The Haines Borough Assembly denied the appointment of a former assembly member to the Port and Harbor Advisory Committee Tuesday.
Diana Lapham applied to a vacant seat on the committee. She was scheduled for confirmation, along with a list of other people who applied for various boards and committees.
Assembly member Heather Lende made the motion to remove two people from that list: Lapham and Joe Parnell. Parnell applied for the Chilkat Center Advisory Board. Lende said her reason to not appoint those two people is that ‘incivility begets incivility.’
“I think that if we appoint people who repeatedly make personal attacks at meetings, we condone that behavior,” Lende said. “And my greatest concern is that young people especially are avoiding public service in Haines because of the tone of our meetings and debate.”
Other assembly members also had concerns about Lapham’s appointment. But some said Parnell should not be excluded from the Chilkat Center board. Assemblyman Mike Case referred to Parnell’s vocal opposition to the small boat harbor expansion.
“I grit my teeth every time he stands up and makes some kind of allegation against the boat harbor, the people that have boats,” Case said. “But that’s not in the Chilkat Center.”
As for Lapham, Assembly member Margaret Friedenauer said her concern wasn’t the personal attacks Lende referred to, but something else. Lapham is publicly fundraising to support former manager Bill Seward’s potential wrongful termination lawsuit against the borough.
“I do believe that a member of the community that is actively raising funds and advocating for potential litigation of the borough cannot serve in the best interest of the borough,” Friedenauer said.
The assembly approved Parnell’s appointment, but denied Lapham’s in a 4-2 vote. Case and Tom Morphet were the only two votes in favor of appointing Lapham to the port and harbor committee. Lapham could not be reached for comment by deadline for this story.