A home run? Sure, but the bat was corked!
Over the airways, in newsprint and in person, much has been said these past few weeks about the borough government's role in obtaining and hosting the Arctic Winter Games.
Back in 2000, when Borough Mayor Dale Bagley was first elected, he created the Community and Economic Development Division and staffed it with two assembly members. Could this have been because he had some projects he wanted to do and didn't want to have to comply with borough economic development review as per the code and because he was unhappy with the Economic Development District?
Soon after, this organization, CEDD, aggressively courted and wooed the organizers of the little known Arctic Winter Games. The borough's theory was to take a few big swings, maybe hit a home run and make it to the fall classic (as the games have been tagged by this home team). Well, CEDD swung its bat and ... Boom! Contact! As the bat crackles, the ball is lofted high into the air.
Now, as we all have been made keenly aware by a constant public relations campaign, the Kenai Peninsula Borough was indeed chosen as the host community for the 2006 Arctic Winter Games. We also know that the borough should operate per its charter and respect the ordinances and statutes that have been legislated and codified.
So a few concerned and prudent citizens asked out loud which laws and policies guided the borough and empowered it with the authority to underwrite and fund these games? After all, $5 million is an awful lot of accumulated property tax revenue to spend without exercising due process.
A host society is supposed to be formed as a nonprofit and standalone entity to put the games on. It should be formed as a limited liability corporation and be totally disassociated with borough departments and employees to ensure the games are above reproach. As it stands now, the borough mayor and the two former assembly members, now employees of CEDD, are to be members of the board of directors.
It turns out that back in 1999, when the borough was considering using its state-granted powers of economic development, it did indeed codify some state statutes defining economic development. These codes expressly spelled out the criteria and guidelines concerning the borough's powers regarding economic development. Collectively, these codes are known as Chapter 19.30 of the borough code.
Sammy Sosa, as well as every baseball fan, knows that major league baseball has a hard and fast decree about corked bats in the rulebook. If a player uses a corked bat, he's out no exceptions. Well, the bat that the borough's CEDD used to hit the Arctic Winter Games' "home run" was corked, just like Sammy's!
You see, Borough Code 19.30 wasn't adhered to. It turns out that the borough far exceeded its statutory powers when it pursued and won the Arctic Winter Games.
Now, those of us keeping track of the rules are calling foul. Ah, but wait. The manager of the home team, Mayor Bagley, wants the governing body, the borough assembly, to exempt this particular bat because the Arctic Winter Games "home run" is so exciting and popular with fans. In fact, Mayor Bagley wants the assembly to pass an ordinance to exempt the Arctic Winter Games from 19.30.
When politicians who have no accountability run newly formed government agencies, they don't seem to worry about little things like adhering to policies and procedures, not even the laws they created. It seems that whenever someone gets caught doing something wrong, they just simply pass another ordinance to legitimize their actions. After all, why should the government be held to the same level of accountability as the rest of its citizens?
Kenai Peninsula Borough residents need to contact their respective borough assembly representatives and let them know that what the borough administration is doing just isn't right. Sure, we all want the Arctic Winter Games, but the borough government is setting a dangerous precedent by going about winning them in such a devious manner. Without consent of the voters, the borough government is arbitrarily changing the rules it uses to govern.
It's time we, the people, hold the borough administration accountable and see that it functions within the laws created to protect the public interest.
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