Maidy hangs up on GAS committee
December 5, 2019
At a borough government affairs and services committee meeting Nov. 28, member Sean Maidy, who attended by phone, hung up on the two other committee members before they agreed to forward to the assembly a resolution interpreting charter to allow for areawide emergency police service.
“I in good conscious can’t vote on this,” Maidy said. “And if none of the information provided by me over all of this time, all of this research is worth anything then there’s really no point in me being at this meeting. I have better things to do. Thank you very much. Have a great night. Good luck.”
Also on the committee is Brenda Josephson and Gabe Thomas.
Some assembly members believe that the draft resolution, proposed in November by Josephson, would resolve the longstanding issue of areawide policing by interpreting “emergency dispatch” in charter to include Haines Police.
Currently, emergency medical services, emergency dispatch and emergency response are the only three entities defined in charter as areawide powers, but proponents for the resolution say that emergency dispatch has always included Haines Police, though not explicitly.
Charter has not changed since the Alaska State Troopers pulled their highway station from Haines in October 2017.
“Since the Haines Borough Police Department is the only police agency currently operational within the borough, it is both logical and expected that they will respond to emergencies within the borough,” assembly member Paul Rogers wrote in a memo to the committee.
Maidy said the resolution would create a loophole to circumvent a vote on changing charter language. “Yes, they both have the same effect,” Maidy said. “But one is transparent and correct and one of them is underhanded.”
Audience and assembly member Stephanie Scott said the Haines Borough charter is like the U.S. Constitution. “You don’t just change what it says unless we have the vote of the people,” she said.
According to an August email from borough attorney Brooks Chandler, read by Scott at the meeting: “It only takes one citizen of legal standing to allege that the current practice violates the charter,” Chandler wrote. “The court won’t put any weight on the 2019 assembly’s interpretation of the charter provision, and frankly calling this ‘emergency dispatch’ does not pass the smell test, but it may be unlikely someone will bring a legal challenge.”
Committee chair Josephson recommended they forward the resolution to the borough assembly for its Dec. 10 meeting.
Thomas said he was ready to vote on the resolution next week, despite still “trying to soak in everything” committee and community members were saying. “I know that the community is tired of it,” he said. “I want to move it on and I want to get this done.”
“Is it appropriate to have a vote to push this through quickly when one of the committee members is still digesting the information?” Maidy asked before his early departure. “Wouldn’t it not be prudent to push it off to another meeting?”
The vote passed 2-0 with Josephson and Thomas in favor, and will come before the assembly at its Dec. 10 regular meeting.
Maidy later wrote about his hang-up on Facebook: “Yes, I just hung up on a committee meeting….Frankly I’m pissed at the subterfuge and downright laziness.”
Josephson later told the CVN there was nothing lazy about it. “There’s been a lot of forethought and consideration for the best interest of our borough,” she said. On Thursday morning, she requested borough clerk Alekka Fullerton forward assembly rules of decorum in code to other members.
Code requires every member while speaking “shall not refer to any other member of the assembly except in a respectful matter.”
Maidy said he wrote on Facebook mostly to vent, and doesn’t believe he breached a code of conduct. “If me stating fact they feel is an attack on their character, then they need to change the way they act,” he said.
Thomas declined to comment on Maidy’s early exit from the meeting.
Audience member and 37 Mile Haines Highway resident Dana Hallett said the public doesn’t need clarity on the charter, but on the funding source.
“How many times have police been dispatched on recent calls out of the borough? What are the nature of those calls? What does it cost to dispatch a police officer out to Mile 37 for a domestic violence call? What does it cost for Lutak Mile 6 for the same thing? Show me what the costs are,” Hallet said. “That’s responsible, and I think it’s fair.”