By MICHAEL TAVOLIERO
There’s a great story about a Christmas roast that I think about whenever I have a challenge with the status quo.
It goes like this: On Christmas morning, Mom was preparing the Christmas roast. She sliced the end off and puts it in the roasting pan first. Her daughter seeing this immediately asked why she did this. Mom thought for a moment and said that is the way her mom did it.
Puzzled, the daughter asked why.
Mom replied, “Let’s call Grandma and find out.”
A call went out to Grandma, and Mom and her daughter asked her why, indeed, she always cut off the end of the Christmas roast.
Grandma replied, “I cut the end off to fit it in the pan.”
My point is, we often accept the status quo, never asking why things are done the way they are until we are nudged to consider.
This is your nudge, especially if you live in Anchorage.
Alaska local government is the same way. It’s the same roast with a sliced end to fit in the pan, but few of us really understand the reason.
Consider this: All Alaska local governments have elected representatives; all Alaska local governments have municipal employees; and most Alaska local governments have a property tax base.
What if I were to say to you that local government does not need any of these?
At first blush, many of you would consider me ridiculous, radical, or just rummy, but hear me out.
How is the current local government in Alaska’s largest population center, Anchorage, working for you?
How are your elected representatives working out?
How are your municipal employees working out?
How are your local property and other taxes working out?
My personal belief is that they aren’t.
At a few months’ short of 70 years young, I see elected representatives controlled by the Golden Rule. That’s the rule that says he who owns the gold rules.
In Anchorage, many elected officials are controlled not by what you or I want but by the collective hegemony of the unions, education industry, health care industry and the welfare industry. Why is this when we are the voters? Well, because the municipal and school budgets are almost $1.5 Billion dollars and having control over elected representatives affords a great opportunity on how that money is spent.
This is a fact.
Municipal employment is controlled in such a way that the cost to the public never decreases and always increases. This has become blindingly evident as we were witness to the greatest economic debacle Alaska has ever seen, driven by Covid. Businesses closed, people were laid off and thrown on unemployment rolls, and some went bankrupt. I could be wrong, but not one municipal employee missed a paycheck.
This is a fact.
Property taxes as well as other forms of fees, costs and taxes continue to grow with little seen in the form of service and program improvements.
This is a fact.
What if we could have a local government with no elected representation, no municipal employees, and no property taxes?
I know most of you would be delighted at first blush but a few seconds later your BS meter would peg to total BS.
But take a minute. Hear me out.
How is the three-legged stool of Anchorage local government, elected representatives, municipal employment, and property taxes working for you?
In the past 2 years we have seen egregious demands on our personal rights only to be scolded, humiliated, and bullied by our local government and its minions. We have seen 2 failed attempts at recalls of real Marxists. We’ve seen the election of a righteous man as mayor only to watch a veto proof assembly neuter his every attempt to improve the quality of life in Anchorage.
Some will say that’s politics.
I think that is a banal, superficial, and cursory remark.
I believe Anchorage will never return to its more conservative roots. As a result, if you haven’t noticed, there has been a decline in population in Anchorage and an increase in population in the Valley. While our mill rate increases, our property values go up and new taxes are brought into play.
There is literally almost nothing left for conservatives to do except bend over.
I said almost.
There is Eaglexit.
Eaglexit is an education program designed to provide civics information to the residents of Assembly District 2, which includes Eagle River, Chugiak, and surrounding neighborhoods south to Tikhatnu and north to Eklutna. With this information, it is hoped that the community will be engaged and prepared to discuss the question of detachment from the Municipality of Anchorage and the question of local government incorporation.
Many have assumed that it is a political campaign. It is not.
It is an educational discussion on the benefits of decentralizing large municipal enclaves.
It is designed to discuss the question of local government formation, the foundation of liberty in local government, and the expectation of what results the residents want to see in their new local government.
The purpose behind Eaglexit is to actively engage the residents of Assembly District 2 on the options of local government establishment to discover if the residents of Assembly District 2 can develop a better system for its local government than the current model of the Municipality of Anchorage.
It has been my personal observation that over the past decades the current Anchorage local government has lost its connection to its communities. The Municipality of Anchorage has since established a power and control hegemony through the unions, health care industry, education industry and welfare industry of the Anchorage local government.
This is soft tyranny based on a collective local government system.
In the early 1830’s, Alexis De Tocqueville described “soft tyranny” in “Democracy in America”,
“It covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence: it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”
What is the civics discussion of Eaglexit?
First and foremost, it asks the question can a smaller local government be economically more efficient and effective than the current model of the Municipality of Anchorage?
The two impartial analyses done by one of Alaska’s foremost economic consulting firms, Northern Economics, demonstrates the communities of Assembly District 2 have the economic foundation for a solvent local government. The question of will this increase costs to its community members? Our answer is no it won’t, and it will enhance better community involvement and municipal service outcomes.
To those of you who believe costs will increase: The Municipality of Anchorage has increased costs to Assembly District 2 every year since we began the Eaglexit discussion.
Our communities include Eklutna, Thunderbird Falls, Peters Creek, Chugiak, Birchwood, Powder Ridge, Downtown Eagle River, Eagle River Valley, Hiland Road, Former Fort Richardson and Elmendorf Air Force Base, now JBER, Centennial Park, Muldoon and Tikahtnu.
Our population from the 2010 census shows population of 51,281 with 54% of households with children under 18. Chugiak-Eagle River is 45% Veteran per 2019 American Community Survey vs 30% for Muni of Anchorage.
Assembly District 2 includes a total of 1,050 square miles, bounded by Knik Arm on west, and the Mat-Su Borough north.
Assembly District 2 is the only rail and road transportation corridor between the Mat-Su and the rest of the state and Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula.
In our civics discussion, we explore a variety of local government types. These fall into two types of representative local government: one that uses elected representation and the other that uses direct representation.
We also explore the question of how municipal programs, such as education, police, fire, streets and roads and parks and recreation will be financed and managed.
I know many of you have witnessed with great disappointment as well as supported with great expense attempts to change for the positive the Anchorage local government, only to fail time after time. The detachment of Assembly District 2 from Anchorage may be the last chance for meaningful change.
Eaglexit has a plan, and it continues to grow. Won’t you join us and make it happen?
Michael Tavoliero is a realtor in Eagle River, is active in the Alaska Republican Party and chairs Eaglexit.