Council votes to keep Moran as manager
Thomas Moran, city manager, does not have a new contract—that’s to come from a confab with the Council — but the panel did vote to keep him around with five yes votes and one abstention by Councilman Mark Johnson.
The Nome Common Council discussed Moran in executive session two weeks ago without Moran’s presence. The plan was then for council members to read through critiques of his work written by department heads. Then the Council would schedule another executive session with Moran and decide whether to hire or let him go. The critiques resided on file at City Hall. No one read them.
Councilman Stan Andersen had enough. Why not vote now, he wondered. Council members Louis Green Sr. and Mark Johnson wanted more information and discussion as planned, before voting. The Council voted as a straw poll with Johnson abstaining.
The deal will not become final until the Council and Moran iron out and approve a mutually agreeable contract.
The Nome Common Council put a dent in its agenda on July 24 when it postponed introducing two of three alcohol measures, deciding to hold off pending work sessions.
Andersen thought it would be better to work the issues over with additional information and discussion rather than “killing” them at Monday evening’s regular meeting.
One ordinance slated to go into first reading, if passed, would slap liquor sales with a 10 percent excise tax.
The other proposed ordinance would limit sales of liquor products to between the hours of 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays and on Sundays to hours between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Moran suggested that the work sessions on the two questions could include the issue of establishing a sleep-off center and Alano sobriety support club in the former library and museum building on Front Street, in a meeting with Behavioral Health Services of NSHC.
“You can throw in the kitchen sink,” Moran said.
During the citizen comments agenda item, three residents took the podium to talk about the postponed consideration of proposed ordinances on limiting hours of sale and imposing the 10 percent excise tax.
Bridie Trainor, director of Nome Emergency Shelter Team (NEST facility), Lisa Ellanna, director of Katirvik Cultural Center and Panganga Pungowiyi, director of Kawerak’s Wellness Program, developed the following ideas during their comments:
• Criminalizing alcoholism is not the way to go when alcoholism is a disease. Criminal justice is where poor people are pushed off to when the community does not have resources to support them correctly. Alcoholics face safety concerns. Anvil Mountain Correctional Center no longer accepts people under Title 47 protective custody.
• The town needs a sleep-off center. Excise tax proceeds could fund the facility.
• Alcoholism not only costs the city money, but also costs a lot of strain on police services that should be addressing other needs.
• The NEST organization, which shelters the homeless on cold nights, is facing more needs than it can handle. It is not suited to providing a much needed sleep-off service and day shelter. The Council has the power to implement an excise tax without putting it on the ballot—a pretty powerful resource.
Andersen suggested that Ellanna run for Council to find solutions.
Ellanna was ready: She had representation on the Council for solving community problems.
“I voted for you,” she told Andersen.
“We have six people on the Council,” Pungowiyi shot off.
They were not attempting to criminalize alcoholism, Moran countered. He had been asked to open the toolbox and bring out some tools with which to deal with public drunkenness, he said. The ordinances did not pertain to criminal charges, but violations carrying fines.
The Council did vote into second reading a measure to prohibit intoxication in a public right-of-way, real property for which an easement has been granted for public travel and transportation by motor vehicle. The ordinance recognizes that the behavior presents public safety risks for both the inebriated individual and motorists. Fines for open container on a public street or other public place would be $100 for first violation within a 12-month period; $500 for the second violation within a 12-month period; and mandatory court appearance for the third violation within a 12-month period. Public consumption of intoxicating liquor would draw a similar fine schedule.
In other business the Council:
• Approved purchasing five acres of real property from Arctic Gold Mining for $10,000. The Nome Volunteer Fire Dept. currently uses the property along Center Creek Road for training.
• Approved Mayor Richard Beneville’s appointment of Lucas Sawyer to the Nome Museum and Library Commission. Sawyer is an informational technology consultant.
• Recessed into an executive session to discuss potential loss of tax and utility revenue that could negatively affect the City of Nome.