Skagway resident Floyd Matthews, left, shakes hands with Willie G. Davidson, grandson of the Harley-Davidson founder, who made a recent visit to Skagway and signed many hogs. See story and more pictures in Hog Feature below. Photo submitted by Stuart Brown
Can I vote here?
Lt. Governor Loren Leman: It comes down to intent
By JEFF BRADY
Lieutenant Governor Loren Leman visited Skagway last month to meet with some local residents about voter registration concerns. What followed was a letter to every voter on the local precinct list in an attempt to clarify whether someone who holds a seasonal job in Skagway can register to vote here.
In that letter, Leman stated: For a municipal election, you may register to vote if you have been a resident of Skagway 30 days prior to the election. You must also have the intention to remain a resident of the community. Making a false declaration is voter misconduct, a misdemeanor offense.
It gave the phone number of the Division of Elections for voters to clarify their status.
The Skagway News submitted four voter scenarios to the Division and the Lt. Governors office and asked if the subjects of those scenarios would be allowed to register to vote (see sidebar on page 8 for answers).
Lt. Gov. Leman also responded to questions in an interview this week. He said the Division has received a few calls from Skagway, but mostly from people who want to make sure they remained on the voter rolls.
A lot of it comes down to intent, Leman said. Someone cannot take advantage of in-state tuition in another state and say they are a resident of Skagway.... They also cant vote in another state.
Candice Wallace, one of the residents who had contacted the lieutenant governor, said Leman met with herself, Sharon Bolton, Chris Ellis, Doug Hulk, and Dennis and Nancy Corrington. The meeting was held in an office above the Corrington Museum.
At a recent City Council meeting, Nancy Corrington said that some of their seasonal employees had registered to vote while picking up drivers licenses at the police department. This prompted a memo to Corrington managers making sure that they told employees they should not register to vote here if they were not permanent residents, Wallace said.
At the same meeting, Mayor Tim Bourcy said the city does not have the right to tell a person where they can and cannot vote. Wallace said she and others sent letters to the Lieutenant Governor, who oversees the Division of Elections, to clear the air on the issue.
There has been some confusion about seasonal residents being here long enough to have to obtain a license, and the 30-day residency requirement for voting. When you get a license, you are asked if you want to register to vote. But part of the instructions with the registration form states:
Alaska Residence Address Where You Live - A complete physical address must be included in your application. The residence address you provide will be used to assign your voter record to a voting district and precinct. Your application will not be processed if you leave the residence address blank or if you provide a PO Box, HC No. and Box, PSC Box, Rural Route No., Commercial Address, or Mail Stop Address....
Wallace said they asked the Lieutenant Governor what could be done if they know of someone who is registered to vote who may not be a valid resident. She said they had come up with a random list of 37 people of the 884 Skagway registered voters who should not have been allowed to register. Most of these were people with RV parks or campgrounds as residences or who had lived here one season and never returned, she said. The list also included some invalid addresses, such as post office boxes or a home where 15 people allegedly lived.
Somebody even used my address and I was pretty sure they didnt live here, Wallace said.
They also questioned whether someone who owns a business and rents a residence in Skagway has a right to vote here, especially if they own a residence outside of Alaska.
Wallace said Lemans staff took notes on the Skagway situation, and said that while there is a great number of seasonal residents here, there are other Alaska communities where the voter list is greater than the population.
Lemans staff said there could be local monitoring at the next election, Wallace said, but before that happens, the local election board can get involved. She said those who apply for absentee ballots can have their residency verified, and then those at the polls can ask questions.
For example, if someone says they live at Hanousek Park, then they can say we have a problem here, Wallace said.
The Hanousek Park example was one of the scenarios forwarded to the Division, as was the RV park example, which the Lt. Governor was aware of from his meeting with the Corringtons.
It comes down to the state of their base, Leman said. Do they declare Skagway as their residence? Its up to the individual case. They would have to declare their residence. But they had better not be voting (elsewhere) or getting in-state advantages in other states.
Leman stressed that the purpose of his letter was not to disenfranchise voters.
In fact, were trying to do the opposite, he said. We want more people involved in the process of voting, but we also want people to follow the law.
Leman said he was not aware before the meeting that it would be with a group of citizens at a business, and that no one from the City of Skagway would be represented. Only Ellis, president of the school board, was a public official.
For all I know, it was with a broad bunch of people, Leman said, adding that he would be happy to come back and meet with city representatives.
He said municipal clerks around the state are educated on election law changes, and most do a good job, but acknowledged there is the occasional slip-up such as accepting an old form. During the recent primary, it was discovered in a couple cases that an old form was used, though the information was correct. The persons were still allowed to vote a questioned ballot, he said. We dont want to prevent people from voting.
He also said Skagway was not alone in having more voters on the list than residents. When he was campaigning in Anchorage, he found that 20 percent of the voters on his list had moved, he said.
The Lieutenant Governor concluded by stating he enjoyed his few hours in Skagway a quick visit at the time of the Haines Fair and promised to be back. His grandfather arrived in Skagway during the gold rush and hiked the trail north to the Klondike. Skagway is important to Alaska, he said.
At Skagway City Hall, where people usually register to vote, there have been a couple cases this summer where people came in and had questions about their residency, and decided not to register after it was explained to them that they would be giving up their residency in another state.
One was a woman with an out-of-state ID who stopped at the third question on the voter registration form, Are you a resident of Alaska? and asked what that meant. Michelle Calver, the assistant city manager who handled the application, told the woman that by registering in Alaska, she would be giving up her residency in New York.
She said, I dont want to do that!, Calver said, and did not finish filling out the form.
City Clerk Marj Harris said her staff assists with the state function of registering to vote, but they cannot turn someone away just because they have out-of-state identification.
(On the form) they are swearing to a resident address, Harris said. Its not up to us to say it is not a valid address.
The form itself is a legal document between the voter and the state. When an applicant gets down to the fourth section there is a space to list a house number, street name or apartment number. But Harris said there are federal laws that apply as well, and states have been told homeless people have the right to vote, even if they dont have a permanent address.
In Skagway, with its large seasonal population, the situation may boil down to a section on the voter registration instructions, which states:
Are you temporarily out of state? If you are temporarily outside of Alaska and have the intent to return, you may wish to maintain your Alaska residence as it appears on your current record. If you provide a new residence address, it must be within Alaska.
Seasonal situations: DOE responds to voter registration scenarios
Here are four possible scenarios in Skagway which go to the question of intent to return. In all cases it was asked of the Division of Elections whether a person can register to vote for a municipal election, or if they were already registered, would they be in a false declaration situation.
Division of Elections Director Laura Glaiser noted in an e-mail with the responses, In each of these cases, the first premise to remember is that in each of these scenarios voters signed an oath. Additionally, a warning is provided on the voter registration form that if they are providing false information, that they can be convicted of a misdemeanor (AS 15.56.050).
1) Veteran railroad worker, employed over a decade but here just during the six months to keep the trains running, lives in trailer housing on railroad property, winters elsewhere where he has a condo.
DOE ANSWER: If the railroad worker states that his trailer housing on railroad property is his residence (again, signing an oath when registering) and does not vote in another states election, he would be considered a registered voter in Alaska, as long as he voted or maintained contact with the Division, in compliance with the National Voting Rights Act. (list maintenance laws AS 15.07.130 and NVRA)
2) Summer seasonal, here for first summer, tenting at local campground, likes it here and wants to come back, has lined up job and better place to live for next summer.
DOE ANSWER: A summer seasonal employee with the intent to return who does not vote in another states election and claims a residence address here in Alaska is a registered voter as long as he/she voted or maintained contact with the Division, in compliance with the National Voting Rights Act. Again, this voter states that Skagway is where he/she resides and does not declare another residence.
3) Same as above, not sure if he/she will be back for sure, depends on whether able to secure adequate place to live, wont know for certain until later in year or next spring.
DOE ANSWER: If the person declares this to be their residence, and intends to return, AND signs the oath on the voter registration, the person would be a registered voter in Alaska until such time that person votes in another states election, or notifies the State that they reside in another place (at which time their voter registration would be canceled). If this voter maintains contact with the Division either by voting in Alaskas elections or other means provided by statute (list maintenance law/NVRA), the voter would remain registered.
4) Older retired couple now living in their RV, came to Skagway to work for gift shop which provided space for RV. Then, because of Alaska vehicle registration laws, had to get Alaska licenses for themselves and their vehicle. At the time of vehicle registration, they were asked if they wanted to register to vote.
DOE ANSWER: If in fact the RV is their residence, and the couple claims it to be such on their voter registration form, they would be registered Alaskan voters, under the same requirements of the law as noted above. Where they work or for how long is not required to prove residency.
Glaiser referenced AS 15.05.020: Rules for determining residence of voter, as the basis for the conclusions above: Link to the statute.
DOT&PF moves to secure road right-of-way on Skagway land
Mayor: Theyre out of control
By JEFF BRADY
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities notified the City of Skagway Sept. 3 that it has elected to pursue a right-of-way easement across lands owned by the City of Skagway for a transportation corridor.
A sketch accompanying the letter shows a road crossing the ridge above Skagway in the Lower Dewey Lake area the expected preferred alternative in the upcoming Juneau Access Environmental Impact Statement, due to be released next month.
It said by law the city can accompany a state right-of-way appraiser, who was expected to be in town this Thursday.
The letter arrived the morning after Pat Kemp, a DOT&PF preconstruction engineer, and Peter Putzier of the Department of Law addressed the Dewey Lakes Special Management Area Committee. At that meeting, they expressed concern that the language in the draft Dewey Lakes Recreational Area Management Plan would create whats known as a 4(f) situation, and would make the road alternative more costly.
Despite their concerns, the committee voted 5-1 to submit the plan to the City Council, which had requested its development early in the summer as a way to present DOT with a list of possible areas to mitigate. However, Council stopped short of asking the committee to recommend the area as a park. Thor Henricksen cast the only vote against the plan, noting that he also had concerns about possible 4(f) language in the draft.
The plan was presented to Council earlier this week, and will be on the agenda at the Sept. 16 meeting. In a cover letter with minutes of the Sept. 2 meeting (held at the same time as a Council meeting), chair Dennis Bousson outlined the DOTs concerns but left the matter in the hands of the Council.
In the meantime, Mayor Tim Bourcy was preparing a response to the state. He was given a copy of the correspondence to the committee and reacted angrily to it at the Sept. 2 Council meeting. Then came the letter about the easement from DOT.
In an interview Tuesday, he said, Theyre out of control.
Bourcy went through the history of DOTs actions last spring in trying to force him to sign a Joint Planning Agreement allowing the 300-foot-wide corridor, in exchange for money for the transfer of the Small Boat Harbor for the city.
The two issues were separated after Rep. Albert Kookesh complained to the Governors office, and the harbor money was put back in a funding bill that ultimately was signed by the governor. Since then, the money has been appropriated.
When asked why he had not brought forward the JPA to the Council, Bourcy said there had been no more movement from DOT on the harbor. Until we have a transfer agreement, I wont put it (JPA) on the table, he said.
Bourcy said DOT was circumventing the process by going for an easement before the EIS is released. We should be able to look at the EIS and decide what we want.
He also said that the area may already be a 4(f) designation. In the Skagway Comprehensive Plan, maps show the area as zoned Residential Conservation with a land use designation of Recreation/Open Space.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Kemp said current designations do not make it a park, but the committees plan would change the nomenclature enough to make it one.
According to a federal website, Section 4(f) of the DOT Act stipulates that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and other DOT agencies cannot approve the use of land from a significant publicly owned public park, recreation area, wildlife or waterfowl refuge, or any significant historic site unless the following conditions apply:
There is no feasible and prudent alternative to the use of land.
The action includes all possible planning to minimize harm to the property resulting from use.
Kemp said the department had been waiting since April for the city to move on the JPA, saying the Skagway land is the only possible 4(f) designation on the entire route.
It looked like the park was proceeding ahead without our input, so were going to do what we have to do, he said.
Im sorry it had to come to this but we have to proect the states interest too with regard to expenditure of funds, Kemp added.
Mayor Bourcy said he does not think DOT can avoid the 4(f) process when it comes to the proposed highway crossing the Lower Dewey Lake area, which has traditionally been used for recreation.
4(f) does not kill the road, Bourcy said. It provides for mitigation, and if it costs them extra money, so be it. Its whats best for the community.
A detailed look at the proposed Dewey Lakes Recreational Area Management Plan will appear in the next issue.
Welcome all 134 teams for tonights start of the 22nd annual Klondike Trail of 98 Road Relay. Teams leave from 2nd & Broadway every half hour starting at 6 p.m. For results go to www.sportyukon.com and watch for our coverage in the Sept. 24 issue.
CITY: Jewell Gardens land swap approved by City Council
Vote acknowledges building on property
After looking over a timeline of events relating to the Jewell Garden lease dating back to 1995-96, including a succession of building permits starting in April 2001, the Skagway City Council on Sept. 2 unanimously voted to formally acknowledge the building on the leased property, and then approved a land swap on a 5-1 vote.
Council was asked by 16 citizens and former Mayor Stan Selmer to table the land swap at its Aug. 19 meeting, so it could have complete information on a possible default situation there had never been formal Council approval of a building on the property leased from the city to garden owners Jim and Charlotte Jewell. However, city officials said there had been tacit approval of the improvements on the property.
City staff produced a three-page timeline dating back to the original agricultural lease in 1996, start of tours in 2000, federal/state-required remediation of the old White Pass Alaska tank farm that extended to the leased property in 2000-01, visitor center permitting in April 2001 (not 2003 as reported in Aug. 27 issue, due to a clerical error at City Hall), attempts by the Jewells to first negotiate a sale (denied) and extend their lease (approved) in 2002-03 (with the nonagricultural portions paying a higher rate), and permits for a greenhouse and building modifications in 2003, leading up to Jewells acquisition of adjacent property from former White Pass parent Russel Metals in spring 2004 and the beginning of negotiations with City Manager Bob Ward on a land swap.
It also goes through various attempts to survey the property during and after the remediation process, in which it was discovered that the visitor center building was straddling the property line.
No one came forward to testify to the ordinance at the Sept. 2 meeting, but Council members still had questions. Dave Hunz, who said his ears had been burning from comments on the street, thanked the staff for the timeline.
We know (the building) is there but how did it get to be encroaching on city property? he asked.
Ward answered that he erred by accepting a preliminary survey that was not stamped, which relocated the corners. A subsequent formal survey showed the encroachment.
I have a problem with that, said member Monica Carlson. Your position there put the Jewells in the position they are in.
Ward said the city attorney did not consider the lack of building approval at the Council level a default situation, but said they could take action to acknowledge it.
Mayor Tim Bourcy said the situation with the building had been before the Council through the remediation process, and he advised them to acknowledge it and approve the land swap.
We can learn from this and move on, Bourcy said.
Carlson agreed but said they also must acknowledge that errors were made and proper surveys should be done in the future.
On that subject, Hunz noted that the drawings submitted for the land swap were based on a pre-plat. Ward said the swap would have to go before Planning and Zoning with a re-plat, which would be paid by the Jewells.
Based on a March 2004 appraisal, the city would get 19,661 sq. ft. of land behind the garden for 15,729 sq. ft. of city land that fronts the highway. It would resolve and straighten property lines and create a buffer between the Seventh Pasture ball fields and industrial property, Ward noted.
However, under the resulting change in leased property, the Jewells would be paying less in rent based on a formula. Ward said that lesser payment was never intended by the Jewells and said they are open to discussing keeping lease payments the same.
Id like to see the agricultural rate go away since it is a commercial tour operation now, Hunz added.
Bourcy said lease rates could be dealt with in a separate ordinance, and the Council then passed the building acknowledgment on a 6-0 vote, and land swap Ordinance 04-14 on a 5-1 vote. Jay Frey cast the dissenting vote.
Bert Bounds, one of the residents who signed the letter asking the Council to table the ordinance in August or face possible legal action, was in the audience. When asked what he thought of the outcome, Bounds said, Its not over. JEFF BRADY
Loading zone extended
On a near-unanimous vote, Council decided to extend a loading zone on Second Avenue, despite the request of a property owner fronting the area to leave it as one-hour parking.
Last month, Council granted a request by Skagway Mining Co. building owner David Brena and others to have a SMART stop west of the intersection of Second and Spring, across from the train station. But during discussion, some members stated they may want to extend a loading zone from the Skagway Mercantile building all the way to the new SMART stop. Resolution 04-17R was drawn up for the Aug. 19 meeting and tabled to the Sept. 2 meeting for more public comment.
During testimony at last weeks meeting, Brena said it was never the intention of those who signed the request for a SMART stop to have the adjacent 55-feet of one-hour parking taken away. He said it would allow three independent travelers to park there. But Mercantile owner Gayla Hites said the parking situation on Second is confusing enough, and many people dont know which side of the signs to park.
Council member Dan Henry, who backed the SMART zone request, said extending the loading zone would be a positive change for the sake of clarity, traffic flow and safety.
The vote was 5-1 with member David Hunz casting the dissenting vote.
Keef leaves clinic for Fairbanks job
Dahl board, Bartlett choose replacement
Shaun Keef, who ushered a turnaround at the Dahl Memorial Clinic over the past year, resigned last month to take a position at a hospital in Fairbanks and left Skagway at the end of August.
But a replacement has been hired.
Bartlett Regional Hospital, which manages the clinic in a joint agreement with the City of Skagway, worked with the local clinic board on finding a replacement last week. Three finalists were interviewed, and the board recommended Kathie Dawson of Juneau. She accepted the job on Tuesday, said Clinic Board President Leslie Dodd, and is due to start work here on Sept. 23.
In an interview, Dodd said the board had interviewed three finalists with Bartlett executive director Bob Valliant and City Manager Bob Ward. In addition to Dawson, they interviewed finalists Bernice Crawford of Juneau and Jodi Kirko of Skagway.
All of these candidates spent a lot of time at clinic and we all felt strongly the person best suited for the job was Kathie Dawson, Dodd said.
Dawson started off many years ago working in doctors offices, Dodd said, then worked with the Juneau Economic Development Commission as an administrative assistant and grant writer. She has been in Alaska nearly 30 years, but during a three year period away from the state, she worked for a company in Arizona that manages clinics. And when she returned to Alaska Dawson started her own business, which handles billing for small clinics, though not the Skagway clinic. Dodd said Dawson had good recommendations from the clinics she had serviced in Juneau, and Valliant was keen on her level of experience.
Bob has checked up on her she definitely knows her stuff there, Dodd said. Getting things billed out correctly the first time is paramount.
The board also was pleased with her ability to both write and manage grants, one of Keefs strong suits.
Dodd called Keefs departure a big loss for this town but said he wanted to get back to a hospital setting. Keef actually turned in his resignation a month ago, but had planned to work through most of August before coming down with an illness for a couple of weeks. He and his family then hit the road to Fairbanks.
The clinic was able to function fine, Ward said. The board had brought in a new clinic director, Cynthia Farrell, on Aug. 1 to begin a transition period with Kendell Simms, who is leaving at the end of September, Dodd said.
Shaun took us through some pretty tough times and put us in a good spot at the clinic, Dodd said. Those days of getting things back in order are behind us.
Keef could not be reached for comment in time for this story, but his resignation letter highlighted many of his accomplishments since becoming the first clinic administrator under the joint Bartlett-City of Skagway agreement last year.
Notably, he resolved an issue with the federal government over alleged previous mismanagement of funds under a Rural Health Grant to the old Skagway Medical Corporation, reinitiated the process for a $100,000 Conceptual Planning Grant for a new clinic building, wrote a $937,673 three-year Community Health Grant for operations, and was successful in securing a $120,000 X-ray grant from the Denali Commission.
We couldnt get parts for the old machine, Dodd said.
She said the engineering for the new X-Ray installation is nearly complete, and the clinic also recently received word from Bartlett that it will receive $112,000 through the Rasmuson Foundation for the technology to digitize X-rays. This will mean images can be e-mailed to the hospital right after they are taken, and radiology staff there can get back to clinic staff immediately about treatment options, rather than waiting to have the X-rays flown to Juneau for review.
Dodd also said Keef was instrumental in securing a grant through the Department of Homeland Security for a year-round, midlevel provider for three years, eliminating the need for a $48,000 summer locum tenem cost.
Farrell said the clinic will just have to pay the cost of licensing the new employee, who should be on board by mid-October.
In his report to City Council last week, Ward added that the clinic was moving forward despite Keefs loss: The community owes Shaun a debt of gratitude for all he did in a short time.
SCHOOL: Espresso machine proposed for store
After hearing a proposal from the junior class for having an espresso machine in the student store, the Skagway City School Board decided to table the issue for a month in order to receive more public comment.
At the Aug. 31 meeting, junior class representative Michelle Harris said the class would like to try the machine for four months to see if it would make money. Under the class proposal, coffee drinks would be available only for high school students and staff, but younger students could purchase hot chocolate and flavored steamed milk. Hours for the machine would be before school from 7:45 to 8:15 a.m., at the 10-10:15 a.m. break, and after school, Harris said.
New junior class advisor Mary McCaffrey, an elementary teacher, called it a good idea and said the machine could be passed down to each junior class for fund-raising. She said she had discussed the issue with high school teacher Gary Trozzo about the challenges he faced before.
Trozzo said he supported the machine for the students but reminded the board that he had been shot down on two similar proposals in 1996 and 2000, based on concerns from the elementary staff.
A couple of parents at the meeting spoke in support of the machine but offered suggestions. Elda Neitzer said Trozzo should have first crack at the machine, and Niki Hahn said parents should make the decision on whether their children can have coffee drinks, and not have them just available for high school kids.
Board President Chris Ellis said there had not been enough discussion on the proposal and suggested the board table a decision to its next meeting on Sept. 28. It passed unanimously with all members present.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
MORNING ROUTINE Local merchant Steve Hites has been making the early morning rounds this summer, picking up cigarette butts and trash. He says he hopes others will do their part to keep the city clean. Ardyce Czuchna-Curl
MORE NEWS & FEATURES FROM THIS ISSUE
To read all the stories in the News, including complete city and school digests, letters and commentary, police and court reports, and view our many advertisers for Skagway products and services, you must subscribe to the real thing. Out of town subscriptions cost $35 per year for second class mail, $45 for first class mail. Send a check to Skagway News, Box 498, Skagway, AK 99840 or call us at 907-983-2354 with a credit card number.