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Wolf withdraws streams repeal measure

Posted: January 8, 2013 - 7:01pm  |  Updated: January 8, 2013 - 10:51pm

A Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member’s attempt to introduce an ordinance that would have undone an expansion of the borough’s anadromous waters habitat protection ordinance was foiled by an unlikely source: the “reply all” button on his email.

Newly-elected assembly member Kelly Wolf withdrew Ordinance 2013-03 from introduction Tuesday night citing concerns from borough administration about possible violations of Alaska’s Open Meetings Act.

Wolf’s measure would have rolled back borough code to protect just the previously listed 25 waterbodies under the borough’s anadromous streams habitat protection ordinance passed by the assembly in 2011. It would have also called for an administrative review and assessment of the benefits of enforcing and regulating the entire anadromous streams habitat protection code.

“The integrity of this process needs to be upheld,” Wolf said during discussion at the borough’s lands committee meeting Tuesday afternoon. “I very strongly believe that and it was not my intent to see a violation of the Open Meetings Act.”

Borough Clerk Johni Blankenship told the assembly the reason for her concern about the ordinance came from an email sent from a borough resident to the assembly members to which Wolf replied back to all assembly members.

“If you want to reply to the public members you obviously have the right to do that, (but) the importance is that you do not reply to the rest of the assembly,” Blankenship said. “You simply reply to the public member and me so that it can become part of the record.”

According to a State of Alaska webpage on the Open Meetings Act — statute 44.62.310 — a meeting of a policy-making body occurs when a majority, or more than three members “engage collectively in discussion of a subject that the body is authorized to act and set policy on.”

“Under this definition, it doesn’t matter where the meeting occurs, if it was prearranged, or who arranged it and could include unplanned casual or social contact,” the state’s explanation reads.

Assembly President Linda Murphy said she was concerned about moving forward with legislation that could be “tainted” by the possible violation and could be challenged in court despite Blankenship’s efforts to cure any possible violation by entering the emails into the public record.

“I only know what I saw come through my server, so I don’t know what else might have taken place,” Blankenship said. “The concern is that there is debate happening, or argument through the email that the public isn’t privy to, which is why I remedied that by copying the whole discussion and making it part of the public record.”

Murphy also said she was concerned about the intent of the ordinance.

“I just think this is premature because the task force is still working,” she said. “The ordinance that is currently being adopted might not be perfect, but it’s fixable in my opinion and I think we need to wait and let the task force do its job and come back to us with recommendations. Often we let the perfect get in the way of the good.”

Brian Smith can be reached at brian.smith@peninsulaclarion.com

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ak1979
112
Points
ak1979 01/08/13 - 09:28 pm
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withdraw

Sounds like this should be his new nickname. What is he doing back in office?

kksalm
227
Points
kksalm 01/09/13 - 10:00 am
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Kelly Wolf, really?

I see he's representing our neighbors in the Kalifornsky district. I missed seeing that ballot, he must have run unopposed. There's not many anadromous streams to be concerned about in his district, I guess he's looking for attention. What a hack, just my opinion of course.
Have a wonderful day!

santini
81
Points
santini 01/09/13 - 08:59 pm
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Wolf withdraws streams repeal measure

Kelly Wolf was wise to withdraw his ordinance in view of possible issues with the Open Meetings Act. Perhaps there will be another day.

It seems ironic that we are so sensitive to transparency at the Borough level when we see such wholesale violation of federal laws at the national level (i.e. no federal budget passed for a zillion days, circumvention of Congress through executive order fiats, to name a couple). It's good to know we haven't given up on legal integrity yet- at least at the local level.

The two preceding personal comments toward Kelly Wolf seems to indicate a couple of cyber-people who haven't been paying much attention to local politics. Kelly Wolf was indeed voted on the Assembly in a very narrow election. It would be interesting to know if these cyber-people even bothered to vote in the Borough elections in October. Sadly, only about 18% of registered voters bother to vote in our local elections. Very few even bother to follow any of the local issues let alone show up at an Assembly meeting to exercise their first amendment right 'to be heard'. Instead, it seems to be much easier to dash off a few words meant to be demeaning and not illuminating.

kenaicitizen
2
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kenaicitizen 01/10/13 - 09:03 am
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Elections

Yes Santini, low voter turnout indeed! K Beach managed to hit about 6% of registered voters and of course we know that many eligible people aren't even registered. So he was elected by about 3% (plus a dozen or so) of registered voters.
I hope that people understand that he should be representing everyone - voters and non. There are vocal groups that assume their voices should be heard more than others and it's good to remind our elected officials (kindly but consistently and persistently) that we're here too.
Local elections seem not to matter to many, but ultimately it's where we can interact and affect the process in a way that we can see right in front of us.

santini
81
Points
santini 01/15/13 - 04:05 pm
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Elections

Good comments Kenaicitizen. Your 6% K-Beach election participation rate is even more depressing. People seem to think that elections don't matter. I believe that elections do have consequences. s it's said, we get the government we deserve. I try to encourage people to get involved and even run for office: become citizen politicians, spend three years in office, make a difference and then move on. As much as I do not like term limits, it keeps people from lodging themselves in office and remaining there due to elective indifference. If we don't feel that local government matters it feeds that feeling up the food chain.

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