Mayor Merrill Sanford read a proclamation honoring those who responded to a major fire downtown last month at Monday night’s meeting of the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly, the last regular Assembly meeting of the year.
The proclamation referred to workers at Bartlett Regional Hospital, Capital City Fire/Rescue, the Juneau Police Department and the Red Cross, as well as “citizens and businesses of Juneau (that) came out in en masse to donate goods or volunteer their time or services where needed.”
His voice trembling slightly, Sanford said that on behalf of the Assembly, he “(wished) to give a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to the selfless first responders and numerous volunteers who once again reminded us what a wonderful and caring community we live in.”
A rare suspension of the rules was also granted to allow Assemblymember Randy Wanamaker to pass out green and white ribbons commemorating the victims of last Friday’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The ribbons were made by Karen Doxey, a teacher at Riverbend Elementary School and Wanamaker’s wife.
“I think it’s fitting that the community’s civic leaders share in the expression of support for the families and with the loss of children,” Wanamaker said.
All nine Assemblymembers, City Clerk Laurie Sica, City Manager Kim Kiefer and Deputy City Attorney Jane Sebens each pinned a ribbon to their shirt or jacket.
Just after Wanamaker’s remarks, the first of two members of the public who spoke during the meeting’s public participation segment appealed to the Assembly to consider holding meetings or appointing a task force to discuss gun control in the wake of the Newtown shooting.
“I think for something to occur and change on a national level, it has to begin on the local level. So I’m putting myself out there and saying that I would be available, and I’m asking the Assembly … to join on this, what appears to be a swell across the country, about initiating meaningful dialogue on gun control,” said Mike Peterson, a Douglas resident.
In Assembly comments toward the end of the meeting, Assemblymember Jesse Kiehl acknowledged Peterson’s testimony and called his proposition “a good idea.” However, he added, municipalities in Alaska are prevented by law from adopting many restrictions beyond the limits that state law imposes on gun sales and ownership.
“In terms of the calls for action that are coming … from our community — our hands are tied by that state law,” Kiehl said. “It does not mean that there’s nothing we can do. It certainly does not prevent a good conversation as a community. It also doesn’t mean that we can’t take a serious look at the steps that our community can take to be a healthier place, to deal better with those who suffer from mental illnesses, and I think that’s an important part of the conversation. But it’s also important that folks in Juneau know what is and isn’t possible for municipalities in Alaska.”
After Peterson concluded, Glenn Haight came forward to speak about the death in June of his 16-year-old step-daughter, Savannah Cayce, and the management of Auke Lake, the site of the collision between a jet-ski and an inner tube that killed her.
Haight said his family found it “horrifying” to see little change in the motorized activity on the lake, a small body of water adjacent to the University of Alaska Southeast campus, after Cayce’s death.
“We do not believe the city’s efforts in this matter is commensurate to the situation,” said Haight, who criticized the lack of enforcement of regulations governing the like. He added, “Unless the Assembly takes this matter seriously, more will die.”
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee is set to meet on Jan. 8 to discuss Auke Lake management, Assemblymember Jerry Nankervis told the Assembly in his PRAC liaison report.
Another proclamation was read at the meeting to memorialize Bob Thibodeau, a well-known Juneau resident and advocate for the elderly who died in September at the age of 90.
Sanford read that the proclamation on behalf of the Assembly recognized Thibodeau “as a citizen activist and champion of the rights and dignity of older people in the Juneau and Douglas communities.”
Parks and Recreation Landscape Supervisor Terry Hinkley, who is retiring from the CBJ after 28 years, was also honored by Parks and Recreation Director Brent Fischer during the meeting.
The Assembly will meet for a full sitting of the Human Resources Committee to consider applicants to several enterprise boards on Wednesday. That meeting will be followed by a special Assembly meeting to make appointments to those boards.
No Assembly meeting is scheduled for next week, the week of the Christmas holiday.
• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.