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Monday, August 27, 2012

PROCEED TO THE VOTERS BOOTH AHEAD...

In case your livin under a rock, tomorrow is Primary Tuesday in Alaska and it will be your  chance to exercise the right to vote for who will be on the statewide election ballot in November.  Just to make it more interesting there are two ballot measures sprinkled in. 

Alaska Voting Information can be found on its usual hiding place on the state website.  We can't blame you if you didn't follow the musical chairs of re-districting but it has resulted in some pretty big changes in Mat-Su including a new district in the Knik area.  If all else fails you can vote a challenged ballot in any precinct but its far better to know where you are suppose to be so the right candidates show up on the menu.  

Folks are asking besides where-WHO and mostly in the MENARD/DUNLEAVY race.  Without going into a tirade about the old guard and the tea party who thirst for more power in Alaska and support  Mr. Dunleavy, we will gladly admit PERSONALLY we will be voting for MENARD tomorrow.  It's no secret the Citizen Lobbyist is no fan of extremists, likes balance and those in office that protect the public process and also more importantly by in large have no personal or hidden agenda.  MENARD is the one in this race. The Alaska Dispatch puts it well when they point out although Dunleavy claims in his ads has lived in the valley since 2000 actually it was 2004 when he became a resident. Stretching the truth about residency is nothing new but if that doesn't give you pause this sure does us. 

"Dunleavy has cast himself as a true conservative, in an area full of them. On social issues, he’s staunchly pro-life, believing that abortion should be illegal in all cases. He believes that his role as a senator is to think less about bringing home projects for his district and more about where the state is headed". 

How is that extremist thingy working for us again? Enough said.

As far as ballot measures go we are a THUMBS DOWN on Ballot Measure 1 which is full of ramifications like higher property taxes for many and might be considered by some a case of bait and switch if it passes. Which property would be effected looks to be rental property, business property, vacation cabins, raw land and you guessed it low cost housing. Don't want to forget to pile on the working poor.  

It's a THUMBS UP for Ballot Measure 2 the Coastal Management Program. And its not just because we happen to love that brilliant naked sign campaign some one came up with. There has been much disinformation on VOTE FOR THE COAST YES ON 2 but the man who knows bears the best, Rick Sinnett lays it out well with some history and facts in this article and well worth the read.  

After you cast your ballot tomorrow you can head over to another Special Assembly Meeting being held at 6pm at the school district. The self-proclaimed conservatives of this assembly just love to have special meetings and this one is all for discussion about...wait for it...yep the ferry. Held over from the last meeting this is the lone item on the agenda to discuss basically how much insurance to buy for the floating controversy. Never mind that they kicked it around like a hacky sack ball at the last meeting. No doubt there will be some after-primary election celebrations to get to so perhaps the boys will just give the ball another couple kicks accentuated by massive arm waving, act like they are pulling the money out of their own wallet and not the taxpayers and be done until the next hand wringing session.  

Your guess is as good as ours on the outcome of everything above.  The only thing you can count on is if you don't pay attention, which includes getting out and casting your vote it's almost certain that the results won't be pretty. 

That and you will need more than a sign to cover you up. 





Tuesday, August 21, 2012

HEY! OLYMPICS ARE OVER PAY ATTENTION




The Olympic torch has been snuffed for the year but if you can't pry the remote out of your hand and you watched the 1st installment of "Running Alaska Primary Election" on KAKM Monday night,( August 20, 2012) and your head exploded we will give you  a pass on  reading this.  It was interviews and debates with primary candidates from the valley you've been punished enough for 24 hours.  If that didn't send you to the fainting couch, nothing will. And you can plan on having that third helping of Auntie Em's gut burning chili at the next family reunion because if you made it through that display of tin hats you  friend clearly have a stomach that can take it...

But...you do need this quick reminder that there is an assembly meeting (tonight) Tuesday, August 21st.  You can find the agenda in the usual hiding places. A normal line of agenda items that spins the wheel to spend your tax dollars and you can count on this "business at any cost" majority held assembly will be making sure that the bulk of the costs come out of pockets of homeowners and small business.  You know, your elected officials that have made sure borough savings have dropped from nearly 14 million in 2010 to under 5 million now with more empty the piggy bank legislation on the way as they continue down the path of dismantling government to sell it off. Assemblyman Colligan is back to finish off what’s left of the business inventory tax ordinance that a hedge trimmer was taken too in June. He now wants and probably will  get support from his brethren to totally REPEAL what’s left of the BIG BUSINESS TAX cutting another $614,000 out of the operating budget and transfer the cost to you guessed it ….other taxpayers.  We can almost see the unplowed snow on roads piled up.  The borough check book is bound to get a good work out with potential approval for yet more improvements for Academy Charter school, another $537,000 to the ferry that everyone loves to hate in expenses, and those ever popular with this assembly gas LID’s because this assembly just loves them some gas!  We will let you wade through the rest of the fun in the packet yourself for now.

If sitting in the assembly meeting doesn't suit your fancy and you live in the Butte area, then there is a Jim Creek Plan Meeting at 6:30pm at Butte Elementary tonight (Tuesday, August 21st) on the same night as what always promises to be most entertaining and disappointing Assembly meeting. This is your chance to see the data, layout and be the voice of balance as decisions are made for the 471 acres the borough owns.  It’s pretty hard to unwind the clock once the hands are set in motion on these plans and so far it’s looking pretty unlikely even though there is plenty of land that without more public input any harmony will be reached for non-motorized and motorized balanced recreation.  Even if you don't live in the area you should be paying attention because the bully in the playground may be in your slice of heaven backyard soon. We all know that enough is never enough for some people that are also pretty convinced that they are timeless and don't need to worry about any other generation of users.   

Of course your community radio station Radio Free Palmer will be live streaming the assembly meeting and adding it to their archive.  Your citizen lobbyist will be recalling all the thrills and spills Thursday live at RF @8am and repeated again at 5pm because its just so much darn fun!

Of course we'll be back with the crying towel when it’s all over. 

Have the scotch ready will you?


Monday, August 6, 2012

DIZZY SPELL AHEAD....






With all the fish you caught packed away in the freezer its time to take a moment to unpack the ugly luggage sitting on the carousel for tomorrow evening's (8/7) Assembly meeting. Here's hoping this little preview doesn't send you to the fainting couch.

YOURE GONNA NEED MORE CLIFF NOTES TO FIGURE OUT THIS BALLOT

The effort to select and arrange the upcoming borough ballot election items continues.  Pay attention now as the dancing begins with the boys in the corral two stepping to give us all homework for the upcoming October election.


·       Assemblyman Colligan is back NOW asking voters to give their blessing to move borough elections to April to take place when Anchorage (still finding ballots in dark corners from the last election) voters cast their city ballots.  Seems to beg a couple questions-If all this hoopla to change up when borough residents vote is about increasing turn out why not look at a mail in ballot which has been used successfully in Oregon since 1998?  It has substantially increased voter turnout there and other places and is gaining in popularity across the country. Now we know private business hasn’t entirely taken over the mail service yet and mailing it might involve that evil government entity called the post office, but heck, with all the snowbirds in the valley the numbers for absentee ballots continues to increase and essentially that is mail in right?  We wonder if  Mr.Colligan knows just because he is a daily commuter to his business to Anchorage the move to change the borough election won’t allow him to save some time to cast his ballot while in Anchorage working.  Nobody seems to support this change except the tea party. 

·       Voters may be asked to approve a $20,000 residential real property valuation exemption for an owner occupied residence. This would be in addition to the $150,000 senior and veteran exemption the state mandates but unfailingly does not reimburse the borough coffers for. Surely the sponsors are counting on people to be jumping at the chance for an exemption and not learning that it could result in a almost 15% cut in revenue for operations and another hit in the credit rating of the borough.  It should be no surprise this is brought to the table by the ceremonial mayor and the member that spends most of his time in China (Arvin) who are both up for re-election this fall. Sounds like a Chilkoot Charlies commercial to us. "Cheat the other guy and pass the savings on to you". Except it looks like the other guy they are planning to cheat again is folks like some homeowners, small business, apartment owners, renters and again the working poor.  But that's small change next to votes when some candidates are up for re-election. 

·      Folks in Willow may be asked to vote on an increase to their property tax mill levy for the Willow Fire Service from 1.37 to 2.50 to keep up with a growing demand for emergency services in the area.  We'll let you do the math on how that plays out for your own budget.  Folks don’t always see the importance of the ambulance and EMS until they are the ones in need and EMS is on another call or can’t get there because of substandard roads or access.  

OH NO NOT THE VETO PEN...AGAIN



The ceremonial mayor must have put a refill cartridge in his veto pen.  He is now seemingly scatter shooting Hatcher Pass Nordic skiers and Matsu Transit (fondly known as MASCOT).  The use of area wide funds ($180,000) allotted for MASCOT to provide bus service (for a charge) to Hatcher Pass was something directed during the already adopted budget, but glaringly missing from being online at the borough website never the less is in the veto bull’s-eye this time.

Mr. Mayor’s carrot top is off on this one because he is bothered by the borough foreclosing on people that don't pay their property taxes and then granting monies to non profits to charge skiers to bus to Hatcher Pass to ski.  Plus he thinks the service should be put out to bid competitively.  Probably no surprise that the for- profit owner of those pink buses is a big supporter of the mayor and have we mentioned it's an election year?

GOT GAS???

There is a bundle of ordinances regarding gas LID's(limited improvement district) and if you live in Eagles Bluff, Bella Haven, Bench View, North Carousel Way, South Starlight Lane, Gold Rush Estates, Shadowmere Estates, North Meadow Lakes Loop, South Alan's Drive, West Dagg Drive, Pamela Drive they are going to be talking about you and some development costs that might be headed your way.

WE'RE ALL HUMANwe think

Another ordinance concerning matching human service grants might get a whirl around the dance floor before being voted up or down. The ceremonial mayor and some other ultra conservative members have a track record of not being a fan of the whole social service scene so there could well be some surprises here yet. There will at least be some serious sniffing to make sure no liberal, tree hugger types are getting any funds.   


NO NOTIFICATION NECESSARY RIGHT??

What's not on the agenda might be the big story of what comes out of this assembly meeting. Expect the microphone to get warmed up during audience participation by some residents that are less than happy about a BIG cell tower that Verizon is building in their neighborhood off Trunk Road near the Mat Su College. You may recall that last November the majority held ultra extreame members  of the assembly voted to eliminate ANY REGULATION in the borough concerning cell towers to the dismay of many who worked for several years on an acceptable plan between industry and stakeholders.  This tower is in the process of being built in a very established neighborhood that isn't taking kindly to the lack of public process, notification (that the assembly in their wisdom did away with) and the loss of their unobstructed view that is now about to be the home of a big metal antenna.  This very well could be part of YOUR OWN backyard coming non-attractions. 

So anyone keeping track of what has been the cost to our communities of making the "borough open for business"?  Just thought we would ask

Count on some arm waving and big bloviating about how the Knik Arm Bridge would have saved the day because crazed people being chased by troopers and not ending well for the baseball bat swinger that then resulted in backing up all kinds of traffic to now be the expected daily occurrence.  Visualize Chicken Little here.  Undoubtedly there will be a need to pull out the soap box to talk about to one of those 4 or was it 6 resolutions in support of KABATA along with the $30,000 special lobbyist money.  By the way, anyone seen a report from that lobbyist?

There are plenty of ways to engage in what's about to happen. We are thinking the folks off Trunk Road that will be there about the cell tower now wish they had been paying attention and at the assembly meeting in November.

You can read the assembly packet. While you’re there you can look at the packet for the special meeting the assembly has scheduled for the 9th which mainly consists on tidying up what they decide to put on your ballot plus discussion about that pesky ferry problem.  Just in case they need one more day to roll the fun ball they tentatively have a meeting set for the 10th which is the last day to decide what goes on the ballot for your voting pleasure, but surely they will be out of bloviating air by then. 

Show up at the meeting Tuesday @6pm that will be held at the school district administration building, or at least tune in to Radio Free Palmer who will be streaming the meeting and saving the podcast in its archive.  Remember, if you can’t tune in to 89.5 on the radio you can stream it from your favorite computer or smart phone. Just remember not to text during the meeting that seems to be reserved for some members of the assembly and school board ……

If all else fails listen to a recap during the Citizen Lobbyist hour 8a-9a Thursday on Radio Free Palmer where we try to keep the weeping to a minimum for the listeners because that’s just how we roll around here.