The Seward City Council will meet Friday evening to consider granting the Friends of the Jesse Lee Home a reprieve from the deadline in a purchase agreement that expires the same day.
Council Members Sharyl Seese and Suzi Towsley called the special meeting, notice of which was posted to the city’s website at 4:45 p.m. Thursday. The meeting will be held at 5 p.m. at City Hall. City Code requires a minimum of 24 hours’ notice for special meetings.
The meeting announcement came after a lively afternoon in which a member of the Friends, Volunteer Coordinator Susan Lang, was escorted from City Hall after she refused to leave the office of City Manager Scott Meszaros, according to conversations with both parties.
The incident concluded a meeting with Lang and FJLH Board President Dorene Lorenz, who was present on speaker phone.
Both parties agree that Meszaros ended the conversation and told Lang that he would ask an officer to escort her out if she did not leave. But their accounts diverge regarding how the conversation reached a fever pitch.
The conversation apparently moved to a state grant held by the city which would make almost $1.1 million available for hazardous materials abatement should the Friends default on the purchase agreement.
Meszaros evidently conveyed to Lang the opinion of Seward’s lobbying firm, Kent Dawson Company, Inc., that extending the term of the purchase agreement has the potential to jeopardize that grant. The Seward Journal was unable to reach the firm Thursday afternoon.
According to Lang and Lorenz, Meszaros then refused to tell them the names of the lobbyists who provided that advice. Lang said that he offered to send the information to Lorenz by email.
For his part, Meszaros says that Lorenz became “belligerent” during the conversation about the grant and that he ended the conversation, rather than participate in a shouting match.
Meszaros, Lang and Lorenz were the only parties to the conversation.
The budget passed by the Alaska Legislature had contained language re-appropriating the city’s hazmat grant to other purposes, but each time the provision was vetoed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. Assistant City Manager Brennah Hickok said that the lobbyists at Kent Dawson had been instrumental to retaining the grant.