Borough Assembly candidate faces disclosure complaint

The Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) is considering a complaint against Dan Henry, Skagway resident and candidate for one of the two Borough Assembly seats in the Oct. 3 municipal election.

An APOC staff report states that the complaint, made by Lynne Cameron, alleges that Henry had failed to disclose two debts on his 2017 Candidate Public Official Financial Disclosure Statement (POFD), one to the IRS in the amount of $600,064, and another to APOC itself for $21,890.

According to the report, in February 2016 Henry plead guilty to four misdemeanor counts of federal tax charges. As part of that plea agreement, he agreed to pay restitution to the IRS in aforementioned amount of $600,064. In March of 2016, Skagway resident Roger Griffin filed a complaint with APOC alleging Henry had failed to file accurate POFD statements for years 2004-2012. The commission deemed that POFDs submitted by Henry in 2011, 2012 and 2013 had violated state statutes, and issued a final order for Henry to pay the $21,890 fine, but Henry appealed that finding to the Superior Court, an appeal that is still pending.

On his 2017 POFD, the staff report states Henry checked the “none” box, indicating he had no debts or loans over $1,000. On Sept. 6, he submitted an amended POFD statement showing the debt to the IRS, but not the $21,890 fine to APOC.

“Unless the debts were paid in full or otherwise satisfied, both debts should have been disclosed on his 2017 POFD statement,” said Heather Hebdon, executive director for the commission, during a Sept. 13 APOC meeting.

The staff’s finding was to suggest the commission find Henry in violation. The maximum penalty would be $10 per day for 22 days for a total of $220.

The commission had to hold a special hearing and vote to expedite Cameron’s complaint on Sept. 7. During that hearing, Henry said omitting his debt to the IRS was an oversight on his part, and that he had looked at that section of the POFD form as a “more conventional indebtedness,” such as a personal loan.

“So when it was brought to my attention, of course I immediately went back to the office and did amend it,” Henry said.

During an APOC meeting on Sept. 13, the commission moved to take the matter under consideration in an executive session, with a decision to be rendered in 10 days.

A second expedited complaint regarding Henry was also heard on Sept. 13, a complaint filed by Griffin. Griffin had initially been another candidate in the Oct. 3 municipal election, and was running as a write-in for the position of mayor against incumbent Mark Schaefer. Griffith said on Sept. 13 that he dropped out of the race because of the “ugliness of the electoral politics in Skagway.”

APOC denied the request to expedite Griffith’s complaint, meaning that complaint will go through APOC’s regular process of investigation and consideration.


Police Chief receives assembly’s support

Skagway Chief of Police Ray Leggett received a unanimous vote of support by the Borough Assembly on Sept. 7, following a lengthy closed-door executive session meeting over “police chief duties.”

The action by the assembly is a closing of the door of sorts on an ongoing back-and-forth issue between Leggett and the Alaska Police Standards Council (APSC).

It started in 2012 with a case against Leggett’s then-21-year-old son over in Haines. Following an interaction between Leggett and the Haines Police Department – in which Leggett said he would run a computer voice stress analysis test on his son and offered to share the results with Haines police – the APSC made a formal accusation that Leggett “lacked good moral character.”

In March 2017, the APSC made a motion that revoked Leggett’s police certification, rejecting a recommended verdict by an Administrative Law judge that suggested the APSC not revoke the certification. In a July interview, APSC Executive Director Bob Griffiths had said the matter was in the hands of the Skagway assembly and community, and that the APSC’s involvement in the situation had concluded.

Assembly Member Tim Cochran made the motion on Sept. 7, which was to “support Ray Leggett as Chief of Police in full capacity going forward,” in-line with rulings by the Administrative Law judge and an evidentiary judge on the matter.

The motion also instructed the borough manager to review the job description and personnel policy for the chief of police. Per Alaska State Statues, police officers must hold an APSC certification, but chief administrative officers of local police departments are exempt from that requirement.

Following the vote, Leggett said he appreciated the assembly’s support, and said he has received words of encouragement from the community as well.

“To me, it’s humbling, and I appreciate that,” Leggett said. “I want the best for the community, and all the feedback I’ve had has been very positive and supportive.”


Assembly looks at panhandling restrictions

The Skagway Borough Assembly took a first look at an ordinance prohibiting panhandling on Sept. 7.

Panhandling is defined in the ordinance as any solicitation made in person upon any street, sidewalk, public place or park within the borough, in which a person requests an immediate donation of money or other gratuity from another person, and includes but is not limited to seeking donations.

The ordinance further lays out that panhandling will be prohibited in the Historic District, within 20-feet of a bank or ATM and within ten feet of any entrance to a building, among a few other restrictions.

Both panhandling and busking – the latter being the act of playing music or performing for voluntary donations – were discussed at the Civic Affairs Committee at the same time, however panhandling arrived on the agenda on its own at the Sept. 7 meeting.

“I see both of these going together, but we thought we’d start with the panhandling and get that on the books for now,” Carlson said. “We found with that the busking, there are a lot of unanswered questions, and it’s going to take a while to sort it all out…lots of rules, we went over different issues that different cities have had.”

During discussion, Assembly Member Spencer Morgan asked if the ordinance would be specifically limited to the historic downtown district. Carlson confirmed this was the intent, based on the idea that busking is being looked at for areas like Centennial Park. Assembly Member Orion Hanson pointed out that as written, the ordinance wouldn’t cover places such as the grocery store, or even several of the bars in town.

Mayor Mark Schaefer said more changes could be made to the ordinance at its second reading. The ordinance passed 6-0 on first reading. It will return for public hearing and a second vote at the assembly’s next meeting on Sept. 21.


NPS rolls out virtual reality tours for historic buildings

The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park has launched new virtual reality tours of its park buildings. Making use of 360 degree photography and laser scanning technology, the virtual tours are mobile-friendly and compatible with virtual reality goggles. Audio-described guided tours are included with the new feature.

“We are committed to ensuring that everyone has access to the great resources and stories of Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park,” Superintendent Mike Tranel said in a release. “Now people from all over the world can experience this unique place and those traveling to Skagway have even more options to help plan their trip.”

Virtual tours are currently available fro the visitor center and museum, the Jeff. Smiths Parlor Museum, the Moore House and the Moore Cabin, with the expectation that more tours will be added later in the year.


Music Together classes to be offered at Rec Center

Local resident Dottie DeMark recently contracted with Music Together, LLC, to offer their internationally-recognized early childhood music and movement family program for children from birth through age five to Skagway families.

“I believe that all children can learn to sing in tune, keep a beat and participate with confidence and joy in the music of our culture, provided their early environment supports such learning,” DeMark said. “My goal is to support that early learning for Skagway’s youngest citizens by providing a fun, rich musical environment in my classes and helping parents recreate spontaneous musical activity at home within their daily life.”

The program will be offered in a ten-week semester of classes held at the Skagway Recreation Center on Saturday mornings from 9-9:45 a.m., beginning Sept. 23.

At least one parent or guardian must attend the classes with their child, but there is no limit to the number of adult family members that can attend. Class size will be limited, so interested families should contact DeMark at (907) 612-0456 to reserve a spot.

The fee for a 10-week session is $100 per family, and fee waivers are available if financial assistance is needed.

In order to ensure equal opportunity for family participation in the community, DeMark, with the support of the Skagway Arts Council, obtained a grant from the Margaret Frans Brady Fund to help those in financial need.

“I didn’t want any family or child to miss the wonderful opportunity this program offers because they are unable to afford the fee,” DeMark said.