Absences nearly cost council member his seat

Posted: Friday, October 25, 2002

After four absences in four months, Kenai City Council member Joe Moore came within one absence of being removed from the council.

Under Kenai's code, if a council member misses more than half of all council meetings in three consecutive months, the person is removed from the council.

Moore, 40, did not attend council meetings on June 19, July 17, Sept. 4 and Sept. 18. His absences during July and September equal exactly half the council meetings held in July, August and September, so if he had missed one more meeting during that time, he would have been in violation of the code.

At least some of the absences were related to a May 6 incident in which Moore was arrested for fourth-degree domestic violence assault and remanded to Wildwood Pretrial Facility. In a May 24 trial in Kenai, Moore pleaded no contest to the charge and was convicted.

He was sentenced to serve 90 hours of jail time with 80 hours suspended and was credited for the time he served at Wildwood on May 6. He also was sentenced to complete 72 hours of community service by Sept. 24 and 28 days of residential treatment with the Alcohol Safety Action Program within 10 days of May 24, and was placed on two years of probation.

Moore has paid all fees and fines ordered by the court and has completed the ordered 28 days in residential treatment. According to court records, he had not completed his community service by Sept. 24 and another hearing is scheduled for November. If he hasn't completed the community service by then, he could be remanded back to Wildwood.

Kenai's code refers back to state statutes when it comes to the removal of council members for criminal convictions. According to state statutes, if a council member commits a felony crime or a misdemeanor dealing with an election or involving a violation of the oath of office, the member can be removed from the council.

Moore's crime was a misdemeanor; it did not violate his oath of office. As such, he does not have to step down from the council.

"It doesn't appear to me that (Moore's conviction) would be a violation of his oath of office because it is not related to his conduct of his office," said Kenai City Attorney Carey Graves. "My interpretation of that would be some kind of election law violation or graft or corruption, it's not just any misdemeanor. It would have to be related to the office."

Moore said he does not believe his conviction or any issues related to it would affect his role as a council member.

"I have not violated any code of the city of Kenai. If that were the case, I wouldn't hesitate to turn my resignation in to the mayor," he said.

"If there is any negative response to my presence on the council, I would welcome those comments."

Kenai Mayor John Williams agreed that Moore's conviction should not affect his role as a council member.

"I don't see that it is affecting or will affect Joe's ability to serve," Williams said. "I'd be the last one to ask him to step down."

Moore's council attendance record has included six absences this year, including the four since the May 6 incident. Council members Duane Bannock and Jim Bookey have missed two meeting each this year, Williams has missed one meeting this year and council members Amy Jackman, Pat Porter and Linda Swarner have not missed any meetings this year.

Moore said he does not plan to be absent from future meetings.

"I've got some problems," he said. "I chose not to have these problems, but I have them. I'm in a program of recovery to fix those problems, and because of that program I did miss some council meetings. I realize there were some issues of importance (discussed during those meetings) to the city of Kenai.

"This issue for me is more important, it is number one of my priorities, and I need to take care of it first. I am very grateful to my family and those around me for the support given to me in those months."

Moore said he takes full responsibility for his action regarding his conviction.

"As an elected official, I put myself under public scrutiny, and I accept that. But what I don't accept is drawing my family into public life," he said.

"I have hurt my family and friends enough. We are just now beginning to heal those wounds. I don't believe opening those wounds solves anything. ... Maybe my situation can be turned around for someone else experiencing the same problems and be a solution to help them out."

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