Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Manager vote violated borough charter


At the Jan. 10 meeting, the Mayor broke a 3 to 3 assembly tie to select an interim manager from two available applicants. This decision violated the Haines Borough Charter and the equal protection clause. First, the decision violated Section 5.03(A) of the charter that states, “The manager is selected solely on the basis of professional qualifications.” Merriam Webster defines the word “solely” to mean “to the exclusion of all else.” However, according to the record, the reasons for the appointment included staff confidence, “team dynamics,” “cost savings,” familiarization with current issues, “boots-on-the-ground” experience, and a desire to “hire local.” Thus, the decision clearly violated Section 5.03(A) because the appointment was based on reasons other than professional qualifications.

Second, by violating the charter, the decision also violated the equal protection clause. The equal protection clause protects against unjustified government discrimination that infringes upon fundamental rights. The Mayor and assembly discriminated against the non-local applicant by violating the rules in favor of the local applicant. This deprived the non-local applicant of his fundamental right to remain free of government discrimination in the pursuit of his profession. The Mayor and assembly failed to have the sufficient justification to deprive the non-local applicant of this fundamental right. We all have a reasonable expectation that government will follow the law. We also expect government to treat people equally in the process. This did not happen with the interim manager appointment. As such, the assembly should reconsider the appointment.

Mike Denker


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