April 11, 2013 | Volume 43, No. 14

Assembly plans overnight trip to Skagway

Haines Borough staff and assembly members are planning an overnight trip to Skagway April 26-27 to meet with regional leaders to discuss mutual economic and transportation issues.

The Skagway Borough Assembly, Juneau Borough Assembly, and Whitehorse City Council also are expected to attend the event, which was initiated by Juneau Mayor Merrill Sanford, clerk Julie Cozzi said this week.

Cozzi said she doesn’t know how much the trip will cost the borough yet, but said “we’re not talking huge dollars here.”

“It’s not some big thing that’s going to be a huge expense, and it’s not going to take money away from anything else,” Cozzi said.

The assembly will travel to Skagway on the ferry Friday afternoon, stay overnight, and travel back on the ferry Saturday. A meeting will be scheduled for Friday evening, Saturday morning, or both, Cozzi said.

The borough has $2,500 set aside for “undesignated travel” for the fiscal year that ends in June.

Mayor Stephanie Scott and assembly members Steve Vick, Norm Smith, Dave Berry and Jerry Lapp have confirmed they will attend. Assembly member Debra Schnabel said she has marked her calendar, but wants to see an agenda first. Assembly member Joanne Waterman could not be reached Wednesday.

Cozzi said she and borough manager Mark Earnest will also attend.

Scott said the “bare bones” trip will be used to discuss common issues and develop strategic regional goals concerning transportation, energy and tourism.

“If we’re going to have any impact on state legislation at all, we have to be working together. The little town of Haines is not going to have an impact,” Scott said.

“More and more I realize what takes place in the Legislature is not a function of good ideas; it’s a function of connections and connections are forged by gatherings such as this,” she added.

When asked why such a gathering could not be conducted remotely -- via a teleconference, for example -- Scott said meeting face-to-face, at least initially, is important. Assembly member Norm Smith agreed, stating meeting telephonically “doesn’t have the same impact” as meeting in person.

“It’s always a good use of money and time when you get to interact face-to-face with the neighboring municipal leaders,” Smith said.

Assembly member Schnabel said she also believes the meeting will be valuable.

I really don’t think it’s just jump on the ferry and wander around and do nothing,” she said.

“You go and it appears to everyone like it’s a big party... but the reality is public servants are people who take what happens in their community very seriously,” she said.

Cozzi said she is still making arrangements in terms of booking lodging, purchasing ferry tickets, and organizing meals.