Assembly postpones decision on ‘hunker down’ resolution

Assembly postpones decision on ‘hunker down’ resolution

A long meeting leads to two decisions.

Summary: A long meeting led to the passage of a resolution mandating self-quarantine and the postponement of a vote on a “hunker down” order. There will be a special meeting Monday that is tentatively scheduled for 5 p.m. A Committee of the Whole meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m.

2:22 p.m.

Jones said he he has questions about some of the loopholes created by the resolution.

He also recommended changing the language of the resolution to clarify that “dispensaries” was a reference to retailers.

In light of this postponement, it’s totally possible it is preempted by a statewide shelter order by the governor. Gov. Mike Dunleavy previously said spread within communities would be one of the main catalysts for such a decision.

We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

2:15 p.m.

Public testimony is closed.

Now, Assembly members are asking questions about the possible hunker down resolution.

2 p.m.

And we’re back.

Bryson made a motion that the Assembly postpone a decision on a hunker down resolution to a special meeting Monday. However, he wants members of the public in attendance to comment.

No one objected to postponing a vote on the resolution.

1:50 p.m.

Triem said she’s disappointed the Assembly is not taking seriously that their votes will take away civil liberties.

Hale said she has not heard the body be dismissive, but that saving human lives is the matter at hand.

“I do not think this body has been dismissive of civil liberties,” Hale said.

The resolution is back up to vote. It once again carried 6-3.

The Assembly is breaking until 2 p.m.

Summary: For anyone just checking in: We’re almost four hours into this meeting. A resolution requiring self-quarantine was passed, but now is being reconsidered, so things are effectively at Square 1.

1:39 p.m.

Watt said there needs to be a clarification or an amendment for the self-quarantine mandate that clarifies what “destination” means in the self-quarantine resolution.

1:32 p.m.

There has not yet been a vote on Hale’s amendment.

It seems unlikely to pass.

1:20 p.m.

Hale is proposing an amendment to replace Bryson’s amendment during reconsideration, but the Assembly is having difficulty hearing her.

Hale said she would want health care, public safety and first responders, government function and defense to be exempt from the quarantine mandate, which be effective until April 14. She felt Bryson’s original amendment left too much wiggle room.

There are now three objections.

1:10 p.m.

Gladziszewski said a no vote means delaying action by another day.

“If you want this to be effective immediately, the proper move would be to be to agree with motion and take up reconsideration immediately,” Gladziszewski said.

Weldon and Jones both object to Gladziszewski’s motion.

Gladziszewski’s motion carried 6-3. Weldon, Bryson and Jones voted against it. Now, they’re back to the self-quarantine motion as if it had not previously passed.

1 p.m.

Jones said it was his understanding he could bring up reconsideration, or not, at the next Assembly meeting.

“I was not aware another member could take that particular right away from me,” Jones said. “I think that is absurd.”

He said CBJ Assembly is bound and determined to take away civil rights from people who would like to travel and now is taking away his civil rights.

To take up immediate reconsideration, six votes would be needed to take up immediate reconsideration.

We are extremely deep in the city rules weeds. An at ease has been called to find out what happens if there are not six votes to immediately take up reconsideration.

12:40 p.m.

Jones said he would like to give notice of reconsideration on the vote that was just taken. Gladziszewski said she’d like to consider the matter immediately rather than at the next Assembly meeting.

Research is now underway to make sure that’s something that can be done.

12:21 p.m.

The livestream mics staying hot during breaks is pretty great.

I heard one Assembly member gauging the group’s interest in pizza.

12: 20 p.m.

Hale made a motion to stop the vote, so she could introduce her vote.

A 7-2 vote is allowing Hale to introduce her amendment. Jones and Bryson voted against it.

Hale’s amendment is to make the resolution effective as of midnight of the day it is adopted.

Triem said it would make the amendment easier to understand if it was 11:59 p.m.

The amendment passed.

A self-quarantine mandate was passed 6-3. Bryson, whose amendment to the resolution ultimately passed, Jones and Weldon voted against it.

The Assembly is breaking until 12:35 p.m.

12:10 p.m.

Edwardson asked how many people the amendment would practically apply to.

City Manager Rorie Watt said “I don’t know.”

Smith said any person could be asymptomatic and unknowingly be a transmission risk.

Conversation has become somewhat circular.

Even with the narrower definition, members who previously disagreed with Bryson’s amendment still won’t support it.

Weldon said she supports Bryson’s amendment.

“We have to remember that a third of our workforce is public sector, two-thirds of our workforce is private sector,” Weldon said.

The motion passed 5-4. Triem, Edwardson, Jones, Weldon and Bryson voted for it. Hughes-Skandijs, Smith, Gladziszewski and Hale voted against.

Weldon said CBJ does not have the staff to force quarantine, so she does not support the self-quarantine mandate resolution.

A vote was almost taken, but Hale wanted to make an amendment and interjected.

After two hours, there have been now approved resolutions, but there have been two narrow votes on amendments and a close vote on whether the meeting happening is a legal meeting.

11:55 a.m.

After an at ease, Bryson made changes to his proposed amendment.

However, it still seems unlikely to pass.

11:40 a.m.

Gladziszewski and Hughes-Skandijs also spoke against the amendment. It does not seem likely to pass.

Bryson said in light of the concerns, he perhaps the scope of critical workforce could be narrowly designed to include lawmakers, miners and first responders.

“I did not mean to leave it so vague,” Bryson said.

11:30 a.m.

Hale said Alaska is in the beginning of the exponential curve of the virus’ spread.

She said Juneau needs to prevent its spread with everything it has.

“We are trying to make sure the people in Juneau stay alive,” Hale said. “We have flights from Seattle into Juneau every single day, and Seattle is exploding with cases.”

Bryson said he’d like to amend the resolution to exempt critical business personnel. Under his amendment, they would still have to comply with state health mandates.

Smith said he appreciated the intent of the amendment.

“We’re going to be facing an economic, I’m going to say, crisis regardless,” Smith said.

He said the amendment won’t do much to alleviate that.

Smith said slowing the spread of the virus is extremely important.

“I strongly oppose this amendment,” Hale said.

She said too many loopholes would undermine the intent of the resolution.

“Why would we think the trajectory that we’ve seen elsewhere doesn’t apply to Juneau,” Hale said.

11:15 a.m.

Triem made a motion to amend the quarantine resolution to exempt health care workers traveling to Juneau from the self-quarantine mandate. It passed.

11:05 a.m.

Edwardson said he believes most people will follow the local law.

He said a law on the books gives people and employers a reason to do the right thing.

“We’re facing a crisis, we’ve got to handle today’s problem,” Edwardson said. “For the things I’m either opposing or supporting, it’s not out of fear. It’s out of information.”

Triem said she will not vote against the ordinance.

“We as an Assembly have a duty to think about those things that are being dismissed as a distraction or tomorrow’s problem,” Triem said.

She said it is today’s problem for people who have lost their jobs.

“That is an urgent crisis for those people,” Triem said.

The Assembly is taking a five-minute break.

10:57 a.m.

“There are a lot of things to solve, and a lot of reasons not to do this,” Gladziszewski said. “It complicates many people’s lives. It complicates businesses. It complicates our entire town.”

However, Gladziszewski said it’s important to take action to protect public health.

“This is truly the definition of unprecedented,” she said. “It’s easy to get distracted by the squirrels.”

Jones said he “intends to be the leader of the squirrels, I guess.”

He said he did agree that there are many reasons not to pursue a self-quarantine mandate.

Jones asked whether the resolution being considered would be consistent with existing laws.

“I support this resolution, and the reason I support it is to flatten the curve,” Edwardson said.

The folks commenting online are pro-quarantine mandate.

10:50 a.m.

Palmer said in his opinion, CBJ does have the authority to adopt the resolutions being considered by the Assembly.

He was also asked about the city’s ability to enforce the resolutions.

“There is no question voluntary compliance is the primary tool,” Palmer said. “Do we have other tools? Yes.”

He said with an emergency ordinance, it could be possible to arrest people who do not follow the resolutions if they’re adopted.

Watt said CBJ does not have the personnel or the space to host a quarantine for everyone the self-quarantine order would apply to.

Bryson said he’s trying to get his wife and daughter home. His daughter is in Peru as part of a foreign-exchange trip.

He said now is when college students are coming back to Juneau.

“I’m OK with a self-imposed quarantine,” Bryson said. “Denying Juneauites the ability to come home does not…”

He was interrupted by Smith who said the resolution does not call for denying entry.

“We cannot hide from this virus,” Bryson said. “We cannot escape it.”

He asked what CBJ is going to do when the community has a handful of cases?

“That’s more rhetorical,” Weldon said.

10:35 a.m.

Lacy Wilcox, president for the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association, said if the Assembly is entertaining exemptions for essential businesses, she would like to see an exemption for in-person shipment of marijuana.

Wilcox said shipments from cultivators must be made in person and come from all over the state.

Hughes-Skandijs asked how wholesale transactions are working right now when products are going to communities with confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Commenters are amused by dispensaries being considered essential.

It’s worth noting in New York City, liquor stores are being allowed to stay open as are dispensaries in California.

10:30 a.m.

There is concern that the self-quarantine order would restrict lawmakers from doing business in Alaska’s capital city.

One public comment supported the idea of an exemption should be made for lawmakers.

Mike Satre of Hecla Greens Creek mine said the self-quarantine order would be problematic for the mine, and he would like for the Assembly to consider making an exemption for the mine.

“We will follow whatever you decide, we will follow whatever the state and federal agencies decide,” Satre said.

But he said it would be a significant burden.

Hale asked if an exemption that workers must go directly to Greens Creek would be a workable exemption.

“We have been working through every contingency possible.” Satre said. “From a high-level perspective Ms. Hale, we would be able to do that.”

He said workers with a fever over 103, with a respiratory illness or who have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 are paid to stay home.

“Onsite, we are implimenting social distancing measures,” Satre said.

It’s interesting to see social media feedback on public meetings in real time. The folks commenting on the livestream are not fans of possible exemptions for miners or lawmakers.

10:15 a.m.

The meeting will be considered legal after a 5-4 vote from the Assembly. Mayor Beth Weldon and Assembly members Carole Triem, Wade Bryson voted against considering the meeting legal.

Assembly members Greg Smith, Rob Edwardson, Maria Gladziszewski, Michelle Bonnet Hale and Hughes-Skandijs voted for the meeting.

Later in the meeting, Edwardson thanked the no votes for their convictions.

10:10 a.m.

The Assembly will first consider the self-quarantine mandate after a motion from Assembly member Alicia Hughes-Skandijs

Assembly member Loren Jones asked city attorney Robert Palmer whether the special meeting meets the legal requirements to be a meeting since it was called within the past 24 hours.

Palmer said the Assembly could take action on the resolutions today.

Jones objected to the agenda on the basis that he does not consider it a legal meeting.

Palmer said under the charter, a meeting in an emergency is allowed.

The Assembly will vote on whether they’re actually having a meeting after five-minute at ease.

10 a.m.

City and Borough of Juneau Assembly is holding a special COVID-19 meeting.

On the agenda are a pair of resolutions that would establish mandates for self-quarantine and a “hunker down” order.

The recommended action from City Manager Rorie Watt for each resolution is to discuss the resolutions and set public hearings for Monday night.

The hunker down resolutions would order people to stay at home, noncritical businesses to close to the public and critical businesses to comply with social distancing guidelines, according to the meeting packet.

The resolution included in the meeting packet includes a 27-item list of businesses that would be considered essential. That includes banks, grocery stores, food banks, utilities, health care operations, media outlets, hardware stores, plumbers, electricians, gas stations, marijuana dispensaries, child care facilities, marijuana dispensaries and other businesses.

The resolution would also allow for businesses not included on the list to “request a determination from the manager or designee.”

The full list can be found on the CBJ website.

The quarantine mandate would require people traveling into Juneau by plane or boat from a community with confirmed COVID-19 cases to self-quarantine for 14 days.

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