Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Empty Chair - Mat-Su Mayor Talis Colberg Stiffs Mat-Su Voters

Friday evening, at the Glacier Canyon Grill in Wasilla, the Mat-Su Democrats held a candidate forum for people running for offices on the Valley's school board, assembly and for the office of mayor. Of nineteen candidates running for the offices, fourteen were there. Three of the other five - Jim Colver, Adam Boyd and Bob Doyle - had conflicts. Two didn't respond to repeated requests from the Mat-Su Democrats - Jim Turner and Mat-Su Borough Mayor, Talis Colberg.

The picture above is of Mat-Su mayoral candidate John Leiner, addressing the crowd of about 80 people. Mayor Colberg failed to show Leiner and the people from all across the political spectrum who attended the respect they most assuredly deserved.

Why didn't Mayor Colberg even respond to requests to either attend or provide a statement for the forum? I invite him to call me, the Mat-Su Democrats' Vice Chairman, Pat Chesbro, or somehow convey a message as to why he refused to participate.

Sometimes it seems that all Talis Colberg brought back from his failed stint as Alaska's worst attorney general except Gregg Renkes (some don't give him that high of a rating), was some of the aloofness and deafness, so commonplace in the Palin administration.

It was a very non-partisan forum. Rather than use the monthly dinner as we usually do, to attend to matters of concern to our local and state Democratic Party, we shelved all that, putting bulletins about upcoming Party activities and other liberal or progressive events on wall notices, or on sign-up sheets relegated to the corner. Even Shannyn Moore, who was asked to give some preliminary remarks, spoke passionately of the values Democrats, Republicans and all other Americans involved in local office commonly share. She managed to get Doyle Holmes and Ron Arvin, two very conservative men, laughing out loud.

Here are the questions we asked the candidates:

1. What is the chief responsibility of the school board?
Context: Historically school board members have had difficulty defining and adhering to the their roles and responsibilities versus the Superintendent's roles and responsibilities. From time to time this confusion has been detrimental to the best interests of our students.

2. Do you support the use of federal stimulus dollars for education? If so, how should they be used?

3. What should the school district do to ensure a safe environment for civil discourse regarding issues of ideology and race?
Context: Over the past year there has been a significant increase in the number of reports of inappropriate ideological and racial remarks by teachers and students in our classrooms, on our campuses and on our school buses. These remarks are intended to inflame rather than inform. These remarks have also resulted in retaliation against individuals who have had the courage to speak up for civility. To date, we have heard next to nothing from School Board Members, the Superintendent, principals or teachers regarding strategies for reining in these divisive, destructive and, usually, false remarks.

1. What is the biggest issue that convinced you to run?
2. What is the role of government?
3. What land use issues do you see in the Borough?

I wish the Frontiersman or the Anchorage Daily News Valley Bureau had been able to send a reporter. I was helping Pat Chesbro coordinate the candidates, who came forward, one seat at a time to address individual questions from the set. And I had to deal with a sound system that looked and sounded like it was going to blow up any second.

Even with the absence of Colberg, the forum went exceedingly well, and most candidates stayed around for 30 minutes or so, to meet people one- on-one.

I respect mayoral candidate Leiner, who is somewhat of a local muckraker. I'm not convinced he is mayoral material, though.

He told me afterward, "Talis isn't here because he's going to win, and he doesn't care."

I stupidly voted for Colberg in the bye election last summer, but I'm not going to make that mistake again. Any ideas on a write-in candidate?


Anonymous said...

Katie Hurley for Mayor!

Philip Munger said...

She is my first choice.

Anonymous said...

Izzy Isn't would be my first choice.

Kat said...

Sounds like Talis learned his lessons well from the Crazy Woman. No great surprise given his success as Attorney General.

Anonymous said...

Honestly -- and I am not, absolutely not, denigrating your efforts at all -- but it sounds as if, with 15(?) candidates, 80 attendees and an unprofessional sound system, actual citizen interest in local politics has died. This entire post pretty much says, 'the candidate with the most name recognition will win'. Good or bad, doesn't matter.

I think that's a dismal state of affairs. But it will be either a corrupt businessman or a corrupt religionist who wins the race; I'd bet that without even knowing the candidates.

And Talis might have raised a finger at the few voters who showed, but I'm also willing to bet he knows the meeting was being run on a shoestring. Tell me that, if he doesn't make the cut this time, he's really going to be out of influence.

Philip Munger said...

anon @ 2:40 am - actually 80 was my estimate. However, a reporter from FOX news was there, and estimated the crowd to be closer to 2,290.

Anonymous said...

Heh...good one Phil.

I thought Talis was the FOMS candidate. Surprised that he didn't show.

It isn't going to be much of a contest in that race.

What do you think about the Colver, Wells, Turner contest. I suppose Colver is your man?

Philip said...

Penny Nixon for MSB Mayor!

Anonymous said...

"anon @ 2:40 am - actually 80 was my estimate. However, a reporter from FOX news was there, and estimated the crowd to be closer to 2,290."

And then the guy from turned up and estimated the number to be 2,786,745 and climbing !

Anonymous said...

Bad New for Harry

Don Young to resign within six weeks

Don who is still morning the loss of his wife, while battling the FBI has told several close friends he intends to resign in six weeks, unless something changes his mind.

Don will be able to take advantage of a grandfather loophole in campaign finance laws that lets him keep any left over campaign funds. This includes the multi million dollar campaign office building which was paid for by campaign donations.

Don, will have both a fat retirement and a multi million dollar building paid for by lobbyist donations.

The loophole was closed years ago but did not to any previous donations. So Don bought a building and lease it to his campaign which made the payments. The building has been paid off by campaign donation. Don gets to keep the building, under the old rules.

Funny this fact has been forgotten by the press.