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Sunday, September 16, 2012


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.


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.


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.


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.


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? 


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? 


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!

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