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Sunday, March 31, 2013

DOES THE COUNCIL NEED A COUNSELOR?










Oh Palmer City Council how we had high hopes for you. When we started attending meetings a couple of years ago by all appearances the council though not without a few warts seemingly was balanced both by gender and designed thinking. But after the last council meeting we can't lie. Our hopes for a different than the rest council are a bit dashed. The gender balance is still there but the thinking seems to have taken that sharp ugly turn straight into political partisanship and pre-election posturing that unless a tow truck shows up and pulls a few ego's out of the ditch and some of those elected are reminded what they are there for, we are probably headed for some serious mud blogging.

It's puzzling really.  A council by all appearances made up of self processed conservatives should be on the same page. It would appear they have so much to agree on like the same tired "smaller government", "live within our means" blah blah blah. But a few members of the council are now showing the signs of an appetite for conspiracy theories and setting the stage for gotcha moments to move their own personal agendas along. There is further evidence the council is now getting caught in the tug a war of politics sprinkled with heavy doses of ego's, jealousy and personal political agendas. The residents of cities rarely win when that gauntlet is thrown. 


Should we blame it on lack of circulation from too many members having their feet stuck in concrete unable to move on any of the big subjects on their plate? For example a long still unresolved negotiation with the Palmer Senior's
over the transfer of the old center seems high centered with wheels spinning. Wheels AND attorney fees.The only thing seemingly moving on the Mat Maid property development is you guessed it...attorney fees. Along with the council acting like they are trapped in a house of mirrors at a traveling amusement park. The politics have already taken a toll on that issue in some ways.


 TETHERED TO THE PAST?


There has been much talk about Palmer frequently not being represented at borough assembly meetings passing on the ability to not only offer brief city reports but taking advantage of having the ability to weigh in on subjects that directly affect the city's bottom line.Too many times information and action taken at the borough table makes its way to the city after the fact. There isn't the best communication by the sitting assembly member (Woods) and the council on matters. We believe the City of Palmer manager, mayor and the very small staff do their best to be at these meetings when they can but their own council meets on the same night of the week nearly every time the assembly does which creates an instant conflict. A fixable conflict. The cities of Wasilla and Houston have their calendar scheduled so that it allows them to be at the assembly meeting and you can normally find representatives from those cities there using their allotted time to inform or speak on matters that effect them.


Mayor Johnson heard the concerns from members of the community and introduced an ordinance to change the day of the week the council meets. Seems simple enough. Should be worthy of discussing the pros and cons. But the ordinance didn't even get a motion for a second so it could be discussed. Let's see its being brought to the council’s attention the day of the week that the council meets MAY have an effect on the city they are governing and they decide to take a pass on even TALKING about it. Why because change is hard? Or is avoidance of the conversation a way just to avoid voting on it?  We will never know.


IS STICKING TO THE CITY AGENDA SO BAD?


This wasn't the only example of council members not willing to govern in the best interest or discuss in public what was really for the good of the city.  Member DeVries brought forth a resolution to support House Bill 19, to "Offer a Permanent Vehicle Registration and Tax Relief on Vehicles at Least Eight Years Old". After 10 to 15 minutes of a strained conversation concerning the uncertainty of the actual cost of the bill to the city and why it was brought forward if it passed,  DeVries finally admitted not having any real
good reason to bring it forward other than “who” the sponsor was Representative Stoltze. 

Okay we get that the council woman is a good Republican Party member and tea party darling and likes to support her guy in Juneau. We all appreciate what Rep.Stoltze delivers up to the city in funding for needed projects. All council members including the mayor seem to have a good relationship with Stoltze. Nobody would deny that. But really should it be up to the council to support legislation still being hashed out in Juneau when they have no clear idea the financial implications to the city that they represent? Particularly when it is brought forth by a member that claims to be watching every dime the city spends. Mayor Johnson at least voiced her concerns that the council didn't have the full picture of the possible loss of revenue (the city receives approx $88,000 a year for all vehicles) and how the bill would actually help move Palmer forward before joining the vote to pass the resolution so it could be unanimous but you could tell she was concerned not having answers.


BECAUSE THERE IS ALWAYS TIME FOR A BIG DEAL THAT'S NOT..


If that wasn't enough disappointment for one night the last piece of business the council took up was brought forward by Council members Best and DeVries who apparently has had their fee-fee's hurt because Mayor Johnson accepted an invitation to represent the city on a state wide board that will meet 4 times this year to discuss the state rails plan.  Typical of state DOT (department of transportation) fashion a letter arrived to the mayor with a couple of day deadline inviting the city to provide a name for representation on a temporary board. A very brief conversation with the manager and mayor resulted in Mayor Johnson's name being forwarded. It was so not a big deal. Never mind that Mayor Johnson had already been advised by the head of state DOT when last in Juneau that he wanted to hear more from about the city's plan for reestablishing rail service and that she had been the
point person selected by members of the community that have launched a 501C to get that job done.  She has spent countless hours interacting with members of the community on this subject and advocating for replacing the tracts that were removed by another project before she was elected.

Best and DeVries were so sure they had captured a "gotcha" moment to launch an attack on the mayor and bring to the council claims of violations to the city code and other nonsense that just contributed to more unseemly behavior. Council member Combs left in the middle of the debate ill. Deputy Mayor Hanson recognizing the silliness attempted to calm the waters by
suggesting that it be a learning opportunity on procedure for selecting names
for future committees down the road and that they move on. 


But Best and Devries would not let it go. The manager did his best to throw water on the fire by suggesting they just blame him for not bringing it to the council although there was no council meeting scheduled that would have allowed sufficient time to move forward another name for representation.  Suggestions by the attorney who seems to weigh in more like a 8th council member these days instead of with what should be sparse thoughtful pointed comments only muddled the waters more. The City Clerk and Council members Erby and Vanover tried to follow Hanson's lead and stay out of the fray probably seeing no good would come of it. It looked and smelled like an ambush on the mayor for clearly just trying to do her job and use her knowledge and expertise for the benefit of the city. The whole issue was an example of how to make a big deal out of no big deal and they still haven't settled it.



HEAVY SIGH...ALWAYS ABOUT THE NEXT ELECTION


We have a few idea's on how the council finds itself in this current mayhem.  Most fingers point to the upcoming election in October when Council members DeVries and Vanover will be up for re-election along with Mayor Johnson's seat as mayor. The council has no term limits and none has publicly said they will be running again but it is widely thought that they all will. There is some speculation that DeVries may challenge Assembly member Woods for his seat which is also up which could prove interesting. Maybe she hasn't gotten the memo that women aren't encouraged to hold positions of power at the borough. In the past we are told DeVries has relied on "visions" to tell her what direction to go.  Who knows when that might occur? 


And who might challenge Mayor Johnson is an unknown as well. Apparently the still stinging council member Best having been replaced by Hanson as Deputy Mayor earlier in the year by a vote of the council is always eager for some recognition and an official name tag so perhaps that is his plan. Being the sponsor of bringing such pettiness and personal agenda to the council doesn't instill much confidence in him.

Whatever the intent by these elected officials if the next election is getting in the way of their governing they should as the last member of the public (and chair of the city planning commission) testifying told them "just stop it".
Enough already with the partisanship and politics. This gentleman  also made some good points about recognizing the importance of Mayor Johnson, who as the face of the city and the manager who is paid to lobby make trips throughout the session to Juneau but it wasn't going unnoticed the other couple of members that were traipsing down there not in the interest of the city but themselves. He said after attending council meetings for a long time he had lost respect for all but a couple of members currently seated watching them play politics instead of doing what was good for the city. He had become very disappointed in what he was seeing. 

We are too.  We hope the next council meeting on April 9th sees some changes with a lot less drama and political posturing. Let's hope the council pulls it together and makes it worth all our time. 

Face it with all that we have to cover with the shenanigans at the assembly (meeting Tuesday at 6pm) we hardly have enough for another standing invitation to the dance of the foolish.
















Monday, March 25, 2013

WASN'T THAT JUST CONVENIEEEENT?





All assembly members that actually live in the borough were physically present at the last meeting except Mr. Arvin who continues to reside in China thus adding another week and meeting with his participation through that all too familiar speaker box. Even when the impending outcome of losing his own assembly seat for violation of borough code concerning physical absence is on the agenda he continues to choose to just "call it in".

The issue of Mr. Arvin's excessive physical absence has been swirling about for months. The new visitors to assembly meetings unfailingly asking us if he is still gone and where is his name plate and chair on the long assembly stage. As amusing as it is we continue to ask ourselves the same question. Who objects besides us? That part of the question was answered in testimony last week but it made little difference to the seated assembly staunch protectors of their own interests . 

FIVE PAGES OF NONSENSE


The ceremonial mayor's "babbling" resolution excusing his absence retro-actively brought some strong testimony by those clearly fed up with not only the behavior but the mayor's "obfuscation of the issue". They called on the assembly not to continue using "bad judgment" just to appease the mayor's "good old buddy club".  They boldly asked because Mr. Arvin failed to "represent them with responsibility, knowledge (even of the code that governs assembly service) and humility that his resignation be submitted both verbally and in writing" right then and there.

That didn't happen.  No crystal ball was needed to see the future of the vote to retroactively excusing this assemblyman’s long physical absence. Even Mr. Arvin was able to cast one of the 6 of the 7 "Yes" votes (Keogh the lone sane "No") to give a nod to the mayor's resolution to keep all the sheep in the fence. In fact it was more than a "nod". They not only approved Mr. Arvin's physical absence since Oct 2012, they excused him in advanced to be gone until the end of May. 

Let's hear it for dumb herd animals.

SPEAKING OF SHEEP...


Mr Colver, Mr. Colver.  Just can't help yourself can you? Almost as many people that ask where Mr. Arvin, ask what has happened to Mr.Colver and his judgment on issues and increasingly shameless self serving way of governing.  We knew we could count on Mr. Colver to lead the "can't we all get along" nonsense and claim of some kind of personal attack. Apparently to Mr. Colver it's personal when someone is concerned about blatant code violations. What we didn't see coming was Colver's attempt to shift the blame from Mr. Arvin and HIS own lack of oversight to the borough attorney and clerk for not advising HIM to do HIS job and enforce borough code. Say what? Yeah.  Let's hope they remember that next time they drop everything to accommodate his endless trips down the rabbit trail. Pretty sure that knife landed right between the shoulder blades..

Just to be clear, no one should be more familiar with borough code than Mr. Colver who has spent the last decade hop scotching his way back and forth between the assembly and school board seats ensuring his government retirement and health benefits. Pretty sure he is familiar with the ethics code that he had a dance  with in a previous term which was a  little stronger then that he voted to successfully assist in watering down this tenure. 

Do us a favor and spare us next time from the theatrics. Oh, and sorry we didn't tell you Channel 2 would be there so you could wear your suit.

Mr. Salmon, We're sorry someone woke you up during assembly comments. We could have lived without the motivational speaker story, the great benefits of teleconferencing and your general face licking of Mr. Arvin.  Silently casting your bad vote would have suited you better and would have left a much less sour taste in our own mouth.

Mr. Colligan, Credit where credit is due. We're glad to see the anger management issue under control for one meeting. Just sticking to bad decisions when you cast most of your votes is way better without the insults to the testifiers. By the way we suggest your idea to "update code" regarding increasing allowable absence with teleconferencing go in the "never" file. 

Mr Halter, Lately you never fail to disappoint us. You’re an attorney. You should know something about upholding the law. And calling the whole thing "technical" left us momentarily speechless. We appreciate you are all in on the fight to defend a limited amount of issues in your district but sorry upholding code that assures people in other districts responsible representation isn't one of them. You have proven once again that your neighbors in your own district have something to worry about if their issue isn't yours. Shame.

Mr. Keogh-Our only regret is that you are the lone voice for the reason and fairness on the assembly on many issues including this one. Bringing a blatant code violation to the attention of your fellow assembly members for correction should have been congratulated.  Casting the lone vote to follow code and reject the mayors rambling nonsensical partisan resolution was brave and the right thing to do which is just how you roll and we cheer you. You are truly the assemblyman for all reaches of the borough.

Mr. Woods-Your stoic, statesman like presence was appreciated.  We're sorry your lack of skills and partisanship as in this case allow you hardly ever to break from the pack to do the right thing for the people of the borough. We think there is a public compass buried there somewhere but buried it is. 

Mr. Ceremonial Mayor-Nothing more to say about your partisan life line thrown to Mr. Arvin in the form of a resolution so bad it might go to the top of the ugly pile.  Just when we thought your pitiful choice for planning commissioner was as bad as it gets you double down on terrible.  For someone who is making rapid progress dragging the borough back to 20 years ago it’s laughable that you should suggest that borough code be "updated for the world we live in". Your world, Mr. Mayor is costing us a bundle in lost revenue, quality of life and health. Do us a favor and quit pushing your "values" on the rest of us. And sometime you should take the time and explain what that actually means. You don't want to know what our imagination tells us they are.

Mr. Arvin-The strong testimony against the ceremonial mayor’s resolution should speak for itself. Your right, they should be eye opening. Your suggestion that you will be back at the end of the month does nothing to change the past and your long absence depriving your constituents from full representation for nearly 6 months is just inexcusable. Almost as inexcusable as the five votes that joined your own to break the back of borough code and retroactively excuse you.  Your promise to finish your term and "moving some other code adjustments and resolutions for the betterment of the whole borough" does nothing to comfort us.  We have lost all faith that you will "honestly, faithfully and impartially discharge your duties" when it comes to representing the borough in your elected position. Especially when you won't even start with the borough code that pertains to the office you hold.

In fact we are gearing up for a very ugly storm on the horizon with further assaults on our own "values" and what we love about living in the borough. What we do know the majority members of this assembly are way past their freshness date. It's a body of elected officials born of the witches brew of free market dogma, uninformed idealism and personal opportunity and there is seemingly nothing short of recall that can be done about it until the next election. 




Thursday, March 14, 2013

ATTENDANCE RECORD TOWEL SNAP....





We told you about the problem of assemblyman Arvin's nagging absence from assembly meetings since October.  And the attorney's opinion that says that calling it in from China is a good try but 90 or more and still counting days of being physically absent leaving an empty chair and missing name plate doesn't cut it.

We decided it was time for a open letter to Mr. Arvin   We know it didn't really help the ceremonial mayor make the right decision on his pick for the planning commission when he decided to stick with "his man".  But maybe with that attorney's opinion floating around with the ink hardly dry and knowing all the out of sorts constituents Mr. Arvin will have to come back to, that he will be persuaded to heed some advice and throw his feet up in China and enjoy himself so DISTRICT 3 can have an assembly member that likes talking to people in person instead of through speaker boxes, email and fax machines. 


Dear Mr. Arvin...



We could tell when we saw you last you were under a lot of stress. We hear rumors the job in another time zone is no bed of daisies even though it comes with some nice perks. The tone in your voice over that speaker box that we will always visualize when really seeing you in person again some day has had some statements and undertones emitted from it that made you beyond a bit disagreeable and down right grumpy many, many times.  

We are sure you didn't really think the audience was full of spruce hens and witch hunters. We got a good chuckle out of that! 

Trust us. It's just an increasingly big sea of people that care about some of the bad twists and turns the borough has been making the last few years. Towers popping up like chickweed, buckets of water being thrown at ethic and subdivision codes, master plans after years of work and public input thrown in shredders, threats of new "felony flat" development everywhere and don't even get us started on that ferry business. It's been like watching our future on the belt of an assembly line at a toilet plunger test factory.

Besides that the villagers are getting grumpy themselves at your long physical absence. They aren't near as forgiving as some of the members of the Matsu Business Alliance that are no doubt sharpening their pencils for a good ol' fashion letter campaign to save you. People in your district and the borough for which are paying your salary and benefits out of their taxes expect attendance by their assembly representative at their community council, road and fire service meetings now and again. 

The good news is we have made a lot of new friends putting in our time on those hard chairs in the audience at assembly meetings watching the wheels of government work. Folks on every end of the valley like to visit us here and there to find out what they missed. All kinds of folks..attorneys, engineers, contractors, teachers, farmers. business owners, developers, accountants,  public employees, ex-public employees, youngsters, retired and hard working folk. Yep and those "greenies" that give you a sour stomach. Nothin like family right? 

And you know what? Turns out a whole lot of that public that annoys you so much are thinking that they have a right to see your furled brow around the table and here in the same country that you were elected in because they gave you their vote and all. 

Now we know your friend the ceremonial mayor has a six page resolution he will be asking for support for from the assembly with 19 "whereas" about what a swell guy you are and how he knew all along you might be a little delayed coming home working on that "matter of national importance constructing facilities". That silly mayor he forgot the whereas that says you are reportedly making a pretty penny for all that "imporrrrrrrrrrrrten"stuff and you being a man of trickle down economics, and staunch defender of the open market, well it's a shame he missed that. 

So I guess we will see what happens at the assembly meeting next Tuesday. Pretty sure there will be a lot of arm waving from your friends at the table about how much of a "national importance" you are to their cause which is really to hold a majority in their quest at skulduggery in the borough. There will undoubtedly be at least someone at the long table that goes all Rodney King about "all just getting along". But we should be able when we don't to respectfully find some balance in our different views. We know the public deserves better than you have to give. 

We know you would rather be some where else. That you have proved. 


Not sure what day or time it is in China but the meeting is Tuesday/March 19th 6PM at the school district offices. There will be a presentation open to that pesky public at 4pm from state labor economist Neil Fried. We know Mr. Fried and his scientific economic data and forecasts are contrary always to your own doom and gloom forecasts for the valley but maybe you will tune in to hear the discussion after on preparing for the upcoming budget. Pretty sure you have already been dreaming of sharpening your samurai sword to go after that target again. Those reserves you poked holes in last year have just about drained it plum dry.    

Lastly we think maybe all that tropical heat that your residing in that your memory might be a little foggy.  You told the Frontiersman (and we hear you are just a media favorite everywhere you go!) that you would stack your "attendance record against any other assembly member past or present".  

You know how they say "so here's your sign"?  Well here's yours and it's your attendance record and there are a couple of assembly members and a whole lot of voters that might have a wee problem with that statement. 





Friday, March 8, 2013

CHANGIN THE RULES TO FIT THE CASE....




It doesn't get any better when the opinion of a attorney rolls out about the conduct of assembly members and it is released to the public.  So grab a beverage. We have tamed the legalese to a manageable level for you.

A LITTLE HISTORY..


First let’s travel back in time since that is where we seem to be headed on a regular basis and recall the November 2012 meeting after the election when assembly member Arvin was re-elected.  The ceremonial mayor also re-elected needed to choose his deputy ceremonial mayor. His choice was Arvin who had by then returned to his place of employment in China. The defense the mayor has offered up about voters knowing this is just weak. Mr. Arvin's campaign webpage is still available and says nothing about him taking a six month junket if elected.  

The mayor was questioned then if assembly member Arvin planned to “be present more often than in the past”. The mayor replied that he “ didn't anticipate Mr. Arvin attending telephonic-ally much longer”. And that was that. Arvin was appointed deputy mayor and still receives the small difference in pay to hold that position which he continues to collect along with his full borough tax payer paid benefit package to date.

Fast forward to this year’s February 26th assembly meeting when Assembly member Keogh requested a third party opinion to determine if  borough code had been violated by Arvin’s physical absence for well over the 90 days code states is the time period allowed. Code states that an assembly seat be declared vacant if the member is "physically absent from the Borough for 90 consecutive calendar days and the absence is not excused by the Assembly."
We assume “physical absence" is limited to 90 days, because physical presence entails visual elements that are lost in physical absence regardless of ability to communicate otherwise. Elected assembly members are expected to meet with constituents, attend community council and other meetings, and personally witness neighborhood high drama like unanticipated tall tower erections and houses floating away from eroded river banks. It makes sense that a public servant be physically present to provide that service, apparently sufficiently important to be stated in borough code.

PLAIN TALK OPINION


The Borough requested the outside opinion for guidance as to whether assembly member Arvin was eligible to remain on the Assembly even though  this "extended trip” or perhaps a slow boat back from China he has reportedly been on from October 2012 to February 2013. 


Interestingly, the opinion assumes (and no one on the Assembly seems to argue otherwise) that Arvin has, in fact, been physically absent from the district for 90 consecutive days and that nothing the Assembly has done has excused that absence.  The conclusion to be drawn from those facts might seem to be simple.  He must be removed. A vindication of that those watching this drama unfold at the borough knew all along.

But the opinion goes on to consider whether an absence can be retroactively excused.  And it concludes it can.  Not only that, it concludes that--though the law is unclear--the existing law and the Assembly's own conduct (not to date declaring a vacancy and letting him appear by phone) "weigh in favor of permitting the Assembly to excuse the absence so long as it has not yet issued a declaration of vacancy."  You know we will let you go down that street again and this time don't go through the stop sign. 

Such a leap of this kind of makes us wonder what instructions the law firm was given when the opinion was requested. It also makes us wonder how many public employees at the borough or anywhere else would get to turn in a leave slip AFTER they took the leave. Excused is something that happens BEFORE the absence.  A person does not miss work, for instance, for 90 days and then, when someone notices, request a leave of absence.

Permission to be physically absent is granted BEFORE the fact. Pure and simple. Of course unless your part and parcel of the GOB (good ol' boy) club then you ask for a life line from the ceremonial mayor to announce at the next meeting that he will sponsor a resolution to excuse your absence. Good deal for Mr. Arvin. Not so good for the people he represents or anyone else that wants to try that hat trick and doesn't have a ceremonial mayor in their corner.

If the assembly goes ahead and votes to excuse the absence after the fact, it must decide whether the circumstances warrant excusing the absence.  It must consider the reasonable necessity of the absence from and must determine that the absence is not unduly prejudicial to the public.  One has to wonder whether it would be embarrassing to elected officials to decide that a fellow assemblyman's absence from his job--a job which they also hold—can be fully done with having to physically attend a meeting. Can they all just not be seated at the table but on giant screens with umbrella drinks and hula girls nearby?  How unimportant can you be?

CHASING BOOGY MEN THAT AREN'T THERE...

The little retaliatory tactic assemblyman Colligan in questioning Mr. Keogh’s residency is hardly worth the ink to talk about it and certainly wasn't worth taxpayer money for the hired attorney to earn his fee by filling seven pages.

Although a person can have only one voting address, there is nothing disqualifying in having more than one home or in this case, a home and an office in a condo to avoid the long commute from Chickaloon. And even though we recall the ceremonial mayor has no trouble with allowing people who own more than one piece of property to vote in more than one community council area we are still a one vote, one person borough.

Residency for holding office is the same as for voting. A person can only have one residence for voting purposes.   And the address on one's voter registration record is "presumptive evidence of the person's voting residence."  A person loses residency if he votes in another district or another state. Mr. Keogh hasn't done that. He resides in Chickaloon and has for many years. Simply owning two residential dwellings is not a disqualifying factor. See we told you …not worth the clean up.

Really. You can’t make this stuff up. Reportedly the mayor will present his resolution to excuse Arvin at the March 19th assembly meeting. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Arvin slaps some more horsepower on that boat from China and makes an appearance. You know the ceremonial mayor will be there ready to save "his man" . 



Monday, March 4, 2013

THE CEREMONIAL MAYOR GETS HIS MAN...



Drum Roll please..

The ceremonial mayor of the borough continues to protect his perfect record of selecting MEN to borough boards and commissions no matter how inferior their qualifications. Except now he even admits it. 

There was an avalanche of testimony at the last borough assembly meeting along with emails from District 1 residents not to confirm the mayors selection. The districts own assemblyman insisted he select one of the two overly qualified women that had applied and had prior experience on the board from the area.  Not too unexpectedly it fell on deaf ears. 


Devilbiss said he was sticking up for his 'man". That his selection had "values that aligned with (him) the mayor". Oh here we go with the "values" thing. What does that mean really? Does the mayor just "value" men over women? Does he "value" people that attend his church more than those that don't? Does he value less qualified people more than the more qualified to serve the borough?  As a farmer does he not "value" people that like potatoes more than the carrots he grows? 

In the end the ceremonial mayor and his brothers voted in lockstep 6-1 to keep the planning commission all male and not threaten it with any female ideas or expertise. This despite even the mayor's own admission that his selection "wasn't as qualified" as the women applicants nor that he had bothered to interview anyone that had applied even though it was his normal practice to do so. In fact he knew them all. But he was still as dug in as one of his carrots left to freeze in the soil. We are beginning to think some other place will freeze over before the mayor acknowledges any well qualified women join any decision making body for the borough.  



BAD TO THE BONE BEHAVIOR...


After one testifier spoke Assemblyman Colligan asked to address HER "slanderous accusations".  Wow. Apparently suggesting that Colligan may think about declaring a possible conflict if it were true that one of the male applicants to the planning commission and the mayor's selection was once an employee of his is something Colligan considers slander. It clearly got way under his thin skin. Colligan, just a delicate flower that can't handle himself in the real world was visibly upset that the public is allowed to say, his words "whatever the hell they want". The mayor was wise to call a break after testimony to see if maybe Colligan could gain control of his blood pressure. But it didn't work. Nor did it stop Colligan from confronting this professional woman in front of at least one witness and tell her she was a "F--cken nut job". Really those were his words. It was so outrageous it merited a letter to the editor in the Frontiersman.  For those keeping track of Mr. Colligan's habit of using very colorful and offensive language in his frustration this just went to the top of the top ten list.  It was brought to the mayor's attention after the meeting ended. While the mayor seemed sympathetic to the inappropriate act we will be curious if the he does anything publicly about it in the next meeting. 


THE VERY,VERY EMPTY CHAIR...


Assemblyman Arvin's long physical absence from the borough assembly table has been publicly challenged. Arvin has a perfect record since taking his oath also by telephone of "phoning it in" 
from his home away from home in China. The last time anyone set eyes on Mr. Arvin was at the September 26th assembly meeting conveniently held right before the election where he was re-elected for a second term. Reportedly he has not been seen at any public functions of the borough, road service area or community council  meetings in his district in many, many months. He was physically absent from the table at over 50% of the assembly meetings of his first term.  In fact he has been physically absent so long they have even removed his empty chair and name plate from the meeting table. Kinda like that seat held open for crazy Uncle Frank at the dinner table. The one who you could count on to show up to start the family insults that end in a food fight and then he just magically started staying home with his crazy. But he just starts calling while the meal just as everyone is setting down at the table just to be an annoyance. Then you realize how you like that empty chair so much better.

Borough code 2.12.040 is pretty clear on what constitutes an assembly vacancy. It says that the seat is vacant "unless excused by the assembly and  is physically absent for 90 consecutive calendar days". Pretty clear Mr. Arvin has been gone much longer than that and no one has mentioned that he is excused. During this long physical absence he has continued to receive his full salary and benefit package from the borough 
in fact even a bit more because he serves as deputy mayor as well. All other assembly members that are physically here are in attendance and available for interaction (as well as over-reactions-see above) with the public and community meetings. 


The request is for the clerk to get a third party legal opinion to consider if there is a violation. That opinion should be in front of the assembly Tuesday. We are wondering if they will make it public. Taxpayer money paid for it. They should. Even though this isn't an assembly that takes to heart on anyone else's opinion. They would rather do what they want and what serves their own purpose and worry about expensive challenges down the road. Valley residents deserve to know the rules of the road when they elect someone to serve. They need to know if the code in place protects them from someone putting their interests backseat to theirs. 


If this is acceptable maybe we should think about changing our ballots to indicate just what kind of representative we are getting. The "physically will be there elected official" or the "call it in elected official". All kinds of information is handed out at the assembly table by testifiers, other assembly members and staff that who ever is on the phone if they ever do see it is much delayed from when its delivered. It would sure seem that assembly members rendering decisions from the comfort of where ever they are often don't have all the information to cast votes. Perhaps that is why the state legislature nor our Congress doesn't allow votes to be phoned in.They have to physically be there and in some cases physically is all they are. But it's the rule of the land. To serve is a choice you make knowing the sacrifices it brings and we should agree there  are many. But allowing our representatives to do the business of the people from another country seems a pretty big stretch of the rules wouldn't you agree? 


The people of the borough deserve better and if this wasn't one of the majority members of this assembly the yelling and screaming about the injustice would have started long ago and be deafening. As you might imagine this demand for accountability has ruffled a few feathers of the assembly members that seem pretty sure that demanding accountability is just their own job to demand of others certainly not them. Stay tuned...


HOUSE OF FUN AGENDA


Contained in a tamed down 433 page packet for Tuesday's assembly meeting lays these treats:


  • Ceremonial mayor's veto of the Jim Creek Motorized Master Plan-turns out the mayor's values don't include the small concession made to residents in the area that allowed no shooting in the area. Making some drive a couple miles down the road to the state area that is designated for pretty much full out anything you want to do irritates the mayor. He is afraid it will create an enforcement problem which leads us to ask...what rules really do we enforce these days in a borough that is quickly being turned into the land of the lawless?
  • Removal of a female member of the animal control board. This whole deal is just ugly with a side of ugly. Better pop an extra bag of popcorn as a whole line of dirty laundry might parade out.  We wonder if chair John Wood who has reportedly been spending his time in Juneau working with the folks that would like to deliver gobs of oil tax money back to the oil companies will be there.  If he is maybe he can offer why he has been cancelling so many board meetings when animal control has been such a hot subject at assembly meetings and in the newspaper lately. 
  • A referral to the planning commission amending the ordinance for the board of adjustment and appeals is being brought to the table by assembly member Colver and the mayor. The BOAA job is to hear and decide cases of appeal relating to zoning, platting, waivers, permits. This one is going to full of attorney speak and add that to the characters that are asking for this change (Devilbiss and Colver) you have a right to be suspicious. We are. 


Speaking of the planning commission now that their ALL MALE board has been completed by the mayor and his "values" they are priming to take up more unwinding which might explain the mayors insistence on his "man" being on the board. They will be looking at a pile of new gravel pits, a update to the noise and sound code, a revision to the adult entertainment code, and the inevitable race track code update.  Ah yes a bevy of fun ahead. 


Look the whole state should be reeling over all the evil being played out not only here in the borough but in Juneau and Anchorage. Legislators who are voting to pass legislation that they are admitting before even voting is unconstitutional. The ruling majority are drunk on power and behaving like a long episode of the television series "Seinfield". You know the one with that famous Jerry quote "I am so busy doing nothing...that the idea of doing anything-which as you know, always leads to something-cuts into the nothing and then forces me to have to drop everything".  Right now what is getting dropped is any good legislation to tackle big problems and instead stuff that paints us closer to the crazy corner. There is much work to be done but one ordinance and law change at a time is driving this borough and state backwards and into the ditch so they can hand it all over to the private sector. They are putting lots of miles on the crazy bus right now.  

Attendance at borough assembly meetings has picked up the last few months. Perhaps people just need to see it to believe it. Whatever the reason you should go. Tuesday's (March 5th) assembly meeting will be live streamed on Radio Free Palmer starting at 6pm sharp. Too bad we don't have video to go with it and you could gaze upon that missing name plate and empty assembly "man" Arvin chair.....