An Anchorage Assembly ordinance to give the Assembly ill-defined and unlimited powers to remove the mayor were the topic of a special meeting for the purpose of public testimony on Wednesday night. The room was hot, and the air conditioning seemed to have failed, and the public was even hotter about the presumption of powers by the Assembly to create a path that seemed obviously targeting Mayor Dave Bronson. Their patience wore thin as Assembly Chairwoman Suzanne LaFrance ordered them to stop clapping and ordered clappers removed from the room.
The public had started their testimony last week, after having waited for five and a half hours, only to be turned away after the room got too rowdy for Vice Chairman Chris Constant.
Tonight was even more rowdy. It appeared that only one person spoke in favor of the ordinance, and it was quickly pointed out to her by the Assembly members themselves that she was misunderstanding what was in law and what was being proposed. She approached and left the podium wearing a mask.
Later, a young girl approached the microphone and read her statement opposing the ordinance, and then stood in silence. The audience behind her then rose and began singing the National Anthem. Assembly Chairwoman LaFrance tried to stop them to no avail.
“Folks, please…refrain from singing and clapping,” LaFrance said, before everyone in the audience joined in, hands over hearts. One member of the audience could be heard yelling to the liberals on the Assembly, “Keep your seat, trash!”
Only three members of the Assembly rose out of respect for the National Anthem. — Jamie Allard, Randy Sulte, and Kevin Cross. The others — LaFrance, Chris Constant, Forrest Dunbar, Meg Zaletel, Kameron Perez-Verdia, and Pete Petersen sat.
At the end of the song, there was whistling and shouting all around. LaFrance then asked for the building security to come to the front, and she had a man removed from the room, as she does nearly every meeting.
A similar protest event took place in October, 2021, when Anchorage residents also broke into song to protest the forced masking of people in Anchorage, a measure passed in an ordinance by the liberal members of the Assembly. That time, the people sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
AO 2022-60 was drafted to give the Assembly a path that will allow them to remove the mayor for almost any reason. The parameters they have given themselves are broad. If the ordinance passes, and it appears likely to, it will be most likely contested in court as a breach of the separation of powers in the city charter.
Over 100 people attended the meeting on Wednesday. At the end of the meeting, Assemblyman Chris Constant stalled so the clock would run out. Assemblywoman Jamie Allard moved to postpone the ordinance indefinitely, but the liberal majority voted to postpone until July, when they will have the 12th member, who will be a downtown liberal.
Edited: The next meeting on this ordinance, and a likely vote, is scheduled for June 7.