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The Peace and Quiet Coalition has been sent to time-out to think about working more collaboratively with the other participants trying to mediate problems related to noise from large-scale tourist activities.
"At this point, Peace and Quiet representatives have yet to show an ability to work collaboratively with others to solve this problem," mediator Lois Schwennesen, vice president of Triangle Associates of Seattle, said after Tuesday's group meeting.
Schwennesen is refereeing continuing talks in Juneau among conservation, flightseeing, cruise-line, tour and noise-abatement interests. The groups have agreed to aim for consensus in resolving noise-abatement issues.
After Coalition member Hugh Malone attempted to tape the proceedings of Tuesday's meeting, the only consensus in sight was that Peace and Quiet had violated an agreement reached earlier not to tape the work sessions.
Although the public was allowed to attend the meeting, "it was not a public meeting," said Schwennesen.
"Maybe Peace and Quiet are not a true caucus," said Wings of Alaska President Bob Jacobson, representing fixed-wing aircraft operators on the panel. "Maybe they ought not to be at the table."
Conservationist Sue Schrader said she had "come around to support the group that had decided not to tape."
Schwennesen asked Malone to stop taping and the panel's Peace and Quiet representative, Deborah Vogt, Malone's wife, stated the taping was not an act of the Coalition but that of a private citizen.
Malone thereupon stood up and resigned from the Coalition.
Panel members suspended operations and asked Peace and Quiet how much time it needs to decide whether its members can contribute, Schwennesen said this morning. "Peace and Quiet said they would need two to three weeks. They'll work to get organized, figure out who the representatives should be and whether they wish to participate in this type of working collaboration."
Coalition founding member Ray Preston concurred this morning that "a closed environment can make it easier to negotiate but, clearly, what's happening here is we're dealing with the public interest regardless of what the agreements are."
Preston said the Coalition would be talking about the matter over the next few days, "especially about whether this is the best way to conduct the public's business. The issue ain't going away," he said. "Either we deal with it here or in front of the assembly."
The panel consists of Sue Schrader; Bob Jacobson; Larry Johansen, representing tour groups; Mala Reges, representing Cruise Control, a citizens' group concerned about tourism issues; Donna Pierce, deputy city manager; Bob Berto, representing helicopter operators; and Bill Hagevig, representing the cruise industry.
They've been tasked during the first of two phases to develop a common base of information about the issues and discuss the scope of those issues, seats at the table, ground rules and schedule, and to determine whether mediation is even appropriate. If there is agreement, participants in the second phase will try to develop recommendations for public review and comment in the spring.
The sessions are being funded by the city, the Forest Service and the U.S Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution. So far the city has spent about $20,000 on the proceedings and has a total of $100,000 earmarked for both phases, Pierce said.
The Forest Service has put up $25,000 for the first phase of the sessions, and the Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution is funding both phases with the a grant of $47,000.