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Monday, February 18, 2013

SO WHERE IS THE MAYORS BINDER FULL OF WOMEN?



As an exercise to see if we could make our eyes bleed we read through the packet for tomorrow nights borough assembly meeting again today. Missing from the blog post yesterday was the discussion of the vacancy report for boards and commissions. We think the best way to deal with an issue on the report and a new development that transpired both involving the ceremonial mayor was to send him an open letter.  All in the sacred name of transparency and because we know the mayor and his peeps read this blog that they love to hate it so here it is. 

Dear Ceremonial Mayor Devilbiss:


As residents of the borough we wanted to bring to your attention that the assembly will be taking action on the open seat on the Matsu Borough Planning Commission for District 1 at tomorrow (Feb 19th) night meeting.  This seat has been vacant since the end of last year.  

Two very qualified women threw their hat in the ring for the planning commission position as soon as the vacancy was available and have been keeping each other company in the "application received" column for some time.  As evidence of their past experience and resumes it seemed very puzzling that neither of these well qualified women were selected.  Normally having a citizen serve on the planning commission that has a planning degree or prior experience on the commission and wanted to serve at this time would be a stroke of luck for a conservative borough like ours.  

Several weeks ago another candidate applied this time a male with seemingly no planning experience except if you count his efforts to stop public participation in the Buffalo Mine Community Council. His application was quickly followed up by yet another male applicant who owns rentals and brother was appointed by you to the platting board.  

So now we see that you have moved Mr. Endel with his vast no planning experience into the column for the assembly to confirm.  This just begs the question Mr. Mayor, if these two women with much higher qualifications than either of the MEN applicants aren't good enough...well then who is in your binder of women?  

And really Mr. Mayor when will there be enough MEN serving you?  The entire assembly is made  up of MEN.  The entire planning commission is made up of men.  The platting board has six MEN and one woman. The aviation board seven MEN and one woman.  Even your shiny new tower commission has five out of five positions filled by MEN. 

We are hoping by bringing this gender imbalance to light you will reconsider your recommendation.  We would like to think that a carrot farmer like yourself sees the value in having good female insight to help you plow the fields of the future of the borough.

Lastly it came to our attention you are instructing the assembly to make some changes in the newly passed Jim Creek Motorized Master Plan.  While we were hopeful you would suggest a revisit to the plan for more parity for non-motorized users we were dismayed to learn it was because "it does not accommodate firearm discharge for hunting purposes".  Say what? Really Mr. Mayor talk to anyone out in the Butte.  The only thing getting hunted down to discharge into in the area is empty barrels and cars formally set on fire.  The residents in the area trying to raise their families and co-exist with out of towners giving the throttle on their ATV a workout beg for some sanity in the plan.  They deserve it. 

So Mr.Mayor we hope you will take the above in consideration when you raise the gavel on tomorrows assembly meeting.  The valley will be watching and listening while doing their best to keep the snickering level down for what voters have sown.





Sunday, February 17, 2013

GET OFF THE COUCH AND FIGHT..


ROLLIN THE CHAIR..


The first shots across the bow of public education rang out in Juneau last week and the bazooka was loaded up by what some are not so fondly referred to as the "Mat Su" mafia. Valley legislators with a little help from other evangelical and retrograde political actors are bypassing the public process. The majority held extremists are using a universally frowned upon process called "rolling the chair" as a way to avoid Senate and House committees designed to evaluate and examine bills.  

This political witches brew of free market ideology, uninformed idealism and political opportunism is for us that have been watching the borough assembly only too painfully familiar.We have been pounding the drum to warn of the sneaky and underhanded ways these local officials have operated trying to force conformity to their world view that they demand and few share. The virus is spreading. 


MEANWHILE THE FUN IN THE BOROUGH CONTINUES...


The packet for the next assembly meeting is out and its 522 pages more of that worldview.  There are no less than 13 resolutions of support for various projects.  Among them are:

  • A resolution  in support of the Susitna Forrest which they voted against last year but now that its reworked in their supporters favor the ceremonial mayor is only too happy to carry it forward. 
  • A resolution in OPPOSITION to the school district keeping its unreserved funds which are directed by the state and borough for education as a way to build a fund balance.
  • A resolution in support of the Kabata because apparently the 6-7 they have already passed isn't enough that they need more support with a side of support.
  • A resolution supporting HB 4 for a gas line even though any real conversation at the assembly table about the pro and cons of different projects has been rebuffed.

The rest of the resolutions which we have referred to as memos to themselves you can find in the packet. We are guessing these resolutions in part are because you just can't expect all those paid lobbyists to do their cheer leading to spread influence dust alone.  And we know the majority of this group likes to help their friends. 

Speaking of  lobbyists the list just gets longer and longer every year.  Its worth a few minutes of your time to look through  it to see how well the oiled revolving door is and how hard it must be for our elected officials to say with a straight face that they are making decisions based on facts and on what their constituents want and not "paid influence". It should be noted that the same lobbyist the borough employs  Ex-Speaker of the House John Harris is also the new lobbyist for the Freedom Foundation for Educational Choice. 

Don't be swayed by "Choice" in their name. This is a well known ultra conservative think tank founded on radical free market economics. They have clearly stated that "vouchers are not an end in themselves and they are a means to make a transition to a market system". .

The hugfest in Juneau has now turned into the concentration of ramming through some pretty awful legislation another thing we in the valley are all to familiar with the last couple of years. They are on a roll and the public be dammed!  

SMALL VICTORIES FOR THE PUBLIC


It does turn out that at least during assembly meetings reading parts of the borough ethics code as testimony even if its the watered down revision to the code passed last year is pretty effective.  That's what happened at the last assembly meeting after a well publicized attempt by Assemblyman Woods who stepped well in the bounds of "financial gain" was squashed. His attempt to shove through an ordinance instructing the manager to get busy to force a land acquisition for a future school site which would have resulted in substantial gain for his family trust was about as flagrant a misuse of power that we have seen. It rather shocked us that it was Woods who was so obviously up to this public skulduggery when there are so many other worthy candidates on the assembly.  Credit where credit is due and although it is rare we applaud the ceremonial mayor for jerking the whole thing off the agenda after public testimony made it clear those storm clouds ahead held some pretty good hail stones. 

By the way Assemblyman Salmon can save his ire at the media the next time around. We know facts are pesky but some people still prefer to know them.  We know it's human nature to take advantages of advantages but still most of the public thinks that might just be a little bit shaddy when it involves an elected official.  Pointing this out is the newspaper's job even if it does leave a mark. 

So get busy reading the packet to find out what mischief your assembly is up to this Tuesday. Keep in mind there is no audience participation on resolutions. They barely allow that on ordinances so if you have an opinion you better let it be known via email to the sitting monarchy or bring it up during general audience participation which can depending on who moves what chess piece around on the agenda at the beginning of the meeting be any time. As always you can listen to the live stream at www.radiofreepalmer.org or download that handy KVRF app for your iphone  or andriod if you don't get 89.5FM. 

LET THEM HEAR FROM SOMEONE NOT WEARING FOXGOGGLES..

Next Saturday Senate President Huggins will be holding a second townhall meeting with his friends and accomplices Gattis, Dunleavy and Hughes 10am at the Wasilla LIO.  Get off your easy chair and get there to ask some hard questions like why education bills now no longer belong in education committees or bills on a woman's right to abortion need not stop at Health and Social Services or changes in legal standards in the permitting process did not receive a referral to the Judiciary Committee.  

Senator Wielechowski is spot on when he said " not referring bills to their proper committees erodes the public trust in the process".  We are guessing that doing things in the public interest doesn't apply when you are facing a legislature populated by ALEC zombies, deep pocketed special interest and zealot religious groups with "social agendas" regardless of what is good for Alaska.