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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Just In Case You Thought It Couldn’t Get Much Worse

Shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that by a vote of 6-1 your Assembly voted to adopt an inferior and what might just prove to be dangerous Ethics Code, in what appears to be a continuing quest to set bad policy. A mish mash of amendments were offered largely by just two members, Mr. Colver and Mr. Arvin, who actually made his first physical appearance in Assembly chambers in months. Less shocking should be that the majority of this Assembly who are marching in lockstep with your ceremonial Mayor chose to blatantly ignore all the public input from years of public testimony and diligent work by the Ethics board.  They turned a blind eye to correspondence by current and past members of the ethics board, and past Assembly members who strongly suggested that the Ethics board take the opportunity to craft a model code for the Borough. Citizen Lobbyist will revisit this when the code that was adopted at the special meeting is available (along with the audio file) from the Borough. Suffice it to say the weakening of this code is shameful and does not serve our Borough well, although it is pretty easy to see that it is exactly what those that voted for it had in mind. Precious nuggets such as striking “personal interest” out of the code and making sure “financial interest” was increased from $200.00 to $1,000.  The code on the books before this charade, stipulated $50 for the financial interest benchmark.  Another classic case of “always follow the money.” You can look forward to a full report soon.  Hopefully it will help you at the voting booth in October.

Assembly “We Really Do Work” Session-Tues/Feb 21st 3:30pm-
Although listening isn’t what we would call a strong suit of this Assembly, they have asked to hear from two respected and prominent speakers to start their meeting day early. Scheduled to speak is State Economist Neil Fried who often shares growth and labor area statistics, demography and trends to groups all over the state, and respected Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects, Larry Persily. Who better to listen to about the real state of our local economy?  You know people who are actually educated and qualified to give us the real scoop.  Our guess is that the State Economist actually has factual evidence that our Borough is doing well and is and has been open for business all along.  The ceremonial mayor and Assembly could learn much about innumerable issues if they can set aside their personal and political agenda’s long enough to do so.  A tall order for a majority of our Assembly and our Mayor it seems.  You should be there to listen as well. Somewhere sandwiched in there will be a discussion on transit services that the Mayor has already shared he doesn’t feel the love for taking us up to the regularly scheduled meeting fun at 6pm.

Assembly “you can never have too much fun” Meeting
Highlights of the 950 page packet for this meeting contain the bounced back resolution in support of the legislation pending in Juneau this session establishing a “Susitna State Forrest”.  The assembly wanted more information last meeting on this because it’s not as easy to understand as say Sharia Law is.  So back it comes.
Public Hearings will be offered for as much as you can cram in to talk about in three minutes on Houston and Willow area historic plans, numerous natural gas and local road improvement projects, donations to the Borough animal shelter, acceptance of monies from the state to fund transit planning and fed money for additional share a vans (that might get a kick to the curb earlier in the special meeting consistent with previous meetings actions and the will of the ceremonial Mayor) and approval, acceptance and appropriation of $591,800 community revenue sharing again from the state for 22 community councils should their projects qualify.  An additional resolution includes approving financial software that enhances online paying options. This would bring our Borough that is badly behind in technology into this century.  At about $400,000, not cheap but a bargain if you live in Big Lake, Willow, Talkeetna or beyond Sutton and want to pay for your business license, pool pass, library fees along with a host of other things online. Another resolution supports the South Big Lake Road re-alignment phase 2 that has been a high priority of residents in that area. Residents and others have long experienced increased dangerous conditions on a twisted hot mess of a road that is only getting worse as the area grows and connects up with port traffic.

Who Needs Water? Duh!
In a little de’ja vu action Resolution 12-023 is being brought forward to allow the Assembly members a second chance to do right by the 22,000 water well owners in the valley and vote to authorize a public awareness campaign by way of adding information to the borough website, press release and public service accouncments all done by existing borough staff.  Reassurance from the gravel industry that got the blessing from the Assembly to drill into our water table hardly offers protection to landowners that find out they have no assurance of water rights without filing with the state.  The gravel industry, if they really support doing the “right thing” should be at the table testifying for this water rights campaign too. While we should all be supporting correcting the dangerous road connections in our communities we should also be waving the flags of support for this resolution that for a measly $1,000 of taxpayer money authorizes the manager to establish the water rights public awareness campaign. The ceremonial Mayor spent somewhere in the area of $3,000 on a meager business owner survey mail out of which one side was totally blank without Assembly approval.  Let’s hope Assembly members hold the “we’re not everyone’s mother” remarks and how “hideous” this all is and just allow it to go forward.  If not we should be asking who they are protecting huh? 

Corporations should not buy elections
Lastly and not without pause, Resolution 12-024 supporting adoption of House Bill No 244 before the legislature that prohibits corporations from contributing to and influencing elections is up for vote.  The bill amends state law that allows corporations to be recognized as persons. The sponsor statement for the house bill can be found here.  Government bodies and states all over the country are passing such legislation recognizing the dangerous implications for all elections.  It just won’t pass the red face test for those that voted to support the bill on Sharia law and other Borough resolutions that don’t really pertain to the Borough and vote against this one that would protect our state and local elections.  And if they choose to not support this resolution it will tell you a lot about who they are as well as where their support comes from. 

That’s the line up of the fun for this Tuesday.  You should either be putting on your spring coat and being there yourself, listening to the Radio Free Palmer live stream it or at least weighing in with the Assembly before hand on your thoughts by the links provided to the right. 

Lack of public participation and feedback is what keeps the door ajar for serious skullduggery that at some point you won’t be able to ignore because it will affect you.  Besides the ceremonial Mayor and some Assembly members seem to have the market on “what’s best for us” corner and are keeping the seat warm on paying no attention to all but a few.

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