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.
YOU’RE 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?
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 HUMAN…we 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.