Michael Tavoliero: Anchorage Assembly’s kindergarten tyranny traces its roots to unification in 1975

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By MICHAEL TAVOLIERO

In 2013, then-Mayor Dan Sullivan and the Anchorage Assembly passed AO37 into law. It was deemed the “Responsible Labor Law.”

It provided a legal standard for the costs of union contracts, as well as changed the original 25-year-old labor law, eliminating all pay incentives. Unions could no longer bargain for increased pay for specialized training or for earning a college degree. The mayor and the Assembly believed the incentives didn’t provide any benefits to the city, so why include it in the city’s labor negotiations?

It made sense. After all, it was our tax money, not the public unions.

On Nov. 4, 2014, Anchorage Municipality voters repealed AO37.

This was the equivalent of the Fall of Vicksburg for the special interests’ takeover of what Italian communist Antonio Gramsci described in the 1930’s: “ Socialism will triumph by first capturing the culture via infiltration of schools, universities, churches, and the media by transforming the consciousness of society.”

The repeal of AO37 was a clandestine operation through our most impressionable institutions to change cultural, political, and societal behavior locally. 

As Christopher F. Rufo, founder and director of the public policy research center Battlefront and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, recently pointed out “the revolutionary ideas of the ‘60’s have been repackaged, repurposed and injected into American life at the institutional level.”

Having lived through Woodstock and my college days living in Berkeley with experiences never to be revealed publicly, I can only say that that is correct. 

In Anchorage, we now see this in our Assembly and our school district. We are witnessing the ideological division perpetrated by the elected representatives of the most populated community in the State of Alaska. Like some many other large urban centers around our nation, this handful of elected officials by simple ideological determination controls our future and that of our children. 

There is a conditioning approach to all its legislation, creating a public policy where government restricts its people. AO 2022-60 was drafted to give the Assembly a path to allow the Assembly to remove the mayor or any elected official for almost any reason. With declaring that under the authority of the municipal charter Section 7.01(b), the Assembly is establishing specific procedures for the removal of an elected official for breach of the public trust. 

Hey, why not? This is true behavioral modification.

The parameters they have given themselves are broad and vague. Nonetheless, they do create a procedural approach for the removal of an elected official who may not be using the same ideological compass as most of the Assembly. 

If the ordinance passes, and it appears likely, it may be contested in court as a breach of the separation of powers and constitutional rights. Given the current judicial activist penchant of our Alaskan judiciary, this next level of litigious well-intentioned behavior on the part of the liberty minded conservatives may well end in another darkly polished example of bad case law.

Haven’t we had enough?

If defeated in court, what can happen next? 

I point to the short life of AO-37. 

May I also point out the more recent failed contests which were costly to Anchorage conservatives? Both recent recall elections of Assembly members Felix Rivera and Meg Zalatel were defeated. Five of the 7 conservative candidates on the ballot were defeated. 

Given the pattern, the likelihood of a conservative prevalence in an election to repeal AO 2022-60, I suspect, will not be successful.

Where does that leave the most embattled mayor in the history of Anchorage?

You got it. He is now prey to a continued and vicious attack by the members of the Assembly and their minions with even less defense. He’s gelded and ready for the glue factory.

Which brings me to my point. 

All of this defense will cost the mayor, his supporters and the Anchorage taxpayers money, time and wasted elected executive efforts. Given the track record of over the past decade of conservative disappointment, I am not optimistic that this next litigious carnival or election effort will be successful or even effective. 

Even if it is, the mayor during the remainder of his term will be effectively distracted just like Trump was by Pelosi and Schumer with the continued obstacles the Assembly puts in his way with little to no accomplishments and perhaps impeachment, removal and/or a one term Mayor.

In the Anchorage political scene, it’s kind of like banging your head against the wall. When you stop, it feels good.  

Same cycle same scenario and no sign of it changing soon.

I have an idea: Decentralize the Municipality of Anchorage.

Yes, de-unify the Unified Municipality of Anchorage.

This half century experiment which unified the state’s largest population into a centralized local government is a tragic political, financial, and social failure.

The mayor should consider this as the one true offensive measure which may potentially remove all power and control from the Anchorage special interests. The mayor, with the Alaska Local Boundary Commission’s approval, may submit a petition under 3 AAC 110.410(a)(3) to effect boundary changes. 

Remember if Chugiak-Eagle River had not been involved in being a borough during the vote for the unification charter commission, the unified Municipality of Anchorage may have never been. The Eagle River-Chugiak voters were not residents of the Greater Anchorage Areawide Borough in February 1975 when Greater Anchorage Areawide Borough voters approved the concept of unification and elected members to the Charter Commission.

The irony is if the conservative Eagle River-Chugiak voters had voted in that election, the probability of the commission being approved was unlikely and today’s exercise in kindergarten tyranny may never have happened.

Michael Tavoliero is a realtor in Eagle River, is active in the Alaska Republican Party and chaired Eaglexit.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. In 1957 Ayn Rand wrote in her book, Atlas Shrugged- “When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing-When you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors-When you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you-When you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice-You may know that your society is doomed.”

    The unethical, immoral and self dealing actions by the thugs on the Anchorage Assembly must end. They should answer to voters for the $88 million of Covid expenses that taxpayers will be left paying as they did not follow the federal rules and the city won’t be reimbursed. It is time to rally the legitimate voters and stop their tyranny!

  2. Great commentary Michael! You are very informative, your efforts are appreciated. Just Tweeted this and tagged you and Chris!

  3. Talk about pessimism!! Wonder how he’s able to sell anything in the MOA!! Eagleexit never gonna happen unless the good citizens of ER are willing to double there taxes!! Way to much revenue from Anchorage proper going out there to maintain police, fire services not to mention roads, schools, libraries etc etc!!

    • John, you are ignorant regarding the taxation vs. ‘benefits’ ramifications of Eaglexit, and merely spouting the pro-status-quo, pro-leftist-Anchorage-establishment propaganda against it.

    • John, your thoughts are well taken. I originally felt the same way about detaching and incorporating as our own municipality, but our numbers are in. Eaglexit clearly believes a new incorporated local government can be more cost effective and efficient than the MOA. If you have noticed the property taxes for Assembly District 2 (Eagle River-Chugiak) have increased from 2019 to 2021 by 14.43%. Property taxes are also rumored to increase in our community by another 5% this next year, but perhaps you haven’t noticed that. The Anchorage School District has some of the poorest performance outcomes in the nation with one of the most expensive per student in the nation. Moreover, police, fire, roads and other public services are operating with little cost benefit to the taxpayer. I invite you to go to the Eaglexit website and visit with the Eaglexit board to discover what these citizens have discovered.

  4. The last time I went looking for it at Rasmuson Library, I couldn’t find the publication on the borough-wide citizen meeting held at West High in 1966. This was to discuss the original proposal for legislation authorizing unified boroughs. I do remember from prior reading that Chugiak and Eagle River were very well represented at that meeting. Michael makes it unclear why Chugiak and Eagle River didn’t participate in the creation of the 1975 charter commission. Adapted from the 2nd edition of the Alaska Blue Book: “The Chugiak-Eagle River Borough was incorporated on August 27, 1974 with an area of 820 square miles and an estimated population of 5,832, before the incorporation was invalidated by the Alaska Supreme Court on April 14, 1975”. Every discussion of secession in this century has glossed over that episode. There were also charter commissions in 1969 and 1970, both of which saw unification fail in the end. Did Chugiak and Eagle River voters have much to do with that? I’ve not found detailed election results anywhere. There was an academic paper on the history of unification published in 1977, which is easy to find in libraries. I don’t remember what it said or didn’t say about that.

    Despite lacking a certain amount of information, I would question his assertion about conservative voters at the time. The oldtimers I’ve talked to all told me that Eagle River was a much different place before 1983 or thereabouts. More to the point, 1970s redistricting split the GAAB from a single district into multiple districts, which allowed Eagle River residents to be elected to the legislature for the first time. The first legislators from Eagle River were Sam Cotten and Ed Willis, both Democrats. Neither one could reasonably be called conservative.

    • Good points, Sean.

      Although I am probably classified as an “old timer”, I was not part of this effort and can only report what I have read.

      One particular document which my statements came from is ““A History of the Unification of the City of Anchorage and the Greater Anchorage Area Borough” prepared by Paul H. Wangness, Principal Researcher, Final Research Report, Anchorage Urban Observatory, November 1977, Dr. Richard L. Ender, Director“.

      If your remarks regarding “conservative Eagle River-Chugiak voters” in my last paragraph are your overall take on my op-ed, I apology as this was not my intention. Clearly, in my opinion, unification is a failure.

      Moreover, the Wangness report does note in October 1969, that the city and borough voters (outside city votes for 3,475 against 3,074) did approve of the concept of unification and elected the eleven-member charter commission.

      However, with a much greater outside the city voter turnout, the first (outside city votes for 3,491 against 6,167) and second (outside city votes for 3,846 against 6,927) votes on passing a charter failed because of an overwhelming vote against unification by those outside the city.

      As found on page 65, the “Major reasons for the defeat of the first two charters have been identified as the overwhelming outside city vote from those in rural areas who disliked government and did not want to pay taxes for services.”

      You may not want to classify those voters as “conservative”.

      Wangness does state on Page 75, “The possibility of removing the anti-unification votes of the rural area became a distinct reality as the residents of the Eagle River and Chugiak area launched an intensive lobbying campaign before the State Legislature for special legislation permitting that area to withdraw from GAAB and incorporate as a borough.”

      Whether conservative or not by your definition, it could be reasonably construed that the Eagle River/Chugiak effort to be independent of the unification process was clearly documented. They did not want unification.

  5. This is not a conservative movement by Eaglexit. This is communities wanting representation and making decisions for themselves. Self governance at the lowest level. Too bad most don’t get it.

  6. I’m for eagle exit and all the liberals I know are for it. What’s the problem? Leave the MOA! Put up a wall. Shop in the Valley. Good luck if Tavo is your man

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