It’s Groundhog Day on the Anchorage Assembly. The ongoing clash between the Anchorage Mayor’s Office and the city’s Assembly reached a new level of intensity on Tuesday, as the Assembly rejected all three of the mayor’s nominees to the Library Advisory Board. This move follows a pattern of increasing hostility by the Assembly and the pattern of saying no to the mayor at every turn.
The rejected nominees include Leigh Sloan, an advocate for home-school learning; Jesse Moody, an employee at Global Credit Union; and Robyn Branson, a student success coach for migrants at Sand Lake Elementary. Sloan was also a candidate for the Assembly during the recent spring elections but lost to Karen Bronga. The refusal to confirm these individuals leaves the nine-member panel with four vacant positions.
At the heart of the conflict lies a dispute between left-leaning members of the Assembly and the Mayor’s Office regarding the presence of explicit material within the city’s public library, specifically targeting books accessible to children.
One controversial book in the Loussac Library Teen Underground, “Let’s Talk About It,” has particularly fueled the disagreement. The book, described as graphic, allegedly promotes sexual content and provides explicit instructions on sexual activities, including anal and oral sex. It gets around being labeled pornographic because it has drawings instead of pictures of the various sexual activities, many of which can lead to serious diseases. Democrats are pushing to keep this and similar titles in the library, and conservatives are trying to have them removed.
The Assembly has also stripped the Library Advisory Board of its ability to have books removed from the children’s section when they are clearly inappropriate for children.
The Assembly’s decision to reject the mayor’s nominees is seen as evidence of its disapproval of the current administration at every turn. By denying these appointments, the Assembly members are asserting their ability to hobble the mayor as he moves into a reelection cycle.
Simultaneously, the Assembly also has voted against all of the mayor’s proposed plans for addressing homelessness in the upcoming winter season. In a further display of obstinence, the Assembly refused to approve its own most recent plan, which aimed to provide housing for the chronically homeless in homeless tent cities and shack cities within Anchorage. As a result, the Sullivan Arena, a popular local venue, is expected to become a shelter for those who do not adhere to the rules set by other shelters around town. The Assembly is running out the clock on solutions of the homeless for the second year in a row.
Tuesday’s meeting left the Library Advisory Board shorthanded, and was a significant setback in the city’s efforts to tackle the challenges of homelessness. The inability of the Assembly and the Mayor’s Office to find common ground has become a running theme in Anchorage.