Assembly approves an ordinance to hire its super staffer, but removes the super powers - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, November 28, 2021
HomePoliticsAssembly approves an ordinance to hire its super staffer, but removes the super powers

Assembly approves an ordinance to hire its super staffer, but removes the super powers

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After Anchorage residents shared sharp words with the Anchorage Assembly late Tuesday night, the hiring of a de facto shadow mayor was scaled back.

Now, the new super-staffer to be hired to help the Assembly won’t be able to rifle through the desks of city employees or drop in unannounced to the mayor’s cabinet meetings. The person won’t be able to inspect evidence lockers. The original ordinance would have allowed all those powers and many more.

But the approval of the ordinance, which passed 8-2 with Eagle River Assemblywomen Jamie Allard and Crystal Kennedy objecting, comes with a hefty price tag.

Like the Assembly’s latest hire of an equity officer who cannot be fired without their permission, the new person will make $115,000 a year, have a four-year contract, and with benefits added in will cost Anchorage taxpayers as much as $800,000.

The new liaison for the 11 members of the Assembly will be added to 23 other staffers already serving as aides, bringing the total to 24, not counting the Clerk’s Office and department directors.

The super-staffer liaison will be hired by the chair of the Anchorage Assembly, but the four-year contract means that person will be able to acquire more power than the three-year terms that Assembly members have.

Read: Assembly to hire shadow mayor to bypass duly elected mayor

Assembly members Felix Rivera and Meg Zalatel complained on the record that their workload was too great and that their current staff was overworked.

The ordinance was criticized by most attending the Assembly meeting who spoke on the record on Tuesday.

“If Anchorage was a growing vibrant city as it once was, I would understand your need to grow your organization. If you are unable to accomplish your work with the staff that you have, perhaps you should look at the current staff and yourselves for shortcomings,” said Tom McGrath, who has observed the Assembly since 1978.

“Anchorage is now a declining city, it’s not a growing city. Adding personnel is just putting an added burden on the already overburdened property taxpayer,” he said.

Read: Anchorage city staff grew by more than 100 under Berkowitz

Assemblywoman Allard agreed. She said the special assistant position is a “step in the wrong direction of fiscal responsibility.

“We have already overburdened the public with new and increased taxes, business shutdowns, frivolous spending, and spending against the desires of the taxpayers. To create yet another government position and salary at this time is irresponsible, and raises questions as to the true intent of this assembly,” she said. “Not only is this proposed staff position redundant, but it is also an egregious violation of the separation of powers. It creates the perception that this assembly does not trust the new administration, is not willing to work with them, and will even change the charter to bypass the will of the people, assert their agenda, and plant their own informant within the executive branch,” she said.

Word quickly spread through City Hall on Wednesday that the new liaison for the Assembly to the Executive Branch has already been chosen and is someone who worked on the 8th floor of City Hall in the last administration of former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Majority of workers today are as Rivera and Zalatel, they complain when they have too much work and pressed for more time; while they still manage to have full breaks for meals and what I call “smoking” breaks-those little breaks workers take to chit chat.

    They just not used to working.

  • If 2020 demonstrated anything to all of us, it is that the Assembly is not working in the best interest of the Anchorage residents.
    ,
    In my opinion, the less “effective” they can be, the better.

  • 247 days and the real change begins.

    But, what’s going on with redistricting? Wasn’t that going to lead to a full blown election for all Assembly seats?

  • Members on the assembly are actively working against the mayor and the city.
    You know who they are.
    You are in their way and they will steamroll you to get what they want.

    • I got to thinking about this post, Bosk. I keep noticing the 8-2 votes most of the time. Do we all realize that these liberal block voters are being elected by the citizens of Anchorage? As such, can we assume that a large group of Anchorage citizens are also working against the new mayor? Seems like it. Are the voting citizens even aware of this divide?

  • ” the new person will make $115,000 a year, have a four-year contract, and with benefits added in will cost Anchorage taxpayers as much as $800,000. ”

    I would really like to know the breakout for the $685,000 in benefits. May I just say, “Good grief!” If this is true it suggests that benefits may be $171,000 per year for four years. Is that how the figure was reached? That is a lot of benefits, if true. I might suggest we all would love a sweetheart like this.

    Does anyone have real numbers for this largess?

    lar·gess also lar·gesse (lär-zhĕs′, -jĕs′, lär′jĕs′)
    n.
    1.
    a. Liberality in bestowing gifts, especially in a lofty or condescending manner.
    b. Money or gifts bestowed.
    2. Generosity of spirit or attitude.

    • $115,000 x 4 = $460,000
      $800,000 – $460,000 = $340,000
      $340,000 / 4 = $85,000

      $115,000 per year salary
      $85,000 per year benefits

      • Yep, I had a major logic fail. Well, since that is my first mistake this year ( 🙂 ) I will have to get over it. Thank you, Zip.

        • It’s all good, there’s still plenty of the year left, maybe you can squeeze one more in.
          Note: Even with the adjusted math, It’s still too dang much for an unneeded position.

  • This is just another example of runaway government that isn’t accountable to the people. If they can’t be responsible and accountable they should be removed. If they are bypassing the Mayor, they should be removed. This is just part of a troubling movement across the U.S. of tyrannical and unaccountable government. If the people are no longer represented by their government, we become the next despot 3rd world nation and our rights will be stripped. It is time for the people to reassert their rightful power under the Constitution that preserves those rights. Do not allow these obviously corrupt people to dictate to you what you can or can’t do. It is time for a free people to protect that freedom as so many did before us by willingly shedding their blood for it. Our families and future generations are depending on us! This is not political and it transcends party lines. This is about preserving freedom!

  • Sociopaths gonna sociopath.

  • Thank you Suzanne, for following up on this important story. Please let us know as soon as known, who the person is, to be awarded the position. It might be worthwhile doing a followup soon on whether this position is to be advertised via competitive selection process, or not (as suggested in your last paragraph of this story).

    • “Please let us know as soon as known, who the person is, to be awarded the position.”

      Allow me to be a bit cynical…the correct words are “to be rewarded the position.”

  • Too bad that nobody can apparently remove the super powers of the nine radical extremist assembly members to do evil.

  • How much more you gonna take, Eagle River?

  • Time to stand up to your corrupt city government, Anchorage! Fire them all that are so obviously interested in their power and expansion thereof and start anew!

    • YES Yes Yes!!!

  • These people are truly communists. Lock step.

  • If these assembly members are so over worked, then quit and let someone else do the job they are not capable of doing.

  • Socialist out smarting capitalists, again.

  • Jim Larson the $800,000 is for 4 years so the benefits amount would be $340,000 not $685,000.

  • S. Miller. Thanks. I dislike it when I screw up logic. Dang! 🙂

    Okay, so benefits are only a measly $85,000/yr over salary. Still not a bad deal. Heck, I might even come out of retirement for a deal like that.

  • Bronson should hire an *executive assistant* their job would be to *supervise the super staffer.* #justsayin #everyonedeservesacrapboss

    • Good idea Eric. Also, there is no law or mandate that any of the mayor’s staff or the mayor himself has to interract with this new position. They can stop talking, disband the meeting, or whatever they were doing when he/she enters the room. Fight fire with fire.

  • Don’t route read, initial, forward memorandums to this person. The public gets to author the job description of public servants which is what these persons are. The stipend receivers may not write and authorize new positions for themselves for that would be unconstitutional since mere assembly persons are not sovereigns let alone self-appointed monarchs in Anchorage as far as I can glean..

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