Borough assembly considers mayoral powers

Jerome Selby

A letter written by Borough Mayor Jerome Selby without assembly permission was rescinded last week, and the issue the letter addressed is over as well.

But as the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly looks to the future, it is not quite ready to forget the procedural question raised.

An ordinance proposed by assembly member Louise Stutes at a work session Thursday night would formalize rules on mayoral communications by adding to the part of the borough legal code that deals with the mayor’s powers.

The new section would require the mayor to receive approval before “claiming to speak for the borough” or announcing a borough position in a written document.

“Our mayor didn’t realize he was doing anything but good for the borough and when it’s a confliictory issue like that happened to be, it can turn out to be a can of worms,” Stutes said. “This will prevent that from happening in the future. If he gets put in a position like that he can immediately defer to the assembly and say, ‘Call them, don’t call me.’”

The issue came up last week when assembly members discovered Selby had written a letter to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council without a resolution from the assembly. The letter took a stance on proposed controversial groundfish closures that the assembly did not feel comfortable weighing in on.

Assembly member Judy Fulp said the ordinance was a good idea as long as it did not infringe on the mayor’s ability to write on non-policy matters, like condolence letters.

Assembly member Pat Branson said this type of issue has come up before and should be treated carefully

“This is nothing new,” she said. “It has happened before and maybe something does need to be defined in making this very clear, but I would certainly look at it closely.”

The text of the mayoral communication ordinance will be revised by borough staff before it is voted on by the borough assembly.

Mirror Writer Sam Friedman can be reached via e-mail at sfriedman@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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