Assembly member Chris Constant on Wednesday took a moment of privilege to apologize to Rabbi Yosef Greenberg for offensive comments made 24 hours earlier.
In an apology, during which Constant removed his protective face mask so his expression could be seen, the Assembly member from downtown Anchorage told Greenberg that the words Constant had spoken were ill-advised and did not convey what he meant.
Constant had on Tuesday asked the rabbi to comment on a proposed idea to round up the homeless and put them behind a fence, something Constant had read aloud from an email received by the Assembly members; the idea was repugnant to him and he wanted the rabbi to react. But the way Constant portrayed the letter, it made it sound like the rabbi had written it, and the way he interacted with the rabbi came across as hostile.
What Constant didn’t apologize for was using the rabbi as a prop so that he could score a point against those opposed to the mayor’s plan to spread homelessness, vagrancy, and drug addicts throughout the neighborhoods of the city, so that Constant’s downtown district would not bear the brunt of the blight, as it currently does.
“To everyone who is assembled here and to the world who is listening, I do express my humble apology,” Constant said, while Greenberg stood at the podium before him.
Rabbi Greenberg accepted the apology, reading from a prepared written statement; the event was choreographed at the beginning of the meeting, which then went late into the night with other testimony.
Hundreds of people attended the Tuesday and Wednesday meetings in person, on the phone, and on the internet and all spoke passionately against the mayor’s plan to divert funds granted by the federal government for COVID-19 relief to set up homeless hotels and drug rehab centers.