Looky there's another opportunity to read it and weep. Available for your viewing pleasure and teeth gnashing is the bulging 1172 page borough assembly packet for this Tuesday's meeting. The clerk’s office has taken this huge bloated meal and cut it up in small bites for you. Go ahead and at least read the agenda. After you read it you will know why we suggest if you go to the meeting you carry along at least two boxes of popcorn and a flask full of something strong. Good times ahead for sure..
NEVER ENOUGH PILLOW FLUFFING FOR BIG COAL
Guessing the ceremonial mayor didn't get enough coal in his holiday stocking. He is headed to the first assembly meeting of the year with a resolution tucked under his arm for yet ANOTHER coal lease. After all what is an assembly meeting without one right? This time it is located in Canyon Creek 18 miles from Skwentna.
Most people understand that to make the port at Pt Mackenzie ever return a small portion of the buckets of money poured into it something needs to be to transported some day. But is all this endless rush to get coal there NOW without refusing to discuss the impacts or ANY alternative energy methods (that whenever mentioned brings more than a few snarls and blank stares) a way to beat the clock on natural gas? We know natural gas produces more kilowatts of power than the equivalent amount of coal and although not clean either it does provide more energy. We also know with the explosion of the bounty of natural gas from fracking creeping into the export markets that coal is fast losing its glamour. The evidence is building daily that the term "clean coal" is nothing but an oxymoron. But when you elect decision makers straight out of an episode of “Mad Men” you better not count on them to acknowledge there are a few roadblocks to their master plan or a weakening global market for what they want at the end of a shovel or promised there will be. Though most third world countries are waking up to the long term human impacts and costs of burning coal to both their air and people the decision makers for the valley cling to their fossil fuels.
Coal and the mining industry is spending a lot of money in our state to get the right people elected who have no appetite for moving beyond fossil fuels and they have been successful. This is not any more evident than the people that are seated at this assembly table. As Upton Sinclair said "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it".Cough, Cough...Pretty good indication the sloppy kisses to coal will continue this year.
SPEAKING OF ENERGY...
This energy, development hungry assembly would like to be the fathers of a shiny new energy policy for the people of the borough. They would like to do this by repealing or changing.. you guessed it....the current ordinance in place about where power plants can be built in the borough. The one set in place by that other assembly to protect that pesky public and their property values. Assemblyman Colligan is the sponsor of a resolution for a temporary commission to review the current ordinance to "make recommendations" which has become assembly shorthand for hopping on the unwind train to ditch it.
No word on what the cost will be for this new little exercise and doubtful we will know since the cost of the unwinding process is never discussed by an assembly who seemingly prefers to functions under the “whatever it takes” method of governing. Setting policy for energy that gets the blessing of the majority of this assembly can't be a tall order. It could be the shortest policy set on record. Most likely really only four letters. C O A L. But shouldn't the taxpayers know the cost of all the erasers or scissors the group will use and staff time and resources the temporary commission will use before returning something to the assembly to fawn over? Or must valley residents settle for another group of hand puppets to only give agreement to the bloviators on the assembly? Does turning the clock back on the current policy include allowing for coal bed methane drilling in the Big Lake area?
We are hoping the ceremonial mayor who collects payment to sit not only to hold the gavel at assembly meetings but also his seat on the MEA board will recuse himself. The question is will Mr. Arvin (who will no doubt be keeping his perfect record of calling it in from China for the meeting) also recuse himself? His appointed position again for which he receives $$ on the Alaska Energy Authority should be a glaring conflict. But then neither of these officials cares much for conflicts unless they create them.
STATION BREAK HERE....
So you can thank everyone that didn't educate themselves and vote in the last borough election which would be other than the 17% of the people in the valley here..
OH JUST KEEP YOUR SEAT...
For those of you that have applied for seats on any boards or commissions and been given the bums rush it should interest you that two ordinances on the agenda ask to extend to a time uncertain the present members of the Emergency Planning and Fish and Game Boards. Is it possible the ceremonial mayor is running out of people willing to serve as marionettes or are sitting members just getting the green flag to stay seated until this band is done? We also notice in the mayors conformation of two termed out members of the Animal Control Board. Unless we missed something that board hasn't had terms extended and there are members of the public that have applied waiting for appointment. Can this stacking the deck mayoral style be any more obvious?
ABOUT THAT TOWER ORDINANCE....
The timing to talk again about towers is interesting to say the least. Poked sleeping bear Wasilla mayor Rupright reportedly had so much smoke coming out of his ears about the threats to the views from all those big box stores that MEA picked up their tower playing cards and left town. But the majority of this assembly doesn't give much stock in the degradation of views, property values or how development can have in profound ways economic and social impacts so they will take another dance with it.
Assembly member Colligan consistently peeved about something and anxious to get off the bench with any type of thoughtless legislation is ready to amend the just adopted tower ordinance now. You know the one just he voted for in the last assembly meeting. The time to reconsider gone he will apparently force upon the taxpayers this messy amending process in order to revert to the old tall tower ordinance that sat in place until November 2011 when in all their wisdom the assembly decided to ditch and go without any regulation in the borough for a full year. Cue the parade of new towers you see popping up all over.
SO after over a year of NO TOWER ORDINANCE in the borough and with the ink barely dry on the one the assembly did finally pass he wants a redo. Colligan must have a doctorate in gerrymandering by now. We know he had a heavy hand in the whole redistricting mess the state courts wrestled with and finally just threw to the curb. His company (based in Anchorage where he has to pay real business inventory tax) assisted Anchorage in the dark of the night to come up with their own assembly district changes. Sans any real public process of course.
Assemblyman Colligan must be frustrated with his first year of non achievements. He was a sponsor of legislation like an assembly resolution supporting HB88. You know the one we have all been reminded of lately. The anti-sharia bill that got a state legislative aid in ethical problems and booted from her cushy state job because apparently hate group leaders taking over legislative offices isn't acceptable even in Alaska.
Undaunted Colligan spent a good deal of assembly time last year bringing forth several pieces of failed legislation. For example a change to when borough residents vote that was so bad even he voted no on it. Having his arms fully locked around anything corporation the Wasilla assemblyman must think he has finally found a winner in the tall towers industry. We'll see. Valley property owners that have spent oodles of time testifying and writing letters to get the ordinance that is in place passed are none too happy about starting up the battle again.
LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE TIE BALER..
There is one item on the agenda that even the most conservative members of the assembly can earn some redemption on. Assembly member Salmon is the sponsor on a resolution to allow the borough to complete its obligation to the very successful valley recycling center by writing the check for the promised borough matching funds for a windbreak and the tie baler the center so desperately needs to increase recycled material for the valley. Good for Mr. Salmon for bringing it forward. This is long over due and has intense support from valley residents.
SPEAKING OF PAYING THE BILLS…
Like an acquaintance run into when it’s avoidable no more the ferry makes it back for an appearance on the agenda. Back with a reminder that the monthly dripping of taxpayer dollars continues and this assembly while they are itchin to fix something just can’t find the right tool to fix this. Cue the taxpayer cash register…
YEAH YOU..GET OFF THE COUCH...
The assembly will warm up early Tuesday @4pm with an executive session (the PPP meeting..no public please) to discuss borough employee union contracts and some ongoing litigation. Knowing the majority of the assembly’s love for public government employees and unions this should put them in a good mood. Hearing about litigation should be something they are used to or better get used to with the way they govern. Quite the warm up which could set the tone for the whole evening.
Regular meeting starts at 6pm once again at the school district building because the new grand assembly palace isn't ready yet. Maybe they are stalled installing the moat. In any case Radio Free Palmer will be streaming the meeting live.
These times they aren't normal. At least we're hoping not. To use a line from "The Birdcage” — "It’s like riding a psychotic horse towards a burning barn".
So start your engines. It's time to throw down the spike strips and invest in popcorn futures. The crazy car is out of the garage again with some really scary drivers at the wheel.