Dispute over masks in Assembly chambers leads to Chris Constant creating a new ordinance taking authority away from the mayor - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, October 19, 2021
HomePoliticsDispute over masks in Assembly chambers leads to Chris Constant creating a new ordinance taking authority away from the mayor

Dispute over masks in Assembly chambers leads to Chris Constant creating a new ordinance taking authority away from the mayor

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The Anchorage Assembly liberal majority is trying to reassert control over the Assembly chambers at the Loussac Library, as well as in City Hall, when the Assembly uses conference rooms for its meetings.

The majority, led by Chair Suzanne LaFrance, wants to enact a mask mandate for its meetings, but the mayor controls the law enforcement functions for the municipality, and he said he will not force people to mask on municipal property. Mayor Dave Bronson says everyone should have a right to mask or not mask in Anchorage, and he won’t allow security or the police to enforce the masking rules of the Assembly.

Bronson issued the following statement: 

“While my critics spend more time about how I won’t institute big government mandates, they ignore the fact that my administration has increased COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, and stood up two monoclonal antibody treatment sites. My administration has been clear since the beginning that we will not mandate masks or vaccines. If someone wants to wear a mask or get a vaccination that’s their personal choice. But we will not violate the privacy and independent healthcare decisions of our citizens in the process. The personal choice to wear a mask or vaccinate is up to the individual person. We are committed to giving access to Anchorage residents with all the resources and information they need to make informed personal decisions for themselves and their families.”

At the end of Tuesday night’s meeting, the liberal Assembly members had their solution to defeat Bronson: They drew up a new ordinance that gives them control over the physical space of their meetings.

Whether that would withstand court scrutiny may be tested. The administration has, by code, authority over municipal operations, which includes buildings and operations. The new ordinance would trump the authority of the executive branch.

It also would give the Assembly control over Election Central’s building and lock the Administration out. If the ordinance passes, the Administration cannot ensure the adequate security of elections and the election facility.

The ordinance was at the request of Vice Chair Chris Constant. It says that its long-standing practice and custom that the Assembly Chair has authority over the settings of meetings, and that the “new Mayor has asserted that authority in the Assembly Chair does not actually exist, as reported by the Assembly Chair at the September 14, 2021 meeting.”

Constant’s ordinance says that because it is a long-standing practice and custom, any chair or presiding officer of a meeting in the city has the power to make all operational decisions regarding that meeting. That would include everything from parks to planning commission meetings, whose chairs would have authority over the building space.

“There is a lack of express authority in the Anchorage Municipal Code regarding the extent of the presiding officer’s or Assembly Chair’s , powers to make decisions for a meeting logistics, settings, and operations that intuitively should be included in a presiding officer’s powers and duties,” the ordinance reads.

This ordinance will be subject to public testimony at the Sept. 28 Assembly meeting.

Read the draft ordinance here:

Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance also tried to remove Mayor Dave Bronson from his appointed seat on the dais, but Bronson stood his ground and kept his seat.

Municipal Manager Amy Demboski said she would not allow the Assembly to separate her, the municipal attorney, and the mayor, and that the mayor, as the city executive, needs to be close to the secondary egress.

The new ordinance would allow the chair to separate the mayor from his staff during meetings.

Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance said it was needed to separate the members of the executive branch on the dais, but City Manager Amy Demboski countered that if they needed to physically distance in the room, then members of the Assembly could take the lower seats.

LaFrance has made it clear that her majority intends to enact a mask mandate and also limit the public’s ability to attend the meeting.

Demboski says the mayor believes the public has a right to attend meetings up to the fire code limit, which is 256.

The Assembly leadership had instructed last the that security limit capacity of the room to 160 people. Demboski told security to stand down, and allow people to fill the chambers up to the fire code limit.

The meeting made it clear the Assembly will is continue to attempt to limit public access to public meetings, separate the mayor from his staff in meetings so they cannot confer with each other, and give boards and commissions members authority that supersedes the mayor’s established authority in charter to direct municipal operations. The ordinance is also an attempt by the Assembly will make sure there is no administrative oversight from the executive branch to of the security of the election facility.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • And the Republicans will expend scarce resources on the unsuccessful recall of the month, instead of winning elections. With opponents like Rebuplicans, the Left doesn’t need friends.

    • Republicans aren’t spending a dime on recall. That would be private citizens. Better check the party affiliation of the 2500 signers.

    • Thank God!

  • Sir! The peasants are revolting!

    King: You can say that again!

  • You can remove my comment which I’m sure you will but the time has come for the Citizens of Anchorage to stand at the homes of these Communist Assembly members home and demand they leave the State. They can not and will not make me wear a mask if they try that will be the kast thing they do.

    • Yeah, apparently unless you are a contributor, comments often seem to disappear. 🙁

      • I thought I was being censored when I first started posting here, but it turns out there is moderation involved before my post, posts.

    • Sir: you have no idea what is a modern Communist and neither do I. You are just mud-slinging for effect.

    • Did they try to make you cash your stimulus checks to?

  • Great article. But they are NOT liberals! Liberals don’t do this. WE are the liberals now. These are tyrants and socialists!!

  • It would appear as if their is no chance of ever working together. The majority assembly stands for using COVID as a weapon against the people of Anchorage and the Mayor stands for allowing people to make informed decisions and continue freedom of choice. Is their room for comprise? I see none. Freedom is the compromise.
    .
    COVID has become the exact tool that evil doers needed to grab more power. What power is the mayor trying to grab? His efforts since taking office has been to give back rights that the assembly has taken. What rights has the assembly given to the people?

  • Hilarious. The Assembly can sure set its own rules but if the APD will not provide enforcement, the assembly would have to hire its own security to evict non-maskers – setting up a brawl between APD and a mercenary police force. Hope the video cameras are all in good working order. Must-see TV.

    • would the assembly have the funds to do this? this would be great

  • Sorry
    No comply.
    Bite me.

  • Wow, get someone to proofread.

  • Seems like an illegal attempt at a power grab to me…crazy how the dems are working to destroy democracy as we know it in America.
    Elections have consequences and Mayor Bronson won fair & square.
    They are just pissed he is living up to all his campaign promises.

  • Do not see anything that gives control over the Elections Building, unless there is a meeting during an election in the Elections Building. Am I mis-reading the Ordinance?

  • Wow! We knew there would be a battle between the new mayor and the assembly. Stand firm Mr. Mayor!

  • Wow. These a$$hat Communists have so many cards up their sleeves.
    Nothing good will be accomplished by the Muni for the next three years if they take the reigns and continue to re-structure our local government.

  • The assembly has shot far last socialist to full-on fascist. .
    Where is Antifa??

  • Nope. We tell you what your emolument is. YOU don’t tell us what it will be. We fundamentally do not ant assembly person/mayor lite municipal jobs for assembly. Put that in the big no thank you department. If you don’t stop unilaterally reforming our type of charter authorized public servanting you must quit. You are fundamentally rejecting your actual job.

  • Contemptible tyrants, every one of them!
    .
    That Chris Constant constantly grabbing authority is a pure raging sociopath.

  • Communicated with my Assembly representative on the mask issue. It is clear by their response, both as written, and what is obviously written between the lines, that this resolution is strictly and solely to create a showdown between the Assembly and the Mayor’s office.
    .
    I ask myself how the Assembly would be acting of Forrest Dunbar won the Mayoral election, and I cannot imagine anywhere near this level of conflict.
    .
    There is already too much division in this country along political lines. The actions of the Assembly over this issue are out of hand and unnecessary. Please contact your representatives, and the Mayor and ask them to tone it down. Both sides need to seek a middle ground. But, from what I can tell, the Assembly is too busy trying to assert authority over some perceived threat from the Mayor.

    • the only thing better than government gridlock is the whole thing falling apart. the best thing that could come of this is both branches being defanged and defunded (as these are the most nonessential members in any society) so they both have so little power to effect everyday life that no one cares anymore about what they do

  • The Gestapo assembly members need to be reined in by the voters….

    Recall them all….

  • Look who’s all about the masks again.

  • Assembly should rent powerful circulator-blower fans for use within the Assembly Chamber’s public meetings, thus protecting everyone from errant aerosols. Some may have a little trouble hearing themselves speak due to the additional noise; but they can opt for safety ear plugs.

  • When will the “stogies” of the Assembly realize, they do not have the eminence of the authority. OUR NEW Mayor has that authority.. The Assembly will try all the tricks of the trade, but in the end they will realize they do not have the authority they think they have.

  • Another distractive measure taken by an Assembly that has no intention of working with the new administration. Sadly, this is how they’ve chosen to use their time and our property tax money; pissing away millions for the sake of obstruction. If Little Miss Chris is that frightening of a non-mask wearing individual, he should stay home and phone it in.

  • Adult sized babies and their pacifiers. If the slaves want to wear masks, let them. They should not expect everyone to play along in their delusion though. Masks do not make a person healthy, just like watching American Ninja Warrior does not make you and athlete.

    The sick leading the sick.

  • It’s been obvious for some time the Assembly will ignore Bronson. Legally or otherwise.

    Recalls are nice, but how about vetting and supporting candidates to unseat these clowns?

    You get the government you deserve

    • Too many checks, not enough balances.

      • More likely, not enough registered democratic voters.
        Bronson over a disgraced Berkowitz, who knew?

    • Mayor Bronson ignores science or “NOT his job” or acts as if science isn’t important (to him) in making community-wide health-related decisions. No one is asking him to mandate a vaccine or any other experimental drug therapies.
      The Assembly generally believes there are scientific effects and good data at work for wearing face coverings or masks – on behalf of their constituents who cannot place a vote either way. Neither side is “right” and neither side knows the “outcomes.”
      Regardless, it’s going to be a long drawn out pandemic.

      • I will stake my life on this: if they get their way with masks a vaccination, mandate under the same conditions will follow. And worse, if possible.

        • I think the ones suffering ‘abuse’ from wearing masks and face coverings are the essential workers and health care providers. Value life, yours and everyone else – doubt you wish to stake your life.

      • Oh, I agree. The Assembly is following the science. The political science, not the medical science.
        .
        I have communicated extensively with my assembly members, and they are completely unwilling to entertain a position that disagrees with that of their “preferred” medical “professionals” say. In fact, some of the points I raised were dismissed because “my opinion does not hold as much weight as the medical professionals.” This was something Assembly Chair LeFrance told me, despite the fact she has NO IDEA WHATSOEVER what my profession or education is.
        .
        The Assembly is not listening to medical science. They are listening to opinions that support their goals, ignoring those that do not.

        • So are you saying doctors don’t need to wear masks anymore? Your dentist? Because they don’t work?

      • EXACTLY!!!

    • Most of us can step up our efforts, but no, we do not deserve abuse.

  • The far-left Assemblymembers are well organized in their efforts to thwart the Bronson Administration’s commitment to representing the people of Anchorage and our desire to live in a vibrant, healthy, non-radicalized community. Chris Constant and his posse of bullies do not represent their districts, the local voters, or reality. They are hellbent to work lockstep with a toxic political narrative that perpetuates division and tyranny. Just say no, Anchorage.

  • I am not that savvy about local politics. Are there term limits for assembly members? I think Bronson should propose term limits that would unseat just about every one of them.

    • Some here can answer with their knowledge or at muni.org.
      Or, time permitting – Visit the 3rd floor at Loussac Library which houses print copies of the Municipal Code, and also State of Alaska. Helpful Professional Librarians will assist you with locating and accessing find the materials.

  • Stand strong Mayor Bronson. The elected tax payer employees, ie have one up for recall, and in 7 and a half months 5 up for re election. Do they think that their employers are going to forget the rampant socialist mandates last year, and the ones they want to re impose? No wonder they specifically want to include the elections bldg in their nonsense.

  • They do represent their districts; that is what is at issue whether you realize or not.

  • virtue signaling and destroying lives is all these people are good at

  • If the elected public servants will not listen to or take instruction from those who consent to the US and State Constitution, the Charter; how can it be said that we consent to the something else, who knows what, is it a secret among themselves; and, how can it be said that we have kept our form of government a representative republic?

  • What isle is the tar and feather in at Costco. Asking for a friend.

  • Illegal, unethical, and the ordinance is out of order. Mayor Dave, prepare your lawsuit – and make sure you ask for and receive punitive damages that are the personal responsibility of each of the leftist assembly embers. As for election security – the fear from the left that security is somehow harmful to their side says it all about the need for election security. I would think that if they weren’t cheating they would welcome the chance to make sure we weren’t either…

  • So because they lost the mayoral race, they want to pout and take their toys home.

  • The claim of the Assembly is the Mayor is not working in cooperation with them, and it is the Mayor’s fault this ordinance had to be introduced. It is interesting to see that the Mayor is always the one working against the Assembly, and the Assembly is always the good guy.
    .
    Who else makes claims like that?
    .
    Oh, that’s right. Children. “He hit me first” is not a valid excuse for hitting back, well, at least not for adults.

  • Elected representatives and hired bureaucrats not following the law is a very common problem here in Alaska.
    Here at the local level we have what I call “Community Club Government.”
    That’s where interested persons get themselves elected, often on the friends and family voting bloc plan, and then begin to just do whatever they want…passing ordinances and creating policies and regulations that violate the Alaska Constitution, Alaska Statutes and even preexisting local ordinances.
    These people often aren’t even aware that their authority originates in the state constitution and is explicitly spelled out in AS 29.
    They know no limits on their power because, for most, they never bothered to learn their constitutional and legal roles, responsibilities and limitations…and they don’t care.
    The Anchorage Assembly is just a larger expression of the exact same problem.
    And don’t think that the state level is any better…I’ve personally had a state Assistant Attorney General admit, in writing, that a state law prohibiting the placement of private advertising signage within a state right of way existed and he was aware of it and that he had no intention of enforcing it.
    These people are corrupt from top to bottom.

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