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Monday, February 27, 2012


The famous quote that “everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts” set the tone for the  Assembly work session last week.  Even though the ceremonial Mayor cancelled respected state economist Neil Fried’s scheduled appearance in December, Mr. Fried was here last week for the first time ever speaking to the Mat Su Borough Assembly and a packed house. And his facts shoulda left some marks like a good towel snapping in a locker room on most of the good ol boys at the horseshoe.

That’s because after a couple years of a nonstop tirade from the majority of Assembly members about the financial sky falling in the Borough with that tired “closed for business” mantra was laid to rest. The data is clear-IT ISN’T and more importantly IT HASN’T BEEN. Mr. Fried presented the evidence that the Mat Su version of “Chicken Little” should never have had a perch here.

Big fat FACTS like:
¨      The Borough, unlike every other area of Alaska has seen a balanced employment growth in every sector from 2000-2010. 
¨      The second highest percentage of the Alaskan work force on the slope is folks from the valley. 
¨      Real Estate is still robust and hasn’t changed that much since 2007.
¨      It’s not the 80’s again! Foreclosures are but a blip in the radar in comparison to everywhere else.

Now we all know money doesn’t go as far as it used to for us here in the valley and nationwide.  But the reason for that can be almost entirely tied to the cost of basic goods.  A big chunk of that expense is fuel.  But are the fuel suppliers making any less? Nope.  Wages just aren’t keeping up with inflation except for the very few. And if you notice the majority of members of this Assembly aren’t about to do a thing about that. In fact, they are chomping at the bit to cut more jobs, especially if they are union jobs. 
We could go on and on but if you missed it you should hear it for yourself because the recording can be found at the Radio Free Palmer website.  Find out for yourself what the real state of the Mat Su Borough economy is and not what a bunch of loud voices have been telling you it is.  Another famous quote comes to mind; “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.”  Following Fried’s talk is one by Alaska Gas Line expert Larry Persily and well worth the listen as well.

No wonder they think things are as bad as it was in the 80’s. 

Instead of continuing down a road of improving the Borough through endorsement of solid planning for quality communities and support for small business the ceremonial Mayor and his veto proof Assembly continue to walk leap us back to the past. They are spending their time passing resolutions in support of Sharia law and the Cordova Coal Party of 1911 among other useless resolutions so aptly described by Doogan as “letters to themselves” about things that do nothing to move the Borough forward.
The important take away is what many folks have been saying for a couple of years.  There are people sitting at the table making decisions based on their own interest or their party’s ideology and not what the facts call for.  Organized groups such as the Mat Su Business Alliance and Conservative Patriots have been promoting this discord and helping elect office holders with loud voices that have no plan to act in the best interest of the rest of us. With that voice this misguided group has managed to eliminate any tower ordinance for the Borough, allowed for gravel extraction into the water table, eliminated the land use permit and if they have their way again they will completely gut the subdivision code at a special Assembly meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 1pm in Assembly Chambers. And you can be sure as soon as all the damage is done (think about the national debt the previous administration left the current one) and the handful of their supporters are in place to reap the benefits they will ride out of town on the next dust cloud.

The Conductor..

Guiding this train wreck is legislation recreating the subdivision code orchestrated by Assemblyman Colver, and he has plenty of backup singers on the Assembly. They will be working to adopt the latest draft of what was handed to them and written by the Mat Su Business Alliance a for profit corporation of invisible faces. By comparison, in 2010 the then sitting Assembly adopted the Matanuska Borough Economic Development Strategic Plan drafted by a working group of citizens and business people that set aside personal agendas and came together for a good roadmap to the future for the Borough. Of course it was adopted by that other Assembly which makes it ripe for throwing in the nearest dumpster by the current Assembly.  There is nothing in the plan that instructs one of the top strategies to rewrite or roll back Title 27. What it speaks to is the need to provide business certainty.  What it speaks to is building a capacity to conduct economic development in the Borough by marketing, business advocacy and infrastructure improvements. What it speaks to is focusing on quality development to improve the appearance (our current ceremonial Mayor vetoed the last junk ordinance) of the Borough.   What it speaks to is the “threats” of unmanaged growth. We should not be making up new goals or be rewarding a few that bought cheap property and want to develop it on the backs of others.
The fact that the upcoming Assembly meeting is being held in the middle of the day (again Tuesday Feb 28th @ 1pm) about such an important subject pretty much guarantees it will be rammed through. Almost like it’s part of the plan doncha think?

Doubt you’ll have trouble finding a seat to watch.  But you still have time to let your voice be heard by contacting Assembly members by phone or email and tell them to keep their mitts of Title 27 and tell Mr. Colver to stop “colverizing” one of the best guides for subdivision development we have.

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