Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly

Renee Gross, KBBI News

In the summer of 2016, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly became embroiled in a contentious battle over opening its meetings with prayer. The assembly put what some consider an unconstitutional policy in place after a member of the Satanic Temple ended an invocation with “Hail Satan.” Little over a year later, the battle is ongoing.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly met in Homer Tuesday for its annual visit and convened in the Homer City Council Chambers. The agenda was fairly light, but there was some contention over funding a new emergency service area, stretching from the northern boundary of the borough to just west of Seward and east of Sterling.

The AK Budget Breakdown with guests Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly President Kelly Cooper and District 31 State Representative Paul Seaton.

Alder Seaman

Borough Assembly Member Willie Dunne of Homer is the guest on this edition of The Coffee Table -KBBI's live, call-in, public affairs program. The topic of the show is the two lawsuits against The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly over issues pertaining to their invocation policy.  Assembly Member Dunne is suing the borough over what he claims was their attempt to prevent him from communicating with his constituents regarding the borough's invocation policy.

Wikimedia Commons/Scott McMurren

On Thursday, April 6, 2017,  Borough Mayor Mike Navarre and Chief of Staff Larry Persily hosted an afternoon presentation and question and answer session at The Islands and Ocean Visitor Center in Homer, regarding the latest property tax assessments .
That evening, at Homer City Hall, Mayor Navarre and Persily held a town hall meeting on the topic of the state's fiscal situation.

Click on the links for full recordings of both events.

Photo courtesy of the ACLU of Alaska

The ACLU of Alaska is following through with its threat to sue the Kenai Peninsula Borough over its invocation policy.

In the lawsuit filed on Dec. 14 in Anchorage Superior Court, the ACLU alleges the policy currently in place violates constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection under the law.

Latest Effort To Revise Invocation Policy Stalls

Nov 23, 2016
Image courtesy of the Kenai Peninsula Borough

For the past four months, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly has debated whether it should restrict who is allowed to give the invocation, or prayer, that begins each meeting.

The controversy began in early August, when a member of the Satanic Temple gave the invocation. In response, the Borough Assembly instituted a new policy in which only people or associations on a pre-approved list may give the invocation.

Critics say this restrictive policy may put the Borough at risk of a lawsuit, but efforts to amend it have stalled.

Borough Assembly May Appropriate Funds to Defend Invocation Policy in Court

Nov 14, 2016
Image courtesy of the Kenai Peninsula Borough

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story was updated to reflect the ACLU of Alaska's stance on a resolution proposed to fix the invocation policy.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre has proposed an ordinance that would pay for legal costs related to the Borough Assembly’s new invocation policy.

According to a memorandum from the Mayor’s office released Nov. 9, the Assembly has "received numerous comments challenging the legality" of the invocation policy.

The proposed ordinance would appropriate $75,000 to cover legal costs if the invocation policy is challenged in court. The ACLU of Alaska has already stated that, as the invocations policy stands, it is unconstitutional and they plan to challenge it in court.

Image courtesy of the Kenai Peninsula Borough

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly has voted to override Mayor Mike Navarre's veto of the Assembly's new invocation policy resolution.

Joshua Decker is the Executive Director of The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska.

Decker says he is disappointed in the Assembly’s action.

Borough Mayor Promotes Propositions in Homer

Sep 14, 2016
Image Courtesy of the City of Homer

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre attended the Homer City Council meeting on Monday, where he talked with council members and Homer's Mayor about two propositions that will appear on the Oct. 4 municipal ballot.

Both propositions address Borough tax code. Mayor Navarre said the proposed tax increases are needed.