Assembly extends mayor's emergency powers, but did it really have enough votes? - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, December 6, 2020
HomePoliticsAssembly extends mayor’s emergency powers, but did it really have enough votes?

Assembly extends mayor’s emergency powers, but did it really have enough votes?

CHARTER SAYS THEY NEED 8 VOTES; THEY HAD 7

For the sixth time this year, the Anchorage Assembly has extended the current emergency declaration, this time until Jan. 15, 2021. The vote came after two hours of testimony from the public, which went heavily against the plan to extend.

The vote was 7-3, with Assembly members Jamie Allard, Crystal Kennedy and John Weddleton voting against it.

According to the Municipal Charter, which is the city’s governing document, the Assembly needs 8 votes to approve an emergency powers declaration. With Austin Quinn-Davidson now serving as acting mayor and unable to vote, the majority came up short — at least according to the charter.

Article II of the Charter subsection (12) says  citizens are immune from emergency orders unless affirmed by all votes of the members attending or three fourths of total membership. 

Under normal circumstances that would be nine of the 11 members. Previous emergency declarations this year in Anchorage have passed with nine votes. Now, the needed number is 8.

Also according to the charter, there should be a special election to seat an acting mayor, but the same leftwing controlling majority on the Assembly also dismissed the Charter and voted against that on Nov. 4, leaving the voting members of the Assembly at 10 for the next eight months.

Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson, during her report to the Assembly, said the health care systems in Anchorage are quickly reaching capacity and that “help is not on the way.” She promised she would only use her emergency powers to the extent needed to manage the emergency, such as shutting down businesses, enforcing mask mandates, and reallocating resources to meet the shifting needs.

Quinn-Davidson said that the number of intensive care unit beds in Anchorage had dropped to just 11. Hospital staffing is now a concern.

During the middle of the special meeting to consider extending the emergency powers, Assembly Chair Felix Rivera called for a short break, and then approached a member of the audience and told him to put on his mask. Two people were ultimately escorted out after not wearing masks.

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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

  • My question is who can put the hammer on an unlawful Assembly? They clearly have zero intention of following the city charter regarding voting or elections. Is it the AG? Citizens filing lawsuits? Help! This is such overreach they will never stop!

    • I agree who can help right this wrong? Maybe we have to take this on ourselves.

    • Our state AG is as absent as our Governor.

    • It’s Dunleavy. He has the authority to “restrain violation of any constitutional or legislative power, duty, or right by any officer, department, or agency of the State or any of its political subdivisions. ”

      The MOA is a political subdivision of the state and the State Constituition prohibits the MOA from exceding the power vested in it by its charter.

      “Article X – Local Government, § 11. Home Rule Powers

      A home rule borough or city may exercise all legislative powers not prohibited by law or by charter.”

      But Dunleavy won’t act. His administration has been powerless against the Anchorage political machine. I think we have another Mayor Dan situation, in Juneau this time. The bureaucrats and corrupt political players are running Dunleavy just like Falsey ran Mayor Dan.

  • So Its an illegal emergency order and the assembly can just do what they want? It takes lawyers and law suits to get them to obey the charter? Its getting really crazy and lawless. Hospital beds are a concern, but we never used the beds set up at UAA before we even knew the details of what this virus can do. What is the average stay these days? Both Potus and Congressman Young were in and out in 3 days (and they are old). Lets hear what the 3 Hospital Administrators have to say.

  • I predict shut down starting Monday. I’m hoping I’m wrong.

  • Once again the Assembly illegally moved to reinstate an Illegal order by the Municipality Mayor and against the Municipality Charter. Time for the citizens and businesses of Anchorage to ingnore what is an illegal and unconstitutional mandate with no basis under the Law. I call on the Governor and the State AG to step in and stop the fiat in Anchorage

  • The rich irony of Felix telling one of his constituents what to wear is too much. Did Felix cross that magic 6 foot Covid barrier to inform the member of his wardrobe faux pas? Did he have his own magic mask on to protect himself while proffering such health wisdom? Was it his deep concern for his constituent’s health, or for the affront to his authority, really?

  • Ignore those dimwits. Don’t wear a mask. Mandate yourselves the way real adults do,,the way it was in 2019. Assemble for 24/7 peaceful protests, mask free. Show these idiots who pays their exorbitant and wasteful salaries. Kick their corrupt asses to the curb or the rest of the State will soon be overrun with these ignorant commies and we will be as bad as the Lower 48.

  • Who is going to file the lawsuit?

    • I’m thinking about it.

  • “…according to the charter, there should be a special election to seat an acting mayor, but the same leftwing controlling majority on the Assembly also dismissed the Charter and voted against that on Nov. 4…”

    Unfortunately, no. Ms. Downing, I am a huge fan of yours and of MRAK. Furthermore, I dislike the current Assembly and the Interim Mayor just as much as anyone else in Anchorage, and have proved that many times by showing up at the protests outside Loussac Library, by sending written testimony to the Assembly, by signing petitions and by speaking up in town halls hosted by my Assembly representatives. Having said that, I have not found anything in the Municipal Charter to support tbe statement that the Assembly is acting improperly by declining to hold a special election., even though I sincerely wish that were not the case.

    If you read the Charter, you will see that the text says, “A vacancy in the office of mayor shall be filled at a regular or special election held not less than 90 days from the time the vacancy occurs.”

    The Assembly has voted to wait until the next regular election to fill the office of Mayor. As this would be a regular election, then it meets the requirement of “…a regular or special election…” As there are more than 90 days from the time Berkowitz stepped down until the regular election on April 6th, this meets the requirements of “…not LESS than 90 days from the time the vacancy occurs.”

    I wish there was language in the charter to require a special election, but wishing doesn’t make it so. No matter how much I dislike Quinn-Davidson or 9/11ths of the Assembly, the fact is, in this matter at least, the Assembly is acting within the requirements of the law.

    • Can I ask you a question? What about the emergency powers granted with only 8 votes? Did that meet the standard of “three-fourths of the members” or is there a legal issue the the fact that they have not appointed a new person to take AQD’s empty seat?

  • “…according to the charter, there should be a special election to seat an acting mayor, but the same leftwing controlling majority on the Assembly also dismissed the Charter and voted against that on Nov. 4…”

    Unfortunately, no. Ms. Downing, I am a fan of yours and of MRAK. Furthermore, I dislike the current Assembly and the Interim Mayor just as much as anyone else in Anchorage, and have proved that many times by showing up at the protests outside Loussac Library, by sending written testimony to the Assembly, by signing petitions and by speaking up in town halls hosted by my Assembly representatives. Having said that, I have not found anything in the Municipal Charter to support tbe statement that the Assembly is acting improperly by declining to hold a special election., even though I sincerely wish that were not the case.

    If you read the Charter, you will see that the text says, “A vacancy in the office of mayor shall be filled at a regular or special election held not less than 90 days from the time the vacancy occurs.”

    The Assembly has voted to wait until the next regular election to fill the office of Mayor. As this would be a regular election, then it meets the requirement of “…a regular or special election…” As there are more than 90 days from the time Berkowitz stepped down until the regular election on April 6th, this meets the requirements of “…not LESS than 90 days from the time the vacancy occurs.”

    I wish there was language in the charter to require a special election, but wishing doesn’t make it so. No matter how much I dislike Quinn-Davidson or 9/11ths of the Assembly, the fact is, in this matter at least, the Assembly is acting within the requirements of the law.

    • The assembly is in violation of the charter by not scheduling an election.

      Here is the language “A vacancy in the office of mayor shall be filled at a regular or special election held not less than 90 days from the time the vacancy occurs.”

      The word to focus on is “election”. Forget about the modifying words “regular or special”. Read the passage again “A vacancy in the office of mayor shall be filled at a …. election held not less than 90 days from the time the vacancy occurs.” We can determine that an “election” needs to be held within 90 days of the vacancy. The type of election can be special or regular but an election must occurs within 90 days of the vacancy.

    • “Shall” in legal terms me you must there is no ambiguity in it.

      • And?

        I repeat what I said above: the charter says “…shall be filled in a regular OR special election held NOT LESS THAN 90 days after…”

        An April 6th regular election would fill this requirement, unfortunately. April 6th is indeed “NOT LESS THAN 90 days” after October 23rd, it is a “regular OR special election” and it will lead to filling the office of mayor, thus fulfilling the “shall.” What part of this violates the charter?

        I don’t like the Assembly’s decision to wait until April to permanently fill the office of Mayor, but as far as this layman can tell, they are complying with the legal requirement per the charter.

        • I read those same words and ask myself “what’s the point of the clause?”. Theoretically we could have the Acting Mayor hold the executive pen for nigh on three years. I can think of no reason for this structure. Robert, can you offer a reason for what I consider a truly bizarre situation? It should perhaps state: …an election, Special or Regular, shall be held not more than X days…..

          • It seems to me that the intent of “not less than 90 days” is to give potential candidates time to put together a bid for the office, but that’s just a guess on my part. As for why there’s no upper limit on how long the Assembly can wait until the next election…your guess is as good as mine. When you read part b, which covers filling a vacant seat on the Assembly, there is an upper bound provided, so it seems hard to imagine that it was simply an oversight. However, I can’t think of any good reason not provide an upper bound on how long an Interim Mayor may serve before the position must be filled with a special election. It is a truly bizarre passage in the charter.

  • Just a question: Who does the contact tracing? I don’t live down there so I don’t know which public health official is in charge. I am assuming that they do that. I mean to me it only makes sense. It would help find problem areas so they can be addressed. Its sort of silly to lock/hunker down if you don’t have it in place. Your numbers will just go up again.

    Or is the assembly the officials in charge? Always follow the advice of the trained professionals. Question anything that is being lead by lay people.

  • Seems fairly clear that the effort to extend the emergency orders has failed to be adopted. The edicts have now expired. If I was a Muni employee seeking to enforce one of the edicts, I would be deeply concerned that I would be acting without authority. A Muni employee that seeks to deprive someone of a constitutional right “under color of law” may be violating 42 USC § 1983 and subject to being sued in Federal court. The MOA moves forward with all of this at great peril.

  • What is the point of having laws/rules when our ruling class ignores them?

  • There is no legal requirement to comply with illegal orders. Ignore the order.

    • They can’t mandate you to do a thing on or in your own private property unless it violates the law. Walmart and Costco can however because their private property.

  • This portion of Article X of the Charter appears also to be relevant.

    Section 10.03. – Emergency ordinances.

    In case of an emergency, an ordinance may be introduced and adopted at the same meeting. An emergency ordinance shall contain a finding that an emergency exists and a statement of the facts constituting the emergency. An emergency ordinance is adopted upon the affirmative vote of all members present, or of three-fourths of the total membership, whichever is less. The mayor may veto an emergency ordinance within 36 hours after adoption of the ordinance. An emergency ordinance is effective for 60 days unless sooner repealed by resolution. A reasonable attempt shall be made to notify the mayor and all assembly members immediately upon introduction of an emergency ordinance.

  • Time for Sic semper tyrannis.

  • I’m not finding that in the code. I found the emergency ordinance section. If that is what you are referring to that is incorrect. It is speaking about introducing and voting on an order at the same meeting. Maybe I am missing where you are referring to in the charter. I hope I am as I want this stupid declaration to end. Suzanne, can you pinpoint the exact spot in the charter it says that.

    • Upon reflection, this may be correct. One problem is that it is difficult to discover what the Assembly does or what the opinions of counsel reveal.

  • I have no dog in this fight, yet I sit here in Kenai and watch what unfolds in “North Seattle” and wonder: why hasn’t the ACLU sued the Muni to prevent the EO from being implemented?

  • Charter??
    .
    We don’t need no stinking charter!!

  • Says you need eight (8), you need 8 not 7, not 6, but 8. Only way to force their hand, is to file a lawsuit in court which is a shame. Emergency orders have not been extended. Wishing it were true, does not make it so no matter what certain assembly members think, as one person already stated in this forum.

  • The argument here is the unconstitutional actions of the Governor for allowing these mandates to continue beyond 28 days as described in the U.S. and State Constitutions in the emergency powers act. The US Supreme Court has already set case law and case precedence against these actions. The argument was then used with these very rulings set by the US Supreme Court and assembled by a private investigator given to Kathern Henry who used these case laws and case precedence to argue against Governor Whitmore in Michigan The Michigan State Supreme Court ruled 7-0 in favor of Kathern Henry’s claim that Whitmore’s mandates “all” of them are unconstitutional! So when I say as I have said to several business in Anchorage the battle has already been won it is fact, now its a matter of will people unite and file in the State Supreme court here? P.S. access to real constitutional lawyers is available for consulting.

  • P.S. the above statement also lets you know that Ethan Berkowitz is still liable for his actions and so is any acting mayor or sitting mayor who has pressed these mandates on the people!!!

  • A permanent state of emergency. Where have we heard that one before?

  • Hospitals are multi billion dollar corporations that are in the business of keeping every possible bed full with the greatest possible income per bed. That is a fact. The assembly is an oligarchy that is twisting the Charter into fire starter and setting it afire. The assembly and the fake mayor are pushing an agenda that will result in bankrupting our city and further indenturing the tax payers. Weddleton is no better than any of the rest of them and his district needs to get someone that can represent their interests to run against him in 2022.

  • Suzanne: I am the second person who you say was “escorted” out. I was not escorted out. I left of my own accord. They swarmed me on the way out to give the appearance that I had been escorted. When the told me to leave I told them to pound sand. I stayed as long as I wanted to.

  • Has the city attorney weighed in on this? (Not that she has been much help thus far). No one else is reporting it. I don’t understand why we aren’t making a bigger deal of this when they’re about to shut down the city again.

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