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Juneau's APOC opt-out a no-go

Posted: October 5, 2011 - 12:04am

Juneau voters gave a resounding “No” vote to Proposition 1 in preliminary results, the ballot measure asking for the city and borough to opt-out of state rules for public officials filing financial disclosures.

The preliminary results, which do not include absentee or questioned ballots, show 1,511 votes in favor of the measure and 4,288 opposed.

The measure would have allowed the city to no longer follow Alaska Public Offices Commission rules for its required filers, but instead implement its own ordinance. The city’s drafted ordinance would have reverted to APOC’s pre-2007 changes, with a couple exceptions.

Mayor Bruce Botelho, proposed the measure because he felt public officials needed a better balance between privacy and the public’s justified right to know their officials are working without conflicts of interest. He also is concerned that APOC’s rules are so invasive that it’s a deterrent for quality people signing up to serve on the school board, Assembly or Planning Commission.

“I think it’s pretty clear voters have overwhelmingly rejected the opt-out which would suggest that they’re generally very satisfied with the current state requirements and may be uncertain about the idea of having a simple municipal system, but overall there’s a resounding message not to change,” Botelho said.

Botelho said there wasn’t a whole lot of public discourse on the topic, so he isn’t able to break down specifically what voters were unhappy with.

“I think that the fact of how one-sided the vote was, was a reflection that people thought about it and cast a ballot in that direction,” he said.

Botelho doesn’t anticipate revisiting the issue.

“I think it would be a wiser course to let the matter rest and we clearly have lots of other issues to deal with,” he said. “While I have been concerned about the dampening effect I think these requirements have on enticing good people to run for office, the voters clearly have a different view.”

Botelho was disappointed with overall voter turnout, with 25 percent of registered voters turning in a ballot. He found it disappointing because he believes voting is every citizen’s civic duty.

“It may reflect that people are generally complacent about the direction of their city government,” he said. “There could be much deeper reasons why. I am appreciative of the people who did take the time.”

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@juneauempire.com.

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