Anchorage said no to Portland Loos, so the city awarded a $50,000 contract to try to flush that vote

26
2527
Portland Loo vandalized. Photo credit: Reddit user..

By SUZANNE DOWNING

There is an old saying after an election: “the voters have spoken…and now they must be punished.”

Let’s hope for our neighbors in Anchorage that such a crack doesn’t hold water. The largest city in Alaska rejected balance in its municipal government, opening up City Hall to the fawning supporters of a tax hungry, government creeping assembly majority. So, what urgent matters will Suzanne LaFrance, the incoming Mayor, expect to consider once in office? 

For one, bathrooms. 

This is not a joke. Indeed, the issue of public sanitation is important, a foundational role of government. However, like most matters that come before our city leaders, the proposed path on almost anything is San Fransisco and Portland rather than Southcentral Alaska. 

The same voters who elevated LaFrance to the mayoralty, and passed a slew of bond proposals, made it a decided point to vote down a proposal to fund up to $5 million for modular public bathrooms in the municipality. This wasn’t even close. Nearly two-thirds of the residents who bothered to vote made it a point to say No! to the Anchorage Assembly’s “Portland Loo-style” bathrooms. 

If elections have consequences, and the people have spoken (pretty loudly), why is this subject in front of your reading eyes again? 

For one, with this Assembly, nothing is settled. Case in point: the alcohol tax. In 2019, a measure to tax beers, ciders, wines, cocktails, and liquor purchases for homeless services was decimated by voters at the ballot box. The reaction from the tax’s supporters at that time, including now-disgraced former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, was to blame misinformation and the alcohol industry’s  peddling (never mind the tax had been rejected numerous times over 20 years). 

The very next year, in the middle of the Covid lockdowns imposed by Berkowitz and the Assembly, the tax was put back on the ballot, and narrowly passed after some cosmetic changes to where the funds would go. Berkowitz is now gone, but his enablers on the Assembly are largely here, and Anchorage residents are paying taxes they had previously rejected. 

That brings us back to bathrooms. A recent story in the newspaper, which retains its perch as the megaphone for the swift set on the left in power, disclosed that a nearly $50,000-dollar contract was issued to survey Anchorage residents on what kind of public toilets they would want.

You can take that survey at this link.

This would seem like something to be done before taking a plan to the voters. 

But the mask slipped a bit on next steps, when an Assembly member was quoted that the incoming mayoral administration would be more supportive of getting funding for this initiative. 

The translation is clear: Voters said no to paying for modular public toilets at this time, but no worries, city hall will help us come up with the moneys for this. No further permission needed. And why is it not needed? Because the voters elected a mayor with the powers to do so. So, the voters who said no actually also said yes. 

Confused yet?

But it is the second, and bigger issue, that the Anchorage area’s supposed paper of record let the town down.

At no point in the article was one quote found from a public figure, group, or someone who could explain why one of the largest voting margins in the past election went the way it did. That is a disservice on many levels. 

The same Assembly member quoted in the Anchorage paper said the big issue seemed to be messaging. Apparently, it was the name “Portland Loo-style,” that sunk the attempt to provide relief to folks on trails and streets. Like the former mayor, it was misinformation and labeling, not the merits apparently. 

Anchorage should have an honest discussion about this. Supporters of the bathroom initiative may find out that a lot of folks who voted “No” are in fact sympathetic to the need for clean places to do what all humans must. The Municipality has a world-class trail system, and an active community of runners, cyclists, hikers, photographers, and countless sporting events. The demand is definitely there. 

But that is not the issue. And the fact that the big issue is not being discussed, even mentioned in the article, makes it an even bigger issue. 

Ask an average person if they will walk on the Coastal Trail with their family, they may very well say yes. Ask them if they will go to Cuddy Park, and the answer will likely be the complete opposite. Is it a coincidence that massive homeless populations make people feel unsafe, and not want their loved ones near the area? 

Ask those same average Anchorageites who they think will be the most-frequent users of publicly funded, unattended, modular toilets, and then ask if they are comfortable with their family using them afterwards. 

Being concerned about subsidizing closed spaces that can be abused with drug use or other harmful actions, destroying public property, and making it essentially unsafe or unusable for law-abiding members of the public is the issue. It doesn’t take a five-figure survey to understand the discontent. The people of Anchorage are reasonable, charitable Americans. That isn’t an opinion: look at disclosures of donations to charities and the purple voting record of the city. Treating them like adults, and for once listening, and not attempting to ram something down their throats, is not only politically expedient; it is the respectful thing a civil society’s leaders do. 

There is still a window for the incoming mayor to defy the aphorism, and not impose suffering on a voting public that asked for balance. Please madam Mayor, do not erase the chance to have balance. Above all, please treat the public with the respect that it showed when voting for you but against specific measures. Today, it is public restrooms. But trust crosses all policy issues. Start building it.

Suzanne Downing is the founder of Must Read Alaska and serves as editor.

26 COMMENTS

  1. What a joke survey. Seems you can take it as many times as you wish. (I can see assembly lefties taking it over and over just to say ” See, the voters were wrong all along!”) Also,why should “gender” matter other that M/F? This is just the beginning to what they have planned for us.

    • I’ve taken it twice an may do a third time as more creative responses come to mind 😆 milking that 50K

    • Don’t forget to thank your Lafrance and pro current assembly voters. They are responsible for this. After preaching No Means No on being forced to do something against your will, they vote for an assembly that forces themselves and their agenda on you when you said No. Apparently, No Means No doesn’t apply to them.

    • After reading the article on ADN it looks as two assembly members are trying to get the taxpayer to buy them restrooms. Again snakes in the grass.

      • Does Huddle Alaska even look like they know how to install public toilets?

        Public toilets are really just to take your money and spend it on homeless amenities to attract more homeless, attract crime, drugs, robberies, assaults, criminals and well known places for children to be molested, while they are being trashed, all at your expense.

        Leftists don’t care so long as they can dream up ways to take your money and spend it, leaving you broke.

        • Sorry to interrupt your diatribe, it is my understanding that Huddle got the $50,000 contract to run this SURVEY for the assembly.
          The point of which is to not only convince voters that they needed a porta-potty when they didn’t even know it, but to get the numbers to justify building them anyway! (Most likely with funds dedicated to something actually important, like snow clearing or policing).

  2. $50,000 for the survey?!?!

    That’s 50k to phrase every question in a manner that will yield the data needed to spend more of our tax dollars on enabling the facet of our population who does the most to make our city ugly, unwelcoming, and unsafe.

    I’m so disheartened every time I drive by a posse of persons passed out on top of a pile of trash -trash piled up, strewn about, composed of the packaging from food, drinks, or clothing given to these people out of charity. I do not deny their need for food and clothing, but for heavens’ sake, can we not hold them accountable for the messes they make?

    If I ran around Anchorage dumping out public trash cans and littering on every street corner I visited, I imagine I’d be held accountable by law enforcement.

    Why can’t this facet of our population be held accountable for ANYthing?!

  3. Boy is that survey slanted and engineered to guide you to agree with bathrooms. Do take the time to take the survey. I had fun with it. Public restrooms in today’s world usually become a huge public nuisance. Vandalism, loitering, nefarious behavior, unless closely monitored and maintained. These proposed bathrooms have nothing to do with providing an actual public service. They have everything to do with enabling a specific population. Build a navigation center where people can get help, take a shower, wash clothes, eat a meal and have safe shelter if needed. Make camping in public spaces illegal and require some effort of responsibility to use services.

  4. Follow the money?? Who is to profit from this fiasco?
    Only things it does is give the homeless population more places to trash and the tax payers will avoid them.

  5. I love how the survey graphics show the traditional “Men/women’s” sign on the proposed loo, yet the survey also asked how the person taking the survey identifies with a few more options than male or female. How making sure the survey is inclusive to those who decided that the millennia-old binary doesn’t fit them helps the survey get to the answers they need is beyond me. We also get to pick our race at the end of the survey.
    I guess we got our 50K worth!

  6. Anyone remember Inlet View Elementary?
    Same story, the public said “no”, so the new bond was less and packaged with “security upgrades” (of which we have voted on so many times, our schools could stand in for Fort Knox if they actually implemented them all).
    The powers-that-be still adhere to the ASD Superintendent Carol Comeau style of dealing with the public. Many years ago she was asked about a sizable school bond that failed. Her response in essence was that public did not understand the ASD messaging. In so many words she called the voters too stupid to see why this was needed. Still the same here no surprise!

  7. Maybe the citizens of Anchorage should take that $50,000 figure, divide it amongst themselves and take that much off their taxes, since it was an authorization that should not have been allowed after a “no” vote. Each one of the Council members can make up the difference of their decisions on their own taxes.

  8. Punishment from the socialist assembly has already began via my increase in home property tax.
    Our property tax is among the highest in the nation. If it were cut in half it would still be unjustifiable theft.

  9. I could have put that survey together using Survey Monkey for free.
    .
    But, why do that, when you can spend a LOT of other people’s money for something that makes you look good.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.