Anchorage Assembly building on track record of trashing transparency

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By SCOTT LEVESQUE

While left-leaning Anchorage Assembly members call for more transparency from the Bronson Administration, critics are left wondering when they’ll practice what they preach. 

For a year and a half, the Anchorage Assembly has evaded transparency, accountability, and responsibility, with actions taken to circumvent the public’s knowledge and involvement. 

In the summer of 2020, disgraced former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and most of the Assembly violated the Open Meeting Act. The public was banned from the Assembly Chambers while members on the dais refined two of the Municipality’s most controversial ordinances: AO 2020-65 and AO 2020-66. 

AO 2020-65, now law, prohibits licensed counselors, therapists, and other health care providers from helping youth work through their gender confusion and homosexual issues.

Posed by the Assembly as a “conversion therapy ban,” members of the public believed it was an infringement on their freedom of speech and parental rights. The ordinance passed 9-2 with no in-person testimony allowed, despite demands from the public.

Waiting in the wings was AO 2020-66, which used federal CARES Act funds to authorize the purchase of unsuitable buildings in Anchorage for a homeless industrial complex, converting them into a network of services for the city’s vagrant population. Once again, the Assembly refused to allow in-person testimony, and despite broad public outcry, the spending measure passed 9-2. 

The passing of AO 2020-65 and AO 2020-66 set off a chain reaction leading to lawsuits, public distrust, and question marks surrounding the Assembly’s lack of transparency.

The Assembly marched on unencumbered, wearing the fallout from those decisions as a badge of honor, even while losing the mayor’s election to a conservative.

In October of this year, the Assembly introduced AO 2021-91, an indoor mask mandate for the entire Municipality. The ordinance was introduced to help mitigate a spike in Covid-19 cases but was met with fierce resistance, including six days of public testimony upon its introduction. As the public lined the Loussac Library night after night, it became apparent the Assembly would be hard-pressed to move forward and vote on the ordinance. 

That’s when the Assembly broke faith with the people again. 

After skipping a scheduled meeting on Oct. 8, due to two members of the Bronson Administration contracting Covid, Chairwoman Suzanne LaFrance reassured the public that in-person testimony would continue the following Wednesday, and if needed, Thursday night.

Unfortunately, the residents of Anchorage were being duped. In the waning minutes of their Tuesday, Oct. 12 meeting at 10:45 pm, an emergency mask ordinance was introduced, voted on, and passed without public participation.

The Assembly majority had tricked its way out of transparency again.

Now, with perhaps their most blatant attempt to circumvent any form of transparency, the Assembly will begin deliberations on a proposed rewrite of Title 28 of the Municipal Code.

The suggested changes that are coming from Barbara Jones, Anchorage Municipal Clerk, would fundamentally undercut any campaign, as well as the public, to hold the Clerk’s Office accountable for the ballot sorting and counting during elections.

The rewrites would place all power, including the election department’s accountability and transparency efforts, in the hands of the Municipal Clerk. The Municipal Clerk would be able to rewrite the election observer handbook at any point and enforce her new rules to act punitively against a campaign or candidate.

It’s a living example of the saying, “Those who vote decide nothing. Those who count the vote decide everything.”

Residents are questioning the reason for a proposed overhaul of Title 28, and some believe it’s because of Mayor Dave Bronson’s stunning win over liberal Assembly member Forrest Dunbar, and the fact that the Bronson campaign was attentive in its monitoring of the ballot-counting process, much to the ire of the Municipal Clerk, who had never had experienced oversight from a campaign.

The Assembly will take up the rewrite of Title 28 at Tuesday night’s meeting, which starts at 5 pm on the ground floor of the Loussac Library, at 36th and Denali Street.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Someone with more knowledge than I. Needs to take the assembly in general to court and remove/reverse ALL ordinances that are illegal. Also include any ordinance that did not allow for public testimony as this is preventing required public involvement. Further more, we as the people need to place on a ballot to restrict the assembly from being able to vote if not present and set a designated time for a vote to happen. IE they cant vote behind close doors and not in the middle of the night.

    • Well, we only need to work against four of the five. Forrest Dunbar will reject his white privilege and embrace his dedication to equity. He is sure to step aside and let Stephanie Taylor, a black female, run unopposed for the Assembly seat.
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      Oh.. who am I kidding. That would never happen in a million years. All that propaganda about supporting people of color is for others, not your elected officials.
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      I am contributing time and money to every campaign that is running against any of the leftists.

  2. To have only one person that can change rules on a whim.. that has no semblance of a checks and balance system. The municipal clerk has already shown that she has a bias when it comes to this assembly group. She is the reason that most voters feel that they need more eyes on what is being done.. its our right a taxpaying citizens to have people that represent us observing the voting process to make sure there are no improprieties going on behind the closed doors of the anchorage election center. With mail in voting and issues with signatures that are digital vs actually signatures, and short notifications to be able to fix signature that the municipal clerk has deemed invalid.. there is no way the people would support only having one person by which the rules are maintained and changed… Barbara Jones should tread carefully as this assembly will not remain in power forever…. with the mayors huge win over Dunbar, the assembly and jones would rather double down on thinking the people are completely powerless against them….I Assure WE ARE NOT!

    Proceed at your own political peril…. and remember a majority of the 9 are up for re-election and even the moderate liberals of Anchorage are starting to questions the vision of this assembly.

  3. This is what it’s all about..we the people actually voted in numbers to elect a mayor of our choice and were able to slow down the amount of cheating to the point that he actually won. But when blank ballots are printed in numbers that far exceed the numbers needed and stored in the same place as the counting, some control should be exercised. There should at the least be afforded a chain of custody by bonded employees. I don’t care who wins an election so much as I would like to be confident that the process is fair. And if I really thought that Anchorage wants to promote communism and higher taxes, I would just move to an area that doesn’t. But the community that I have known for the last 39 years does not, but we have a lot of lazy voters. If you have not voted in awhile, go to the website and make sure someone hasn’t voted for you. I knew some folks who immigrated from Germany after the war, and asked them how Hitler got elected. They told me that the everyday people of Germany just lost interest in politics and didn’t bother to vote. A person’s voting history is not hard information to obtain, thanks to the internet. And you should feel confident that if you have a history of not bothering to vote, there are people that will happily cast your ballot on your behalf, especially now that it’s so easy.

  4. We must save Anchorage from the communist assembly members. Return to in person voting with voter ID. The State of Alaska voter registration database was hacked last year. We know that the voter registration database has not been properly maintained. We all know that mail in ballots are subject to malfeasance, through ballot harvesting and other manipulation. Voting in person makes it much more difficult to cheat. And you can do a forensic audit much cheaper and quicker. Plus it will save money and we will have results much quicker.

    We still need a forensic audit of Nov 2020. Rank choice voting is unconstitutional and WE ALL KNOW IT DID NOT legally get voted in.

  5. Conversion therapy is, by design, an attack upon freedom of speech and an attack upon parents.

    It fraudulently blames parents for youths’ sexual orientation and gender identity, it punishes and suppresses speech that isn’t loaded with shame and ignorance, and it perverts Biblical values.

    Conversion therapy is proven to worsen sexual compulsion and depression. It divides families and destroys faith, in service to a depraved ideology.

  6. The ONLY way to stop them is to beat them at the ballot box. That means get out the vote!
    For all the sound and fury from the right, Meg Zalatel easily swept the recent recall vote. It wasn’t even close.
    Unless we change what we’re doing before the next election, these same people are going to win once again.

  7. The Heritage Foundation ranked AK 25th in election integrity. We got a score of 57 out of a possible 100. (Search for Heritage Election Scorecard in your favorite i’net search engine)
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    I am sure this change to the Anchorage code will not raise our score one bit.

  8. Add this new power to an unelected government official who is the handmaiden of the liberal nine in your Assembly to the already easily manipulated mail in voting scam and Anchorage is certain to be placed on a fast track to becoming another Seattle, San Francisco, or LA. I don’t know what fuels the Notorious Nine to desire the fate of these once great cities come to Anchorage but then I can’t explain why liberal leaders in those cities ran their cities into the ground and then keep on digging either. Are they just that blind to the destruction their policies bring upon their hometowns?

    Eagle River and Chugiak run don’t walk toward Eagle Exit. Save yourselves it may be too late for the city.

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