and by a select few.  Pure and simple.    


Once again. It can’t be said enough so we will say it again.
Elections matter people.  They really do. 



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