When the Sitka Assembly meets tonight it will likely establish a “tourism task force” that will be “tasked” with looking into the recent surge in tourism. If it passes, the nine-member group would investigate whether Sitka can or should limit cruise traffic, develop a review cycle for the city’s tourism operations, and create a tourism best-practices program. 

When the idea was broached at the last assembly meeting, members were largely on board. The resolution the assembly will consider tonight spells out the specifics of the group, some of which have been tweaked since the last assembly meeting. Three of the nine task force members will be appointed from the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, Port and Harbors Commission, and Sustainability Commission, respectively. The assembly will also choose one member representing the “downtown business corridor,” one representing tours and attractions, one representing business in general, a representative from the Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal, and two at-large members. 

In other business, the assembly will consider two grant applications, some financial appropriations for FY23, and it will go behind closed doors in executive session to discuss four lawsuits the city is involved in. Two of the cases are civil suits against former Sitka Community Hospital doctor Richard McGrath, who pleaded guilty to sexual assault earlier this month. While the criminal case against McGrath is nearing a close, as of now, the civil cases his victims have brought against him are still set to go to trial later this year. Sitka Community Hospital was owned by the city at the time, making the city a defendant in the cases.

A third suit brought by Kimberly Gleason in 2020 against Sitka Community Hospital alleges medical negligence in the treatment of her child in 2018. And the fourth case is a new civil suit against the Sitka Police Department filed by plaintiff Ronald Dick earlier this month, alleging that police discriminated against him and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Sitka Assembly meets tonight at 6 p.m. Raven News will broadcast the meeting live, following Alaska News Nightly.