Alaskans for Open Meetings has a court date for Friday, Dec. 4, when the group is asking the court to force the Municipality of Anchorage to stop moving forward on any measures that took place during the time in August when the Assembly shut the public out of the public process.
The Assembly voted to stop the public from entering the Loussac Library during several meetings in August, during which time the body approved the purchase of buildings to house the homeless and care for vagrants, used CARES Act money for that purchase through a fund-swapping scheme, established a new position in the Mayor’s Office called an “Equity Officer” to address “systemic racism” in Anchorage, and voted to ban a practice known as “conversion therapy” for gay clients inside the municipal borders.
Under the Alaska Open Meetings Act, elected officials must meet in open session unless they call an executive session, which they did not do in August. Former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz had issued Emergency Order 15, limiting the size of gatherings in Anchorage, and the Mayor’s Office defended closing the meetings by saying telephonic participation was adequate to meet the requirements of the Open Meetings act.
Kate Vogel, the municipal attorney for the Anchorage mayor, has called the lawsuit “baseless.”
The Alaskans for Open Meetings spokesperson, Frank McQueary, said the issues of open meetings are not partisan, but are important to the public process so that people can have confidence in their government and sure that their rights will be protected.
The hearing will be in the courtroom of Anchorage Superior Court Judge Una Gandbhir on Dec. 4 at 9:30 a.m. Alaska Courts are closed to the public and the hearing for a preliminary injunction against the city will be conducted via Zoom teleconferencing, with limited public participation available.
Those watching the court case say that because the courts are also closed to the public, by order of Chief Justice Joel Bolger, they may not look upon the Alaskans for Open Meetings lawsuit with much charity.