Local News

Borough Assembly to respond to Parnell’s “threats”

Because of the Presidents’ Day holiday, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly will meet Tuesday night rather than Monday.

On Tuesday night’s agenda, the Assembly will consider approving a letter to Governor Sean Parnell regarding Parnell’s recent remarks about the Borough’s education funding lawsuit against the state.  The letter was drafted by assembly members Agnes Moran and Glen Thompson.

On February 6th, Governor Parnell told Ketchikan reporters that the lawsuit filed in January could jade his and other lawmakers’ perspectives toward Ketchikan funding.  The letter from the mayor and assembly states, “Not only was your warning an expression of the views of the Parnell Administration, you spoke unconditionally on behalf of a separate branch of State government – the Alaska Legislature – asserting that legislators hold the identical prejudicial view toward Ketchikan.”

In a February 7th Fairbanks Daily News-Minor article, Parnell indicated that neither he nor his administration will use the pending lawsuit to punish or single out a specific community or region.  The Borough questions why that statement was not made to Ketchikan officials directly.  The letter goes on to state that the Governor’s actions have “greatly diminished (the Borough’s) trust in the state”, and that the effect on State and local relations could last for years.

It also states that the Borough is now compelled to closely monitor appropriations, and will not hesitate to pursue legal remedies under the Alaska Constitution if circumstances indicate the Ketchikan Gateway Borough is treated unfairly. 

The Governor is also asked to distinguish between the City and Borough governments, noting the Borough, not the City of Ketchikan, was forced to form and is constitutionally required to backfill State underfunding of Basic Need for schools.

In the conclusion, the Borough expresses regrets over the effect the Governor’s remarks have on State and local relations.  The Governor is invited to Ketchikan if he is willing to address the Borough’s concerns and to engage in a meaningful and constructive dialogue.

If authorized by the assembly, the letter will be signed by Mayor Dave Kiffer and submitted to the governor.

Also Tuesday night, the Assembly will consider cancelling the February 25th-26th  Community of Ketchikan legislative fly in.  Reasons for the proposed cancellation include: the Governor’s recent comments about the education funding lawsuit, removal of financial support from the City of Ketchikan, and lack of support from the City of Saxman to endorse the Community of Ketchikan Priority Project List. 

A fly-in event is still possible, but would consist of delegates with opposing recommendations.  The Borough may consider sending a smaller delegation to meet with Legislators for Borough and community priorities.

The Assembly will also consider adopting a resolution in support of House Bill 75 repealing certain audit requirements for non-profits receiving contributions through the Permanent Fund Dividend Pick.Click.Give. program.  Currently only organizations that have annual audits may participate. This prevents most small non-profits from benefiting from Pick.Click.Give.

The meeting begins at 5:30 pm in Borough Assembly Chambers.  There will be time for public comment at the beginning of the meeting.

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