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.....