Anchorage Equity Committee spends hours discussing how to get a $100,000 honorarium for themselves from city budget

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The first order of business for the Anchorage Equity Committee, a committee of the Assembly, is to figure a way to get paid.

The Equity Committee met in November and December, and between those two meetings alone spent over an hour discussing how to get money from the city budget for their time.

Perhaps, they said, this could be done through an honorarium that would be appropriated by the Assembly. Suggestions from the body started at $50,000 to $100,000, to be divvied among the committee members in a fashion yet to be determined. The entire membership of the committee appears to be elastic, but at $150 per meeting, attendance and membership might grow, something the co-chair of the committee, Rev. Leon May, said would be a side benefit.

“The Anchorage Equity Committee of the Assembly is a Special Assembly Committee and members represent a variety of community and faith-based groups, and other community perspectives who are underrepresented and have lived experience of systemic inequities. Committee membership will prioritize engaging the necessary perspectives to achieve equity and optimal well-being for all Anchorage residents,” is how the committee is described on the municipal web page devoted to its mission.

Learn more about the Anchorage Equity Committee at this link.

The matter of payment for services was discussed at length at the December meeting, when Assemblyman Felix Rivera described how he tried, at the committee’s request, to squeeze the funding into the city budget, but it did not pass. During that December committee meeting, the discussion about funding and appropriate levels of payment went on for an hour. No one seemed to have an idea of how the money would be split up, and whether all members would take an honoraria, or whether some might refuse it and allow the group to use the funds in a different way.

No other committee of the Assembly gets paid for the work it does. Committees are considered volunteer service, but nearly all who serve on the Anchorage Equity Committee believe that being paid to meet once a month is the least the city can do for them.

They started out describing the ask for funds as an honorarium, but later in deliberations expanded the concept to cover community outreach and planning. At one point, an amount of $500,000 was mentioned by the committee.

The Equity Committee majority seems to believe that $150 per meeting is not too much to ask, and sees itself as a different kind of committee than all other committees of the Assembly. The committee has no specific deliverables, nor a business plan, as of yet, but it has published something it considers to be a charter.

Listen to a portion of the November committee meeting at this link, about 10 minutes of the meeting:

Assemblyman Rivera told the committee that honorarium for serving on committees is not provided for in municipal code. He cautioned the committee that “right-wingers” would criticize the group for starting out of the gate by asking for funds that no other committee gets. The committee members did not seem fazed by the anticipated criticism.

The Anchorage Municipal budget for 2023 was $587 million after the Assembly added back items vetoed by the Assembly. The discussion among the equity group was that a mere $60,000 to $100,000 would be a drop in the bucket in the budget, barely noticeable.

The conversation in the December meeting drifted to include not just honoraria, but also vaguely referenced planning and community engagement work. The committee members even discussed that it could give grants or at least advise the Assembly on who to give grants to, and the committee discussed that although a request for the budget that was up for Assembly approval was unlikely to pass on such short notice in 2022, the ask itself would give the group “cover” for another ask in April, when the Assembly takes up budget revisions.

Listen to a portion of the December deliberations about payment for service that the Anchorage Equity Committee wants from taxpayers:

The group’s charter says that initially it was a Department of Health committee that was convened in 2021 to advise the city on vaccine distribution and pandemic response.

“In December 2021, AHD determined it no longer needed to engage with this committee. The members determined they would like to build upon the successful engagement and actions during 2021, remain together as a body, and continue the committee’s advisory role. At the invitation of two Anchorage Assembly members, the committee has re-formed as the Anchorage Equity Committee of the Assembly to work with the Anchorage Assembly to build an equitable, thriving community for all,” the group writes of its history.

The group describes “equity” as “the intentional, consistent, and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to under-resourced communities that have been denied such treatment. These communities include Black, Latino, Alaska Native and other Indigenous, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; immigrant and refugee communities; people with limited English proficiency; persons experiencing disabilities; older adults and elders; veterans; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.”

The meetings of the Equity Committee do not as of yet include a land acknowledgement, as is done by so many public committees in this era, nor the Pledge of Allegiance.

The committee’s charter was finalized Oct. 6, 2022, and includes no mention of grant-giving, honoraria, or how a committee that requires no ethics oversight would manage a budget without staff.

The committee is co-chaired by Thea Agnew Bemben, a principal and co-founder of Agnew::Beck Consulting, and Rev. Leon May. Other members include Alaska Black Caucus President Celeste Hodge Growden, “Sage Alaska” LGBTQ elder advocate Candace Bell, Anchorage School District Equity Director Sonja Hunt, Catholic Social Services’ Refugee Program Coordinator Issa Spatrisano, Alaska Literacy Program Executive Director Lori Pickett, and Anchorage Assemblymen Felix Rivera and Kameron Perez-Verdia. It has added Mara Kimmel, wife of former Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and executive director of the Alaska ACLU, to its membership.

The December meeting can be heard in full at this link.

The November meeting can be heard in full at this link.

43 COMMENTS

  1. I suppose it was inevitable that the equity committee wants “equity payments” for their time. After all, they are the most special committee ever created (tongue firmly planted in cheek) and should be the exception to the rule. “No other committee of the Assembly gets paid for the work it does. Committees are considered volunteer service, but nearly all who serve on the Anchorage Equity Committee believe that being paid to meet once a month is the least the city can do for them.”
    It is called volunteering your time, you wanna get paid, get a job. You want to get paid to volunteer, join our volunteer military. You will soon learn what equity is truly all about, right now, we consider you to be entitled petty narcissists.

    • Would love to see Felix Riveras tax returns…. Conflicts of interest, unlawful assembly to take money away from the citizens as a Assembly “member”, investigate whether this is collusion to defraud the city, incompetence of an Assembly “member” as his role of oversight on this committee has been exceeded or compromised encouraging getting paid for volunteer work, or is this mr Rivera being a lobbyist? Reeks of corruption Felix

    • I’ve done a lot of volunteer work in my lifetime, and a lot of it at my own expense. I’m outraged as a taxpayer! Who do these people think they are?

      • I as well! I have never expected payment and considered it civic duty and giving back to my community.

  2. I listened to their worksession. (Nightmare)
    Another modus operandi of the “D.I.E.” (diversity, inequity and exclusion) committee is to either subvert the “role” of the city administration position that is the “cheif equity officer” to “conform to industry standards” or outright replace him with over regulation and disqualify Junior from his position.

    • They are going to create a new position called the Equity Analyst that will operate (and be paid) under the assembl because they don’t like what Junior is doing.

  3. Christ above, the jokes write themselves here.

    -the first thing Equity does is want things no one else gets.

    -what’s their motto? Straight white conservative men sux?

    -some equity is more equitable than others.

    -the first rule of equity club is to get paid for promoting equity

    -give us equity and give us money

    -the only thing we have to avoid is equity itself

    -we will scam you on a boat
    We will scam you on a goat
    We will scam you here and there
    It’s your money and we don’t care.

    I must admit I almost admire the audacity. The naked arrogance is impressive. We’re gonna take your money, give it to people you never would, and get paid for it. And call you every name in the book in the process.

    Even Felix Rivera thinks this is bad.

    Note to Eagle River. You think this isn’t headed your way? Oh it is. Anchorage in the 80s would have laughed this into the Cook Inlet.

  4. The mere fact of asking the community for volunteers, will separate those who really care, and the ones that feel they need to be bribed for their worldly advice.

  5. I was going to say something snarky about how I had to earn my privilege and how outrageously stupid is the chutzpah of this “committee” – but all the preceding commenters have nailed it very well. BTW, I fit their “disadvantaged” qualifications in 3 categories… (old, rural, religious). But this is what happens when communists take over – the commies take/gain advantage. It’s fun spending other folks’ money, until you run out of other folks’ money… The commies are never satisfied until their lifestyle costs at least twice what yours does and you have to pay for it – while they sit on their rears and thumb their noses at us. The answer to their bellyaching lies in the notions of respect and loving your neighbor as yourself – not in claiming victimhood and disadvantage and whining about “equity” and “systemic” issues. Our cultures are better than that.

  6. Equity in the context used by the Left is Unconstitutional on its face and is a Socialist construct. Socialism is theft. It is unlawful in Government and mostly ignored. I pay $900 per month in taxes for my home which is at least 50% to high in my estimation. My neighbor pays $600. We get the same muni service. Maybe I need some equity?

  7. Like elders used
    to say, ‘ you need money, go get
    a job, cause i can’t afford everything you need and want.’ anchorage has other more important services. our anchorge business employers they need willing residents wanting to work for years. These committee members, they can work at a retail, resturant, hotel job for extra money. Even learn a craft developing a talent to sell a product customers. Last mega
    snowfall revealed our shortage of cdl drivers. Its wrong enough our
    equity director is taking 100,000 from road maintenance, already. Just as asd student advisory teen members, these beaucratic government members need a real job one that produces products. Democrats think to grow jobs its add more paid government positions. Well! If you have everyone working
    in government work
    , then who is working in
    the private sector to pay for govement wages.

  8. Could you clarify what this statement means? “The Anchorage Municipal budget for 2023 was $587 million after the Assembly added back items vetoed by the Assembly.”

  9. These groups are supported by dark money to do one thing. Destroy the United States by spreading their baseless ideas to convince politicians they need to adopt their thinking, or they go to their friends in the fake news to slander them. They use Marxist tactics to overthrow government systems and grow like a cancer. They must be defunded!

    • That’s where you’re wrong kiddo! We’re already giving until it hurts, they’re going to force us to give until it kills us. Next step will be a Tesoro station in every village with at least 20 residents.

  10. What a useless, entitled committee! They want to get paid for elevating themselves over many who are working hard just to scrape by and for what reason?! Admiration for their lofty “volunteer” status isn’t enough. They want your money.

  11. Cute. The Muni’s equity officer was paid out of Street MX money, and the very same people whining about slow snow clearing are wondering why it was slow. Answer? Equity is much more important to them than clear streets. Cheers –

  12. What a bunch of horse poo, why do we pander to 4% of the population?
    Majority rules, not minority!
    Good grief folks get a grip!

  13. I want to start an ethics committee, and only property owners can be on this committee. We demand the city pay us for our work.

    • Back in the day, the Muni published the salaries and benefits of Muni employees. Might be interesting to taxpayers to review an update. Snort!

      • They still do but some do not seem to be up to date:

        ‘https://openpayrolls.com/county/anchorage-municipality-ak/page-25

  14. So no pledge of allegiance, just like the ASD school I work at The latest attempt at not saying the pledge ( and saying f-you) to the only school board member who respects Alaska State Law is to say the pledge outside of school hours to “comply” with the law with out actually complying. So sad Margo Bellamy and the Black caucus got their way on this one. Thanks to Dave Donley for trying. We should withhold school board members pay until they ORDER that schools actually comply with the law.

      • No one is talking about compelling a child to do anything.

        I am simply pointing out that saying the pledge outside of the school day is a deliberate attempt not to comply with a state law. ASD secondary ed needs to spend more time making the schools work and less time planning on how to avoid complying with state law. School administrators need to be held accountable, especially when they PLAN to break the law!

        • If anyone would like to see the paper trail of this “plan” to say the pledge outside of the school day written by the the building principal I’d bee happy to share!!!

  15. Appears to be a political shake down, from a group of volunteers who are 180° the opposite of their said committee. Plow our streets!

    • Just to follow up on this idea, if enough people contested the overinflated property values accessed every time the municipality needs more money instead of looking at it like they have more equity, instead of consulting their realtor to discover the true value, it would definitely put a hitch in their get along. And if enough people that owned their property outright just refused the tax at the same time…it would be worth the late fee. We are their wallet.

      • We really need to end property taxes and go to a sales tax. Then people would own their home outright. Do people know that when your mortgage is payed in full you don’t get your title. The city holds it hostage to force you to pay. If we had a sales tax instead (not both) then everybody has skin on the game so all the handout would be taxed through buying of goods and services. We need to end property taxes.

  16. How are still saddled with the likes of Ethan Berkowitz? Why doesn’t he just disappear and go infect some other city with his filth?

  17. Well that committee are certainly not made up of states’persons’ . Advisory committees are typically unpaid volunteer positions. They offer opportunity to give back to one’s community, to share expertise, to learn the aspects of various government services, sometimes professional enhancement, and to further transparency and citizen involvement. I have served on a couple and enjoyed the experience. I have never expected payment.

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