Cole Sonafrank's

June 4th, 1999 letter to the
Fairbanks Daily News Miner Editor
(In response to Mayor Hove's expressed
frustration over our budget disagreements)

"Healthy Frustration"

To the Editor,

Those few folks who follow local politics closely know that I am one of the most outspoken supporters of Mayor Hove and the Borough's administrators. Overall and in most details, they are doing an excellent job. The budget they brought to the Assembly this year was responsible and prudent. However, when I last looked in the mirror I didn't see "self-inking" printed on my forehead. As chair of the Assembly's Finance Committee I have an obligation to ensure that the legislative body of our local government doesn't simply roll over and do tricks at every wave of the executive arm.

Despite superficial implications of recent reporting, I understand and respect the appropriate roles of the Assembly and Mayor in the budgeting process. Ask the Department Directors how often this Finance Chair successfully led this Assembly away from attempts to micro-manage. That the administration's budget was approved virtually intact, after weeks of close scrutiny and debate, speaks for itself. Outside of the Assembly and Clerk's office, there was only one department where I became convinced a serious and expensive blunder was being proposed. A third manager was being added to supervise thirteen staff.

The level of administration is rightfully subject to the approval of the Assembly. It has severe policy implications. The Assembly didn't stray into labor-management relations, or base its decision on a lack of information. We acknowledged the administration's responsibility to resolve personnel problems, but determined that simply adding more positions at the top wasn't good policy. Some of us gathered more information than others credited.

Public comments have personal impacts. However, I try hard not to take them personally. Experience in office shows that much of politics isn't pleasant or pretty. The Mayor told me that I would be made to look bad if I didn't support the new management position. I knew what to expect. I was disappointed that Kate Ripley chose not to hear my views before writing her lengthy article in which I'm the scape-goat. If that's what it takes for this most admirable of Assemblies to come together and move forward constructively, I'm honored.

Cole Sonafrank
P.O. Box 178
Ester, AK 99725

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