Kenai council on call waiting

City postpones vote on letting members phone in to meetings

Posted: Monday, June 26, 2006

A Kenai ordinance that would have allowed city council members to attend up to eight meetings a year by phone was sent back to the drawing board Wednesday night.

In November, the Kenai council agreed to allow members to attend two meetings per year by telephone “when work or family matters require their absence from Kenai.”

The new ordinance would allow telephonic participation as many as six more times per year if a council member cannot attend in person because of “the need for extended medical care and treatment of the member or the member’s immediate family.”

The change was introduced by council member Bob Molloy after council member Mike Boyle needed to travel to Seattle to be with his son, Gabe, who is undergoing treatment for leukemia.

The treatment his 10-year-old son is undergoing is not available in Alaska, and is expected to continue eight to 10 months, Boyle said by phone from Seattle.

The November ordinance states council members may not attend two consecutive meetings telephonically and the city charter mandates that members need only attend one of two meetings a month.

Council member Rick Ross asked if that meant under the proposed ordinance they would not need to attend any meetings in person for eight months.

City Attorney Cary Graves said that was correct.

Molloy said the intent of the ordinance was to help a council member attend and serve by phone.

“They would be able to attend one meeting by teleconference, then one in person,” he said.

Ross said he thought the language of the ordinance needed to be redrafted.

Due to the ambiguity in the language, the ordinance was sent back to the city administration to be rewritten and returned for consideration at the next council meeting.

The council also postponed action on amending a map of areas within Kenai city limits where hunting is permitted.

Ross suggested the proposed ordinance be rewritten to assure the city is not taking on the responsibility of enforcing no-hunting rules on private land.

Under the proposed ordinance, the hunting map would include restrictions imposed within the Kenai River Special Management Area.

The council did take action on the proposed Kenai Peninsula Wildlife Viewing Trail, asking city administration to send a letter to the state saying Kenai is in support of the project.

The wildlife and bird viewing trail is not a physical trail but listings of locations where one likely might see wildlife.

Five of the 64 prime wildlife viewing spots on the peninsula are in Kenai: the public boat launch, Cannery Road, the Bridge Access viewing platform, Erik Hansen Scout Park and Marathon Road.

Viewing guides that will be printed as part of the project will be available in March 2007, according to Ken Tarbox, a retired research project leader with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, who is spearheading the project.

In addition to promoting an awareness of wildlife habitat, Tarbox said the trail would provide the economic benefit of bringing new money into the area from people coming specifically to view birds and other wildlife.

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