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December 19, 2014

BREAKING: AK Lawmaker- No Room for Transparency

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Alaska Senator Pete Kelly (R), Co-Chair of the Finance Committee, has a space problem. Alaska has a transparency problem. While Republicans in the Senate are stripping bills from certain oversight committees, that doesn’t seem like enough. Now Senator Pet Kelly just wants a hiding spot.

In a memo sent to lawmakers on February 14, Kelly announced Alaska’s business, because of lack of room, would be holding meetings in the private offices of lawmakers.  I know! I was hoping for flowers and got a hacked up version of Democracy.

He wrote:

“Due to the hectic Nature of the 90 day session, scheduling conflicts and the overall lack of available meeting space in the building, some department subcommittee overviews may be held in individual legislative offices this session. These informal overviews offer subcommittee members more opportunities to learn the details and reach a better understanding of the Governor’s operating budget proposal.”

Really, Mr. Kelly? How does that pass muster with Alaska law and the Open Meetings Act?  Is the governor’s budget so bad that you have to take it to a back room? Because that’s not how we roll…legally.

It clearly states:

The Open Meetings Act requires that all meetings of public bodies are open to the public and that the public body must provide reasonable notice of its meetings. In essence, the Open Meetings Act protects the public’s right to know. To accomplish this, the act requires that:

  • All deliberations and action taken by a public entity must be done in public view, with limited exceptions;
  • The public must be provided prior knowledge of all steps occurring in the decision making process, with limited exceptions; and
  • Individual actions of an official are made known.

Seems pretty clear, Mr. Kelly. The Alaskan people are miles and miles away from Juneau and rely on Gavel To Gavel to follow legislation.  How much room do you have in your office? Since Lesil McGuire harvested as much office space as she could for her palatial office – maybe you could use hers. But wait!  Your individual offices don’t have cameras. How convenient.

What are you hiding, Mr. Kelly?

kellyleg <—- (Double click through for Kelly’s memo)

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Comments
13 Responses to “BREAKING: AK Lawmaker- No Room for Transparency”
  1. AKjah says:

    Why do they call them offices or cubicles. When they are obvious stalls,what with all the manure.

  2. Pinwheel says:

    In the not too distant future the Legislature will have to tackle the whole space issue, and open meetings, as the Capital Building falls apart around them, a la “The Wizard of Oz” exposed by Toto when the curtain is shifted. n

  3. mike from iowa says:

    Instead of being chief law enforcement officer,your Attorney General seems more inclined to protecting Parnell’s ass from the good guys,you know-the rules of law..

  4. John says:

    The state is saving office space by moving most employees into tiny cubicles. The Legislature should do the same. They don’t need a private office that is only used 90 days out of the year anyway. Put them in cubicles and use the extra space for a few more conference rooms.

  5. Zyxomma says:

    ” … with limited exceptions.” WHAT limited exceptions? Determined by whom?

    • Alaska Pi says:

      see the link I put in below Zyx
      up til it gets to the Legislature it pretty much makes sense… when it hits the Leg, well, um, Pffft!

  6. ugavic says:

    What the heck?

    I want to see the first notice go up for a meeting in an office, once done I think we need to complain directly to the AG and any other group that can help.

    It would be great to have someone who is willing to tape and/or record the session, fully in front of all, so there is no place to ‘hide’!!

    This is just getting to be nuts!!

  7. Moose Pucky says:

    Next citizen initiative: Hold legislature to 30-day session. Enough already.

  8. John says:

    The House chamber is only used about an hour each day, mostly for introducing guests. Why not meet there?

  9. John says:

    But the Alaska Supreme Court has said it can’t force the legislature to comply with the law passed by the legislature because of its silly view of the seperation of power doctrine.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      http://www.dced.state.ak.us/dca/logon/offc/Perkins_Coie_Alaska_Open_Meetings_Law.htm

      from 2002 –
      7. Alaska Legislature

      “As applied to the Alaska Legislature, the OMA, like the legislature’s Uniform Rule 22, is viewed by the court merely as a rule of procedure concerning how the legislature has determined to do business. While by its literal terms the OMA is applicable to the legislature, a violation of the OMA by the legislature will not be considered by the courts, absent infringement of the rights of a third person or violation of constitutional restraints or a person’s fundamental rights.25

      In 1994 the legislature enacted a law requiring itself to adopt guidelines applying open meetings act principles to the legislature.26 This was to have been done during the 1995 legislative session, but it has still not happened as of this writing”

      We need to figure out what the violation-of-constitutional-restraints is with this foolishness…

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