Kenai council acted appropriately

Posted: Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I find the recent (Jan. 11) "Voices of the Peninsula" very unsettling. In question is an action taken by the Kenai City Council at their Jan. 6 meeting where a vote was taken to not allow public comment on a certain issue at that time. The former councilmen who penned the op-ed do the citizens of this community a huge disservice by taking one part of the meeting to make their case that the council did not listen to the public.

The council was scheduled to reconsider a vote taken at their previous meeting. Prior to the meeting on the 6th, all official public notifications specifically said, "No Further Public Testimony Will Be Taken." Unfortunately, behind the scenes a select group of people were told they could testify by using the 3 minute "unscheduled comment period" at the beginning of the meeting as a way to get around the "No Further Testimony." The 4-3 vote to not allow that back door attempt is what the op-ed authors build their case on. They don't tell you that right after that vote, a motion was made by one of the majority to bring the issue at hand back to the next council meeting for a public hearing after official public notificatiion. This notification would then allow for all views on this issue to be presented. The motion passed, again with the same 4-3 vote.

The op-ed doesn't tell you that as a confused audience stood up to leave after a break was called, one of the council members that voted for the proper notificatiion hearing tried to explain to the audience that they could speak for 5 minutes at the end of the current meeting. Two members that had opposed the above said motion attempted to keep him from speaking.

The authors of the op-ed also don't tell of the numerous apologies the audience received that night from the council members, who had voted to extend testimony, for any inconvenience; or of all the accommodations made to the audience to have their testimony later that night included in the official council packet.

Lastly, the op-ed states that "in the past, the council has always provided an opportunity for any member of the public to provide "unscheduled public comment" at the beginning of a meeting." Mayor Porter herself acknowledged at the meeting on the 6th that she had once stopped such testimony during this past year.

If you look at the entirety of the Jan. 6 council meeting, the public was well served. By insisting on proper notification, all voices that want to be heard will now have that chance.

Mark Schrag


Subscribe to Peninsula Clarion

Trending this week:


© 2018. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us