Clearing the air on SPH: Martin waiting for promises made by borough mayor

Voices Of The Peninsula

Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2007

The events of the past week have been tumultuous to say the least.

I would like to extend to all who testified on Ordinances 2007-28 and 2007-29, drove to Soldotna or came to the Kenai Peninsula Borough office in Homer, my sincere thanks for your time and for caring for the South Peninsula Hospital.

I extend my sincere thanks to Homer Mayor Jim Hornaday for his perceptions.

It is clear to me now, that I should have pursued then the issue of Mayor John Williams phone call. Instead I was far more concerned with the hospital service area board and what I sensed as their needs.

My job, in my humble view, is to be a representative of the voters and taxpayers of my district, and that is always my first concern. I endeavored to clarify some points in my response to Mayor Williams, including the need for service area board training. That training is key to all of the recent events. Training and communication are critical for all borough boards and commissions in order to function in a healthy, productive fashion.

It is important, as membership on those boards and commissions change, that all members have a clear understanding of their roles, responsibilities, importance of the Open Meetings Act, how to file budget documents, work with the finance director, explanations of expectations from the administration, etc. This would include the assembly, too.

When I served on the Kachemak Bay Advisory Planning Commission from 1996 to 2000, all boards assembly, school board and commissions had yearly training at the Borough Building, usually a Saturday, conducted by the borough attorney, borough clerk and department heads. Sometimes an outside consultant would be there, too. It was excellent. In addition, when the Foraker Group gave their nonprofit training at the college, we were encouraged to attend.

There has been no training in well over seven years.

I do wish I had mentioned the phone call during assembly discussion of Ordinance 2007-28 last week. It and another issue were in my notes, and I overlooked it in the heat of the arguments. I have worked many hours these seven years to address the needs and concerns of my constituents on the southern peninsula.

I have never been so frustrated or disheartened by the actions of the assembly and the borough mayor. I do have to thank Mayor Williams for his work early in his administration to get the hospital expansion back on track. How sad that all that good work is somehow overlooked. All in the name of power.

It is my hope that in the next 60 days, they will all come to a clearer understanding of the issues important to the southern peninsula and respect those. It is my intent to then submit an ordinance that would re-instate some or all of the powers of the South Peninsula Service Area Board.

That second issue I failed to speak to, was a meeting requested by Mayor Williams with Tim Navarre, Deb Germano and myself. That occurred on June 20. During that meeting, it was made very clear what Mayor Williams plans for South Peninsula Hospital were. I am uncomfortable with those plans, but at this point I will honor his request of confidentiality. However, in that meeting, Deb and I were clearly promised by Mayor Williams that prior to contract negotiations he would find positive solutions through training and communications. I wrote notes at that meeting, and circled those promises.

It is my sincere hope that Mayor Williams will follow up with those promises.

Milli Martin has been on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly since 2000 and represents Kachemak Bay. She requested that this opinion piece be submitted as a private citizen, and not as a representative of the assembly.

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