Jamieson on Assembly, Christian named Vice Mayor
After a nomination by Assembly member Ernie Christian, former Borough Clerk Christie Jamieson was appointed as the newest member of the Borough Assembly, filling the seat left vacant after the resignation of long-time member Bill Privett.
Privett resigned earlier this month after informing the Assembly that he could not hold his position while a family member was seeking employment with the City and Borough of Wrangell.
Christian was nominated and unanimously approved as the Vice Mayor, with local resident Butch Schmidt was appointed as the public member of the Borough’s special energy committee.
In what is usually an uneventful portion of Assembly meetings, the “consent agenda,” the quorum took the unusual step of amending a portion of the minutes from their March 26 meeting.
The change to the minutes came after the city sent transcribed quotes by Darrell Gross to the Alaska Mental Health Trust land manager Paul Slenkamp. In the quotes, purportedly taken from the recording of the meeting, the city mistakenly passed on to Slenkamp that Gross had said he was picking blueberries near the MHT timber sale site at 5.25 Zimovia Highway to “subsidize” his family’s income.
The Borough corrected the mistake in a letter to Slenkamp and acknowledged their error.
“Mr. Gross further said that he and his wife picked the blueberries surrounding his property to subsidize their income; if the road were to be routed in the proposed area next to his house, the blueberry bushes would be destroyed; he stated that this devastation would greatly impact their subsistence income,” stated the original, erroneous quote.
The verbatim language taken from the audio of the meeting made no mention of “subsidizing” income, however.
“We do our subsistence of blueberry picking where they are going to cut all of the brush down, we have trees that have green moss in them. We have antibiotics that we make out of it." Gross said during the meeting. “It's ruining our backyards, it’s ruining everything we do. It's our way of subsistence life. It ruins the blueberry picking, everything. They take everything down, dead or alive. And they take brush, blueberry picking, everything.”
Because of the error, the city sent a letter to Gross apologizing for the misrepresentation.
“Please accept this letter of apology with regards to the minutes written by me from the Regular Borough Assembly Meeting held on March 26, 2013,” wrote Borough Clerk Kim Flores. “In my minutes, I wrote that you said that you were picking blueberries surrounding your property to subsidize your income. In listening to the audio from that meeting, you did not say that you were subsidizing your income by picking blueberries. I apologize for the inconvenience that this has caused.”
In light of Randy Oliver’s recent complaints over alleged metal theft at the city dump, as well as the Borough’s determination to exit a contract with his construction company for metal cleanup on the island, Borough Manager Tim Rooney sought for the issue to be discussed.
“Mr. Oliver was obviously unhappy with the current contract arrangement, and the City’s position was that there was no longer a contract in effect based on the term of the original contract,” Rooney stated. “It became clear to me that our positions were not going to change. With that in mind and giving the benefit of the doubt to Mr. Oliver that according to him the City and Borough of Wrangell still had a contract with him, the City and Borough of Wrangell exercised its contractual right to terminate the contract upon written notice to Mr. Oliver. That notice was provided to Mr. Oliver and there will no longer be a contract between the two parties effective April 22, 2013.”
Oliver spoke to the Assembly about his concerns, causing a back and forth between him and Rooney.
“So if I get this right, Tim, you don’t believe the contract was still in effect, but you terminated it just the same,” Oliver said, continuing, “And you don’t think it was in because why?”
“Because the original contract had a termination date of 90 days,” Rooney said.
Oliver also asked that the city look into policing the area for people who he has claimed are poaching metal belonging to him from the dump – an issue he said was unresolved because of the Borough’s failure to recognize a valid contract existed.
“At the point in time where I asked for the city to acknowledge I had an agreement, it was just to get the police to go up there and put a stop to the theft,” Oliver said.
Rooney’s office has consistently denied any theft of metal has been going on at the dump.
According to Rooney, Borough staff intend to develop a new Request For Proposals for metal cleanup services to address the of the concerns of “both Oliver and the Borough.”
In other business, a motion to change the hours of operation of the dump to have the facility remain open during the lunch hours failed, with members McCloskey, Wiederspohn and Mayor Jack voting no. Because of Jamieson’s absence from the meeting a tied vote would result in the failure of a motion.
Another failed motion, on a 3-3 tie, came over a plan to purchase a lot located at 1413 Peninsula Drive. The city currently leases the property from First Bank, the owner of the property.
Citing “on-going parking problems” in the area, member Stough moved that the city negotiate with First Bank and use earnest money from Borough coffers to facilitate the deal.
The motion failed, with McCloskey, Wiederspohn and Jack once again voting against the proposal.
The Assembly did, however, pass two resolutions amending the PERS participation agreement regarding supplemental benefits under the system.
After an executive session meeting to discuss the settlement of the Borough’s lawsuit against former Wrangell Medical Center CEO Noel Rea, Mayor Jack declined to offer any comment on the session citing a request from attorneys representing the city.