THE CITY AND BOROUGH OF JUNEAU, ALASKA
JUNE 12, 1998
MEETING NO. 98-23: The Special meeting of the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly, held in the Assembly Chambers of the Municipal Building, was called to order at 12.09 p.m. by Mayor Dennis Egan.
Assembly Present: Koelsch, MacKinnon, Muñoz, Perkins, Powell, Garrett, Hagevig, and Mayor Egan
Assembly Absent: Kibby
A quorum was present.
Staff Present: Marian Miller, Municipal Clerk; Dave Palmer, City Manager; Donna Pierce, Deputy City Manager; John Corso, City Attorney
MOTION - by Garrett, to adopt the Consent Agenda, and he asked unanimous consent. There being no objection, it was so ordered.
1. Resolution No. 1932
A RESOLUTION ADOPTING THE CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM FOR FISCAL YEARS 1999 THROUGH 2004 AND ESTABLISHING THE SALES TAX CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROJECT PRIORITIES OF THE CITY AND BOROUGH OF JUNEAU FOR FISCAL YEAR 1999.
Administrative Report: Attached. The Manager recommended that this resolution be adopted.
A RESOLUTION ESTABLISHING THE RATE OF LEVY FOR PROPERTY TAXES FOR THE FISCAL YEAR BEGINNING JULY 1, 1998.
Administrative Report: Attached. The Manager recommended that this resolution be adopted.
1. Ordinance No. 98-17
AN ORDINANCE APPROPRIATING MONEY OUT OF THE TREASURY FOR FY99 CITY AND BOROUGH OPERATIONS.
Administrative Report: Attached. The Manager recommended that this ordinance be adopted as amended.
Dan Wayne, testified he has been in a joint venture with Mr. Brice for the past four years to represent the criminal clients in Juneau that are charged by the city for crimes. Last year there were 984 cases split between them. This is theoretically a half time position for each of them. Several months ago they wrote a letter to Ms. Pierce that they heard the city was going to add a second prosecutor. Ms. Pierce responded that she did not think it would happen this year and if it did, she would seek a fiscal note to look into augmenting the amount in the budget for the city public defender contract. Recently there was an amendment to the proposed budget adding a second prosecutor. He testified in favor of adding language to this that will adequately fund the city public defender contract. Currently the city is out of compliance with all of the nationally recognized standards for caseloads and other things having to do with representation of indigent clients. He and Mr. Brice are participants and they do not like having to participate in it. The only thing that will help is for the city to pay more money so they can afford to hire help. Right now what is budgeted is not a whole lot more than it would cost the city to have a full time prosecutor on staff, including their benefit package. He said that adding a second prosecutor will result in a rise in the number of prosecutions, caseload numbers will go further out of compliance and it will be difficult for them to provide the level of service that ethically they have an obligation of providing and legally the city has the obligation to provide to the affected members of the community.
Monty Brice, concurred in Mr. Wayne’s statements. He added that he hoped the members of the Assembly would take the time to review the letter that he and Mr. Wayne sent to Ms. Pierce in March. He summarized that they presented the discussion in the letter based on American Bar Association Guidelines and Guidelines set up be the National League of Defenders Association. As Mr. Wayne indicated, it was initially envisioned that each of them would be half time public defender to provide combined services of a full time public defender. The guidelines indicate "under no circumstances should the maximum allowable case loads for each full time attorney exceed 300 misdemeanors per attorney per year". As it stands now, there would have to be three full time public defenders. That is expected to increase not only because of increased prosecutions as result of a new prosecutor, but also by the actions of this body by criminalizing, over the past several months, a number of activities that have not been prosecuted by the City Dept. of Law. The new activities are fairly common and have not been prosecuted in the past by the city. They estimate that those new ordinances will in fact increase over the next year, prosecutions by 15 to 20%. It is their understanding that one of the rationales for public defender work to pay for the equivalent of one full time attorney is based on the fact there has been one full time prosecutor. What has not been covered in the budget in the past is the cost of staffing. The city prosecutors have several members on the full time staff including full time para legals, and access to experts that they do not have to pay out of their own pocket. They have an entire police force to do their investigations and they do not have to pay overhead out of the budgets that any public defender pursuant the contract gets. He has determined that after overhead, with each of them putting in 30 hours per week, they are netting roughly a little over $17 an hour for the time they are putting in on this matter. That is based on 30 hours per week between the two of them which is equivalent to 2 and a half work weeks. That average has been increasing significantly the past couple months and is expected to increase more. They understand it is unlikely that anything can be done at this point to rectify this problem but they hope the Assembly will look at it and possibly review the letter and take it into consideration for future contracts. Their contract is up at this point and they do not know whether they will be the public defenders for the city when this budget goes into effect or not. Irrespective of who handles the public defender work, they think the increased budget, particularly for support staff on a contract or sub-contract basis, is necessary for any public defender to meet his ethical obligations in terms of the amount of work he has to put forward for each client.
Mr. Perkins commented that Ms. Pierce did express concern about the public defenders side of the budget. His feelings where that right now, they are looking at the prosecutor side. The Assembly will be watching and will considered this in next years budget.
Mr. Brice found that Ms. Pierce has been very diligent and a very forthright individual for them to deal with. It was not their intent to imply that she was not diligently pursuing this. She has been a pleasure to work with and has been very fair minded and reasonable and has taken an active concern over the clients we represent.
Mr. MacKinnon referred the new items that the public defenders are receiving. He asked how many cases of urinating in public they had received. Mr. Brice said that since the passing of the ordinance he has probably received around a dozen cases. It is his experience that when a new criminal ordinance is passed, the rigorousness of its enforcement tends to build over time. There have probably been more cases of violating conditions and release, and violating the restraining orders. As the police get used to charging and arresting for the new crimes, the 15-20% increase if very likely.
Ms. Muñoz commented that there is a commitment to look at this item in the next year’s budget and they only funded the prosecutor for one year with that understanding.
MOTION - by Powell, to direct the City Manager’s office to prepare an ordinance for review by the Assembly in the near future that would include money for public defender and increase it to a commensurate level.
Mayor Egan asked Mr. Powell how he intended to pay for the increase. Mr. Powell said that it would be possible to look to the rainy day account. Later in the year, things loosen up and there may be another place that would open up.
Ms. Muñoz appreciated the motion but said there was a lot of discussion on this. She thought the prosecutor position should be reviewed and evaluated at the end of next year. Then, when looking at the budget process and looking at funding that additional position, that would be the time to look at funding a public defender position.
Mr. Perkins concurred with Ms. Muñoz and added that if they see a real lopsided accounting of fair justice to individuals during the fiscal year and it is seen as an emergency nature, it can surely be reviewed. He felt sure Mr. Corso would be tracking those numbers and if he felt that there is lack of representation by the public defenders office, this could be pursued. He objected to the motion.
Mr. MacKinnon asked Mr. Corso how long it would take to get a prosecutor hired and up to speed to the point where he is actually prosecuting cases. Mr. Corso said there are candidates available in Alaska, many of them Law Dept. intern veterans. Given the state of the market, he expects to get a lot of applications and be able to fill the position rather quickly; a matter of weeks. The police file most of the charges and a prosecutor can start prosecuting right away. He also pointed out that he is happy to provide the Manager with the statistics needed to report to the Assembly.
Mr. Powell stated that it does not look like there is support for doing something today but he pointed out that the guidelines of 300 misdemeanors per attorney sounds like a lot and they are already up to over 400 cases. It is not a question of waiting for the caseload, it is already there. The public defenders do defend the folks that are least able to get legal defense or legal fees and are the most needing of the representation.
ayes: Powell, Garrett
nays: Hagevig, Koelsch, MacKinnon, Muñoz, Perkins, Mayor Egan
Motion fails 6:2
MOTION - by Perkins to adopt ordinance 98-17, and he asked unanimous consent. There being no objection, it was so ordered.
Ms. Muñoz commented that she was very disappointed with the article that came out in the paper on the budget. It was very inaccurate. She wrote a response because she thought it was very important that the paper represent an accurate picture of what is going on.
Ms. Pierce thanked the finance staff for their assistance on the budget. It was a very tuff year and they did a great job.
Ms. Muñoz also thanked the chairman, Mr. Perkins, for a job well done.
Marian Miller, Clerk