Another Tuesday, another night of civil disobedience at the Anchorage Assembly meeting. Chairwoman Suzanne LaFrance had security remove two members of the public for the offense of having verbally expressed their discontent and protest that public testimony was engineered to keep those who didn’t sign up in advance from being able to express their opinion at the podium.
In short, the Assembly ran out the clock so that only one person was able to testify during “initial public participation” before the Assembly got into its normal meeting business that included the budget.
That person was Assembly critic Dustin Darden and he played a song whose lyrics included, “Revolution,” and “We will not comply.” He spoke about a maintenance worker whose job had been cut in the budget and asked the Assembly to consider adding it back.
But there was a line of 8-10 people behind Darden, and none of them was allowed to give their 3-minute remarks. Assemblywoman Crystal Kennedy tried twice to make a motion to extend the public hearing time but she was not acknowledged by Chairwoman LaFrance.
Although LaFrance had warned members of the public that they must wear masks while in the meeting, several chose to ignore that admonishment.
One person who was hauled out by security ended up in an Anchorage Police Department cruiser for yelling at the Assembly for not allowing people to speak.
Assemblywoman Kennedy finally broke through and said that there were many people in line to speak, and they had stood for a long time to do so. She asked for a vote to give them another 15 minutes of time. The vote was 6-5 against allowing the audience the time they believed was theirs.
The Assembly then spent 10 minutes on a resolution to recognize Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. The resolution was held up by debate about whether races of men should be included in the “Whereas” portion of the resolution, since African-American men have a higher risk of prostate cancer than others.
The Assembly also passed a resolution recognizing community activist Eugene Haberman, who died in October. He had not missed an Assembly meeting in years and would frequently comment on the public process and scold the Assembly for not being inclusive or transparent.
Several members of the public testified about how much impact Haberman had on the public process in Anchorage, and for a brief moment, everyone in the room seemed to be on the same page, mourning the loss of a person who never passed up an opportunity to testify.
The meeting is underway, with the budget being the main menu item. Stories will follow.