Wednesday, November 04, 2015

John Weddleton Is Running For Assembly

I got an invitation to a campaign kickoff party for John Weddleton.  I'd first met John when he was hosting meetings in support of Title 21 - the planning section of the Anchorage Municipal Code.  I'd been invited, as a blogger, by people who supported the changes to Title 21 and were fighting last minute changes to revise the ordinance.  Mayor Sullivan had hired Dan Coffey in a no-bid contract to work (mostly) with developers who wanted changes to the plan which had gone through years of public meetings.

The meetings were at John's store - Bosco's.  I knew about Bosco's because my son had spent a fair amount of time and money their as a kid.  It's a comic book and gaming store and my son was serious about Dungeons and Dragons then.

I'd been impressed back then, with John's knowledge of Title 21 and his passion for public involvement and transparency.  I also learned that he'd gotten a lot of his knowledge from being a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission.  I also learned that the big motorcycle parked in front of the store was his too.

Last night John started off by talking about how when he first moved to Anchorage, he'd gone to a community council meeting and was impressed by how easy it was to get involved in his community.  There were assembly members at this meeting, he said, and you could talk to them like they were real people.  I remember, when I first came here as well, my own amazement at how accessible government and politicians are here in Anchorage.

He also pulled out some typical Anchorage public notice signs and pointed out that there was no information on the signs except a case number and a phone number.  If anyone wants to know what the project is, they have to call the number, and then they don't get told too much about the project.  And if you go to the Muni website, it's hard to find things.  He thought it should be easier for folks to know what the case was about. 

I decided that before posting this, I should check out the Muni website and see how easy or difficult it is to get case information.

I knew this was in the Community and Development Department, so I had a bit of a head start.  From there I found a link on the side to Boards and Commissions.  That got me to another page which had a list of meetings:

Platting Board - 11/4/2015 November 04, 2015 - 06:30 PM Agenda
Planning and Zoning Commission - 11/9/2015 November 09, 2015 - 06:30 PM Agenda
Assembly - Regular - 11/10/2015 November 10, 2015 - 05:00 PM Agenda

 If you click on the Agenda link for Planning and Zoning Commission, you get an agenda.  I clicked on the very first item and got this:

Not very helpful. 

But other items on the agenda had links to pdf files of the cases.  So you can find a number of them, but it takes a certain amount of perseverance.  I'm sure there are simpler ways for people to find these things, but it also means that someone has to post and monitor the site to keep it current.  When I asked John about this afterward, he did say staff is posting some of this and it should get better.  But his point was that when people see the Public Notice signs, there's nothing to indicate what is being proposed and whether they should be interested or not, whether they should make the effort to find out. 

I'm always a bit uncomfortable about blogging local candidates.   It's important, but it seems I should try to cover all the candidates for an office.  That isn't easy when there are a number of races and lots of things vying for my attention.  Last year I got invitations from three of the mayoral candidates and went to all the functions and wrote about them.  The others I was able to catch at a candidate forum. 

In this south Anchorage assembly district I'm not even sure of how many candidates there are.

The ADN says: 
Joe Riggs, a conservative candidate who owns Alaska Healthcare Strategies, a medical equipment and consulting business, is also running.
The ADN more recently says that photographer David Jensen  joined the race.

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