Craig Campbell: Why can't we all get along? - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, October 17, 2021
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Craig Campbell: Why can’t we all get along?

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By CRAIG E. CAMPBELL

Over the past year I had the pleasure of writing opinion pieces for Must Read Alaska, expressing a strong conservative viewpoint on government.  Since joining the Bronson Administration, I have refrained from engaging in opinion writing, to avoid complicating any relationship between Mayor Bronson and the Anchorage Assembly.  

Today I am making an exception, to provide some historical perspective on a brewing dispute between the Assembly and Administration over the separation of powers.

During the Sept. 14 Assembly meeting there was disagreement concerning the Assembly and the Administration seating configuration. 

The Assembly, seeking to provide more spacing between Assembly members, wanted to use the five seats in the Assembly chambers historically assigned to the Administration. 

The Administration objected and advised the Assembly that the Administration would retain use of the five traditional seats. The Administration suggested the Assembly could use the five seats located below and in front of the Administrations seats if they wanted to provide greater separation between Assembly members.  The debate got a wee bit heated; I will admit. 

After the debate concluded, both the Assembly and Administration remained in their traditionally designated seats.  However, just prior to adjournment that evening, Vice Chair Chris Constant laid on the table an unnumbered ordinance to amend the municipal code regarding management authority over meeting premises and other municipal property used by the Assembly, Boards, or Commissions and set it for public hearing at the Sept. 28 Assembly meeting.  

His proposal is the most aggressive affront to the traditional separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches that has ever been proposed by either body since the 1975 unification of the Anchorage Borough and the City of Anchorage.  

What the Assembly proposes is to transfer management authority for operations of any space within the municipality used by the Assembly, or any board or commission, over to the Assembly.  Let me quote: “Notwithstanding any other section of this code, the (Assembly) presiding officer shall have management authority over the premises.” 

Management authority is defined as “control over the physical and logistical arrangements of the premises for a meeting, including furnishings, equipment, technology, security, seating assignments, accessibility accommodations, signage, decor, and other personal property and operational matters at the premises.”  

Premises is defined as “the Assembly Chambers or other room in which the meeting is held, and adjacent areas and rooms reasonable and necessary for the logistical purposes, staff support, security, executive session, recess, public and press access, and other ancillary needs related to the meeting.” 

In the preamble to the code change, the sponsor states “it has been a long standing practice and custom in the Municipality of Anchorage that the Assembly Chair has the authority to direct the setting of the Assembly Chambers at the Z.J. Loussac Library for regular and special Assembly meetings.”  The author concludes by stating that the ordinance change is intended to “clarify this long history, custom, and practice.”  

Not to create friction between the executive and legislative bodies, but rather to provide an insider’s perspective on the stark differences between how the executive and legislative branches view their roles in public service, I would suggest the author has not accurately portrayed the historical relationship between the bodies. Let me explain.

I had the pleasure of serving on the Anchorage Assembly for nearly 10 years, which included the second term of Mayor Tony Knowles, both terms of Mayor Tom Fink, and the first term of Mayor Rick Mystrom.  I recall many heated debates and strong-willed disagreements; however, in all those times both sides respected the separation of powers and protocols for public discourse during Assembly meetings.   

Historically, the Assembly always had control over the seating arrangement of the 11 Assembly members across the main dais in the front of the chambers. It was always understood that the Assembly chair controlled the agenda, the schedule, and the public process during any regular or special meeting. This was also honored for board and commission meetings. However, it has always been accepted protocol that the Administration retained control over the seating arrangement of the five seats at the far end of the dais.  

The primary reason for Administration control over this seating arrangement concerned the safety of the mayor and senior staff.  The wall on upper level of the dais, in front of both the Assembly and Administration seats, was reinforced with a Kevlar barrier in 2015 to protect Assembly members, the mayor, and senior staff from potential injury should there ever be a violent incident during an Assembly meeting.  

Additionally, the Administration’s seats are located close to an external exit, by which the mayor and staff could expeditiously vacate the building without having to be exposed to a hazardous situation.   

The effort of the Assembly chair on Sept. 14 to use the Administration seats for Assembly members and relegate the Administration to the unprotected, lower level seats would expose the mayor and senior staff to potential safety and security risks.  This was categorically unacceptable, as explained by the municipal manager at the meeting that evening.

To my recollection, there has never been an effort by any Assembly Chair to involuntarily relocate the Administration.  For Assembly member Constant to suggest the municipal code must be changed because the Administration exerted their historical practice of sitting on the upper level of the Assembly dais, behind a protected barrier, is a stretch.  

To be more specific, there was no challenge to Assembly authority by the Administration in maintaining the long-standing practice of sitting in their traditional seats, as there were other options for providing increased separation for Assembly members that evening. 

In closing, one can only speculate that the motive for this ordinance change is not actually about Assembly chamber seating.  

In July, Chair LaFrance and Vice Chair Constant introduced AO 2021-66, which was intended to create a position within the Assembly staff that would have unfettered access to the executive branch, breaching the separation of powers and undermining the traditional roles of local government.  

AO 2021-66 would have established unrestricted access to all activities of municipal government and its departments, all municipal personnel, buildings, rooms, meetings, files, records, policies, plans, and  records pertaining to any financial expenditures by municipal fund injecting the Assembly directly into the executive branch deliberative process and legal oversight of municipal operations.  

It certainly appears this new proposal is another attempt to blur the separation between the executive and legislative branches and gain more control of executive functions by the Assembly.  

I am pleased the Assembly recognized the extreme overreach presented in AO 2021-66 and amended out most of the tasks that would have created a separation of powers crisis.  

Likewise, I encourage the Assembly to step back from this newly introduced ordinance that would usurp executive responsibilities as outlined in both the Anchorage Charter and Code, spurred by a tiff over seating.  There is no reason to break the long-standing Assembly chambers seating arrangements practice, unless of course one were really only interested in creating a divisive environment. This unnumbered ordinance should be tabled.

Craig Campbell is policy director for Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson.

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  • Municipal Prosecutor Bree Mucca is attempting to trample the Constitution and due process rights. She wants the State of Alaska Court to order a citizen never to attend any public meeting in person, Nial Sherwood Williams. Restricting access and equal protection and destroying First Amendment rights.

    Hearing tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.

    We will see if the judicial branch will stand up for the constitutional rights of Alaskan citizens

    • do you think its because you are a threat to society, public safety, due process, and everyone around you?

  • Don’t make the mistake Dunleavy did thinking you can be adult with these people. They will eat you alive. Especially if Bronson hides like Dunleavy does.

    It’s time to bring the full scope of power, public opinion, political influence, social media- everything you got against them.

    Learn from the mistakes of Dunleavy. Don’t bring a proverbial knife to a gunfight. Bring bigger guns.

    It’s gonna take courage, testicles, and getting deep in the trenches to win Anchorage.

    • Tes Sit.

      That is why I am going to win the Office of the Governor seat in the lawful election on November 8, 2022.

      On that day the voters will elect Nial Sherwood Williams to the Office of Governor for the State of Alaska.

  • Here Here….one can only hope someone is listening and will begin to act like an adult..

  • The anchorage assembly, with few exceptions, has made it their mission to spend extreme amounts of money on 1400 alleged homeless people and promote an agenda that is discriminatory toward the property tax payers and working people in this town. This cabal of liberal terrorists is hell bent on enslaving the people paying the bills in this town by spending huge amounts of money hiring people that are unnecessary to run our city, on buying housing for people that have made decisions in their lives that they are paying for, and avoiding the truth that all the money they are spending is only enriching a few individuals and helping no one.

  • This Marxist Assembly is beyond the pale. Allow them power over physical space needs and all they have to do is expel Administration from its offices. That is, indeed a queer request and another sickening power grab by Contant.

  • Why can’t we all get along?
    .
    Maybe study the fall of the Roman Empire?
    .
    Picture them all in a Toga, Chicken leg in one hand, Pewter Chalice in the other.

  • Light penetrates through darkness, darkness cannot snuff out the Light. Mayor and His team will have to find plan B way that overrides or gets around the stumbling blocks these members set.

    Unlike GOP leadership Democrats have been very admirable in their leadership’s consistency not compromise, not agree to disagree, not to get along just to move along.

    Democratic Party has proven more consistent than the Republican Party for the Devil to use moving his agenda items through governance.

    • There wasnt anything wrong with part b. It was just a little long. Hahaha.
      That particular office has had officeholders doesnt use it’s full power and authority. Most of its office holders of that particular office probably think their work is done at inauguration. When they hadnt given much thought how will their interests move the city and leave an iconic legacy for generations. There is a (quiet) strength in this particular office the executive office does not have but it is no less effective moving the community by its creative and gracious efforts of its current office holder.

  • Where’s the Dunce Corner located in the Assembly Chambers? That’s where you put all of these derelect Commies. Put their dunce hats on too, and then number them. Constant is #1, Dunbar #2…………etc….

  • Enough is enough! The tyrants on the Assembly must resign! These tyrants, previous Mayor and Acting Mayor violated the Color of Law with their unconstitutional lockdowns and mandates. Their tyrannical rule of terror has come to an end. Their wake of destroyed lives and destroyed businesses bear witness to their crimes. May God have mercy on their souls because the Courts won’t. The day will come sooner rather than later. Truth has set us free. Resign now and save Anchorage taxpayers the time and expense of persecuting you for your illegal actions. I fear, anyone that lives in Anchorage that doesn’t agree has buried their head in their pillow and or is suffering from Cognitive Dissonance.

  • Lord help our country and state.

  • The answer to why we can’t get along is easy… the assembly majority (not including the Eagle River members) are acting like a bunch of 3 year-olds who didn’t get their own way and are now in the corner throwing a colossal size temper tantrum. They are still mad that Forrest Dunbar was soundly rejected as their mayoral “anointed” one, by the (un-educated and ignorant, as they see us) Anchorage voters, who had finally had enough of their antics. So they are now basically trying to assert their dominance over the voters of anchorage, displaying their continued contempt for us, and “thumbing their collective noses” at Mayor Bronson and anyone who supports him, by forcing their agenda through regardless of what the voters want… civility and democracy be damned!!! The only way to deal with this bunch of 3 year old’s is to act like a parent and let them know that their type of behavior will not be tolerated, and give them an ole’ fashioned spanking if necessary. Hopefully Mayor Bronson and his staff continue to represent the majority of Anchorage voters and treat the assembly member 3 year-olds as three years-olds until they display some maturity… or get voted out… whichever comes first.

  • They do not intend for the counting of the vote to be watched either. We watched the Bronson vote counting like a hawk. Cheating was going to be very difficult and obviously they weren’t able to cheat enough. Now Zalatel’s recall vote is coming up.

  • You are far too polite Craig. Jam down (or up) these communist’s throats !

    I don’t want to get get along with perverts.

  • Thanks for intel on the Kevlar.

  • I thought we’d reached a new low with the dawn of a renewed fight over grocery bagging. Now it’s seating during the meetings in which they accomplish nothing.
    Okay. This helps confirm the obvious: this society is screwed, and it only gets worse until it snaps. But the million dollar question remains: How long does this devolution continue until it snaps? The fall of Rome took 500 years to complete. I really doubt that the collapse of America will take that long, and I sure pray that it doesn’t. But this is more than just the U.S. collapsing. The entire planet is like this now. Even family units can’t function. So just how low can we go?

  • The reason we can’t reach middle ground anymore is that the right just kept giving in the hopes for civil discourse while the left just continues to take in hopes of more power. The true middle ground of just 10 years ago is now considered to be so far to the right that it can’t be part of the conversation. The left’s compromise always moves us left and the right always acquiesces.

  • If we hadn’t seen it would we have believed the fond rhetoric of the left was a masquerade and prelude into sale of souls to foreign enemy forms of government because you ain’t seen nothin yet. Your green space fema camps are all ready existing in Alaska and functioning for someone. It may not house the ones our enemies were anticipating tho. Playing along, cowards, will get you neither peace nor freedoms returned.

  • I think the fight over seating and masking are the shiny being used to distract from the real goal, an Assembly takeover of election central just in time for the April 2022 elections. Constant’s proposed ordinance covers any space used by the Assembly. As the Muni Clerk works for the Assembly, that space would be election central. Cheers –

    • Bingo! They must preserve their ability to steal elections.

  • When non-liberals stop trying to get along with people who are 180 degrees opposed to our traditional American values, culture and general way of life then we might begin winning.
    Perverts, deviants and other sick people have no place in government, schools, business or anywhere else.
    They bring moral and ethical degeneracy to the table and little else.
    It’s why we’re in the situation we’re in…too much trying to be tolerant and inclusive with people who deserve neither.
    They aren’t tolerant or inclusive with us so figure it out.
    They want what they want, unrestrained by our ethical or moral constraints and they’ll do anything they think they can get away with to force us to accept, even support, their positions.
    America will go the way of all past empires that fell prey to degeneracy.

  • Does the Assembly actually think no one noticed that the very day they had a spat with the Mayor over seating, they also just happened to have an ordinance ready to go limiting the Administration? Yeah, I think they may actually believe that no one noticed. When you catch your five year old with their hand in the cookie jar (and chocolate around their mouth), they will deny anything was amiss. They will seriously think you will believe their excuse.
    .
    Want to know why we cannot get along? Because one side is a toddler, and the other side is not willing to be the adult. And, the news media as well as social media support the five year old.

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