No transparency: Anchorage Assembly now cuts video recordings of public comment period

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The Anchorage Assembly has had an increasingly obvious habit of cutting out portions of its official meetings on its YouTube channel that it doesn’t want the public to see. The technician who operates the audio and video recording of the meeting has found ways to delete key portions of the public process. But on Tuesday, it went further, simply cutting the public comments altogether at the end of the meeting.

The Assembly was close to the scheduled end for the regular meeting, and only two people had stepped up to the public podium to make their views known during the final audience participation period. One of them was Irene Quednow, who is often present at Anchorage Assembly meetings, and who often uses her three minutes at the microphone to discuss Assembly behavior.

The actual video, as chopped by the Assembly, eliminating audience participation from the public record.

Quednow’s and the one other person’s comments were cut by the video technician, and a day after the meeting ended, the cut portion had not been restored. Quednow sent Must Read Alaska her notes detailing what the public watching on line was not allowed to see or hear:

Quednow told the Assembly that, in spite of what Assemblymen Chris Constant, Forrest Dunbar, and Felix Rivera had said during the meeting, the Golden Lion hotel, purchased by the former mayor, is not being condemned by the mayor or his staff. It is being condemned by the State of Alaska Department of Transportation, which has for years been planning to take property at the corner of 36th Avenue and New Seward Highway to improve the traffic flow. The eminent domain process was outlined in a letter from DOT to the mayor recently, and had also been sent in writing to previous interim mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson.

Quednow also had some issues with the Assembly’s statements and characterizations of the mayor’s proposed navigation center for the homeless.

“The navigation center would have been in operation last fall if the Assembly would not have thrown a monkey wrench into it every step of the way. The Assembly whittled down the number of beds and now complains that there are not enough beds. Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance said we need a public hearing on this item, yet when the Assembly was discussing the purchase of the Golden Lion and the other three buildings it authorized buying, it physically shut out the public from commenting by closing the chambers. So don’t lecture us about needing a public hearing now,” Quednow’s notes said. The Assembly shut the Assembly Chamber down to the public in 2020 when it was making several controversial decisions that concerned major purchases of properties that would be used as homeless shelters.

Quednow also said the Assembly has not been fiscally responsible or professional about providing information to the public.

“I have stood before you and asked for an operation budget and renovation cost for the Golden Lion numerous times and yet that documentation was never provided. The same with the Alaska Club purchase,” Quednow said, noting that the Assembly never provided those documents to the public. “You were going to purchase the Alaska Club for around $7 million, then for the ‘bargain price’ of $5.4 million when it was assessed the whole time at no more that $2.3 million. You also misled the public about how much the Sullivan Arena and the other hotels cost to operate, and yet you have the audacity to say we need fiscal responsibility.”

Quednow also talked about the Assembly’s attention to the suicide problem. Quednow said that in December of 2020, she stood at the podium and read a letter written by a high school student begging the school board to open up school again because they had had two suicides of high school students by then.

“There were many others that testified to the drastic increase in suicides. And yet most of you sat here and communicated to us in one form or another that we are spreading misinformation,” Quednow reminded the Assembly.

“For those of the public that were not here or watching let me remind you of who the assembly members were that said that: Kameron Perez-Verdia, Felix Rivera, Suzanne LaFrance, Christopher Constant, Meg Zaletel, Pete Petersen, Austin Quinn-Davidson, and Forrest Dunbar. Two years later the CDC is acknowledging what was apparent to everyone who wanted to see. So do not believe them when they say they care for people who commit suicide.”

The second person who approached the microphone for her three minutes was also cut from the video feed and Must Read Alaska has no way to contact her for her summary of comments.

31 COMMENTS

  1. I may want to research a bit, but it seems to me that the Assembly and their employees are destroying public records. I doubt if that is legal and the Assembly may be increasing potential liability of the MOA.

  2. Has Quednow ever attempted to run for one of the seats? She maybe should.

    This is the same assembly that thinks a video feed of counting the ballots should be good enough for oversight.

    I know of many liberals that aren’t this vile and would not vote for these people if they actually knew what was taking place. So many problems in this world can be pointed straight at the one sided journalism that has monopolized the sources of information for the causally left minded person.

  3. It time they just declare themselves rulers of Anchorage and stop the charade of holding public meetings.

    Almost anywhere else in the former UNited States the Politburo would be facing any number of legal challenges. But that means actually doing something instead of bleating like sheep.

  4. Here is the simple solution: “the technician who operates the audio and video recording of the meeting has found ways to delete key portions of the public process.”
    Solution: Fire the recording technician, delete all past recordings and stop all Assembly meeting recordings in the future.
    We are not hearing the truth, anyway, so just give in to the terrorists running the assembly and those CLOWNS that keep voting them into office.

    Problem Solved

    • Firing the tech isn’t gonna help. They’ll just bring in another.

      The only way to end run this is to
      -sue the pants off them
      -provide your own live stream.

      • Suing them will just result in higher taxes, and nothing else.
        And, if people start recording or providing live stream, the Assembly will ban personal recording devices in Assembly meetings. The Mayor will obviously veto, but they will just override.

      • Totally agree. We should start an organization that we can donate to that is just a legal fund to start going after these guys. The Kenai Borough too. They both appoint the city clerk and essentially the attorney that is supposed to be keeping them in check. So there is no one at all holding these people accountable and it really shows in how they behave.

    • So you’re basically admitting that your only familiarity with this person or their position is what you’ve read in this story? Last I read, this person is/was an employee of the Anchorage Fire Department. Remember how Suzanne’s competitors and/or Bronson’s enemies made much ado over an alleged confrontation between this person and Amy Demboski nearly a year ago? I’ve never seen an explanation for why AFD is performing this task, how it fits into the appropriate job description, skill sets, etc. More union featherbedding, perhaps?

  5. Sounds like we need the media to handle media coverage of the hearings if the government won’t. Please don’t tell me they have a rule against audience recording devices.

  6. The goal of toddlers… errr… I mean leftists is to establish a single party State where they are the only ones in power, the only ones with a voice, the only ones allowed fundamental human rights.
    .
    And, the Assembly’s actions here, and on pretty much every other issue, clearly demonstrate their intent. Their blind opposition to anything that disagrees with their desire to be the only voice, the only decision maker, is obvious.
    .
    If the Assembly majority, and especially the Chair were fully realized adults, they would be capable of tolerating differing opinions.

  7. Now WHO are the real fascists today, particularly when it comes to the suppression and hatred of freedom of speech and the free dissemination of information?
    I think the answer is obvious, and it is not conservatives or libertarians, but those who masquerade as “the left”.

    • They seem to be getting more bold with each passing day. Almost like the Nazis did. They invaded Poland and got away with it and then they hungered for another country and so on and so on. You folks have got to put a stop to this and some manner

    • Sue them. As a body and each of them individually.

      Try them up in court and make it hurt. Regardless of outcome. The point is to fight back.

      Have somebody like KENI sue for the right to broadcast the proceedings live.

  8. Man, I decided to watch some of the meeting. They have turned it into a real circus. Reminds me of a king that wants to flatter people with his presence and then makes them dance and entertain him. Then he says “Bravo Bravo. Look how I love the peasants. Aren’t they wonderful. Look at me. I’m so wonderful to give these people the honor of having the opportunity to entertain me and flatter me. Alright, next awareness of the month thing… Look at us caring. I want the record to show that we care about stuff. Look at us. You are wonderful and you are wonderful. We make each other so wonderful.” It’s worse than watching the Oscars.

    Then when they finally get to real business, they act like dungeons and dragon nerds who get upset when people don’t just let them win and want to compete too.

    It is such a display. They are truly in their own world and just love how wonderful they are. And I think Perez-Verdia is still falling asleep or something. He is barely paying attention. And I wonder how all of the ones that call-in get groceries if they are STILL too afraid or inconvenienced to come into the assembly room.

    So cringy. If half of Anchorage watched it once, they would all be voted out if there was any decent alternative running. But they have made it unwatchable. 315 views on youtube and I bet many of those are journalists and activists that have to force themselves to watch it.

  9. How. Just how do the people of Anchorage tolerate this?

    Is this just the result of subtle incremental disenfranchising the dissent?

    To Anchorage-ites of all flavors specifically, and in general all Alaskans…this, this is the one slippery slope you actually should take notice of.

    Even if you support the Anchorage Assembly’s agenda, you need to protest this. When government disenfranchises the public, it loses legitimacy…

    • They are lazy and don’t care. It’s one of many reasons I bailed for Juneau.

      Here in our peoples republic the 11 conservatives actually try to push back. While we don’t outright win, by being in the fight we help soften the landing.

      Last year there was a big push by the whine and cheese crowd to severely limit cruise ships. We teamed up with leftists with common sense and slapped that mess down hard.

  10. Alternating public comments or records of a City Council meeting or documents is illegal. Should charges be considered against the video tech or at least fired? City Employees, do they not service the Mayor? The Mayor could fire employees?
    State of Alaska DOT was planning for years to take the property known as The Golden Lion Hotel at the corner of 36th AVE and New Steward Hwy. Would The Mayor, City Council, and Planning Commission have known this? The former Mayor and these four council members purchase four properties in the amount of $14.7 million.

    Assemblymen Constant, Forrest Dunbar, and Rivera. What have they gained in the city purchasing this property?

    • Constant used his “vast array of connections” to arrange to have meetings broadcast over KRUA. I have no idea if that’s still the case. I do know that the FCC database shows them broadcasting with all of 155 watts. I wonder if their signal can even be picked up in parts of Eagle River, which is where their transmitter is located.

      As for KENI, their typical audience member could care less. They’re sitting around wondering when Michael Savage is going to return. Here’s a hint: like every other has-been talk show host from 20 years ago, he’s pushing a podcast these days.

  11. Thank you, SUSAN DOWNING FOR printing what she said. We would never have known what she presented without this article. I don’t know if it was you or whoever works for you, to get this message out. They did a great job!

  12. This story is nothing new, really. KUAC has been broadcasting FNSB Assembly meetings for decades. For a long time, the broadcast started at 6:00, same as the meeting. In 2006, they decided to eliminate the first hour in order to not preempt Marketplace. That hour contained most of the public comment period. This move occurred at a time when many people were actively protesting various things the borough was doing. The fallout was significant. A group discontinued their support for the station and formed Fairbanks Open Radio (they were awarded a license but couldn’t afford to operate a full-power station, so they did some horse trading and wound up with a low-power station instead). The general manager soon left after being eviscerated in the local media. It was three or four years before the station had a permanent GM again. There were staff shakeups throughout the station during that time.

  13. I just posted 6 photos on my Facebook page and on the Must Read Alaska Facebook page’s post of this article, which prove that Irene’s testimony was aired live.

    I just now took these photos with my camera of our TV’s recording, which shows Irene and Jessica speaking — GCI’s Yukon TV (their Cable TV replacement). Anchorage Assembly deleted Irene and Jessica’s testimony from their YouTube video, which is supposed to be unaltered, as it is our public record of the meeting. Their *intentional* cut is so obvious here. We hear Chair Suzanne LaFrance say the Final Audience Participation is beginning. We see Irene ready to speak, and just before Irene starts talking, it cuts to Jessica walking away seconds after she’s done speaking.

    I watched the meeting on the Muni’s YouTube livestream, where I’m 90% positive I saw Irene’s testimony before they took it down. There’s a slight chance I only saw it later on Yukon, because I didn’t watch the YouTube livestream straight through, was skipping around. But I’m pretty sure I also saw it on the YouTube livestream.

    This proves that GCI’s Yukon TV aired the testimony. There wasn’t a glitch with the feed going out, which I’ve heard they’re claiming.

    Two of these photos show the actual time it was aired, with the program in pause mode.

  14. The Anchorage Assembly has uploaded the UNEDITED version of the Assembly’s September 13th Regular meeting on their Municipality of Anchorage Meetings YouTube channel, uploaded on September 20th — fixing their intentional and illegal edits. This video now includes the Final Audience Participation, including Irene’s testimony, and also the portion they edited out in their first permanent record video after Chair LaFrance cut Jamie’s mic.

    Minute 2:56:35 – 50 seconds are restored, that were cut in their first permanent video, showing what happened after LaFrance cut Jamie’s mic.

    Minute 4:57:00 – 4 min 15 sec are restored, the entirety of Irene’s and Jessica’s testimonies.

    The Assembly’s first, permanent record video was posted on September 14th, which has stayed up until this video has now taken its place. I checked many times, and to my amazement, they stubbornly wouldn’t fix the problem, leaving the alteration of the public record up for about seven days, without explanation.

    I left a comment under the 9/14 video, stating what they cut, and that it’s not lawful to alter the public record. Instead of answering, or fixing the problem, they turned off the comments, so people could not see Irene’s testimony, which bothered some of the Assembly members who immorally and unConstitutionally locked us down, which resulted in even tragic consequences.

    One person testified during the mask mandate AO-60 testimonies that his grandmother went blind because of the Assembly and Mayor’s unscientific and unethical first mask mandate.

    Many lives were permanently affected by Anchorage Assembly’s draconian, unscientific measures. Instead, they could have spearheaded a campaign for Anchorage residents to take enough vitamin D, which cuts the severity of Covid by 14 TIMES (1,400%!), which has been scientifically proven in peer-reviewed studies.

    Dunbar most often didn’t even look at those who told the truth during Assembly meetings about the damage masks do, how they don’t work, the truth about high enough vitamin D blood levels, the effects of lockdowns, mental illness that was caused, etc..

    At least he showed up though. Zaletel wasn’t present once during the many-day testimonies on AO-60 that she introduced. Yet her campaign ad told how she always shows up.

    Editing out the truth doesn’t make the truth go away.

    Some of the ‘woke’ leftists on our Assembly are corrupt, and will even break the law to try to keep them from losing face.

    Assembly Regular – September 13, 2022 – 2022-09-13 17:00:00

    Sep 20, 2022

    Video should start at the beginning of Irene’s testimony that was edited out in their first “permanent” video:

    [Link is under MRAK’s Facebook page post of this article. Or do a search on the video’s title, or find it under the muni’s YouTube channel: “Municipality of Anchorage Meetings”]

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