In a long post on Facebook on Saturday afternoon, Anchorage Assemblyman Kameron Perez-Verdia called for an emergency order — although he didn’t say from whom — “that will allow us to act.” He’s upset that someone brought a gun to the Assembly meeting and says that the process has been corrupted.
He said he wanted to clear up any confusion on where he stands on the compulsory mask ordinance: He favors it.
With a supermajority, the Assembly can end the public hearings, according to the city’s charter.
“I pride myself on being a listener. During my campaign for the Anchorage Assembly back in 2019 one of my core promises was a commitment to listening and asking the hard questions it takes to distill problems down to their root causes. Ever since you elected me to serve, I have worked hard to consider the various perspectives on every issue brought before the Assembly. I am a process-oriented person and – as with every preceding issue – I approached consideration of A0 2021-91 with the same commitment to the process of public testimony and reasoned discussion. Unfortunately, that process has been corrupted,” he said.
He said there’s a line between passionate testimony on an important issue and abuse of the process to delay consideration of the proposed solution.
“This week, we crossed that line. Thankfully, thousands of Anchorage community members have stepped up to offer their genuine perspectives on the proposed mandate – both in person and through email – and after reviewing their statements I am very much decided on this issue.
Then he said that those opposing the mask ordinance have abused the public process.
“Regrettably, members of our community have abused the public process in an attempt to prevent myself and the rest of the Assembly from translating those perspectives into much needed action. Shamefully, while opponents to the ordinance bring weapons to public meetings and harass members of the press, the mayor and his administration have further corrupted the process by removing security from the Assembly chambers in an effort to intimidate its members.
That is why I am also in favor of an emergency order that would effectively end this mockery of due process and allow us to move forward with the critical business of making hard and important decisions for our city.
“I truly appreciate the engagement from so many members of our community on this important issue, and I understand the general feeling of frustration in the face of uncertainty regarding when we will have a ﬁnal decision on the matter. Thanks to the process of public testimony and the opportunity to consider all of the relevant facts and perspectives, I have reached my decision and am firmly in favor of the proposed mandate,” he wrote.
Then, he again called for an emergency order once again, although again not saying who would issue such an order.
“Unfortunately, due to the misuse of that same process in an attempt to delay a vote, I am also in favor of a potential emergency order that will allow us to act,” Perez-Verdia wrote.
Over the past two weeks, the public has had the opportunity to testify for and against the ordinance, but the vast number of people testifying have opposed it. The ordinance has as many as 17 amendments that have not yet been heard or debated, but Perez-Verdia was silent on whether any of them should be incorporated into the ordinance. One of the amendments would have the mandatory masking for all of Anchorage end as early as Oct. 31. The ordinance, as written, has a requirement for all to mask through the end of the year.
Another amendment exempts certain sports, and this amendment is in response to multiple members of the public, children in particular, asking that they not have to be masked.
The public hearing was fairly orderly until Chairwoman Suzanne LaFrance shut the process down on Thursday, saying Assemblywoman Jamie Allard and Mayor Dave Bronson were no longer allowed to ask questions of those who were testifying. At that point, the public lost respect for the Assembly and started acting out, at times singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic and the National Anthem.
The hearings have been halted because several members of the Assembly and mayor’s staff have been exposed to Covid-19.