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......