One of Alaska’s Deputy Attorneys General is slated to talk with Petersburg officials and the public tonight (2/21/12). The Police Chief, Mayor, City Councilors, and other local officials have repeatedly complained that there’s been an ongoing lack of service from state prosecutors. So, the Council invited the Governor or his representative to come to a town hall meeting about the issue.
Richard Svobodny, who heads up the Department of Law’s Criminal Division, has agreed to attend. In a February 8th letter to the Mayor, Svobodny wrote, “I am hopeful this town meeting will be a forum, not to apportion blame for perceived problems, but rather, to identify real problems and solutions to the problems.”
In his letter, Svobodny goes on to challenge Petersburg’s assertion that prosecutors have dismissed as much as 40 percent of Petersburg cases. Svobodny suggests that local officials may be counting dismissals differently than prosecutors. He cites court statistics showing a 17 to 18 percent dismissal rate.
However local officials say the dismissal rate is not the biggest issue. Police Chief Jim Agner has frequently emphasized that the problem is a lack of communication and support from the District Attorney’s office in Juneau.
Tonight’s town hall discussion is the first item of business for the regular city council meeting. However, the meeting will be set up a little different than usual. It will start at six instead of seven and it will be held in the Wright Auditorium instead of the Council Chambers.
Tonight’s agenda also includes a request from a local landowner who wants to borrow 210 thousand dollars from the city’s economic fund to purchase and move the Romiad building. The building currently sits on the future site of Petersburg’s new library. The City has contracted with Rock and Road construction to get rid of it by the end of March. However, Pete Litsheim is proposing to purchase the building and move it to the downtown lot he owns next to the Scandia House.
According to Petersburg Public works Director Karl Hagerman, Rock and Road’s contract would remain in place. Whether the building is moved or demolished, it will still have to be gone from the site by the end of March. If the contract timeline is not met, Hagerman says the city would demolish the building and bill the cost to Rock and Road. Considering the potential benefits of a new downtown building and other factors, Petersburg’s Economic Development Council Board is recommending the council approve a short-term loan for Litsheim. According the PEDC, the loan should give him time to complete the project by the deadline and secure regular, commercial financing through a bank or other means.
Tonight’s agenda also includes approval of an easement to connect the US Forest Service’s Raven’s Roost Trail with Sandy Beach Park, A 14 thousand dollar contract for an on-site administrator to oversee the new library construction, and an 83 thousand dollar contract for replacement of the city’s wastewater office.