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Sunday, September 30, 2012

ROCK THE BOROUGH VOTE!






We just can't put it better than this fellow blogger...

"Every year in Happy Gumdrop Fairy-Tale Land all of the sprites and elves and woodland creatures gather together to pick the Rainbow Sunshine Queen. Everyone is there: the Lollipop Guild, the Star-Twinkle Toddlers, the Sparkly Unicorns, the Cookie Baking Apple-cheeked Grandmothers, the Fluffy Bunny Bund, the Rumbly-Tumbly Pupperoos, the Snowflake Princesses, the Baby Duckies All-In-A-Row, the Laughing Babies, and the Dykes on Bikes. They have a big picnic with cupcakes and gumdrops and pudding pops, stopping only to cast their votes by throwing Magic Wishing Rocks into the Well of Laughter, Comity, and Good Intentions. Afterward they spend the rest of the night dancing and singing and waving glow sticks until dawn when they tumble sleepy-eyed into beds made of the purest and whitest goose down where they dream of angels and clouds of spun sugar".



You dont live there, you live right here in the valley!

It’s time to lift the rock off and get out and vote in the borough wide election THIS Tuesday, October 2nd.  It's well documented in the 50 plus previous posts right here on the blog why. We've spent months taking you down the troubled trail. 

Let's cut to the chase and give you our suggestions for making your vote count by casting your ballot for candidates that will work for YOU if elected and not the extremist far right fractions that think calling all the shots in the valley has become their entitlement.

BOROUGH MAYOR:  MARK MASTELLER


We just can't give you any better reason than this from astute reader and Lazy Mountain resident and small business owner Brooke Heppenstall:

“I’ve known Larry DeVilbiss for many years - back in the 1980’s when we were on our local community council together and in the ensuing years when our community split apart over the Clark-Wolverine Rd. upgrade.  I’ve learned  firsthand what some folks think is acceptable behavior in the local political arena.  Pandering to emotion and ignoring factual and verifiable information is not a sound basis for decision making.  Our current mayor uses these techniques he’s learned well over the years.  If the assembly chambers are packed with citizens who overwhelmingly favor a position, yet, the mayor subtly makes it appear as though there is balance in the room over an issue, that is NOT a factual representation of citizen interest http://www.masteller4mayor.com/2012/09/24/a-fair-and-respectful-process/ .  Mayor DeVilbiss would prefer to be a different kind of mayor than the position warrants…something other than a mere referee with a gavel and veto power.  Yet, that is enough power to control the direction of the borough’s future. 
-        We have no enforceable ethics code for the borough’s elected officials.
-        Being ‘open for business’ as the main credo without proper ethical boundaries and rule of law is not a good way to run our borough.
-        The Borough is a major user of MEA’s utility services.  Our mayor does not see a conflict of interest with his borough office and his position as a board member of the local electric utility MEA.
It all boils down to behavior doesn’t it?  What is ethical and appropriate for good governance?  A wide open approach assumes all players have good scruples and will play fair.  This is a foolish position to take as we’ve all been taken in at least once in life and know better.  Grandma said ‘Rules are for fools.’  Yes, because there’s always some fool that is selfish and unscrupulous and will take us for a ride.  Some fool will pollute the neighborhood’s wells, build a substandard road that washes out or falls apart, slips a piece of the action to a foolish assembly member, and so on.  We don’t have a good set of rules in our borough and the current assembly and mayor like it that way.
Property taxes!  Yes, that’s a hot button that will get folks going in a heartbeat.   Last year many of us were shocked to receive our appraisals and see an increase of 60 to 90 percent!  Even those of us who are not ‘anti-tax’ had palpitations.  The borough’s assessor’s explanation was that they hadn’t done an assessment in over four years on these areas.  I asked why not and it turned out to be a manpower issue.  Larry smiled at me and asked “Do you think we should spend more tax money to hire more people, Brooke?” 
When we starve department budgets so that they cannot do a competent job we are only shooting ourselves in the foot.  It is more cost-efficient to do a job right the first time than to spend more tax dollars in assembly hearings, filing appeals and having more hearings, calling on borough employees to be at hearings, and so on down the line.  We run our borough on part time employees who have little solid history with the management of our community.  Good people, but, an inefficient way to manage our community.  And, it’s hard on our property taxes!
-        Current emergency funds are currently so low they would be wiped out by an emergency.  Like flooding.  Larry didn’t veto the cuts to those funds when he had the chance.  There’s a reason for that levee on the Old Glenn Hwy….
-    Cell phone towers without public hearings?
“ Actually, communications companies and interested citizens spent over two years working out a plan for expansion of the cell network, that would allow for community input and notification to nearby landowners. It was remarkable that the companies came together to share information in this competitive industry. The Assembly did not pass the proposal developed by the working group, and at the same time eliminated the existing requirements for notification.
The current Mayor has publicly stated that he “…could not veto a proposal that didn’t pass.” This is not true. The new plan for cell tower expansion, that allowed the public to comment, also repealed the existing rules that required notification to a community. So the action to repeal the existing regulations could have been vetoed and the Assembly members would have been forced to more carefully consider a matter of public importance. “  http://www.masteller4mayor.com/2012/09/27/faq/
You get the picture.   Larry’s a nice guy with a different view of how we should run our community.  He’s spent decades involved in our local politics.  Our community needs a breath of fresh air and a change of direction now.  Mark Masteller wants to see the public’s checkbook online, our borough’s spending made transparent, our ethics code adopted, and a more inclusive community voice in our assembly chambers.  A former Gateway Community Council president, chairman of the Borough Planning Commission, volunteer and founding member at the Community Recycling Center, hockey nut and player, wildlife biologist, and currently an energy efficiency consultant in the building trades, Mark’s broad professional background hits on so many key areas that are important to this community and its future.  He’s non-partisan, a listener, and takes a thoughtful, fact-based approach to decision making.  It’s time for a change and I hope you will join me on Tuesday to vote for our new Mayor Mark Masteller!  http://www.masteller4mayor.com


We've been shockingly entertained by some of the jaw dropping statements (ie: ceremonial mayor cough followed by “I must have coal dust in my throat”) of the carrot mayor but its way past time to take away his gavel and head seat at the table.  This budding valley is ready for a grown up mayor that doesn't suffer from a Napoleon complex.  We need a steady hand at the helm that doesn't freely admit he likes to spend his time discussing things with his cows instead of his constituents. We need a borough mayor that brings ideas and people together instead of cutting off public testimony, gerrymandering agendas, and calling for an all out assault on FSA’s,RSA's and Community Councils.  That should cover it.  VOTE MASTELLER MAYOR! .  Mark our words you will be glad you did.



 BOROUGH ASSEMBLY..Say AMEN to sanity and gender balance:


Of the three assembly seats on the ballot it’s a disappointment to see that only one incumbent member has an opponent.  Just because there is no opposition for two of the three seats we are hoping that voters and incumbents aren't lulled into thinking it is because their representation of their districts is just peachy.

While we have no particular bones to pick with District 7's Vern Halter who’s record shows he represents his constituents pretty well its disappointing that no one is getting their feet wet as a candidate, if for nothing more than for name recognition.  We do hope this being Halter's last term it will allow him the freedom to put away the waffle iron on matters and be a little more bold in his decisions.  As for District 6, Jim Colver's lack of opponent speaks way less about the satisfaction of his constituents but more of his true talents in building empires ("as long as he gets me mine" mentality) and being a professional politician with too many years jumping from one elected body to the next feeding just enough voter blocks to not give rise to a challenger. His lack of respect for the public process (stay tuned for an upcoming post on the latest on that) and deadly tango with ethics is bound to catch this roadrunner politician but not this election. Even though voters have seemingly ignored he spent the first half of his term in Juneau trying to raise his star there and “calling it in”. We do hope they list somewhere results of the write in candidates names because we hear there is a huge surge of “anyone but Colver” ballots planning to be cast.  


That leaves one very important assembly seat.  The reasons to toss out the incumbent and to vote for MICHELLE CHURCH for assembly district 3 could not be clearer.
 
The MatSu Business Alliance debate, a bad afternoon staged performance moderated by right wing has been extremist talking head Dan Fagan, there was an empty chair as a prop. Mr. Arvin,sat next to the ironically empty chair.  Much like the empty Arvin Assembly chair most of his last term. Thats right NOT THERE.  He was too busy tending to his own job in CHINA to care about creating more jobs in the valley for his own constituents.  But thats just part of the problem. What Mr. Arvin was available to do via his perch in China was:
·       Vote to reduce by $1,188,752 in borough reserves for major repairs and renovations.
·       Vote to reduce by $250,000 in borough reserves for Capital Projects.
·       Vote to reduce by $250,000 in borough reserves for emergency response.  
·       Vote to reduced the tax burden to big business while directing cost of development to small property owners
·       Vote to watering down the meaning of “personal interest” in the borough ethics code” allowing for personal activities of assembly members to proceed unimpeded while they “serve” the people.
·       Vote to refused to allow for health impact studies to protect the people of the borough from the effects of resource extracting.
·       Vote to eliminate the ordinance for tall towers in the borough
·       Delayed action on legislation to solve the ferry issue in fact make it worse.
·       Sponsored legislation to include “motorized” in the Jim Creek Management Plan an area not even in his district.

All while owning an environmental company but relentlessly wails against environmental organizations of any kind. You get the picture.  Mr. Arvin’s long arms from China only speak for his own interests or himself. If you would like to see who some of them are here is a link to his latest APOC filing. Many of the same players in the ceremonial mayors APOC report

Bottom line voters need to take this opportunity to return MICHELLE CHURCH to the assembly.  Church’s no nonsense, no personal gain, no good ol’boy approach will serve her district and the borough well. She will hit the ground running on the issues. Even the members of the borough public workers union that work with members of the assembly closer than any of us would like to have endorsed Church.  They should know. 

 


SCHOOL BOARD SEATS-Its not all fun and games and an apple for the teacher 

The school board is serious business. Our vote goes to DEBBY RETHERFORD AND SARAH WELTON who both clearly care about kids, parents, community and public education. They are both reasonable and inclusive. All school board candidates have filed exempt (not spending more than $5,000 on campaigning) but two of their opponents Fussell and Kopp have let the far right extremist groups mainly the tea party Conservative Patriots do their advertising for them.  Which screams loudly about their views. The CPG is no friend of UNIONS or PUBLIC education. We find them and some or all of the candidates that they pander for neither conservative nor patriots. If the people of the valley want a good education system they need a good, well balanced and reasonable school board.  VOTE RETHERFORD and WELTON.

CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES..try being a fan of the write in candidate..


City of Palmer: 2 Council Seats-
3 candidates with top the two top vote winners the victors. No candidates are actively campaigning unless you consider a letter to the editor in today’s frontiersman from Richard Best putting on his tea party hat to oppose Palmer becoming the first smoke free community. Mr. Best’s adversarial manner towards the mayor and issues not of his ideology is tiresome and un-productive and passive aggressive something we find unseemly in elected officials. We have no information on challenger Elden Tritch who might be a swell guy but voters don’t seem to know if that’s the case. Our vote does go to KEN ERBEY an incumbent with a steady hand and respectful manner and maybe this will be the year the “write in candidate” surprises us all.  Or maybe it’s time Palmer considers a charter change for term limits for council members.  We tire of seeing the same names time and time again.


City of Wasilla:3 Council Seats-
Seat A-TAFFINA KATKUS is an independent thinker and her quirky ways entertaining and  community interests at heart. Her latest suggestion of a trade of the borough ferry to the state of Wisconsin (no not for cheese we asked) is defiantly out of the box but hey we haven’t heard anything better from this assembly.
Seat B-We urge a write in vote for JOHN LUBERGER- Reportedly he regularly attends city council meetings and preformed well when he was once appointed to fill in for the job.
Seat C-We urge a write in for PAT JOHNSON who narrowly lost a run for assembly and is thoughtful and well respected by the people of Wasilla opposed to the incumbent who by all reports is lacking of knowledge of city code and has a disdain for planning and public process.

City of Houston-Two Council Seats up for grab. With no reader feedback to rely on we will let the fine people of Houston figure this one out.  We will say since a female mayor was elected it sure seems the City of Houston has stayed on the rails and the “they did what?” newspaper headlines fewer.  For us another shameless shout out for gender balance in government!



PROPOSITIONS MATTER TOO…


Not a lot for you to figure out here. 

Borough Ballots-
Proposition 1-Proposed increase in the mill levy for Willow Fire Service Area residents-to us this proposition is poorly worded and confusing. There are many needs for an increased emergency presence no doubt. We are hoping the folks attending the Willow Area Community Organization scheduled for Monday Oct 1st at 7pm will give some guidance.

Proposition 2-
Is a question to voters if borough should provide an additional $20,000 tax exemption on real property value for seniors and SOME veterans. While we support any equitable, well thought out property tax containment this is neither. Seniors (over 65 years) and eligible veterans already are protected by not paying property tax in the borough on the first $150.000 of residential property. This law courtesy of the state who conveniently fails to reimburse local governments for the discount. This proposition is a pared down piece of failed legislation originally brought forward by the ceremonial mayor.  The majority held members of this assembly in their zealot behavior of being “open for business” have reduced revenues left and right without addressing how to absorb the hits or what the exact impact or cost of implementation will be. We fear this one will be felt by passing the impact to other landowners without holistically looking at the property tax issue.  Our vote is NO on Prop 2 in hopes of a better more responsible plan will come forth.

City of Palmer-

Prop 1-Clean up language in the city charter regarding magistrate court the city no longer has.
Prop 2-Clean up language in the city charter regarding mandates of a time-frame in which a person can file a notice for damages resulting from an injury.

We like cleaning up the City Charter that hardly anyone reads but needs to be kept current. The Palmer City Clerk does her homework.  We urge a YES vote on both.

Prop 3-Prohibits smoking in public and places of employment. There is no disputing the clear scientific dangers of second hand smoke and simply passing this proposition will make the City of Palmer the first Smoke Free Community in the valley.  Quite a jewel in the crown of an already forward thinking, family friendly, community orientated place to live and visit. There are the normal howlers of “rights” but the voter initiative ground roots Smoke Free Palmer campaign has done a good job getting information out to voters.  There is wide ranging support by both smokers and non smokers for this proposition to pass. Personally we can’t wait to go to the Palmer Bar for one of the best burgers around and not have to think about running through a fire hose afterwards.
An enthusiastic VOTE YES on PROP 3!


Phew…so that’s what you have to look forward to on your ballot WHEN YOU GET OUT TO VOTE THIS TUESDAY OCT 2nd.  If there is any question about where you vote and admittedly there have been some changes you can go check with the state or for at the borough website for more information.  And you don’t have to wait until Tuesday.  You can vote early Monday at the borough, cities, or state and public libraries in Talkeetna and Trapper Creek. Again info on the borough website.



Not voting is full of painful expensive lessons and many of them fully realized by past low voter turn out in local elections where arguably you can make the most difference. We think the candidates we have endorsed here are the best chance for a balanced and sane change for communities and really believe not only in people over politics but will walk the talk of transparency in government and guard your right to a public process.  They believe all people-not just some people should have a voice.

If you’re planning on being part of the group that complains but doesn't do something to effect positive change like voting be aware that your participation in the voting process is public record and we’ll be watching.  Make the system work for you instead of complaining about it. If you don’t want to be a candidate we respect that but respect the work that thoughtful candidates have done and don’t let the ones that think blowing into town a month before to glad-hand, get their big name political hacks to do robo calls, or have big signs littering the roadways for months have their way with the future of the place you live and pay taxes. When you don’t vote things CAN and will get worse. To be effective we have to change who is driving the elected official car and making decisions.  Time to get it out of the ditch and on the road to recovery. 

In short suck it up and GO VOTE TUESDAY!







Sunday, September 16, 2012

PLENTY OF PUNCH IN THE PACKET..







Like a Greek Cruise ship trying to avoid rocks your borough assembly will meet Tuesday to take up the contents of a 1258 page packet.  All kinds of fun in store for the all male review assembly to puff their chests over on the doorstep of the October 2nd borough election.

ALWAYS OPENED FOR UNFINISHED BUSINESS.  

The lone piece of unfinished business concerns taxpayer's (that's right "taxpayers" are paying for it each and every month in property tax dollars) ferry still tied up to a dock in Southeast Alaska feeding that local economy. The assembly is to take up a resolution to OFFICIALLY put the M/V Susitna up for sale on the federal registry. Getting to this point has only taken a half a dozen assembly meetings and had it not been at the insistence of the assembly member from district one, the shoving match would have continued.  The self professed fiscal conservatives of this assembly just don't seem to be able to grasp the fact that their inaction has a big price tag hanging on it too. No matter how many special meetings called to find the answer. And there have been plenty concerning the ferry. Let's hope this doesn't result in another delay or that a member of the assembly tries to use their ninja moves to go in yet another direction.

SHINY NEW OBJECTS TO KICK

Members of the public will have their three minutes to weigh in on five pieces of new business.  Ordinance 12-104 concerns a gas LID in Rose Glen Estates, Ordinance 12-114 is a $51,999.90 grant from US Fish and Wildlife for the LIDAR mapping project( think Google earth on steroids), Ordinance 12-115 the Kashwitna interim materials district (think gravel pit) that is a 40 year project covering over 770 acres, Ordinance 12-116 phase one ($13,650,000) of the road bonds voters passed last year for various projects and last but not least Ordinance 12-117  a $5 million dollar state grant for the budget and scope of work for the South Big Lake Road project that has languished for several years. Big dollar signs alive and kicking in just the ordinance part of the packet.

RAININ RESOLUTIONS….

There is a resolution on the agenda brought forth by Mr. Arvin who seems to be on a temporary vacation from his full time position working in China (probably nothing to do with the election next month) that will consolidate the permitting process for the KABATA project and allow borough staff to conduct some of the digging. The money ($270,000) is coming from KABATA who got it from the state and fed's most likely. There doesn't seem to be any let up of enthusiasm for the bridge project from the majority members of this assembly even though probably the biggest champion for the project, Senator Menard was defeated in the primary last month. No one really knows how much advocacy for the project to expect from what seems likely to be the new tea party supported heir apparent Dunleavy.  It's likely he will be saving his guns for reworking the state educational system to allow for public dollars for state vouchers for private schools and making it harder for unions to participate in that process. The tea party does have a line for their picks to walk after all.

ANOTHER CHANCE TO DO THE RIGHT THING

While we aren't holding our breath for this assembly to make right too many of its trail of wrongs it will get a chance by passing Resolution 12-108 for a request to the Alaska State Department of Health and Social Services to conduct a comprehensive health impact assessment for mining in the matanuska coal fields.  Our local newspaper editorial presented it bravely and clear for readers and in saying in part "We want to know the positive and negative health, safety and socio-economic aspects of coal industry activity".  We are bound to see the expected arm waving and hear the ceremonial mayor and normal suspects on the assembly bellow about unnecessary road blocks by government and how residents should just stand back and let the magic happen.  But most residents that have a long term commitment and investment to the valley are loudly calling for more. What better time to have the assembly weigh in by voting on this resolution and declare how far they are willing to go to protect residents.  It will tell voters who go to the polls next month where their priorities clearly are. The people with tall towers headed to their neighbors yard know all too well unfortunately.

Transparency in government is all talk frequently not walked.  All things to do with the ferry might be buried in the Action Memorandum part of the agenda in AM No 12-127 a proposal to move and store the M/V Susitna. In a continued case of hurry up and wait we may see unfold a game of cat and mouse.  The only detail about this AM in the packet for the public to see is a page that says "Will be provided by the manager's office later this week".  After what this assembly has put "Teflon manager" Moosey through we can't really blame him for wanting to make sure what he presents is accurate and logical or his Teflon head might end up on a stick!  But we are itchin to see it and compare recent APOC reports which sometimes help put the puzzle piece together.  We recall Assembly member Arvin fighting early attempts to sell or list the ferry on the federal registry and placing himself as lead champion of moving it to the port.  Is one of his ardent past and present supporters a bidder?  How many bidders are there for this latest delay at request of the majority members of the assembly?  We will be waiting and word is more than a couple newspaper investigative reporters will be too.

There are more odds and ends of fun in the packet which you should at least read the first ten pages of that includes the agenda. Tuesday's (Sept 18th @6PM) assembly meeting will be the last one before the election on October 2nd and  Radio Free Palmer will be live streaming the meeting for your listening pleasure. There is plenty of room to watch the fun yourself where the meetings are being held at the school district administrative digs.

 
We could go on and on about the last special assembly meeting demanded by assembly member Colligan but it turned out to be what's become the typical fire drill so we find it not worth much ink. Mostly it was an all too frequent case of taxpayers paying for at least 10 staff members to drop everything while the assembly held a work session to discuss their goals that ended up by in large to look like goals they were beating to death already.  If there was ever a need for a playground attendant it was there. But the monitors that ruffle their feathers at anyone else monitoring them passed on a facilitator probably knowing the clerk and borough attorney have nothing better to do then watch a bunch of wild dogs run in the yard. And even if you were in the room during the work-session, unless you had super-acute hearing you missed much of what was said.  But of course wasn't that the point? 


WE INTERUPT THE NORMAL COURSE OF THIS POST FOR A WORD ON THE UPCOMING ELECTION...



Absentee Ballots have hit the mailboxes for the upcoming Oct 2nd election. That will be the days that not only will voters in the borough but the cities of Palmer, Wasilla and Houston cast their ballots.

Let’s talk about the borough election in this post before you drift off because voters will have a chance to create some balance on what's become an assembly as seriously adrift as the ferry they can't figure out what to do with. 

Since you keep asking if the Citizen Lobbyist has an opinion on who is best to elect to bring balance, transparency and public process back to your assembly and school board we're happy to tell you. After all who has spent more endless hours sitting on the hardest chairs made by someone in another country attending endless meetings long into many nights monitoring and reporting to you on assembly and school board actions. Pretty important firsthand experience on how the present radical, unraveling of government, lack of gender balance and missing representation of ALL valley residents has impacted these bodies of government.  We have an opinion.  Go figure huh? 

OUR PROUD PICKS:


The lead dog position of ceremonial mayor race couldn't be more of a contrast.  The early exit of Mayor Colberg brought another bouncing back retread in Mr. Devilbiss.  From the minute the gavel was placed in his hand Devilbiss set on what certainly appears to be a quest to take away public input.  He inserted a permanent place holder on a frequently changed agenda for the mayoral veto and used it actively for the most part although unsuccessfully wasting untold amounts of taxpayer dollars in the process. In fact Devilbiss took gerrymandering of the agenda to a whole new level in the name of efficiency that did almost the complete opposite. Devilbiss led the attack during the first budget passed on his watch on the health and social service boards. He was a eager helping hand to put a nail in the coffin of the successful Real Property Asset Board but has created his own layer of bureaucracy by dreaming up advisory committees that fly under the radar.  We thank Devilbiss for his service but we ask voters to retire him to spend more time in his carrot field.

In contrast, MARK MASTELLER deserves your vote for borough mayor.  He brings to the table everything that has been lacking since the last election and starting with no hidden agenda at his hip. You won't find him being a sock puppet for any special interest. Masteller values the public process and his proven no nonsense but fair handed ability to run a meeting will be a breath of fresh air to the messy business of governing.  We encourage you to visit his website and if you have calls or concerns about his positions to call him.  He is one of the most approachable guys you will ever meet and the valley will be lucky to have him. We should be electing more people that think serving, listen and respect are important. You can't go wrong with MASTELLER with your vote. 

The district 3 assembly race gives voters another easy pick. Our pick and yours should be MICHELLE CHURCH. We have no doubt the incumbent, Mr. Arvin holds the record for participating by telephone in the most assembly meetings ever and even in this absentee manner he has wielded considerable power. He made a mark in history because his physical absence from the table forced the ceremonial mayor to appoint a 2nd deputy mayor. Instead of being here in the valley available for the people that elected him he created his own job spending the majority of his term in China.  That doesn't do much for the valley's unemployment numbers.  A backer of big business that answers mostly to craftily cultivated voter blocks, developers, and extractors of any possible thing he cares little about anything else it appears. There is little room in the Arvin agenda for anything but BIG projects or at least those that deliver short term gain for a small group of loyalists.   He was a staunch supporter of relaxing the ethic code for the borough which we all may suffer the consequences for. The hungrier he gets to maintain that power the angrier he becomes.  A very bad sign for voters.

The redrawing of assembly district 3 has carved out a very big sprawling district that contains farm land, lakes, densely packed neighborhoods, schools and lots of room for responsible development.  The district deserves an assembly member that is present and ready to speak for it on issues. MICHELLE CHURCH deserves your vote.  Already armed with experience doing the job she has been tirelessly for months attending Community Council, RSA and FSA meetings and knocking on doors s talking to folks about issues and letting them know she will be here finding solutions. She may be the biggest guardian of the public process around and understands the importance of protecting your private property rights and keeping the borough economic reserves healthy for now and in the future. Something sorely lacking now. Her vision for a thriving, authentic economy for the valley is refreshing. We encourage your visit to CHURCH'S website along with your vote. 


Speaking for balance the school board has two good candidates that will fill the bill nicely. Voting for school board seats is borough wide sometimes referred to at large. There are two seats for voters to decide on, seat A and seat B. Sarah Welton, past school board president and present vice president is worthy of your vote to be re-elected once again for School Board seat B. Legislative bodies on all levels benefit with a balance of elected members that have a depth of experience and fresh eyes.  Welton is that historical presence you need to keep the train on the track. No one on the board attends more school functions big or small or visits more classrooms.  This is vitally important in a decision maker.

For seat A, which is the seat the present school board president termed out of on the school board our vote enthusiastically goes to newcomer DEBBY RETHERFORD. She brings not only brings fresh eyes, but eyes that are full of wisdom and diplomacy. She is a longtime supporter of all public education (yes including charters and home-school) and really gets the importance of education being the key to a healthy robust work force.  She is a parent and brings private business, corporate and non-profit experience to the table.  Her agenda is making sure ALL kids get a good education and that Mat SU continues on the path we are on to be the leading school district in not only the state but the nation.  Not only that but she plays well with others.  This is so often times missing from our governing bodies. We love her chalkboard signs popping up all over the valley!   Plain and simple Debby Retherford deserves your vote for School Board seat A. 


There was a pitiful voter turnout for the primary allowing a very small minority of the valley voters to put in place their own extreme agenda and the rest of us to pick up the tab for it sooner than later.  This is a strategy that has become all too common.  The Conservative Patriots and Matsu Business Alliance both of who are privately held CORPORATIONS will have the pedal to the metal trying to increase their capacity and to keep in place their agenda by electing their candidates. The puppeteers need their puppets.  Both their websites paid for by members that have no faces will be desperate to keep their mouthpieces in place and you can quickly see who they throw their weight for. Voters who don't vote are exactly where groups like this want you and are happy to do the speaking for you when you give them the pass. Don't give them a pass.  Speak for yourself. VOTE!

The election is only a couple weeks away.  We won’t be able to help ourselves from giving you more information.  Heck we might have to even post our first ever Citizen Lobbyist Voters guide.  We hear that is frequently done at valley churches.  We are a big supporter of the church of common sense and public process!



Sunday, September 9, 2012

FULL COURSE TUESDAY





All kinds of fun on next week's borough assembly calendar.  After months of busily unwinding borough code and rolling us back to the days of  poodle skirts, pegged pants and muscle cars the assembly now feels the need to have a "Planning Session".  Apparently throwing everything including a tall tower ordinance out the window right after the last election didn't require any planning.

SAY WHAT AGENDA?

No agenda has been posted yet for the Tuesday, Sept 11th 2pm meeting.  This is the meeting Assembly member Colligan has been hollering about having for months. Since in a case of scheduling brilliance the last "planning meeting" was held right smack dab in the middle of the holidays he's itchin to have another. Assemblyman Arvin didn't find the need to even attend the last annual assembly goal setting meeting. Guess that’s understandable with his busy schedule working full time in China a couple time zones away. Colligan sees this as serious assembly business so having it at 2 o'clock in the afternoon when that pesky public probably won't be there to interfere with the "planning” must seem totally logical. That is especially if you live on a second planet that has a different meaning of the word "logic". We hope his feelings aren't hurt if Mr. Arvin and most of the public finds themselves absent again.  

The only clue we have of potential topics is some mention of setting the borough's state and federal priorities.  On the federal level the borough has retained the same lobbyist it has had for several years.  But on the state level "teflon manager" Moosey was instructed to send out a new request for proposal (RFP) to serve the borough within the state.  Word has it that the lobbyist that served the borough for the last couple of years (but only at the beckon call of this group of assembly members and mayor one year) wasn't interested.  That should speak volumes.  If they hire the same lobbyist a $30,000 short term contract without an RFP to put the pressure on legislators to advance all things KABATA last session, and turned out to be the same lobbyist on contract with one assembly member's private business, it will speak reams of volumes. 

BELLS RINGING FOR SOME BASIC COMMUNICATION

Whatever the boys in the corral do in their planning session it will need to be wrapped up by 6pm when the "kumbaya" joint meeting of the assembly and school board will start.  Topics mentioned so far at school board meetings point to a substantial discussion on School Bond Projects and the Site Selection Committee.  Both are tied together and politically charged. Shocking huh?

Last October voters passed a five year $215M school bond with a huge laundry list of items including 5 schools to construct, extensive remodel projects, energy improvements, field improvements etc.  The borough fiduciary responsibility is to execute the bond via the finance department and the projects via public works. The district early on voiced its concern about the ability of the borough to be able to get all the projects completed in the five year timeline. The district offered to assist by administering some of the projects which they feel they have proved the capacity to do. The offer was quickly rebuffed by the borough but the district was assured by they could expect monthly progress reports on how projects listed were proceeding. Currently that is the little rapidly growing fly that seems to be stuck in the ointment. Reports from the borough reportedly aren't exactly jumping along the communication high wire. Knowing the wrath of parents and voters will be theirs to deal with if projects aren't completed within the five year timeline the district is becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the situation. Communication is the key to the success of this undertaking and these bodies need to move beyond lip service and come up with a real way to improve that element of working together. Sitting at the table together Tuesday and finding a solution should be the order of the day.  Parents and voters in the community deserve and expect it.

CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG….

The success of the School Site Selection Committee is another critical piece. Reading this article in the Frontiersman bring you up to speed a bit. Trust us when we tell you there is so much more.  Now that important farm land has found itself in the middle of the chaos, a whole new set of eyes might threaten to peel the onion skin back on what's really happening. That tends often to throw some road blocks in what otherwise threatens to turn into another politicized good ol' boy tale. 

Presently the committee is stuck like a four wheeler in a bed of silt and making just about as big a mess the combination of mud and four wheelers tend to make.  To say that this ceremonial mayoral appointed committee consisting of two assembly members, two school board members, two planning commission members, one member at large and frequently city mayors has struggled would be beyond an understatement. This seems partially due to the political position make up of the board but currently it’s in large part by some particular members that hold the seats. It's functioning like it would if you filled up your liquor cabinet leaving the door open, gave your teenager the keys to the family car and left town for the weekend.  Not having an adult in the room leads to the expected outcomes by design.

At the last meeting of the school board by a narrow 4 to 3 vote (Dunleavy, Larson and Cordero in support) failed to pass a resolution to "no longer participate" in the committee.  In what seemed to be an immature move by some members of the board that complained their participation isn't taken seriously they wanted to opt out of playing.  Reminded by testimony and echoed by the more level headed members of the board that not going to dinner might lead to being the main course of the menu the resolution thankfully failed. 

School Board member Welton a seasoned school board member and committee member alternate voted with the majority to kill the poorly thought out resolution. She has complained the committee lacks transparency which is good and accurate insight.  Assembly member Colver, a surveyor has served on both the school board and the assembly and is well known working all the angles he can out of the public eye and is now the present Chair of the committee. Previously the ‘at large” member was in the unenviable position as chair but has stepped down and surrounded by that many elected ego’s who could blame em!  School Board committee member and tea party house candidate, Gattis is a large (and by some estimation the largest) private land owner in borough particularly in the Knik area.  Committee member assemblyman Salmon is a previous borough mayor and long time realtor. Recently a couple of members have been calling for the meetings to be recorded but this is something the public and your citizen lobbyist have been requesting for months. The last couple of school site selection committee meetings have been particularly contentious.  See why having an adult present might be handy?

The discussion the assembly and school board should have is hinged around resolving the problems, setting priorities that includes sites for the present voter approved bond, using the matrix that has been developed but considering new information, science and the public voice that it not just from one land owner. There are enough "in lock step" voices when the assembly and school board get together that any discussion could deliver a curious outcome.  Direction of the school site selection committee is pretty important as it meets again the very next evening September 12th at 6pm on the same stage.  Hopefully the joint meeting will lead to a smoothed out road for a better, transparent, directed, non political (tall order) process.  

Cue up the unicorns and fairies. 

WORKIN OUR WAY OUT OF THIS MESS

In any case a month from now (October 2nd) the borough election will be held and based on the strong candidates vying for the job of mayor, assembly and school board combined with an increased discomfort and dissatisfaction of the voting public, a welcomed balanced change in elected officials is afoot. The present local governing at has become just an extended game of Jenga. 

Of course you know we won’t have any opinions upcoming on that......