SCHNABEL HAD BOROUGH STAFF SAND HER PRIVATE ROAD
Haines has a history of stormy relationships with between its Assembly and its borough managers. This week, Haines-born-and-raised Debra Schnabel became the latest political casualty in the picturesque community along the Chilkat River, north of Juneau.
The Borough Assembly thought it might break the streak of bad managers when it went local with its pick of Schnabel in 2017.
Schnabel, from a well-known family in Haines, had recently attracted the ire of Assembly member Paul Rogers, who said that she wasn’t taking direction and she was using borough resources inappropriately. Assembly member Brenda Josephson said the complaints had been increasing about Schnabel, who had also raised eyebrows after confronting a local business owner for not wearing a face mask to protect against the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Schnabel also admitted she had borough staff sand a private road at a trailer park that she owns.
Schnabel has an attorney and says that statements made about her by Assemblyman Rogers are defamatory.
“Assembly member Paul Rogers defamed Manager Schnabel that same day in an online news story published by the Chilkat Valley News. The Mayor allowed the public to spew defamatory remarks during the meeting. At one point, Paul Rogers mimicked Manager Schnabel’s voice in a demeaning, unprofessional, and gender-discriminatory manner,” according to Schnabel’s attorney Sara Bloom of Anchorage.
Schnabel, the first woman borough manager, has asked through her lawyer to be reinstated and given due process. It appears she may be ready to file a lawsuit based on gender discrimination.
That makes at least four managers in six years for Haines Borough: Schnabel started in June of 2017 after the Haines Borough Assembly dismissed Bill Seward, who had been on the job six months. Brad Ryan, became Interim Borough Manager after Seward left, but the Assembly ended up hiring Schnabel. Another short-lived manager, Dave Sosa, had been hired in April of 2014, and lasted 19 months before resigning.
And now Haines Borough Clerk Alekka Fullerton is serving as the interim manager, making it technically five managers in six years.