The controversy over a letter written by the Kodiak Island Borough Mayor to the regional fishery council continued to play out at last night’s assembly work session. A majority of assembly members indicated they supported limiting the mayor’s ability to speak on behalf of the borough assembly in official correspondence.
Assemblywoman Louise Stutes introduced an ordinance stating that the borough mayor has no power to speak for the borough or set policy decisions without a resolution passed by the assembly.
(assembly 1) :16 "It does not infringe … assembly to do so."
The hoopla stems from a September 27 letter penned by Borough Mayor Jerome Selby on behalf of the assembly and community as a whole. Selby’s letter objected to proposed closures of trawl fisheries designed to conserve Tanner crab populations.
A public hearing held by the city council last month brought a score of fishermen from both sides illustrating the issue’s divisiveness in Kodiak’s fishing community. The city sent a letter urging the fishery council to be mindful of any action’s economic impact but did not take a side in the debate.
But Selby’s letter went further, arguing against further closures. It was emailed to the North Pacific Fishery Council but later rescinded by the borough assembly after members complained they had not been consulted.
Assemblywoman Pat Branson said via teleconference that she supports codifying the powers of the mayor.
(assembly 2) :16 "This is nothing new … this is not a new issue."
Selby was out-of-town at a conference yesterday and did not attend the meeting. But he had earlier defended his action arguing that time constraints had prevented him from consulting with assembly members.
The draft ordinance hasn’t been reviewed by the borough attorney and isn’t scheduled to be voted on at the next meeting. Three other assembly members indicated their support in moving forward with the ordinance. Along with Selby, assembly members Jerrol Friend and Sue Jeffrey were absent from the meeting.