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Sunday, November 11, 2012


The borough assembly met last week and voted some important stuff off the island again.

One of them was a chance to establish a tall towers ordinance. But it was quickly set adrift. The usual suspects of the assembly gave it a shove remaining steadfast in refusing to let local government be in the business of protecting people that live in the valley. Clearly, the roar of the public about the absence of ANY tall tower ordinance in previous meetings is long forgotten. 

This compromise ordinance wasn't even allowed to be introduced for a vote at the next meeting. 

Was the mute button "on" when resident after resident testified outraged pleading for protection when without notice sky high transmitters started appearing all over the valley next door to them or in some cases robbing homeowner's pristine views which assuredly will devalue their investment? Did all the emails assembly members reportedly received insisting immediate intervention get caught in the assembly spam filter? 

Can't have anything to do with the election being over. Can it?

Unlikely you will actually see District 3 Assemblyman Arvin back from his perch in China to thank him in person but maybe you will see assembly members Colligan,Woods and Salmon who voted with him to send the tall tower ordinance to the killing fields. They tried to gloss it over by pledging their faith in the ceremonials mayors still waiting to be  appointed new committee of five to do the work that other stakeholders and professionals took years to go through. That's the way a dictatorship works right?

To keep the tall towers ordinance company in the discard heap was a resolution that would establish a policy and minimum for an emergency response reserve fund for the borough which is currently sitting on EMPTY after the budget setting raid and fall flood. Turns out there is no appetite for the self professed "Conservative" members of this assembly for saving funds for an emergency. Who could imagine that the borough could have a disaster that might require emergency funding huh? Can you really trust the science that says we live in a earthquake zone? Besides there is never enough wind to blow roofs off public buildings.  No rain that swallows houses and roads right?

Can you blame this assembly for voting down common sense legislation while they are busy, busy draining what's left of reserve coffers of local government or micro-managing staff? After all isn't time better spent instructing the teflon manager to write monthly $60,000 plus denial checks for a borough owned ferry or for even a bigger check for right of way the borough doesn't need but does fatten the checkbook of the largest private land owner in the borough? If you do. Just go tell Alice and her 10 foot tall rabbit.

But you know what there is plenty of time for?  JESUS.

The first 20 minutes of the borough assembly meeting was filled with a invocation from the mayor's own church pastor. That checked off the agenda the ceremonial mayor then read a rambling proclamation of recognition delivered to another fellow church member for his work since he moved to Alaska way back in 2006.  He even allowed the gentleman to deliver his own personal story about salvation that we are guessing was to remind all the heathens in the audience what they were missing.

The ceremonial mayor will also make time to take up an ordinance to do away with "PERSONS TO BE HEARD" at the next regular meeting. We are guessing that won't include people the mayor wants YOU to hear. 

If that wasn't enough fun before any real business of the people was taken up the ceremonial mayor announced his appointment of Assembly member Arvin as deputy mayor. With a perfect attendance record of only teleconferencing
his participation so far this term from his home away from home in China, Arvin was glad to accept the title and extra taxpayer paid salary that comes with it. A question asking if it was even legal to appoint a consistently physically absent deputy mayor or and if it was Mr. Arvin's intent to spend his entire term of 3 years participating via teleconferencing were scoffed at. After all didn't voters of District  3 know what they were getting when they re-elected him last month? Clearly back up deputy Salmon manages to get to nearly all meetings and will handle the gavel since there hasn't been a way found to do that over the phone. Yet. Silly public. Look at all the money that is being saved. Why it doesn't appear that the borough has even had to spend the money to print a  name plate to place in front of Arvin's empty chair at the assembly table.

Next up for your assembly a planning session November 17th. We are guessing the ego's of some of the members of this group have gotten so big they have found the need to have the meeting at the Menard Center in Wasilla. It starts at noon and although the public is allowed to watch they aren't invited for lunch.  

Oh and the ceremonial mayor won't be there.  He let everyone know he is butchering a cow that day.  

After we're sure he has baptized and blessed it of course. Can a resolution of recognition be far behind?

Monday, November 5, 2012


You better check your pulse if you don't know there is an election TOMORROW! 

Seems people can't agree on much these days but we should agree life can be uncertain. If you don't believe us ask 20 million people on the east coast about an unwelcome visitor by the name of "Sandy" that came calling and has put voting probably pretty near the bottom of their list.  You can find out the details where and how here. There is also information at the link on where your polling place is which after the hairball of redistricting can be confusing. You should always be able to cast a question ballot at any polling place if things get desperate! 


Turns out the valley is no stranger to a little October election season surprise. A well written article and editorial in the Friday's edition of the Frontiersman concerning a candidate running for office in a new Wasilla house district has raised more than a few eyebrows and again should make us ask about the ethics and character of candidates that are bidding to represent us. This one concerns a big bunch of public money from the borough taxpayer that ended up in private hands one of which is a candidate Gattis. Her challenger Merrifield asked during a candidate forum about this and was told more details would be released AFTER the election.  Say what? Actions should speak to us about just whose interest elected officials would be acting for once they are in office. Because remember once they are elected it takes more than a crowbar and sometimes a new wardrobe of vertical stripes to get them out. Worth a read for sure before you vote especially if you are from the greater Wasilla area. 


Another reminder that Tuesday is also the night for the borough assembly to meet. Our email has been busy with folks weighing in on the ceremonial mayor's introduction of legislation to eliminate the part of the agenda for PERSONS TO BE HEARD.  The reaction has been what you might expect by civilized informed people.  But here is one we can print from a reader that pretty much hit the nail on the head:

"How is it that the Assembly can justify new Assembly chambers when they are taking the “public” out of public view, public testimony and public opportunity? Shouldn't they need less room for Assembly meetings since that pesky public is being be shut out? Without the public there to comment or oversee,  Assembly meetings could be held in a large walk-in closet thereby saving taxpayers lots of money. Oh wait…they already operate in a closet. Quick…somebody turn on the lights and watch them scamper like cockroaches"
There is still time to speak out on this and other subjects in the packet by showing up or emailing members of the assembly.  Saying nothing about this and other issues seems to give some members of the assembly the false impression that we all just agree with their actions. And you thought Halloween was over. Scary but true...   


Another source (besides the blog of course) of good current local information launched Friday on Radio Free Palmer.  The "Valley Edition" is a panel discussion of Valley news and events much like "Alaska Edition" on KSKA. The program will be broadcast on 89.5FM Friday's at 5pm and repeats every Monday at 8:30am. The panel this week was Frontiersman publisher Mark Kelsey, independent journalist Zaz Hollander, and the Citizen Lobbyist. Mike Chmielewski  moderated. There will be other guest journalists from time to time. The recording of Friday's show can be found on the RF website. While you are there check out "Another vote done gone" by a couple of local Palmerites that is true fun. 

There are your walking orders for the next couple of days. Important stuff.  Not paying attention will only get you more of the same frustration.  

This time we wont be telling you how we're voting.  After all that is what that cute little curtain in the voting booth is for right? 

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Remember our harping about elections having consequences? Nothing drives this point home harder than a re-elected assemblyman "phoning in" his oath of office.  Apparently the mayor of Anchorage set the bar for swearing in from afar but at least he was on Skype so voters could all SEE him dressed in his aloha shirt taking the oath. All valley voters got was the same disembodied voice from China as Assembly member Arvin back in his pre-election perch in China reportedly raised an invisible hand.  That worked out well.  At least for him.  For District 3 voters well not so much.  They face another three years not having their elected voice in the same time zone let alone in person to hear their concerns. 


The packet for the Nov 6th (yes the night of the election)  is finally out. It should be no shock to see one of the items scheduled for introduction comes from the hand of the ceremonial mayor. Not wasting any time, he will be introducing legislation to gerrymander the agenda once again. This time he is taking a knife to the part that concerns PERSONS TO BE HEARD. That pesky public again! His reasoning is "low usage of this agenda item". Not used it seems means not needed. Clearly in the mayor's parallel dictator universe people being heard and people that aren't in lock step with he and his majority held brethren are a big bother. Should be no surprise to those that have followed the gavel in the hand of this carrot farmer. But it should make us wonder if AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION will be an amendment also eliminated during the meeting. That would be perfect for completion of this assembly that is increasingly operating as a Kangaroo Court. 


While we are on the subject of the agenda it should be noted that starting the meeting with a prayer is back on the roster. No added shocker that it is the pastor of the ceremonial mayors home church that will be delivering it. Not sure if that will be a added feature taking the place of the time normally allotted for that pesky persons to be heard or not. But if so does it mean that the mayor will be rotating different religious affiliations other than his own to give the invocation? We know some really nice Baptist, Catholic, Jewish, Russian Orthodox, Protestant, Lutheran, Buddhists, Hindu, Muslim. Sikh, Wicca and other religious affiliations that would like a turn. Seems only fair to us.


Oh and for good measure the ceremonial mayor will be re-appointing the invisible assembly member Arvin as deputy mayor again, begging the question if he will be appointing another back up to the back up like he did last year since Mr. Arvin wasn't there physically to run the meeting?  Or will they just amend that part of borough code to allow a voice from afar to hold the invisible gavel or some other steaming cup of nonsense.  


There is all other kinds of fun on the slate but most of it is being introduced to be taken up the following meeting. There are a couple of pages of the 674 page packet requesting approval for limited gas improvement districts.  So many you would think the borough is laying it's own natural gas line.

The tall tower ordinance that has been successfully defeated at every turn by  the ceremonial mayor and assembly opting for a NO ORDINANCE approach concerning towers but it will be back for discussion. The mayor was successful in creating his own self appointed five person board that is in the works and you can pretty much count on that resulting in one or two suggestions that give the whole topic lip service. 

There is legislation to beef up the reserve for the emergency response fund after the the assembly has whittled it down to chump change during the last budget dance. Coming on the heals of the borough's own flood and in view of the damage "Sandy" has caused it would only seem prudent to have some extra money in the till for what is becoming increasingly likely emergencies down the road.  But for a group that doesn't believe in climate change or planning for future generations it has a good chance to slide off the table in the un-recycled trash like most plans for the future.    


Seems that voters (particularly those that don't inform themselves or don't vote) are their own worst enemies. At least that is what we thought until a string of articles have hit. Vote rigging is something that many folks in the valley have been concerned about for a long time. One lazy mountain resident sent along this link with the following commentary:
"A thoroughly chilling historical view of vote rigging.  Ms. Collier indicts the media as well as the politicians on this issue.  Those who question the authenticity of the system get smeared with ‘conspiracy theorist’.  Funny, it’s just fine if we’re sitting in history class or watching a PBS documentary on Huey Long or Boss Tweed’s vote rigging, but, to talk about the possibility of it occurring in our time is considered unthinkable.  You’re wearing too much tinfoil on your head.  You’re a nut-ball   After the mess in the Anchorage election, the national 2000 and 2004 presidential debacle, you’d think we’d have a decent soul-searching on the issue.  It is notable that the Irish have just tossed the computerized voting system in the trash bin and gone back to a completely transparent, publicly verifiable method…paper and pencil.
A public discussion of vote-rigging with computers should not stop the voter from participating.  It should make us all more vigilant.  The mainstream media should bring the discussion into the light and forget about being smeared as conspiracy nuts.   If computers can be used successfully in bank fraud, white collar crimes, etc., they can be used to sway an election.  And the scientists at U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have determined that any junior high kid could do it without actually needed sophisticated hacking methods…just 26 bucks and some hardware.  Their team leader called it a national security issue and, apparently, no one is listening.  Will you?"

So now we are facing another nationwide/statewide election on November 6th.  We are suspicious of the new slipped in method of voting via the internet the Lt. Governor has introduced with little fan fair.  We like knowing the information on who we vote for is our own. After all isn't that is why they have those little curtains on the voting booth? You can cast your vote now or wait and test fate that something will come up to give you an excuse not to.

We do know that the noise in the room is making our ears bleed listening to those that race to mislead the public as they are chased down by those that think truth in politics and policy should still rule the day. Truth in advertising just doesn't exist in politics and it seems to be getting weaker by the day in business even though there still does exist a federal law. As an advertiser, violating federal laws regarding truth in advertising carries stiff penalties.  The law says that as a consumer you should have recourse if your a victim of a violation. Not so much in politics especially after elected. 

As a voter you do have recourse. But it means doing your own homework and not leaving your fate in the hands of soundbites. We need to consider the personal motivation of those that would try to persuade us to vote one way or the other. Voting against our better interest because our boss, clergy or someone else suggests it will rarely serve us well. We must know the issues, profiles, voting history or dogma of those seeking our vote.  Letting peer pressure or fear rule the day instead of hope keeps us tethered to the post forever. 

This election season has inflicted pain beyond what we have discovered. It has left us feeling like we have been rolled in acid and trapped in a bottle of hospital ether that has kept us in a fog of finger pointing but for the most part it will be over next week.  We hope. Nationally if the outcome goes the way it certainly looks it will go you will be able to count on four more years of talk about federal over-reach, bogie men breaking into our house to take all the guns in the middle of the night and how better off we all would have been if we would have just elected that white guy who believes in free markets or free for all markets. 

Alaska doesn't have a big clout nationally in electoral votes but we do in our local vote. That right wasn't exercised very well locally in October. 
With what is on the agenda of this upcoming assembly meeting you can see the outcome of that October election in the rear-view mirror and it is here to haunt us. The hollow talk of transparency and listening to everyone's viewpoint is just as dead as the leaves on the trees. Don't expect the register of the borough check book online or the public to be invited as a welcome participant in the process. 

Tuesday it will be time to put on your hat and coat and see what your tax dollars are being spent on by attending the borough assembly meeting. If you can't make it tune in to Radio Free Palmer who will do you a favor and spare you the hard chair by streaming it live or downloading the podcast later. 

Let's be clear though, if we are forced to go through the gates of hell by this assembly it better be on pay for view.  

Oy vey...