Anchorage Assembly Chairman Felix Rivera allowed a member of the public to call Assembly Member Jamie Allard a Nazi sympathizer on the record several times during Tuesday evening’s regular meeting, causing many in the audience to shout down the testimony as an out-of-order personal attack.
The incident created such an uproar in the Assembly chambers that eventually the public testimony time was exhausted and Rivera called for a 20-minute break.
Rivera, by then, had also ordered the removal of at least one person from the audience, after several people yelled that the Assembly had broken its own rules prohibiting personal attacks and that Rivera had not started the three-minute timer on the man who was accusing Allard of Nazi associations.
“Follow your own rules,” the bellowing could be heard off camera. But Rivera had walked away, and wasn’t there to turn on the timer, and the man continued on, while the shouting in the room only got louder.
Finally, Assemblyman John Weddleton said he was timing the testimony on his watch.
Christopher Constant then called for a point of order that the man was saying an Assembly member’s name, something that is out of order and that he has objected to in the past. But after that point of order was noted, the man was allowed to continue using Allard’s name in his testimony about her being a Nazi sympathizer.
At one point, Allard asked the audience to settle down, and told them if she could sit there and listen to such testimony, then they could too, and she appreciated that they have her back, but the public business must proceed in an orderly fashion. It appeared that most in the audience were supportive of Allard and were not friendly to the liberal majority.
Some attending the meeting said it had every sign that Rivera had cherry picked testimony from the phone calls coming in. Most of the public testimony phone calls were laudatory of the Assembly or Rivera.
About 45 members of the public were allowed in the Chamber itself, far under the 50 percent capacity that is stated via the mayor’s emergency orders. In fact, security had locked the outside doors to the Loussac Library building, and people were furiously yelling to be allowed in.
The rationale given was that there needed to be more social distancing, but social distancing seemed to be an elastic concept on Tuesday, since there were few people in the atrium waiting to be allowed their turn in the chamber or the spillover room next door, and since Rivera had severely limited the number of people in the room.
Eventually, civic firebrand Bernadette Wilson made her way to the podium. As she approached, Rivera told her she would not be allowed to swap places with a man who was holding her spot for her, and that she would have to come back later or tomorrow.
Wilson is known for her fiery testimony and it appeared to her supporters that Rivera was heading off another public relations disaster. He is heading for recall on the April 6 ballot, after thousands of citizens signed a recall petition against him.
Curiously, the Assembly either could not or would not allow its usual live-streaming on YouTube during this section of the meeting. The technical glitch was fixed by the time the Assembly returned from its 20-minute break.
The public who was not in the room had to watch proceedings from the Municipal Clerk’s Facebook page, which had limited audio and visual capacity.
Assemblywoman Meg Zalatel said that she plans to draft a reprimand against Assemblywoman Allard on Feb. 9. The offense is that Allard had posted some verbiage on Facebook that some say seemed to excuse two vanity license plates that were pictured by members of the Recall Dunleavy Committee, license plates that contained German words sometimes used to refer to Nazis. Her comments caused an uproar among the “cancel culture” crowd, which has been hounding her ever since, egged on by the Recall Dunleavy group.