On the agenda for Tuesday’s Anchorage Assembly is an ordinance rewrite that gives the Assembly chair the right to prohibit items she deems to be a danger or distraction from the room where the Assembly meets.
Although not stated explicitly, this would mean that the chair could take away the American flags, or signs that sometimes people bring into the chambers to wave in protest, since clapping is not allowed. It could also mean she could prohibit firearms from being brought into the Assembly chambers. Currently, they are allowed on city property.
The chair could also prohibit the use of Guy Fawkes masks that some members of the audience are wearing to comply with the Assembly’s mask rule for its meetings. At the meeting illustrated above, the public brought cardboard tombstones for businesses that had been driven out of business by the former mayors’ lockdown orders in 2020 and 2021. These items could be ordered removed, under the proposed ordinance.
At a recent meeting of the Assembly, the leftist media and some Assembly members expressed horror when a man who was arrested for making a disturbance in an Assembly meeting was discovered to also be packing a sidearm. The ordinance gives broad authority to the chair to prohibit firearms or even belt knives worn by many working class men and women.
The agenda item is Ordinance No. AO 2021-117, “an ordinance of the Anchorage Assembly amending Anchorage Municipal Code Chapter 2.30 Rules of Procedure for Assembly to codify additional Rules of Procedure for the Assembly and Presiding Officer to promote the efficient, safe and orderly conduct of Assembly business, Assembly Chair LaFrance, Assembly Vice-Chair Constant and Assembly Member Perez-Verdia . 14.B.1. Assembly Memorandum No. AM 771-2021.”
The ordinance gives the chair the right to change the seating chart, and this action is seen as a direct hit at Mayor Dave Bronson.
In past meetings, Chairwoman Suzanne LaFrance has attempted to remove Bronson from the upper dais, where he has a bulletproof guard around him, to a lower level.
Symbolically as much as physically, this would place him beneath her and without the kind of protection she enjoys. It would also allow the Assembly to observe over his shoulder what he is reading or the conversations he is having with his staff during the meeting.
The ordinance also allows the chair to shut down Assembly members who are making what she sees as “dilatory” motions, points or order, or requests for information. This section of the ordinance is clearly aimed at Assemblywoman Jamie Allard, an outspoken conservative who typically has many audience members in her corner during meetings. Allard has used motions, points or order, questions, and other techniques to bring out important points, much to the irritation of the nine liberal members of the Assembly.
The revised ordinance language says:
The chair shall have the authority to make rulings, subject to being overruled by vote of the assembly, to promote the efficient, safe and orderly conduct of Assembly business. That authority shall include:
Establishment of a seating chart, arrangement of chambers. The chair shall have the authority to establish a seating chart for individuals participating in an Assembly meeting, and to prescribe how the physical space of a premise used for an assembly meeting may be used.
Prohibited items. The chair shall have the authority to prohibit members of the public from bringing dangerous or distracting items to Assembly premises, or to require an item to be removed from Assembly premises if it is being used to create an actual disturbance.
Removal for actual disturbance. The chair shall have the right to order a person to be removed from a meeting for creating an actual disturbance to the meeting.
Direction to security. The chair shall have the right to direct security guards at Assembly chambers, in furtherance of Assembly meeting purposes.
Signage. The chair shall authorize signage posted at Assembly meetings, related to the Assembly meeting.
Safety rules. The chair may adopt rules to promote the safety of members and attendees of assembly meetings.
Dilatory motions, points of order, and requests for information. The chair shall rule out of order motions, points of order, and requests for information that are dilatory.
Non-germane requests for information. The chair shall rule that a request for information is out of order if it is not germane to the pending motion or public hearing.
Recess. The chair may temporarily recess a meeting for convenience, to restore order, or to resolve a technical issue. Committee assignments. The chair shall appoint assembly members to subcommittees of the assembly, and appoint a member to chair, or members to co-chair, each subcommittee. Office assignments. The chair shall assign members office.
The meeting starts at 5 pm on the ground floor of the Loussac Library. It can be watched, with difficulty, at the Assembly’s YouTube channel.
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Direction to municipal clerk. The chair shall provide direction to the municipal clerk.