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.
POUCHES AREN'T JUST FOR KANGAROOS..
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.
BOW YOUR HEADS....
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.
THE INVISIBLE CEREMONIAL DEPUTY...
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.
MORE GAS,VIEW SHED-MOO SHED, LOCKIN SOME FUNDS IN PIGGY...
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.
IN THE END ITS ABOUT THE VOTE...YOUR VOTE!
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.