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...


Anonymous said...

Just wanted to drop a note to express my appreciation for your attempts to bring some much needed perspective to the local area.

You have my thanks, and I want you to know you definitely deserve and warrant a full measure of my encouragement.

I'm avidly looking forward reading much more of the same in the future...

KittenStCyr said...

Things sounded strained at times last night, but, I was only listening on the radio, so I may be projecting.... My direct experience with Milli Martin is that she is above reproach. She conducts herself with integrity, and she, unlike others, is always fully informed before she speaks. I trust Milli and I'm glad she represents me.
And anyone who is wondering, "Just what the heck does Milli Martin know about the peninsula?", should check out her thorough history of Miller's Landing and the old homesteader's trail system out east in Homer. It is in the Top Shelf stacks at the Homer Public Library.
I'm inclined not to snarl in Milli's defense. She can take care of herself on this one. Carey may just be grasping at the last bits of authority he will have over the assembly.

Anonymous said...

Info update for you:

From the Monday budget meeting with the Assembly: Mayor's Budget proposal includes $60,000 more in the upcoming mayor's budget for personnel. A brief explanation of the increase indicated the chief of staff and special asst have taken on more duties. A lot of extra cash for a couple people in a four person office. Not much explanation given otherwise.

From the May 19 Assembly meeting:
Manager or Mayor? As the Assembly stated last night, ACT supported it in the summer of 2004, nearly the same ordinance wording, and even pushed the ordinance as their own. Four of them testified at the meeting last night. Now they imply they like this mayor and the ordinance should not be introduced because it lacks detail. The ordinance is a simple ballot question: "Should the borough adopt a manager form of government?" (as did the ACT sponsored 2004 one).

In a united show of poor taste and disrespect the mayor and his administrative staff walked out of committee meetings when the ordinance came up on the agenda, missing their opportunity to express their objections.

Fortunately the mayor had a half page editorial printed in the paper that morning clearly laying out his point of view and slamming the Assembly President.

People: One fairly new appointee turned in her notice this week, with the mayor inferring to the Assembly on May 19 that she left due to poor wording in an Assembly memo about the qualifications of appointments. Actually it appears she went back to work in her previous field of work.

Today, May 20:
A long term employee resigned today. Appears she's just plain tired of being jerked around, and sees no hope of the administration gaining on the learning curve.

Surprised they haven't crashed yet. They try but the guardrails keep bouncing them back into the lane.

Your blog is appreciated. Keep it up. More people need to see the other side of the administration and your writing presents it well.

Budget meetings, committee meetings the day of Assembly meetings and Assembly meetings are all open to the public, and past meetings are posted on the Borough Clerk's web site. Anyone can listen to the recordings online.

Anonymous said...

The May 21 PC article about the recent Assembly meeting contained comments from the mayor about an ordinance providing employees an appeal process.

He says it undermines his authority and his relationships with employees. His community supporters say an employee will never be fired if they make the right friends on the Assembly.

The senior employee that resigned yesterday attempted to use the process to appeal a mayoral decision to unfund her position and hire someone else under a new title. She hired her own attorney, the Assembly hired an attorney, the mayor hired an attorney. The borough pays for all but the employee attorney.

Surprise! The mayor's attorney created a delay in the appeal, which should have been a couple hour "tell both sides of the story" and wait for an Assembly decision process.

The employee shelling out thousands for her attorney would have to pay to sit on the sidelines and listen to debate on the borough code rather than simply have her appeal heard. She chose to resign rather than run up lawyer fees. If she won the appeal she'd still be working for the same inept administration and never recover her costs.

She likely saved the borough more money by negating the need for mayoral and Assembly outside counsel than the mayor has in seven months.

Back to the ordinance undermining relationships between employees and the mayor: he's already fired torpedoes at Public Works, Spruce Bark Office (SBB), Human Resources and Grants Management. He had direct hits on all but Public Works and replaced the other department directors with cronies.

His Public Works and SBB shots backfired somewhat when he publicly reversed himself after a few weeks and embraced the SBB program as vital, for at least a couple more years, and "unfired" all but one SBB employee (the director).

Recently he quietly "unfired" the one Public Works employee (of the four he attempted to erase), reinstating backpay, benefits and seniority, but first attempted to only rehire the fired as a new employee.

The mayor has spent seven months undermining his own authority and employee relationships. He has a knack for "spin", using every public opportunity to convince the public he is a leader of substance, obviously convincing the ACT contingent and like minded talk show callers. (One of his KSRM Sound Off scripts was posted on the mayor's own website).

Scratch the surface of a copper penny and you find zinc.

Anonymous said...

The Mayor’s sniping at Assembly President Martin and his tossing her under the proverbial bus by claiming she had locked non-government groups out of the building, including TOPS, was discussed in the Assembly Committee meetings last Tuesday.

The Borough Code only gives the Assembly President authority over the chambers and its associated three conference rooms. Ms. Martin pointed out that does not include the mid-sized break room adjacent to the secured rooms. She also pointed out that the break room and building security outside the chambers and its conference rooms are under the Mayor’s purview. He has the authority over whether that space can be used and the responsibility to secure the rest of the building and it’s multi-million dollar systems, not the Assembly.

Anyone heard an apology from him about that yet? After all it was his own security evaluation and unadvertised meetings in the building that brought the Assembly to the decision to secure their rooms. The memo from Ms. Martin was circulated before enacted and met no opposition. The Mayor offered no alternatives for TOPS or other groups by using his authority to grant permission for space, though he did make a run at spinning the issue in a favorable light for himself.

It is amazing to hear ACT group representatives and the Mayor’s political fundraiser/Soldotna businessman Norm Blakely describe the recent proposal to let voters decide on a manager or mayor form of government as an underhanded way to neuter Mayor Carey and usurp his authority in one sentence, then answer questions from the Assembly something like this (paraphrased, though the Borough Clerk could provide the minutes):

Blakely: I spent a lot of time and money getting this mayor elected, holding fundraisers and setting up signs and all, I don’t want to see my efforts wasted.

Assembly to ACT: why the opposition to this proposal as it is nearly identical to the one ACT promulgated in 2004-05?

ACT responses: it was too complicated to complete the ballot initiative; we like this mayor, not the old one; five assembly members would control government.

In fact, 5 or 6 already do under the current system. The difference is there is a mayor operating in a vacuum making uninformed decisions that has put the Borough backwards more in six months than any of the previous 8 or more administrations put together. Yet it’s amazing how many people actually believe this Mayor is performing well and in a knowledgeable and adept manner.

Those 5 or 6 Assembly members are all that is keeping this mess afloat, and a lot less messier than it would be if the Mayor were allowed to proceed unchecked.

As for the manager versus mayor issue, cities have managers and it seems to work fine. The borough has grown large enough in population, services and tax base that it needs to be managed like a good business and not be used as a set of training wheels for small time politicians trying to bolster an image. This is about what is best for the borough long term.

It’s time for citizens to let the Assembly know if they support them, and stop letting the vocal minority do the talking. This Mayor is supported by ACT. This Mayor knows how to spin an image.

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