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Sunday, September 30, 2012


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.


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 .  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. “
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!

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!


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!

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