An effort to recall half of the Haines Borough Assembly is moving forward.
Petitions to recall assembly members Tresham Gregg, Tom Morphet and Heather Lende have been drawn up on the basis of Alaska Open Meetings Act violations and misuse of an official position.
Lende and Morphet are the body’s two newest members. They’ve been on the assembly for about six months. Gregg was elected in 2015.
Resident Don Turner Jr. submitted three separate applications for recall petitions last week. In a letter to Turner released late Wednesday afternoon, borough clerk Julie Cozzi said she and the borough attorney had reviewed the applications.
At the attorney’s recommendation, Cozzi found some of the allegations in each petition application legally sufficient.
The petition to recall Gregg will contain one allegation: a violation of the Open Meetings Act. That claim is also on petitions for Morphet and Lende.
Turner alleges the three, and Assembly member Ron Jackson, communicated privately about whether to approve a piece of the harbor expansion project. In her letter Cozzi says if true, the action would constitute misconduct in office and is sufficient grounds for recall.
Petitions to recall Morphet and Lende will contain a second allegation: misuse of an official position. Turner says the two assembly members tried to coerce a subordinate and affect their personal or financial interests when they requested the police department provide the full blotter. The police chief scaled back the information included in the blotter several months ago.
Morphet is the publisher of the Chilkat Valley News. Lende writes the obituaries for the paper. Turner says Morphet and Lende would benefit from the publication of the blotter because of their affiliations with the paper and their personal blogs.
Cozzi removed several allegations from the petitions that she and the attorney found legally insufficient.
Turner and the other nine sponsors on the recall applications have 60 days to gather signatures on the petitions. Each of the three separate documents needs 258 valid signatures to trigger a special election.
KHNS will continue to follow the recall effort with reaction from those involved in weeks to come.