The deadline for having a selection of sane candidates to choose from for borough assembly as well as on city councils in Palmer, Wasilla and Houston THIS October is looming today at 5pm . So unless you want to make borough history of your own and launch a write in campaign to beat back the crazy it's time to step up. Almost past time.
Here are a few Citizen Lobbyist rules to guide those throwing their hat in the ring of fire:
Walk your talk: Spare us and don't flood us with literature that says to vote for you because you are "fiscally conservative" because that means nothing these days. Zero. In fact it has become a laughable claim in so many ways. We currently have a elected tables full of those people and they are spending money faster than any time in history. Valley residents deserve at least as much good from valley taxes as private enterprise and big business gets. They don't want to give up more services from their local government to finance your pipe dream or new mega project or even an old one that chances are will never pay back.
Show up: Those holding elected seats should actually sit in them and not depend on the closest cell tower although they are popping up faster than the fireweed to count as their participation. Living in a foreign country or a snow bird location for most of the year and then acting like you were fully engaged earning a public servant salary and perks doesn't cut it. Not even a little bit. Don't even bother if that's your game plan. We all deserve better.
Remember who you work for: It's not your political party. It's not your campaign donors no matter how many hundred dollar bills they are stuffing in your pockets. It's not your business cronies. It's not your church. It's not the imaginary voice in your head. You work for the people of the borough that elected you and that pay your salary and or benefits. The salary and or benefits that no one asks you to punch a time clock for. A salary that doesn't even measure your effectiveness or success in what you say that your going to really do.
Read your packet of information BEFORE you take your seat; Don't try to fake it. We know when your faking it. Public documentation is messy and necessary. We know you won't read it all. Hardly anyone does but you should at least have a vague idea what your voting on. And quit comparing it to the way private business works. Read the memo. It's not private money, it's public
Thumb through a copy of Robert's Rules of Order; The clerk isn't your mother and the attorney isn't your father. It's awkward when you force them to have to be because you don't know the damn rules or how a meeting is suppose to roll and when you are allowed to speak. If in doubt always grab the "be quiet" lifeline.
Know the difference between: The interest of the people of the borough, personal interest and special interest. We aren't interested in your personal agenda and ideology. Save that for the sermon Sunday.
Public offices belong to the people:You aren't elected to carry on your family name or dynasty. You aren't elected to build your own empire. Leave the monarchy's to the people across the pond looking for the baby wipes. Term limits are rare. Invoke your own and come up for air once in awhile. It's a win win for everyone.
Don't plan to be a serial office holder; If you have had your official picture taken to hang on a public building wall more than a couple times its time to move on and find a new hobby. Don't confuse your experience with your obsession. It's not healthy for any of us. Term limits are rare. Invoke your own and come up for air once in awhile. It's a win win for everyone.
Be accessible and accountable; but turn your cell phone off when your at the decision table. Doing the people's business is way more important than your own when your on the public's dime. Reading a text or the latest facebook post can wait. Those people in the audience have been waiting too. At least sit up, look up and act like you care they are there and are interested in what they have to say. By the way if your already seated we're looking at you and expect to start reading about your actions here.
Treat the public employees with respect; The herd has been thinned down about as much as it can be without killing the species off which we recognize may be your goal but you have some great talent under the public roof who have taken a ride on these political roller coasters more than once. Those heads won't hold anymore hats. If employees aren't doing their best work it's a management problem not an employee problem. Wiping your feet on employee moral doesn't make anybody want to do better.
Don't micromanage; We realize this is a tall order for some of you. It may make you feel important in the short term storming in offices or demanding action behind the scenes but it serves no one in the long term. Government is a team sport. The coach stays on the sideline and lets the players do their job. They will let you know when they want you to pick the sod out of their helmet.
It's not that hard to do the job of an elected official if you follow at least some of the above suggestions. It can even be enjoyable. Okay maybe not that enjoyable but fulfilling in many ways once you learn how to weed out the nonsense that comes with it.
We have been hearing loud and clear the complaints and teeth gnashing and anguish about the deep disappointment in not only the lack of real leadership but accountability, transparency, diversity, you name it. We want many more people to consider serving the people of the borough. That's a tall order these days. We get that. We have to work with the tools in the tool box. We hope laying out a few rules will help. Now if only they read it.
We will be making some noise ourselves on Radio Free Palmer today. Starting at 4:45pm today tune in for a live broadcast you can find at KVRF 89.5FM or www.radiofreepalmer.org announcing the final list of those that have filed to run for office in the borough and city elections. That will be followed by a live broadcast of the "Valley Edition" hosted by Michael Chmielewski with panelists Mark Kelsey, Frontiersman publisher and your own Citizen Lobbyist as we discuss the final slate of candidates. Who wants to miss that right?
Oh and one more rule.
The public bites. They will break that chain and jump the fence faster than you can run if you abuse your given power. In fact we are happy to open the gate for them.