The City Clerk of Palmer on Friday certified the signatures on a recall petition against three City Council members, who violated the Open Meetings Act, according to the petitioners who favor the recall.
The group calling for the removal of Council members Sabrena Combs, Brian Daniels, and Jill Valerius, say they have proof the three elected officials were discussing official city business in a private Facebook group called Mat-Su Moms for Social Justice. The discussions were about mask mandates, getting rid of the police chief, and setting up a police oversight council — all matters that were also being discussed in council meetings. This amounts to collusion.
It is illegal for elected officials to have private group discussions that involve more than three of them, just as it is illegal for them to conduct the public’s business in other secretive ways, such as chain phone calls between two, and then having one of the two call a third member and relay the information or agreements.
According to the Alaska Open Meetings Act,
According to the ‘State Policy Regarding Meetings’ (AS 44.62.312):
– The government exists to aid in conducting the people’s business.
– Government units should act and deliberate openly.
– The people do not yield sovereignty to government agencies that serve them.
– People should remain informed so they may retain control over the government they created.
– Public servants have not been given the right to decide what is good or not good for the people to know. – The use of teleconferences is for the convenience of the parties, public, and government.
– The Open Meetings Act should be narrowly construed to effectuate these policies and avoid unnecessary exemptions.
The Palmer City Council will meet next on Jan. 25 at 6 pm, and the Mat-Su Moms for Social Justice members are planning to be there to support the three members who will be facing recall, Must Read Alaska has learned. Mat-Su Moms for Social Justice was founded during the tumultuous election-year killing of serial criminal George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd’s neck until he died. That led to riots across the country.
Palmer residents Cindy Hudgins and Kristi Mercer led the recall petition efforts against the three Council members and filed the petitions with the clerk on Friday. They needed to have 169 legal signatures from Palmer voters and say the cleared the hurdle with many to spare. It’s unclear when the results will be announced to the council by the City Clerk Shelly Acteson, but it may not be until the regular Feb. 8 meeting. The matter has not been added to the Jan. 25 meeting agenda.
They will be listed individually on the recall ballot, which means one or all of them could be recalled.
After the results are presented to the city council, a special election must be held in a 45-75 day timeframe, which pushes a special election into spring or summer.