Sunday, March 2, 2008

Mat-Su Valley Progressives Win Another Hard-Fought Victory

Yesterday afternoon, over 700 people showed up at Colony High School in Palmer to attend the annual meeting of the Matanuska Electrical Association energy co-op. Ballots which had been mailed in over the past four weeks were melded with those cast at the meeting. Free food, gift bags and door prizes were offered. The Alaska Children's Choir sang gloriously.

Just before balloting closed, the five candidates on the ballot made short speeches. Lee Jordan, the outgoing president of the board, sounded far more reasonable than he really is. Tom Staudenmaier did what he does best - rambled on and on. Then member/owners - that's what people who are co-op energy users are called - got a chance to present ideas under the topic "new business." Several of us - I've been a member/owner since 1985 - addressed the board. My favorite was Gini King-Taylor, who commented on a variety of common sense themes, each about saving money, making the co-op's publicity more green, or improving comity between management and others.

I took a quick poll of the audience. When one is newly elected to the board, one is immediately taken off to a room where a sample of one's hair is snipped from right behind an ear. The hair is then submitted to a lower-48 lab and analyzed for presence of any controlled substances.

I pointed to the example of 84-year-old Katie Hurley, a board member. She is an icon of what this state is in the very best sense of what that means. When she was elected recently, she had to get snipped.

I asked the audience, "Raise your hand, if you think snipping Katie's hair for a drug analysis is a good idea?" Nobody raised a hand.

I then asked, "How many of you think this drug testing of people like Katie Hurley is one of the dumbest ideas to come along in a long time?" Hundreds of hands went up.

I had to leave to play in a concert at the University of Alaska Anchorage before the vote count was announced. When I got to my car, somebody had taken a swipe at the passenger-side rear view mirror on my VW Golf TDI. Probably angry over my Drop Don.com and Diane Benson bumper stickers. I went back to the parking lot today and found the mirror shroud. The winds were so fierce yesterday, it had blown about 200 feet from where the car had been parked.

The candidate results:

• Baird — 2,389
• Burchell — 4,344
• Jordan — 2,705
• Kincaid — 3.813
• Staudenmaier — 1,088

The by-law change we had worked hard to enact didn't make it, but it would have, but for Tuckerman Babcock's ratfucking manipulation to the voter information pamphlet, which allowed no defense of the proposed change, only a heavily skewed rant about how bad the change would be.

We're on a run here: Borough Assembly and school board victories. Palmer City Council victories. Defeat of Penny Nixon' wingnut Proposition 1. And now - a rational MEA board for the first time since I've lived in the Valley.

The work is just beginning.

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