Originally published at Alaska Progressive, republished with permission.
In Homer, Alaska, the battle over an inclusivity resolution continues to be a wound for many on both sides of the political spectrum. Just when folks started healing after a stunning denial upon introduction, a group filed a recall petition against the three council members who sponsored the resolution.
On March 23rd, a trove of emails were released through a records request brought on by the local newspapers.
You can read those emails for yourself here.
In the emails you can clearly see the process in which the council members went through to bring the resolution forward. None of the emails suggest that the sponsors of the resolution did anything illegal or inappropriate.
Donna Aderhold summed it up best in a recent article by Homer News:
Aderhold said a lot of the anger against the “inclusivity” resolution which was presented to the council and its evolution stems from confusion about how city government works.
“I think there’s a lot of misinformation out there, and misunderstanding of what a resolution is, and what a resolution does, and what the actual process is,” she said.
(Source: Michael Armstrong, Homer News)
I would have to agree. All resolutions go through a drafting process and generally a few council members work together with members of the public to bring forward meaningful resolutions and ordinances. In some cases they work through advisory committees first then bring it forward to council to be adopted.
Here is the process in which resolutions or ordinances are enacted, per city code:
Homer City Code – Title 1
1.08.020 Enactment procedures.
The following procedure governs the enactment of all ordinances except emergency ordinances:
a. Introduction and First Reading. An ordinance may be introduced by a member or committee of the Council, by the Mayor, or by the City Manager or City Clerk. An introduction of an ordinance shall be considered the first reading of that ordinance, and that ordinance shall be set for hearing by the affirmative vote of the majority of the votes authorized on the question.
b. Publication and Posting. After hearing date is set a summary of the ordinance and its amendments is published together with a notice of time and place for the public hearing. The hearing follows publication by at least five days. Copies of the ordinance shall be posted in at least two public places, one of which is the office of the City Clerk.
c. Public Hearing and Final Reading. The Council shall hear all interested persons wishing to be heard on an ordinance. After the hearing or hearings the Council shall consider the ordinance on second reading and may adopt it with or without amendment. Second reading may occur at the same meeting as the public hearing immediately following public testimony. Final reading may occur at the public hearing or at a subsequent Council meeting. Council may postpone action on the ordinance to the next regular or special meeting. An additional public hearing or additional public hearings may be scheduled as the City Council deems necessary and shall be noticed according to subsection (b) of this section. Copies of the ordinance must be available to all persons present or the ordinance must be read in full.
Now we move on to my whole point of this article.
Council members Tom Stroozas, Shelley Erickson, and Bryan Zak, in the email chain I linked above, express a lack of ethical behavior in some of their email communications.
Rather than engaging with their constituents and explaining to them the public process and how they can get involved, they encouraged them to oppose the resolution and one council member went as far as suggesting the resolution was “unlawful and stupid”.
I do not support this unlawful and stupid resolution.
Sorry, but I cannot nor will I support this unlawful and decisive resolution. The introduction of this resolution has stirred the pot of hysteria and divides our community. We have more important issues to deal with.
Just looking at these two responses by Tom Stroozas shows me where the recall petitioners may have gotten their idea and, in addition, sheds insight into how he truly felt about the resolution.
First off, why is Tom Stroozas suggesting they did something illegal?
Secondly, Does Tom Stroozas even know the public process and city code or is he just using his position of power to work against the opinions of those on the other side of the aisle?
Third, should we have a council member that openly and on the record calls others ideas and opinions “stupid?”
The resolution reaffirmed support for local law enforcement and federal agencies when they hold a valid warrant;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Homer will cooperate with federal agencies in detaining undocumented immigrants when court-issued federal warrants are delivered.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Homer will continue its staunch support of our local police in their ongoing efforts to enforce law and protect our community and its visitors in a just, unbiased and transparent manner.
The resolution went through the legal process to make it to the council. Nothing illegal was done here and Tom Stroozas should stop misinforming the public and planting ideas into people’s heads.
Now, let’s move on to Shelley Erickson.
Thank you for the well written letter. I hope that you will come and testify. Please keep it short and to the point because We need as many people to stand up to those who are pushing this agenda.
So, there you have it, clear as day: Come out testify against this “agenda.”
Bryan Zak isn’t going to be let off the hook either. Instead of taking the opportunity to support his council members for their right to bring a resolution forward, he elected to throw them under the bus.
Thank you so much for sharing your concern about the negative impact this resolution has on our community. I am sorry that I could not prevent it from making it before the body but assure you that it will not pass. Three council members brought it forward and I tried to reason with them not to.
Looking back at an email reply to Malcom B., you can clearly see Bryan Zak in agreement with an ethics investigation and recall effort against council members.
I read every comment from the public verbatim. The social and economic damage from the visibility of this proposed Resolution has already taken place and will probably grow, even if the Resolution fails to be adopted.
I strongly recommend damage control, including but not limited to ethics investigations and recall petitions for the three Council members who placed their narrow, divisive and authoritarian personal and political interests above the benefit of the community as a whole. (emphasis added)
Malcolm G. Brown
Homer Building Maintenance
Thank you Malcolm: I agree with you and am now in damage control mode.
So, this is just part of the records request. There will be more coming soon as I have filed a new records requests with different dates and topics and I will provide you with an update when I receive them.
In the meantime, I want folks to consider what a good ethical leader should do in situations like these.
Should they stoke up the angry crowd, or should they try to calm them down and explain the public process?
Would you want to serve on a council that worked against you? Or would you want to work with a council that is willing to compromise and support each other when they are not in an election cycle?