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My Turn: How 'the process works'

Posted: May 20, 2012 - 11:04pm

Forty-two individuals, from Douglas and downtown all the way out to Tee Harbor, have filed an appeal against a Planning Commission decision to allow unrestricted rock crushers in D3 zoning. The Planning Commission made their determination based on the former director’s report that there was a legal opinion in support of this action. Since then, we have discovered that there was no written opinion by the attorney, only an informal, undocumented discussion.

Before the appeal was submitted, the mayor and the city attorney told the Assembly that it does not need to proactively involve itself in this matter; that we do not need to ask what staff is doing or why; we should not question whether government is serving the collective good or if it has slipped off its rails and needs to be set straight. They say we need to wait. If the city does wrong, someone will appeal. They say we have a process and we must trust it and let it work.

Let’s not lose sight of who “we” are here. The city manager and the city attorney are at-will employees hired by the Assembly. The Assembly is nine neighbors the people elected to keep an eye on government and make sure it was operating in accordance with our laws and our State and U.S. Constitutions. The laws are the contract that binds us all together. It’s the rules we agree to live by. Staff needs to follow those rules just the same as any of us do. It’s up to the city manager and the city attorney to hold their staff accountable, it is up to the Assembly to hold the city manager and the city attorney accountable, and it is up to the people of Juneau to hold all of them accountable.

Do we have a process that will hold staff accountable when mistakes are made, or will the same staff involved in creating the problem orchestrate the process and advise the Assembly that they must ignore certain facts and narrowly limit their questions and considerations?

Are the people of Juneau contented to let city government do whatever it likes? The process does work. As it stands, it works to protect the establishment to do as it likes without explanation or conscience. If we, the people of Juneau, want fairness in government, we have to demand it, relentlessly. If you care, speak up! Email the city manager, the city attorney, the mayor, and the assembly all at borough_assembly@ci.juneau.ak.us to tell them what you think.

• City and Borough of Juneau Assembly member Danner is proud to stand on principle and pleased be among the 42.

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