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Sunday, April 1, 2012

READY FOR SOME LOCAL GOVERNMENT POTPOURRI?


City government has all the fun…  

Well at least the chickens are safe.  Yep, this week the Palmer City Council, true to its Colonist agriculture roots passed an ordinance amending code to increase the amount of domestic birds allowed in the city limits.  And by "domestic bird" it means birds which are used for consumption, egg production or personal enjoyment "female" chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese and swans.  Don't even think of harboring peacocks, ostriches, or emus though.  And if that leaves you asking what’s up with discrimination against roosters, City staff did their homework and presented information on how it has played out in other communities.  They not only make noise, they make way too much noise for the average neighbor.  Makes you wonder if all the "crowing roosters" at the assembly table know they are in the city limits right?

Not so safe might be the arrangement with the borough to continue services for animal control for the City of Palmer.  Presently the city has what they call an ala carte arrangement. The borough only provides services after the Palmer City Police deliver the animals to the animal control shelter.  The Council was advised the borough would like to increase the contract amount by a whopping 114% for the coming year.  Not exactly an increase that the city that has been in trimming mode will be able to absorb. Expect this topic to come back to the table as negotiations and alternatives are discussed in future meetings.

The City of Palmer manager got the okay to purchase a new garbage truck to replace the only one they have and although everyone agreed a blue one would be awesome, expect to see a sparkling new yellow truck to match the other city trucks that work so hard for Palmer residents.  Hats off to the city for tagging on to a Municipality of Anchorage purchase of new trucks and getting a deal which put a smile on the faces of the conservative minded city council.

Just not into you Planning Commission….

While the City of Palmer was taking up important issues, the ALL MALE Borough Assembly was in a joint meeting with the ALL MALE Borough Planning Commission at the borough. The ceremonial mayor who rushed off fifteen minutes later to another scheduled appearance called the meeting to order in a ceremonial fashion.  With deputy mayor Arvin, disembodied as just a long distance voice over the phone once again, deputy to the Deputy Mayor Salmon took up the gavel which he is not totally unfamiliar with having served as borough mayor in the 90's.

The majority of the current planning commission, including the chair was appointed under this ceremonial mayor’s tenure.  They by in large agree with the mayor and his veto proof assembly which is exactly what got them in the big kids chairs at the table. And in case you’re a little behind in your reading, the majority of the current assembly is in the mode to dial back the clock on anything that is even loosely perceived as a planning tool. 

Planning Commission chair, John Klapperich repeatedly seemed to ask what the assembly wanted the planning commission to be and to do to serve the assembly.  He didn't seem to get an answer at the meeting but if he took the time to read past posts of this blog he will know in a hurry. The assembly and PC the borough is required by state code to serve the citizens of the valley. Not each other!

It would seem by the actions taken by this assembly although required to have a planning commission they can’t require the assembly to have a plan or really give the commission much to do.  Perhaps Mr. Klapperich would like to get his and his brethren on the planning commission a little vocational training from the lonely Maytag repairman.  It doesn't appear that their services are going to be required much. 

Be careful what you ask...

Quite a discussion was had on what happened to Title 16/27/43 which we often refer to here as the Surveyor Stimulus Bill or the Bad Road and Taxpayer Exploitation Act.  Fast turning into much like an extended episode of  Car 54 where are you?  Another blast from the past.  We commend Planning Commissioner Tom Adams's attempt to ride in on his white horse with repeated requests during the meeting for the planning commission to be extended the courtesy to comment as a body on the last iteration of proposed changes to subdivisions which bypassed them entirely on its way from the Mat Su Business Alliance through Assemblyman Colver (in the black cowboy hat) in its reversion.  But it fell on deaf ears. Borough planning staff gave a concise summary of the assembly’s enforced abbreviated comment period for both the planning and platting commissions.  Deputy Mayor Salmon asked why didn’t the PC request more time for review if it were needed. Mr. Salmon was reminded a resolution from the Planning Commission went unattended by the assembly as well as feedback from the platting board, other citizens and the RSA supervisors. 

One member of the PC was concerned that this would impact this year’s construction season, to which Mr. Salmon indicated that considering timelines and proposed amendments lined up for the 17th of April’s meeting, it has already missed this year’s construction plans. Good point. But the majority of the assembly and the ceremonial mayor appear to want a speedy resolution, with subsequent ‘tweaking’ if necessary.  At least Mr. Adams and Assembly member Keogh  stood up for more time now in a more thoughtful approach and necessary attention to getting a very important borough code right that would serve us well in the future. Unfortunately they are not the boys at the controls of the steamroller. 

There was a proactive preventive action report on funded grant work with Storm Water Management stakeholders. Palmer and Wasilla both appear to recognize the benefits they can realize from addressing this earlier rather than try to deal with repercussions when the impact of increased population and resource development affect water quality, availability, and accessibility. There appears to be buy-in from state stakeholders as well. The borough is the natural choice to take the lead, especially considering the census bureau’s just declared (notification today) ‘urbanized cluster’ in the valley that triggers the requirement for compliance with federal Clean Air Act requirements. This in itself appeared to trigger some sort of heartburn from Mr. Arvin.  Okay, who doesn’t want clean air?  Speak up now or forever hold your piece/peace.

Remaining items on the agenda included reports on the S. Denali Visitor Center (breaking ground this spring with a ceremony this summer,) and the school site selection progress including a draft master plan for 19 acres that surrounds the Academy Charter School purchased out of site selection funds last year, relocation of Mat Su Day Schools and a future site of Fronteras Charter School to the 55 acre present borough owned district maintenance facility site, as well as a Knik-Goose Bay Jr./Sr. site.

Remember the doozy agenda coming your way?  Well when isn’t it a doozy.

If you find your social calendar is a little lacking in fun and games we suggest that the place to see everyone you have been missing and a guaranteed fun packed evening is next Tuesday's Assembly April 3rd meeting. The agenda as we promised has some doozys on it including the punted UNEQUAL VOTING PROPOSAL for Community Councils which will be back for a visit under unfinished business. Citizen Lobbyist is thinking of recommending a new section of the agenda be “Unfinished Monkey Business”  of which this proposed change would clearly fall. This ordinance brought forth by the mayor would provide community councils the option to allow non-resident landowners to vote in our borough community councils.  Smelling oddly like "Corporations are People Too,”, apparently this is democracy ceremonial mayor style but the people of the Mat Su deserve better. This is a bad idea period. That message will no doubt be delivered Tuesday. To learn more it is strongly advised you don't miss an opportunity to read a compass piece published in the Frontiersman by Mark Masteller, former  chair of the borough planning commission and voice of reason and responsibility. 

Your citizen lobbyist also recommends if you do attend Tuesday's borough assembly meeting you bring a chair cushion. It could be quite an evening and the only padded chairs are the ones with the elected folks sitting in them to make the big decisions. Too bad for us all that level of comfort so far doesn't seem to contribute to their ability to use common sense in making good big decisions.


As always you can take the easy way and sit in your own comfortable chair at home and visit Radio Free Palmer's website while they stream it live for you. Visit the donation button while your there. They are public radio and depend on your donations and membership to do their good work!   



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