Homer City Hall. (Homer News file photo)

Homer City Hall. (Homer News file photo)

Council reaffirms respect with ‘civility’ resolution

‘It’s always occurred to me that it’s far better to collaborate your way through life’

Members of the Homer City Council unanimously voted to promote civility when they passed a resolution during their Monday meeting that reaffirms a commitment to listening, understanding and respect.

The resolution states that the City of Homer will promote civility by “listening respectfully to people who have different views, avoiding language or actions that are insulting or derogatory to others, and supporting efforts to work together across ideological and political lines.”

The resolution was co-sponsored by council members Heath Smith and Rachel Lord. During the council’s discussion on the measure, Lord said Smith approached her with the bulk of the resolution already written and asked if she would be interested in sponsoring it with him. Lord admitted that she and Smith often clash when it comes to the work before the council and that they sometimes disagree strongly.

That’s the kind of cooperation in spite of differences that the resolution gets at. Lord said earlier this year she was feeling the stress of the division both in the community and at large, and was searching for a way through that.

“I feel like the relationship that I feel like Heath and I have is the way forward,” Lord said. “It’s very clear I do not agree with a lot of … council member Smith’s positions on various issues, and it’s very clear that he think’s I’m out to lunch on a number of things — quite a few. But we have a mutual respect and … I know that he is sitting at this table with a commitment to this community and doing the best that he thinks for this community and that is his ultimate motivation. And I believe that his respect for me comes from … that shared feeling.”

Smith explained that while he is more conservative in his beliefs, he has family members and friends from both ends of the political spectrum.

“It’s always occurred to me that it’s far better to collaborate your way through life and not have to look at it as compromising any specific ideal that you might have,” he said. “Because the reality of it is, is that we’re not going to get rid of what differences may exist between us and any given neighbor.”

Smith said being able to freely exchange one’s ideas with others, despite differences, is of value.

“When we move to these extremes of the spectrum, it becomes very difficult to bring anyone closer together,” he said. “All it does is create a much greater divide.”

Smith said that while he doesn’t necessarily think the Homer community has a large problem with deep divides or extreme differences, he does think those extremes are out there. Those are the people who “need to kind of hear this sometimes,” he said, so that the community can gain a more grounded understanding of where it is, and how it got here.

Inherently, there is value in every person’s position, Smith said, whether a person agrees with that position or not.

Council member Donna Aderhold voiced strong support of the resolution, suggesting that it might be hung up in the Cowles Council Chambers, which was seconded by council member Joey Evensen. Council member Caroline Venuti suggested that it could be shared with the city’s various advisory committees as well.

You can read the full resolution here: cityofhomer-ak.gov/resolution/resolution-21-013-promoting-civility

Other action taken at Monday’s meeting included:

  • Amending the city’s code on property leases, regarding subleases. The council passed an ordinance that adds the term “sublease” to the definitions section of the city code on leases. The code had a sublease section, but not an actual definition of the term. The section of code was also amended to give administrative approval of subleases to the city manager, or their designee. The previous city code delegated approval to the city council. The code changes also included deleting the condition that a main lessee should be assessed additional rent equal to at least 10% of their current rent for the subleased area. According to a memo from Port and Harbor Director Bryan Hawkins, harbor staff had found the previous parts of the sublease code to not be effective in terms of sublease oversight or in promoting business growth. The memo suggested removing the 10% sublease premium and delegating administrative approval to the city manager.
  • Approving $19,700 for security camera replacement at both the Homer Public Library and Homer Airport. According to the ordinance passed at Monday’s meeting, the council had previously allocated $60,000 for the replacement project. After sending out a Request for Proposals, the review committee for the upgrade suggested awarding the contract for the work to the firm Sherman Technologies, LLC, which bid a total cost of $76,100. Additionally, the ordinance states necessary perpetual software licenses will up the cost by another $3,600. The council approved allocating an additional $4,100 from the Library CARMA fund and $15,600 from the Airport CARMA fund.
  • Freezing fee collection for city park pavilions until May 27 of this year. The council passed a resolution that will halt the collection of fees that are normally needed to rent city pavilions. According to the resolution, city staff members focused on winter recreation identified the halt to fee collection as a way to “reduce barriers to access” for those seeking to utilize outdoor spaces. “The COVID-19 Pandemic has created economic hardships for many individuals and organizations in our community, and … outdoor recreation and gatherings are a safer option than congregating indoors,” the resolution states.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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