Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Carey Nation: T2ATF's Carry Day - Goin' Postal?

Was it a warning or an announcement?

Yesterday, Carisa Rodriguez, the mayor's admin assistant, alerted KPB employees that the 2nd Amendment Task Force(T2ATF) was mobilizing in the borough parking lot to 'visit'.

If you remember back a few weeks ago, T2ATF met at the SOLdotna Sports Center to insist that they be able to stick loaded pistols in their pants (see related blog posting). Or maybe they were happy to see Mayor Dave Carey and Senator Tom Wagoner join their panel. Your guess is as good as mine.

Mayor Dave welcomed the gun-waving activists that gathered yesterday in the borough's parking lot and he said a lot of patriotic words. Maybe he forgot when T2ATF's main organizer at the Sports Center, Schaeffer Cox, refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance and didn't remove his hat when others did so. And I wonder if Dave has read the group's manifesto of armed rebellion they would mount if another gun-control law was passed? No matter, guns and God ruled the day.

But it kinda made some local businesses and governmental offices a bit nervous. The sign pictured in this posting was from the post office located across the street from the borough building and it reminded patrons that guns weren't allowed inside. It's a reasonable stance for an agency that has been notorious for disgruntled gun-toting employees going postal in the past (but not in SOLdotna!).

I'm just glad some local punk didn't set off some firecrackers behind the T2ATFers as they were flashing their firearms...

I do wonder about the group's motives. With no pending gun-control legislation being proposed in Alaska, and with nothing really shaking on the national level except removing the law that President Reagan signed that outlawed loaded weapons in national parks, I wonder just what point the group is really making...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Answering to the Truth - Is Carey Capable?

I couldn't help but be more than a little skeptical when I read Mayor Carey’s opinion piece in last week’s PC (see the blog posting below). Irked by the borough assembly’s recent actions to propose an ordinance to let voters decide if the borough should have a professional manager, Dave let a few loose cannonballs fly. He accused the assembly president, Milli Martin, of arrogantly closing the borough building to TOPS, the weight-loss support group, because they didn't live in her district. He cited Milli's supposed callousness as an example of the need for an elected official who represents the entire borough population, rather than a borough manager, a position he feels would be answerable to only the assembly.

But is Mayor Dave answerable to the truth?

After the shooting incident at the hospital, the borough examined some safety concerns that might exist. Carey was adamant that the borough building only be used for governmental purposes and he was very uncomfortable with the practice of leaving these buildings - especially the white house on Binkley which contains all sort of records and equipment - unlocked after business hours.

But his memory conveniently became selective and in his self-aggrandizing posting in the Clarion, he slammed Ms. Martin to score political points.

Is it any wonder that there is growing grass-roots desire to check Mr Carey's ego? The assembly passed two ordinances at last week's meeting that would create job descriptions for mid-management positions in the borough and to give personnel that have been dismissed an appeals process.

Carey sees these measures as a challenge to his authority. But maybe it's just a way to keep checks and balances in government and to keep crony politics out of the borough's daily operation.

I imagine Mayor Carey envisions himself as a man of honor. I think Ms. Martin deserves a very public apology. Dave, are you man enough?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Palin: Obama Closes Soldotna GM Dealership

I've been laying off of our governor since the election - there are plenty of other Alaskan bloggers who have fun with Sarah, and Lord knows, she gives them plenty of material.

And she just keeps on giving. I'll jump in because she mentions Soldotna in her most recent press release.

According to Governor Palin, "Today, we learned that Obama’s decisions continue to impact Alaskans; while we as taxpayers now own General Motors, Obama closes another dealership – this time in Soldotna as more of Alaskans’ hard-earned money and jobs are lost to big government."

I got to thinking. Didn't the Peninsula Clarion run a story about Hutchings GM just a few days ago? Yep, May 10 in fact. It seems the Governor's statement isn't quite accurate. While Hutchings lost its franchise, it isn't closing. The dealership did employ around 75 workers back in the fall, 10 days before today's statement, its workforce was down to 28.

GM has been having difficulty since way before Obama became president as their last profitable year was in 2004. Since then they have lost $82 billion dollars. Any company bleeding that much red ink might just cut back their workforce - especially those franchises that aren't as profitable as others. The auto industry has lost some 400,000 this past year - some of that was bound to trickle down to the Kenai.

So, despite Palin's rhetoric, the dealership isn't closing, and the local layoffs occurred because of financial difficulty GM has been having for 5 years. Layoffs are a natural part of what happens when there is a downturn in the economy or if a company like GM makes bad business decisions.

So just how is that Obama's fault?

The debate whether the US Government should be bailing out a business won't be addressed here - there are plenty of pundits who can provide you with that entertainment.

But if the US doesn't bail out GM, wouldn't that mean that the company would go bankrupt and close ALL of their dealerships? And is that a better choice? What would Sarah say then - that Obama's inactions continue to impact Alaskans?

If she had offered an alternative suggestion on what should be done, that would have been helpful, but of course she provided nothing of the sort. I've yet to hear any thanks to Obama from her as Alaska has accepted millions of dollars in federal stimulus funds to create jobs here.

The GM rescue is not strictly Democrat/Republican thing, here's a statement in support of GM's bailout from Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and maybe with a bit more understanding of the problem than Sarah. "We all recognize the role these companies play in the overall composition of our economy and we want them to succeed. It has become abundantly clear that in order to remain viable and competitive, these companies must re-organize, revamp and restructure."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mayor Murders Milli: A Character Assassination

It might just be the most over the top bit of writing a local politician has ever produced. Borough Mayor (and self-proclaimed CEO)Dave Carey's Voices of the Peninsula article in Tuesday's PC blasted the Borough Assembly President, Milli Martin, for denying the local chapter of TOPS, the weight loss support group, the use of the borough building for their meetings. TOPS had previously been using the building for a good long time.

Dave has divined Milli's motivation for not responding to TOPS request for reconsideration and for not permitting the group the use of the white house:

"The TOPS chapter was denied use of the people's building because the assembly president was not elected by anyone in their areas of Nikiski-Kenai-Soldotna-Sterling-Kalifornsky Beach-Kasilof. She knew it was unlikely she would ever see them and they could not hold her politically accountable. The other eight assembly members must make up their own answers for not responding to the TOPS women."

Wow - Dave, just where did you get that insight from? Did Milli tell you that? Or might there have been some jumping involved to reach your conclusion?

Ms. Martin doesn't represent SOLdotna, but she's been on the assembly for a while and she's like your favorite grandmother - mostly kind and nice and willing to listen to anyone with something to say.

I think I would like to hear what Milli has to say about this. I can't imagine that she arbitrarily and capriciously denied TOPS access. Non-profit groups have always been able to use borough meeting rooms as long as the room is not scheduled for government purposes. Could it be that some committee is now meeting at the time TOPS had scheduled their meeting?

And did the mayor really command the other eight assembly members to "make up their own answers"!?! Do we want to encourage politicians to spin any more than they already do? Dave, you're a retired teacher. Are you encouraging cheating or are you assuming that no matter what they say, their answers will be "made up"? I know that one of the assembly members was preparing for and then attempting to climb Denali during the time frame of the TOPS email request.

And are you saying that you "made up" Milli's answer for her? Now that seems plausible.

Dave has his licorice in a twist because the assembly has introduced legislation that would relegate the borough mayor to a figurehead position and hire a professional manager to oversee the daily operations. But Gary Knopp and Pete Sprague - not Milli - introduced the legislation.

There was a borough assembly meeting Tuesday night and unfortunately my work schedule has me out of town for what will undoubtedly be interesting interactions between hizonner and the assembly.

More to follow...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Whole Lot of Compromise

The SOLdotna Creek Park development plan has been formally changed to include a compromise to the 120 car parking lot that had been proposed last week. The new plan calls for two lots - one that could accommodate 60 cars and an overflow lot with space for about 25. The redesigned proposal would also eliminate an existing smaller lot located by the playground.

It's not a bad thing to live in a place where the two major issues are parking lots and a cemetery location. Look how easy it was to affect sensible change in SOLdotna Creek Park.

The cemetery will be much tougher to figure out. Well technically, it's been decided that the city will purchase the Knight Drive property. I don't think those whom favor the Redoubt site, and that would be the majority of those who voted on the issue back in the fall, are done.

There is something that could be done to convince SOLdotnans why we should pony up and buy the Knight Drive property and that's some legitimate reasons why the Redoubt site is not appropriate. From what I've seen and heard, there isn't one good reason. No, it won't cause more pollution, the traffic impact would be minimal, property values won't go down (but aren't those same folks complaining that their property assessments are too high?), vandalism is unlikely to be a major concern, and of course, the whole 500' from a school issue has nothing to do with anything.

So Mayor Pete and all who voted to spend more money and buy the Knight Drive property, please do give us the truth.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Burial Plot Thickens

Small town politics and cemeteries - it's like finding buried treasure as it gives this hack writer the opportunity to try to bury the reader alive with dead-end puns and cliches!

It's dead certain that you're still SOL in SOLdotna if you want a place to RIP.

Councilman Scott McLane had previously abstained from voting on the Unified Community Memorial Park Committee's most recent site proposal on Knight Drive, citing some grave concerns. Scott had deeded one of the parcels in the proposed site to a local church, but had included a clause that would have given him a percentage of the take if the property was sold for non-church use: a dead ringer for a conflict of interest.

Declaring that he has since divested his interest in the property, Scott cast the vote that deadlocked the council in a 3-3 tie this past Wednesday.

Mayor Pete Micciche, who has been dead-set against the Redoubt site, was able to drive the final nail in the coffin and break the dead-even vote, thus approving the Knight Drive site.

But you shouldn't think the issue is now dead and buried. The Redoubt location just might be resurrected.

While the SOLdotnans that favor the Redoubt site might now have one foot in the grave, some promised a legal challenge to Scott's decision to vote. A cemetery task force member claimed to have checked with the state recorder's office and found no evidence that Scott had actually divested himself.

And then there's the small detail of finances. SOLdotnans already own the Redoubt property, but would have to buy the Knight Drive properties. Estimates for the purchase of those properties range from $300,000- $500,000.

Then there is the advisory vote where SOLdotnas recently favored the Redoubt site 531-310. With a simple twist of logic (or perhaps some dead reckoning), Mayor Pete interpreted the vote as being against a previously considered site at the SOLdotna airport. Although the city council had at one time favored the airport, an independent consultant concluded that the airport had too much clay and contamination to be a contender. Other problems, including a high concentration of bears and airplane traffic noise also doomed the airport location.

The need for a cemetery for SOLdotnans became official back in 2001 when the SOLdotna Historical Society approached then city mayor Dave Carey. Since then, there has been has been a series of controversies involving land swap proposals with the borough and NIMBY attitudes of rich and powerful residents of the Mooring on the River (MOR) subdivision that borders the Redoubt property (which is drop dead gorgeous, by the way). Wasn't it a hoot when one of the the major concerns the MORons' had with the Redoubt property was that it was within 500' of a school (as if that really matters), then it turns out that the Knight Drive property they favored is also that close to a school. Whoops!

I do have a way to make everyone happy. Let's charge the MORons and anyone else who is in favor of spending money on the Knight Drive properties a special tax to pay for it. Hmmm...so if the final cost is $300,000, than each of the 300 or so folks who voted against the Redoubt site would be charged $1000.

I wonder how many would still put their money where their mouth is?

If you're not dead tired of this whole matter, do read some previous postings in SOL (4/9/09 and 1/24/08)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Parkin' That Lot

Ahhh...the power of righteous indignation.

Good news for us SOLdotnans. At last night's meeting, the city council did not approve the latest plan to turn 1/2 of the Soldotna Creek Park's green space into a parking lot (see the blog report below).

The entire park plan is going to re-evaluated.

Thanks to all of the SOLdotnans who let the mayor and councilmen know that there are limits to being SOL in SOLdotna!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

SOLdotna's Proposed Park for Cars

All right, I am fan of parks, and a community can't have enough places for kids to play and others to walk and relax. Have a few barbecue grills set up for people to have a family gathering, maybe a gazebo and band shell for outdoor concerts or plays. Landscape it with lots of trees and flowers. It just makes a town more livable.

SOLdotna has some sweet property right in town and behind Don Jose's. Bordering the Kenai River, the former site of a DOT station was converted into a park area a few years ago. It's mostly lawn and it's played host to the annual Kenai River Festival and a bi-weekly farmers' market and craft booths. It's a great place to fly a kite or play ultimate Frisbee.

Nancy Casey has been the principal designer and the plans have evolved over the past two years. From a relatively simple proposal, the plans have grown to include a veterans memorial (although that was a bit controversial), a pavilion, a plaza square, a refurbished playground, and the possibility of an ice-skating rink.

What's there not to like?

Nancy's first couple of designs also included a small parking lot on the west end of the property; a sensible accommodation for the relaxed use the park has for most of the year.

But the latest plan calls for 1/2 of the existing green space to be turned into 120 parking spaces complete with a center aisle and parking access road.


That's right, take one of one the few free public access points to the Kenai River in the SOLdotna city limits and make a car lot out of half of it so there would be enough parking for those who want to enjoy it.

And if each car had three people in it, that would be 360 folks plus those of us who would walk or bike to the park. It could essentially squeeze 500 or more folks into a fraction of the existing space.

There are access issues for the Soldotna Creek Park. As it is now, you have to cross the five-lane Sterling Hwy from the residential part of town. Because we are SOL in this town, you know how bad summer traffic is right there. Many parents have a legitimate concern about their children biking or walking across the intersection there. Heck, I'm concerned about my own safety when I bike over there. A lot of SOLdotnans still think you get points for clipping a cyclist.

So we will give cars more access and we will destroy 1/2 of the park in the process for the one or two events a year that there might be a need for parking? It's not clear if the city of SOLdotna intends to pave the parking area, but isn't it a bad idea to pave so much area so close to the river? Doesn't the river's health depend on the ground absorbing and filtering run-off before it drains into the river?

I've got a better idea. Keep the original plan for a small parking lot and build a pedestrian bridge across the highway or a culvert tunnel under (like Anchorage's coastal trail access by the lagoon). For those big events, limit parking to the handicapped and elderly. There's plenty of weekend parking across the street and couldn't most SOLdotnan's use a bit of exercise?

Joni M got it right a few years ago, "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Saturday, May 02, 2009

(Numb)Nutz for Guns

The Second Amendment Task Force (T2ATF), a group determined to fight any laws that they perceive would violate the second amendment, met at the SOLdotna Sports Center this past Tuesday (see the PC story). Bob Bird, one of the local organizers, stated, "This is not the National Rifle Association..."

OK, let's stop right there. It IS the NRA - here's the link to the NRA website that promotes T2ATF.

Bob, if you can't be honest, everything you have to say is immediately suspect. But we already knew that about you.

Anyway, they met and in attendance was a who's who of losers and incompetents: Bob B, who was resoundingly defeated twice for US Senate; Wayne A Ross, S. Palin's Attorney General selection who was overwhelming rejected for the job by a bipartisan vote; Schaeffer Cox, the 25 year-old who lost a bid to represent Fairbanks in the state house; Tom Wagoner, the current state senator for the central peninsula who for the 3rd session in a row, sat on the sidelines and did nothing but complain (see the posting on him below); and Davey Carey, the current KPBSD mayor, who is determined to pander to every winger group on the peninsula.

Cox, the main organizer, is worried about all the gun control laws and restrictions that are coming our way. Which ones? Who knows, but the government, especially the Obama administration, is out to get our guns.

While there is a grass-roots feel to the Alaskan group, the T2ATF was founded by U.S. Congressman Dan Boren, (D-OK) and U.S. Congressman Paul Broun, (R-GA), both recipients of considerable NRA funding.

T2ATF seems to gathering strength as a push back to the resounding election of President Obama. They are convinced that the president is out to get their guns. (read KSRM's view).

The Obama administration is proposing re-instating the ban on assault weapons. Um, that's about it.

There is more to the Alaskan T2ATF. Check out their agenda. Here are some of their tenets:

1) If any new gun laws are enacted, they will "alter or abolish them and institute new government."
2) That self defense is a God-given right. (Hmm, what about turn the other cheek, blessed are the peacemakers [not a nod to S. Colt's famous .45 revolver], and thou shalt not kill?)
3)Abolish the Federal Reserve because they print money.
4)To use force against the government if they don't get their way.
5)If selected to be on a jury, not to convict someone on a firearms offense. (I guess they would have freed Harold Pence of Kasilof who was just convicted for assaulting his wife and others during a drunken escapade involving rifle fire last summer)

Does this group bring Timothy McVie to mind?

Of course we Alaskans own guns and hunt and target shoot and no one has ever has proposed restricting that sort of ownership. But what is unreasonable about banning assault weapons? And if we don't draw the line with assault weapons, should we be allowed to own RPGs? Heat seeking missiles? Dirty bombs? IEDs?

I'm concerned that groups like this are all paranoid about the Obama administration, but had nothing to say about Bush and his cronies and their policies of torture, stripping our civil liberties, conducting an illegal war...Oh, that list goes on and on.

It seems it's all good to groups like T2ATF until there is a perception that their weapons of mass destruction might be taken away.

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