Authoritarianism: Anchorage Assembly takes over youth commission to rein in diverse viewpoints

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The Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday night voted to take over the authority for the Youth Advisory Commission from the mayor’s office, in spite of the objections of the mayor, the public, and the youth commission members.

Members of the Youth Advisory Commission spoke against it led a silent protest, as the public at the Tuesday meeting joined in by taping their mouths in solidarity against the ordinance advanced by Assembly Chairwoman Suzanne LaFrance. After a few minutes, people began humming the Star Spangled Banner through their taped mouths.

Those voting against the takeover were Assembly members Kevin Cross, Randy Sulte, and Jamie Allard.

In the past, the YAC was made up of more liberal youth members during the Berkowitz Administration. Then, during Covid-19 pandemic policies, the youth did not meet and the commission essentially fell apart. It came back together under Mayor Dave Bronson with a diverse but politically more balanced group of young people ages 14-22; the youth voted that Sarah Price of Chugiak would be the group’s representative to the Anchorage Assembly in the non-voting position created by the Assembly.

Price, confirmed to her Assembly role in May, has turned out to be a thorn in the side for the Assembly’s Leftist majority, leading to the ordinance to put the kids under the authority of the Assembly. The Youth Advisory Commission said it was an ambush.

Assemblyman Kameron Perez-Verdia said he was saddened that the “children” of the youth commission were being “used” politically as pawns by the Bronson Administration. Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance allowed the impugning of the mayor’s motives, something she is supposed to rule out of order.

Mayor Bronson said the YAC members under the authority of the Assembly would be subject to indoctrination under the leadership on the Assembly.

Testimony received went heavily against the Assembly. Members of the Youth Advisory Commission said they were never told about the ordinance. Neither was their adviser in the Mayor’s Office, Brice Wilbanks. Nor was the mayor told about the ordinance.

Rebekah Dunfee, who is currently the YAC chairwoman, told the Assembly that she could feel the hatred from the Assembly toward the group. Allard, clearly in the corner of the YAC, said that on behalf of the Assembly, she apologized for how the Assembly had made the YAC members feel and said no person should be treated like that by the Assembly.

Assemblyman Randy Sulte, who opposed the ordinance, called it a “Trojan horse to take away ability of youth to pick their member to assembly.”

Assemblyman Kevin Cross said he has been highly impressed with Sarah Price, the youth representative on the Assembly who is currently in basic training for the military. “I was wildly impressed the first time I heard her speak. Do we need to expand the [YAC]? We don’t expand youthful participation by increasing Assembly control.”

Assemblywoman Allard read a letter from Anchorage School Superintendent Deena Bishop:

“A young leader, Rebekah Dunfee, contacted me regarding your upcoming vote to create an Ordinance to select your youth representative to the Assembly. She shared that you are modeling your youth voice after the ASD student member. Her concern was around your direct selection rather than your allowance of the youth commission to choose who represents them. Please know ASD does not interfere with student elections of its representative to the School Board.

“While the ASD Board does appoint a student member, this member is selected from his/her peers in our student government organization, the Student Advisory Board. I have included our policy language regarding this.

“I have met your outgoing student member; and she has spoken at our joint meeting recently. She is a strong leader. She has advocated at ASD Board meetings for many years. Sarah Price is smart and engaging. She also has expressed many differences of opinion from me. I expect this conflict as while we are both leaders, we sit in different places. Hence, our stand on issues is different and complex. I value her leadership, while not agreeing on all her assertions. She is, by far, one of the most researched and articulate 18 year olds I have known!

“The fear from our city’s youth is that you are taking away their voice (or controlling who speaks) because you do not agree. I would caution this move. We often ask why our kids don’t speak up—perhaps it is because we adults are not listening when they do.  From a person who received criticism from Sarah and other youth during the trying times of the pandemic, it was their voice that mattered most. It counted, always.

“ASD does not limit comment nor supersede our student voice. It is raw and pointedly their truth. I encourage you to allow the Anchorage Youth Advisory Commission to select their representation from their organization without adult interference. Let’s serve them,” Bishop wrote.

Allard pointed out that the Youth Advisory Commission is far more diverse than the Assembly. Forty percent of the members of the YAC are minorities.

In spite of all the testimony received, the question was called and the vote was in favor of the takeover. What remains to be seen is whether the YAC members simply resign, reform their group as their own alternative commission, or try to work with the heavy authoritarian hand coming down on them from the Anchorage Assembly.

27 COMMENTS

  1. Anchorage is trying to take first or second place for the armpit of the Northwest position ,away from Seattle and Portland. I’m pretty Anchorage is already in third place for the armpit of the Northwest competition. 🤠

  2. I would like to see the YAC continue to work as a group, but every time they get pressure from LaFrance and the rest of her merry marxists, they should hold a press conference, send letters to the editor, or let the public know all about it.
    .
    This assembly had demonstrated they are not interested in hearing anything except support of their plans. This move is just another way to silence dissent. Which is all the more reason for the youth on the commission to continue in their positions, and expose all the pressure.

  3. Citizens Arrests… next Tuesday.
    Charge: Malfeasance of a public office.
    Arrest security officers.
    Charge: Aiding and abetting the crime of malfeasance.

  4. Two of the young women pictured, Denali Tschibaka (on the left) and Rebecca Dunfee (on the right), officers in the Youth Advisory Commission (YAC), showed up at the assembly chambers foyer well before the doors were open. It appears their intention was sit on the foyer’s floor in order so they could “TAKE OVER” or assign the line-up of those allowed to testify during yesterday’s very brief initial audience participation period.

    I entered the foyer at 4:15 p.m. and realized immediately that these two, and their cabal, had assigned the order of public testimony by that time. It was clear immediately that I would not be allowed to provide my prepared remarks on a non-agenda item at the time I planned to do so. If I had intended to speak in favor of the YAC, I believe they would have allowed me the opportunity. These two were willing to bend their rules, after all, by holding a place open for one person who had not yet arrived.

    When I objected to the order of testimony and my assignment, these two told me they needed to give YAC testimony early in the meeting because they could not wait for their topic to come up as a regular agenda item; they predicted the assembly would discuss the YAC proposal at 9:30 p.m.. It appeared that they had other things to do and waiting to give testimony at a later hour, when the topic was under discussion and the vote was scheduled, would be terribly inconvenient. So, as you might imagine, I was shocked to see both of them standing at the podium a SECOND time to give additional testimony on the same topic at around 10:30 p.m..

    Yesterday, these two young women showed a complete disregard and disrespect for process, topics, non-agenda testimony, rules, decorum, people who differ from them, and Anchorage residents they evaluate as being unaligned with their stated goals and objectives. It’s clear that these two should not be given the responsibility to represent youth on the municipal assembly or to select the representative.

    There are certainly better candidates than those who are pictured currently online as YAC members. There are many young people in the municipality who would honorably and respectfully fulfill the requirements and responsibilities assigned to the assembly’s youth representative position. The assembly should develop plans immediately to identify and select one of them for this very important position.

    • So the kids make up a “cabal?” They object to the ridiculous minutia of rules put forth by the assembly to effectively block people who disagree with them from being heard? Oh, the humanity. If there are better candidates, please name them. I’m not sure your opinion of them being somehow better counts anyway, but put up or, you know.

    • In your opinion, they “… showed a complete disregard and disrespect for process, topics, non-agenda testimony, rules, decorum, people who differ from them, and Anchorage residents they evaluate as being unaligned with their stated goals and objectives.”

      Hmm. Isn’t that what the majority party in the Anchorage Assembly does on a regular basis?

    • hey Barbara

      You’re an asd teacher or someone who knows one by being able to dox kids. With your very detailed description it won’t be difficult finding out who you are and passing your information to these girls’ parents and relatives.

    • Barbara, we all saw you come in late and threw a tantrum because the youth arrived for public testimony before you did so you didn’t get the spot in line you wanted. You’re the one showing a complete disregard and disrespect for process and for other people. Nothing was done differently at this meeting than any other meeting. Instead of tearing kids down, how about showing up earlier and stop blaming kids for your choices? You know who blames kids? Bullies.

    • If such young people existed that you speak of, they would be on the YAC without someone going out and recruiting them. Intentional involvement is what these young people are doing, rather than the recruitment techniques the wackos on the assembly are using to push their socialist “hooray for me, screw the taxpayer agenda” currently under way. I think you have a dog in the fight with your obvious one sided support of the assembly and the denigration you seek to heap on these two articulate young women.

    • Since I was not there, I can only make observations from your comments above.
      It appears from your statement that the YAC representatives arrived EARLIER than you did. It is customary to allow those who arrived first at any venue the opportunity to be first to conduct business.
      The real issue here is the very limited amount of time the assembly allocates for non-agenda testimony.
      It is curious to me, how these young ladies could have been aware of your prepared statement. Surely they are not mind readers. So your claim that you would have been able to testify, if you would have supported their cause, seems frankly presumptuous.
      The conclusion I draw from your description of the event, is that you arrived late and attempted to bully your way in line and these young ladies stood up for themselves.
      In the end it says more about you than them. We need youth representatives like these young ladies, who are no push-overs selected to fearlessly speak for the youth and not just be a token hand-picked by an assembly that is allergic to any kind of criticism.

  5. Ah, Bolsheviks at play.

    This is what you voted for, re-elected, and re-elected again Anchorage.
    You did this to yourselves

    • Too Many folks in Skanchorage believe the government knows best how to rule their lives. The remainder of us have to live with the consequences.

  6. So! Price she does have more youth like her. Now i hope these 3 plus more? Head straight over to the city council,
    women political clubs, and run for office. All these current elect members started out on their citycouncils. Just don’t get narcississtic when you think morehighly about yourself than you are.

  7. I am sure we can send them off to re-education camp so they will be more submissive to the assembly agenda. It’s worked in all of the other communist countries. The assembly meetings have become a battle of wits, but it would appear that the assembly only needs to learn to listen to opposing view points with an open mind, and quit disrespecting the people that come to testify. Look up from your gizmo and at least act interested. No devices are allowed in DC , it seems to be a good rule. Assembly members reap what they sow. I feel no sympathy for them, and instead enjoy the sick entertainment that they have created. Grow up!

  8. the nasty nine and berk squad will make lots and lots of money off of the coming climate migrants and the homeless. Read Sol de Medianoche,,,, english version

  9. Someone should have said ‘welcome to your first lesson in left-wing authoritarianism’.

    This will continue. The fishing is too good to waste time voting.

  10. SEE YOU ALL ON JULY 12th. come and be a witness to more illegal arrests from the CRAZY EIGHT and Berk squad. Also they will ( after most people have left, oh like 8ish ) do their best to OUST the mayor and any other conservative that gets in their way. How many million have they made off of the homeless so far?? Our lovely mayor just gets in their way. See you at the library from 5 til whenever they get their way. Wahhhhh

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