CONTRADICTS ATTORNEY GENERAL IN MEMO TODAY
Mayor Ethan Berkowitz says the mask mandate for the Municipality of Anchorage does, indeed, extend to State-owned offices and facilities, in direct opposition to a memo released last week by the State Attorney General.
The mayor’s attorney Kate Vogel wrote that “Anchorage’s masking requirement applies to indoor public and communal areas, to include State-owned offices and facilities.” That’s not what the AG said last week.
“The Attorney General’s memo sows confusion and unnecessarily risks the health and safety of Anchorage residents who do business with or work for state agencies,” she wrote.
She said that under Alaska law, a home rule municipality possesses all legislative authority not withheld by the legislature, and that the legislature has not acted to restrict Anchorage’s authority with respect to issuing mask mandates, nor has it exempted state-owned buildings.
“Undermining a local public health order with respect to senate buildings is ‘not necessary to carry out the purposes’ of disaster preparedness — it is bad for the health of our community. The Attorney General’s memo also puts State of Alaska employees in legal jeopardy by giving them inaccurate legal advice,” she wrote, on Mayor Berkowitz’ letterhead.
Sources close to Must Read Alaska have said that two labor unions have indicated they’ll strike or sue if forced to wear masks.
Within minutes of the mayor’s notice, the House Democrats issued a press release in support of the Mayor’s position, calling Clarkson’s memo politically charged.
“The attorney general issued a memo claiming that state offices – including the Atwood Building and other offices in Anchorage – are exempt from a Municipality of Anchorage requirement that residents wear masks in public places to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“By discouraging the use of face coverings in state buildings, the attorney general is placing state employees at greater risk of catching COVID-19 on the job,” said Rep. Zack Fields (D-Anchorage). “This is the latest reckless decision by the Dunleavy Administration that puts front-line workers at risk.”
“If we want to beat COVID, it makes sense to use face coverings when indoors,” added Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka). “Just yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence noted that face coverings slow the spread of the virus, and our chief medical officer, Anne Zink, has been putting forward this message since the beginning of the pandemic. I encourage the attorney general to adopt the advice of our vice president, our chief medical officer, and nearly every other medical authority who has spoken on this subject rather than undermining efforts to use face coverings to help stop COVID-19.”