Lucas Smith: A few history lessons about 'dilatory' for the Anchorage Assembly - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, October 19, 2021
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Lucas Smith: A few history lessons about ‘dilatory’ for the Anchorage Assembly

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By LUCAS SMITH

As many witnessed Thursday evening, Anchorage Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance, with the aid of the majority leftist Assembly, voted to prohibit public testimony follow-up questions from Assembly members because, in the view of certain Assembly members, that questioning was viewed as dilatory and inconsistent with the Assembly’s own standards and norms. 

Chair LaFrance asserted that the standards and norms she is basing her ruling on are detailed in various places within the Municipal Charter, Municipal Code, and Robert’s Rules of Order.  

The Anchorage Assembly, in addition to other governing bodies in Alaska (like, for example, the Anchorage School Board), have been extending the rules of decorum spelled out in Robert’s Rules of Order and strictly applying them to members of the public during public testimony. 

This has led to countless instances where public testimony has been cut off either because testimony was too enthusiastic, personal in nature, or simply too embarrassing for the public office holders to hear and face. In these instances, members of the public have been dismissed for creating a “disturbance” and thanked in a callously robotic manner for their participation.  

Following the chair’s ruling and Assembly’s endorsement of prohibiting follow up questions, one member of the public offered testimony on the New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964) case in which the court ruled, “the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press may protect libelous words about a public official in order to foster vigorous debate about government and public affairs.” 

New York Times Co. v. Sullivan | The First Amendment Encyclopedia (mtsu.edu)

In many ways, Chair LaFrance’s ruling epitomizes how supremely ignorant lawmakers seeking to justify their importance have – year after year, federal law after federal law, state law after state law, local law after local law, Assembly precedent after Assembly precedent – managed to chip away at our constitutional liberty to such a degree that things like the perceived normalcy of seatbelt law is used to justify forcing children to wear masks. 

Today, my child rode the school bus for the first time.  As all know, there are no seatbelts on school buses, which suggests to me, the time to wipe the legislative slate clean is well past due.

If I may remind Assembly members of the precedent this Assembly set – for itself – pertaining to dilatory questioning as follow up to public testimony: The public may recall during testimony on the former administration’s (Ethan Berkowitz) plan to address homelessness in Anchorage, Assemblyman Chris Constant questioned Rabbi Greenberg in a rather accusatory manner, asking if he was suggesting homeless individuals loitering around his synagogue should be rounded up and contained in a fenced in area. 

“So the way might be, send them all to one place and put a fence around them,” Assemblyman Constant said. The incident occurred in July of 2020.  This is an example of dilatory questioning, if there ever was one. 

Recordings of the public’s immediate and audible shocked reaction to Constant’s question that evening speaks for itself.  I believe no member of the Assembly spoke up for the Rabbi except for Assemblywoman Jamie Allard.  

Read: Anchorage’s progressive left shows its anti-semitic side

Curiously, the Assembly did not prohibit follow up questioning to public testimony after this incident. 

That incident set the bar and is an example of this Assembly’s historical norms and standards for dilatory questioning as follow up to public testimony. 

It is also worth noting that, while the chair has gaveled down and arrested boisterous members of the public speaking out in opposition to AO 2021-91 (compulsory mask ordinance), the same Assembly continued a meeting in June of 2020 as members of the public rather bizarrely did push-ups and rolled around on the Assembly chamber floor in the space between seated assembly members and the testimony podium.

Read: Meeting turns into farce as transgender rolls around on floor

I hope the Assembly is now more aware of the standards and norms it has set, through its own precedent, for public testimony.  If this Assembly can not police itself to its own standards, perhaps the same set of standards, as this Assembly has now applied them, will continue with the next Assembly.  

Lucas Smith is an Anchorage resident and citizen activist.

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  • The assembly has learned a few things about conservatives in the last week or so. One of those is that we can be, have been and will continue to be dilatory too. We can play their game better than they can. It’s ON!

  • Thanks Lucas, Good comments and glad you took the time to put them together but as long as we continue to allow the current group of far left wackos to be in charge of our assembly we can only expect more of the same….

  • It is hard to stomach hostile, inflammatory, and down right bizarre rhetoric. I say, love thy neighbor.

    • Perhaps you haven’t been listening to the self-appointed tyrants of Anchorage serving on the Assembly. No love of neighbor there, I can assure you.

    • Yeah… love thy neighbor straight to Hell
      Tolerating someone is tolerating yourself watching your neighbor’s self-destruction before your very eyes. consoling yourself with the heartless phrase, “well it’s their life, they arent hurting anyone.” No difference hahaha that the one your neighbor is hurting their self.

  • The abuse of power and privilege by Suzanne “evil eyes” LaFrance is simply amazing. I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears when I saw the assembly blatantly censor two of their own–Jamie Allard and Crystal Kennedy–and Mayor Bronson. (Allard, Kennedy and Weddelton voted against the censor.) Then to cease public testimony via telephone went against the “norms” that Forrest Dunbar mentioned. Indeed anyone supporting freedom, even the surgeon who testifed agains the mask mandate, are shut down as fast as possible since LaFrance et al don’t believe them. I truly believe that LaFrance, Christopher Constant and the liberal assembly has gone too far. Time to remove them from office.

    • I heard lots of testimony in regards to mental health and psychological trauma. It may be that many in our government have experienced trauma in their lives, never bothered to heal it and now consider it normal. Why else would they continue to assualt the masses in the name of health?

  • “putting the people first” a a joke like Obamas, “That’s not us”….. apples and oranges. We are not the same people. If it said “American as Apple Pie” we know that is not those people he speaks of that he plans to put first to the detriment of the majority!

  • Everyone that is in District 4 should have received their recall ballot for Meg Zaletel. Hopefully, midtown has had enough of this craziness and will do the right thing and recall Meg Zatetel. Given the knowledge we have regarding the ability to cheat with mail in ballots, all Anchorage voters will be watching the counting carefully.

    Perhaps Meg Zaletel, Kameron Perez-Verdia, Forrest Dunbar and John Weddleton whose terms expire 2022, should consider carefully the results of the recent Mayoral race where voters elected Mayor Bronson. Anchorage voters have spoken loud and clear that WE WANT CHANGE in a positive direction. No more tyranny and violation of our liberties and constitutional rights. There IS NO HEALTH EMERGENCY! As witnessed by the hours of public testimony against the mask mandate, you DO NOT have the consent of the governed. The proposed mask ordinance is unconstitutional and must be withdrawn immediately!!!

    Marc S. Strecker an attorney in Orange County, California recently wrote this article – In a National Emergency, Does the Constitution Still Apply – An essential principle of the United States is that it is a free country, with individual liberties guaranteed, and government power limited. That concept is now being tested. A deadly worldwide pandemic has led to draconian lockdowns, forced closings of businesses, and even mandatory “stay at home” orders, some with Orwellian, friendly sounding names like “Safer at Home” or “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” – but still mandatory and enforced by police. The unprecedented, far-reaching orders have been issued by unelected county health officers as well as by governors of states.

    Are these orders legal? Do state governors have the legal and Constitutional authority to forcibly close all “non-essential” businesses? To confine the entire population in their homes indefinitely without a trial? Who gets to decide which businesses are non-essential? In California, churches, synagogues and mosques have been deemed “non-essential” and ordered closed, but liquor and hardware stores are still open and doing a bustling business.

    President Trump proclaimed a national state of emergency under the National Emergencies Act on March 13, 2020. However, nothing in that proclamation closed any businesses, confined anyone in their homes or infringed on any other constitutional rights or liberties. That, and other actions by the federal government merely cleared away certain regulatory roadblocks that could interfere with the government’s response to the pandemic.

    By contrast, the orders issued at the state and local level have dramatically restricted the civil liberties of ordinary law-abiding Americans, shutting down all “non-essential” businesses, causing, at last count, 22 million Americans to lose their jobs, and confining the vast majority of the nation to their homes. All of this was accomplished not pursuant to any laws specifically authorizing these actions, but rather, on the basis of general laws pertaining to emergencies and quarantines. For example, the statewide order in California is based on the governor’s power, during a state of emergency, to coordinate a State Emergency Plan, to exercise authority over agencies of the state government and to exercise the police power vested in the state, and the state Health Department’s authority to “quarantine, isolate, inspect, and disinfect persons, animals, houses, rooms, other property, places, cities, or localities, whenever in its judgment the action is necessary to protect or preserve the public health.” Nothing in the state law specifically authorizes the governor to order all residents of the state to be confined to their homes indefinitely, or to shutter all businesses deemed non-essential, so the state government is proceeding instead under these very broad, general provisions which have never before in the history of the state been employed or interpreted in such an all-encompassing manner.

    Not only has this crisis given government officials with authoritarian impulses an opportunity to rule by decree, it has exposed the lamentable fact that most Americans tend to willingly obey such “orders” without even questioning whether they are legally valid.

    What are the limits of government power? Do governors really have the authority to issue such sweeping orders controlling the personal lives of each of the millions of citizens living within the borders of their states? To answer that question, it is necessary to first examine the bedrock principle of democracy – that government derives its legitimacy from the consent of the governed. This principle is enshrined in our Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The power that a government may legitimately exercise is only that power that has been conferred on the government by the people.

    In the United States, that power is delegated to government officials by constitutions and laws. Governors are not kings. They do not rule over the people in their states; rather, they are employees of the state and have been given certain executive powers as specified in the state constitution. These powers are always limited and never absolute.

    The supreme law of the United States is the federal Constitution, a document so fundamental to our system of governance that, to the extent that any law conflicts with it, that law is deemed invalid. The First Amendment to the Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Through the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, this prohibition was made applicable to the state governments. And yet, these “stay-at-home orders” very clearly and overtly restrict the “right of the people peaceably to assemble” and the orders shuttering churches and other houses of worship undeniably infringe on the free exercise of religion. While it is easy for government officials to say that worship can be done remotely or in the privacy of the homes to which we are all individually confined, the fact remains that for many religious believers, there is an admonition to come together to worship, and for others, it is imperative to present prayers and offerings in a holy house of worship. Some people (the homeless, for example), may not have remote electronic access to worship services. In any event, it is not for the government to decide that these religious beliefs are unimportant or that they may be disregarded. And if home improvement stores, banks, supermarkets and Walmarts are permitted to remain open so long as social distancing measures are practiced, why are churches not allowed to do the same?

    The right to travel has also been recognized as a fundamental individual right guaranteed by the Constitution. “The right to travel is a part of the ‘liberty’ of which the citizen cannot be deprived without due process of law under the Fifth Amendment.” Kent v. Dulles , 357 U.S. 116 (1958) And yet, the orders confining the entire population to their homes except for “essential activities” like buying liquor or power tools (but definitely not going to church on Easter Sunday) restrict the right of the people to travel.

    When individual Constitutional rights and liberties are impacted by government action, such action is subject to “strict scrutiny” by the courts. The government must establish that there is a “compelling state interest” and that its action is the “least restrictive means” to promote that interest. It seems highly dubious that an indefinite lockdown of the entire population is the “least restrictive means” to achieve any legitimate objective. It is hard to imagine a more restrictive means than locking everyone up in their homes and shuttering all businesses deemed “non-essential.” The state may have the power to quarantine certain individuals who are reasonably suspected of having been exposed to the SARS-COv-2 virus, but in the U.S., only about one tenth of one percent of the population have tested positive. That is hardly reasonable justification for incarcerating the entire population under house arrest without due process of law. A less-restrictive means of achieving the government interest would be to identify high-risk individuals — those who have been exposed or those who have particular susceptibility to the disease — and place them under quarantine or some form of isolation, while letting the vast majority of Americans continue to enjoy their liberties and Constitutional rights. Another method would be to do as Sweden has done, and implement social distancing rules and recommendations without shutting down businesses or forcibly confining the entire population in their homes. Or perhaps houses of worship — where constitutionally protected activity takes place — could be allowed to operate under the same rules as grocery stores, hardware stores and wine shops: no forced closing, but everyone maintains a six-foot separation and wears a face covering. There are any number of possible less restrictive means of slowing the spread of the virus. The means that the state governments have chosen appear to be the most restrictive means, rather than the least.

    The Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution does not mention any exceptions to individual rights and liberties when there is a declared state of emergency. Such an exception, if it existed, would effectively render the rights illusory, because authoritarian-minded government officials could simply declare an emergency and thereby negate the rights of the people. Indeed, this is, historically, the way it has usually been done It is at fearful times like these when our individual rights are most threatened and most in need of being protected and preserved.

    The U.S. Supreme Court has held that “emergency may not create power.” Wilson v. New, 243 U.S. 332 (1917), citing Ex Parte Milligan, 4 Wall. 2 (1866). The Civil War did not give President Lincoln the authority to have civilians in Indiana tried by military commissions without due process of law. Even during such a chaotic time when the nation was convulsed in violence and bloodshed, individual Constitutional rights were protected. Those precious rights should be no less protected today. No virus can strip Americans of their civil rights. But as this crisis and the government responses to it have shown, if we are not vigilant in protecting our liberties, they will be taken from us.

    • I quit reading after the 100th thousand word.

      • Evan, we know comprehension of information is not your strong suit. Leave the thinking to the adults if you don’t want to engage your brain for that oh so difficult 3 minutes. Not everything can be a TikTok video

        • ouch. Ouch. OUCH! What’s TikTok?

      • Can’t handle the truth Evan?

    • Who said the filibuster is dead?

    • Walls of text help nobody.

    • Thank you for spelling it out so very eloquently.
      This bears repeating and understanding, the local Assembly does not have the power to erode our civil rights.
      The Marxist/commie9 are not listening, they are drunk with power and have been corrupted with Soros dark, evil money giving them their talking points.

  • Look at all them words!

  • If you want to write a book, consult Victor Davis Hanson.

  • What happened to the rules when it was time to have a special election to replace Berkowitz or when the same illegal temporary mayor was allowed to keep her council seat.

    • Jack, don’t you get it by now?
      .
      RULES FOR THEE BUT NOT FOR ME!
      .
      I.e., if radical leftist hypocrites (a double redundancy there, sorry) did not have double standards, they would have no standards at all. Everything, EVERYTHING in their miserable lives is about retaining and expanding their power over others. They are simply sociopaths who will do ANYTHING to advance their totalitarian political agenda. They are, in short, pure evil, and must be dealt with accordingly.

  • The Commie/marxist nine have an agenda and it is completely AntiAmerican, AntiAlaskan, AntiSemitic and goes against not only the Anchorage Charter, but also the Alaska Constitution.
    The Commie9 receive their marching orders from George Soros, he funds them and is responsible for undermining our entire nation.

  • A more accurate title is “Putting Friends First” that is who these nine Assembly friends are serving; their unelected friends. The remaining people of Anchorage don’t matter in the nine Assembly members eyes.

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