Let assembly judge if undue influence exists

Mr. Bill Smith, Assembly Member, resorted to the frequently used technique of expressing “phony outrage” when encountering criticism to his point of view. This is meant to immediately neutralize and then suppress any further opposition. Unfortunately in modern discourse this works all too well. A better approach for Mr. Smith is to challenge Mr. Wolf and demand that he produce evidence that there is “undue” influence by the Kenai Watershed Forum on public policy. After all, it is a prohibition for non-profit organizations (such as the watershed forum) to lobby public agencies.

I, for one, would like to know if it is appropriate for the executive director of the watershed forum to sit on a local Road Board or as a voting member of the Borough’s Planning Commission. There may not be a “legal” prohibition for the executive director to sit on this board and commission, but it sure places the executive director in the position of appearing to use these positions to advocate for policies favorable to the watershed forum. If I were sitting on board of the watershed forum I would be very concerned that this may cause uninvited scrutiny about the organization’s non-profit status.

So, Mr. Smith, instead of demanding apologies and expressing phony outrage, demand that Mr. Wolf’s criticism be aired in public. The Assembly, as the people’s representatives, can make a judgment as to whether it was “completely unwarranted” and an “inflammatory attack” as you describe. The issue would be put to rest and public would be much better served.

In another part of this article, the Mayor makes an impassioned plea for the people to “pay attention.” I believe that people are paying attention. In large numbers (1,600 have signed a petition to repeal the Ordinance) they have decided that Ordinance 2011-12 is more about “zoning” than “saving the fish.” The Mayor has also complained publicly that he has never spent so much executive time on a single issue. His reaction indicates that from the beginning he has totally miscalculated the public’s concerns about further implementation of fish habitat protection. Perhaps it time for the Mayor to also “pay attention.”

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