There’s always more information than can fit in a single news story, and this is especially true of the ongoing Anadromous Streams Protection Ordinance. This week, the KSRM News Department investigated claims that petitions were being misused in the process of putting together the Anadromous Streams Ordinance.
Two groups have taken up the cause: Citizens 4 Responsible Waterfront Use have been adamant that the ordinance should be repealed. Cook Inletkeeper has more recently joined the debate, supporting the implementation of the ordinance.
During our conversations, each side explained how they view the other.
Bob Shavelson with Cook Inletkeeper…
Shavelson: “This whole conspiracy theory that they’re creating that there’s this shadow government in the United Nations that’s going to take away your property rights, that’s what’s fueling a lot of the hysteria here.”
Fred Braun is a member of the Ordinance Task Force and Citizens 4 Responsible Waterfront Use…
Braun: “You can compare it to just about anything that the Borough typically send notices out to property owners within a 300ft area that may be affected by a new zoning change, and this was def viewed as zoning, and because of that, that was our primary focus. It had to do with notification and the loss of private property without such.”
As mentioned, each group has a petition which supposedly names its supporters; however, during this investigation,we found individuals on both petitions who claimed they weren’t told the whole story, and they definitely would not have signed if they had known how their name would be used.
So, we asked Shavelson what his group told the 6,600 people who signed the petition which is being used to support the ordinance…
Shavelson: “There was two-fold. The first provision said: We’re signing this petition to ask our state and federal and local entities to enforce existing water quality protection laws and rules to ensure healthy salmon habitat. The second part of it was to ensure adequate riparian setbacks and intact river systems to maintain the habitat functions and values salmon need to survive.”
The complaint here was that the petition never specifically mentions the ordinance at all, but is more generally about the wellbeing of salmon.
We then asked Fred Braun how his 2,000 signatures were informed…
Braun: “Well actually our group had a little flyer, a little hand out, that explained the reasons we were pushing for repeal and all of those questions were written on that hand out. I apologize, I don’t have a copy in front of me, but they’re certainly all over the place, and it had to do, I think, more with loss of private property rights; the fact that there was a ordinance passed without – we felt – proper notification, ask them how they felt about that.”
And the complaint on that side was that the information is false, or misleading, or fear-mongering.
It’s an issue which has dominated our headlines, and it seems even Assembly Members in charge of implementing the Ordinance are unclear as to how the majority of people in the Borough feel.
Some interesting numbers we’ve discovered during this investigation: roughly 200 people have attended recent town hall meetings about the ordinance, and a significant majority of those residents, some place it over 90 percent, are calling for a repeal.
Additionally, while the Cook Inletkeeper petition boasts three times the number of signatures as C4RWU, only 1,751 are residents of the Borough. When it’s broken down that way, the C4RWU petition has the greater number, but Inletkeeper insists the fish belong to all Alaskans, and even 600 non-Alaskans who signed the petition, not just those who live on the Peninsula.
However, Assembly Member Brent Johnson has pointed out during the last municipal election, three candidates pledged to repeal the ordinance, and only one was actually elected. That one, Kelly Wolf, was elected by the lowest voter turnout of any district around 5 percent of voters, which indicated to Johnson that there really weren’t many people passionate about repealing the ordinance.
The next move is for the Ordinance Task Force to complete their meetings and deliver a recommendation to the Assembly. Borough Mike Mike Navarre expressed frustration over the process at this week’s meeting of the Assembly. The Mayor said he wished people would let the Task Force complete their meetings before pushing for a repeal…
KPB Mayor Navarre: “It doesn’t seem to be enough for people, they keep saying, ‘Do it now, do it now, do it now,’ and there’s a process. People have invested a great deal of time and effort at my request in order to go out and try to educate the public and my administration and the Assembly on the issue and maybe it’s best, which we’re talking about now, to just say, ‘You know what? We’re going to repeal 2011-12 and replace it with something else.’ That is in fact what we are going to do. I believe that’s what the Assembly’s going to do, I believe that’s what the Task Force is going to recommend.”