Anchorage Assembly hearing Tuesday: Should Assembly be able to remove the mayor for misuse of a paper clip?

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An ordinance that gives the Anchorage Assembly vast authority to remove a duly elected mayor will be the subject of a public hearing on Tuesday, May 24, at the Assembly’s regularly scheduled meeting, which takes place on the ground floor of the Loussac Library at 5 pm.

The ordinance, offered by Assembly Vice Chairman Chris Constant, would give the majority on the Assembly who oppose the current mayor the ability to make charges against him, set up a hearing officer of the Assembly’s choosing, conduct an inquisition, and then hold a vote on removing the mayor from office.

Mayor Dave Bronson was elected in May of 2020. By fall, Constant was on the record telling the public that there wasn’t really enough egregious conduct to recall him, as some opponents wanted to do. But he began to explore a way to conduct a coup, and on May 4 had a working framework.

The ordinance was introduced May 10 and an Assembly work session was held Friday. The video for that work session is at this YouTube link.

Constant and the Assembly majority’s attorney Dean Gates says the ordinance is simply fulfilling what was laid out in the city’s charter, and which the Assembly now considers only partially complete. There is a method for removing a sitting member of the school board, but the Assembly has no current way to remove a mayor.

Read the final draft ordinance at this link.

The Assembly’s attorney Dean Gates said that when the current ordinance was created it was because of some problem with a school board member, a recall that was underway, and the desire to remove that person from office and “I guess they just didn’t think of the other elected officials at the time, I don’t really have any other reason I can see that they only did two, and not the rest. I don’t think they thought of it because of the political climate and issues that were going on at the time that were sort of the impetus for 1993 ordinance,” he explained to the Assembly on Friday.

Gates said that during his research of the discussions surrounding the creation of the city charter, there was discussion about removing elected officials and that the term “elected officials” was settled on for the charter, without specifying the mayor. This ordinance goes further to target the mayor.

New Assemblyman Randy Sulte questioned what offense could be considered substantial enough to remove the mayor: Would the misuse of a paper clip suffice, he asked Gates, who said he did not think that would qualify as substantial.

Much of Attorney Gates’ answers to the Assembly during the work session involved what he guessed the charter authors meant, and what he imagines would happen under the ordinance.

The Assembly has, in the past several month, contracted with the former municipal attorney and city manager Bill Falsey to serve as its second attorney, and Falsey sat in the work session on Friday next to Gates, serving as his minder. Falsey, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2021, is the presumed author of the ordinance to remove the mayor.

Opponents of the ordinance view it as a coup attempt by a leftist and disgruntled assembly — Assemblyman Constant, Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar, Assemblywoman Austin Quinn-Davidson, and Assembly Chairwoman Suzanne LaFrance, primarily. All of them have conflicts of interest with the ordinance: Dunbar unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2021, while Quinn-Davidson served an extended term as mayor after the resignation of former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, and her 8-month unelected term was in violation of city charter. LaFrance would become the acting mayor if the group found a way to remove Bronson from office.

The Assembly meeting starts at 5 pm. Initial public appearances begin at about 5:15 pm, with the public allowed three minutes each to address the body. That portion of the meeting ends at 6 pm, with the ordinance hearing scheduled for later in the evening at an unspecified time. Agenda is here.

The Assembly meetings are broadcast on the municipality’s YouTube channel, at this link.

18 COMMENTS

  1. You know! What is astounding? God love these people and our biblical founded nation so much like God is committed to isreal and loves them that God is slow to anger and slow to pouring judgement on our nation that we all deserve, yet God patiently waits for our repentance. An unrepentent nation, we all will lose everything we worked so hard to achieve. History shows
    what destruction happens to nations without God, they are easily subdued and crushed.

  2. This is so disturbing. Constant and his cronies are way out of line; and Gates and Falsey should lose their law licenses and be disbarred. Corruption at its finest!

  3. So they are going to remove EVERYONE who voted for Mayor Bronson? Then maybe we should start removing our taxes that pay for opposing people’s votes. This assembly is OUT OF CONTROL! They are IDIOTS! They also cheated during the last municipal election. Just ask the municipal clerk.

  4. “Constant and the Assembly majority’s attorney Dean Gates says the ordinance is simply fulfilling what was laid out in the city’s charter, and which the Assembly now considers only partially complete. There is a method for removing a sitting member of the school board, but the Assembly has no current way to remove a mayor.”

    What means does the mayor have to remove a member of the assembly?

    As separate, co-equal branches of government shouldn’t they be able to keep each other in check?

    As far as paperclip abuse goes; I think failing to hold a statutorily-required timely election and assuming the position of mayor during a disease outbreak might be a substantial enough offense to warrant removal.

    Just a thought.

    • Few points:
      1. It is in fact fulfilling the requirements of the City charter.
      2. There is a means for removal of an assembly member, but it is the Assembly that has the first action. If a majority of the Assembly does not agree the accusation has merit, it dies right there.
      .
      Gee… what are the odds this Assembly would entertain an accusation of wrongdoing against one of their own? (Allard, Sulte and Kennedy are all on the chopping block though. Better be careful what they do.)
      .
      That is the big issue here. The Assembly holds all the cards in both situations, removal of an assembly member and of the Mayor.

  5. The actions of this assembly are absolutely counter to the Constitution and there is no premise under which this should be even considered. Gates is full of crap. This is USSR politburo BS at this point.

  6. Sent to all assembly members, mayor and muni manager:
    This ordinance to provide additional powers to the city assembly is an overreach of what the assembly is, by ordinance and by your oath of office, and what is allowed of your offices to enact. It is not only illegal, it is wholly immoral of any of you to approve this outrageous ordinance. Bill Falsey should be fired immediately for his participation in this overthrow of our citys complete government by the city Assembly, put on the do not rehire as a contractor list by the city.

    As a member of the local community, a member of the voting public, a homeowner, and employed within the city I find this ordinance a political power grab and overreach of the Assembly. This is personal and a purely politically motivated power grab by Chris Constant, who supported our mayors opponent, who continues to undermine our city as a whole with legislation to enshrine powers to the assembly that are without warrant or merit in having a cooperative government as we do now. This lack of cooperation with the city administration must stop, your oath of office was to help our city, not further decimate it. This ordinance shows just how much the Assembly is now weaponizing itself to have power over the entire city and grant itself full authority to be able to remove those we elected and replace them with the Assemblys choice. This is not a representation of we the people that voted these leaders into office.

    I will continue to support our mayor, the one we the people voted into office.
    I will continue to vote against those of you supporting this abomination and other ordinances that provide nothing for our city and only further the Assembly’s abuse of power as you continue to do harm to our city, which harms us all.

    I do not support this ordinance, nor should any of you, regardless of you paying for this outrageous legislation. You are there to be our voice, not for your own personal gain.

    • While I agree with you fully, the average assembly member is not going to pay any attention whatsoever to what you sent them. It is painfully obvious that none of the Marxist 9… oh wait, now 8 (yipee!) care what their constituents say or want.
      .
      On the other hand, point out that this tips the balance too far toward the Assembly, and you in fact support the ordinance if the Mayor’s office gets an equivalent procedure when accusations are made, and you may have a winner. Right now, if an Assembly member is accused of a crime, the Assembly is the first gate. If they vote against moving it forward, it dies. The Mayor should have the same right. Accusations against the mayor should have to pass the Mayor’s desk before it goes any further. If the Mayor says no crime, it dies right there.

  7. First of all, I am not a lawyer, so the below is strictly opinion.
    .
    This ordinance is not a dire as it sounds. If you read the proposed ordinance, and look at the portions of the Muni code that are being edited/affected, it is not as horrific as it seems. However, that does not mean the ordinance is acceptable.
    .
    Muni code already allows for removal of an Assembly member if they violate certain laws. Essentially it is the same standard they want to place against the Mayor. However, that is not the problem.
    .
    The problem is, for removal of an Assembly member, the Assembly will vote on the merit of the accusation. Yes, you heard that right, the Assembly will make the determination if a criminal accusation against one of their members is valid. I’m sure these impartial, apolitical angels on the Assembly can be trusted to judge the merits of an accusation without prejudice or bias. (Yeah… right.)
    .
    But, that is the way the current process is written.
    .
    This addition to Muni code provides for removal of the Mayor or an elected member of a board for any criminal acts. And I agree with that. If the Mayor breaks the law, they should be removed.
    .
    What I do not agree with is the process. It is identical to the process for removing an Assembly member. The Assembly is the first (and most important) judge on the merits of the accusation against the Mayor.
    .
    Yep, that’s correct. In ALL cases, the Assembly gets to make the call. The Assembly is the judge, jury, and executioner in all cases where removal is warranted.
    .
    The Anchorage system of government, like that of the Federal Government requires a balance between the legislative and executive branches. Equal powers and equal levels of checks against the other branch.
    .
    This ordinance destroys that balance. It gives the Assembly the ability to squash accusations against their members, but carry through with accusations against the Executive branch.
    .
    Worse that all of that, in all cases, the Assembly selects the replacement. If an assembly member is removed, the Assembly gets to replace that member. If the Mayor is removed, the Assembly chair is made acting Mayor pending a special election. (See how well that worked out after Berkie.)
    .
    This ordinance is nothing more than a power grab by the Assembly, and it needs to be killed. Unless… it provides equal power to the Executive branch.

  8. Perceptions are king and, the liberal members on the Assembly should – if anyone – realize this. The veil for this latest cluster is too thin to hide what they really have in mind. I would hope that one of our three conservative members would remind them that over 50% of the historically abysmal voter turnout cast ballots to elect Mayor Bronson. If passed by the libs, this will further widen the division in the community and set a horrible precedent for future elections.

  9. Tell me again how conservative Anchorage is. Then tell me I’m the King of Peru.

    Neither are true.

  10. I predict: Assembly passes ordinance; Mayor vetoes; Assembly overrides; Mayor sues and courts side with the Assembly all the way to the Alaska Supremes – where the commies win. I would hope that the courts would have better sense of the law… This is clearly unconstitutional as well as a violation of the Anchorage Charter. SCOTUS won’t touch it, it is not a federal issue. Mass exodus from Anchorage ensues, because no one wants to see bloodshed. You have my sympathy – your taxes will increase dramatically while services drop to nothing, the bureaucracy grows exponentially, and the streets become more unsafe. Welcome to Lost Anchorages, or is it San Franchoragisco? This might be hyperbolic, but your Assembly leftists appear to have this in mind. I already do as little business in Anchorage as possible – passage of this ordinance will drive me further away.

  11. There needs to be “mostly peaceful protests” at these meetings, and at the commie members homes as well. Fair is fair, 14th A and all.

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