Past due: No action from municipality on recall petition applications - Must Read Alaska
Connect with:
Sunday, December 6, 2020
HomePoliticsPast due: No action from municipality on recall petition applications

Past due: No action from municipality on recall petition applications

Citizens who have a second recall petition request filed with the Municipal Clerk’s Office have received no response — not a yes, not a no.

And it’s now past the 30-day period for a response, as required by municipal charter.

The citizen activists known as “Reclaim Midtown” signed the request for a recall petition; they want to hold an election to remove Assembly members Felix Rivera and Meg Zalatel.

Their first request — for a recall petition to remove Zalatel — was denied by the Municipal Attorney on the last of the 30-day period set forth by the municipal charter. That request denial is now being litigated, said Russell Biggs, one of the citizens.

But in the meantime, the group filed a second set of petitions — to remove Zalatel on additional grounds, and to also recall Assembly Chair Felix Rivera.

After the 30-day period passed on that petition request, Biggs is mystified. He sent a letter to Clerk Barbara Jones to ask for an explanation:

“It appears the municipal clerk’s office has failed to respond to the recall petition applications 2020-04 (Recall of Felix Rivera) and 2020-05 (Recall of Meg Zaletel) within the time frame defined in AS 29.26.360. 

“Both of these petitions were submitted and documented as received by your office on Sept 28, 2020 and are now overdue. 

“I am writing to inquire if this was an oversight, or if the municipality has taken the position that the time limits described in these statutes do not apply to the citizens’ initiative to remove these legislators in the manner provided by law.”

Must Read Alaska has also reached out to the Clerk’s office for a response.

Frank McQueary, president of Alaskans for Opens Meetings, said this is “another example of the Municipality being completely unresponsive to reasonable demands that it conduct the public’s business in a transparent way.”

Meanwhile, the initial recall petition request has been appealed to Anchorage Superior Court. The municipality doesn’t have to respond to the appeal at the court for 45 days, and has not, in fact, responded to the appeal, which was filed Sept. 30.

At least one of these cases will likely move forward via petition or through the courts, but it appears the municipality is slow-walking all of it through the system.

The recall petitions say that Rivera and Zalatel committed misconduct by participating in indoor gatherings of more than 15 people, in violation of the mayor’s emergency orders.

The allegation further says that Zalatel violated Alaska’s open meetings laws by not allowing public testimony inside the Assembly chambers, but then inviting just one person from the public to come inside the chambers to testify, after all others had been excluded.

Zalatel further allowed certain members of the public to remain inside the chambers and did not disclose this exemption to the public, disenfranchising the rest of the public.

That petition was rejected by the Municipal Attorney Kate Vogel.

The second petition to recall Zaletel and Rivera is similarly worded.

Reclaim Midtown is also the group that objects to former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’ and the Assembly’s plan to purchase two hotels, an old Alaska Club building and Beans Cafe to launch a network of services for Anchorage vagrants and drug addicts. The plan involves the use of CARES Act funds that many in Anchorage believe are being misused.

“Our community effort to remove Meg Zaletel for her role in denying Anchorage citizens the right to participate in the most controversial piece of Assembly legislation in recent memory has been an important example of the methods of government overreach used by the Municipality’s administration to stifle free speech and the right to assemble,” Biggs told Must Read Alaska in September.

“Municipal Attorney Kate Vogel’s flawed legal arguments used to justify the denial has been rejected in no less than three prior Alaska Supreme Court rulings and flies directly in the face of both settled case law and the Alaska Constitution,” he said. “The decision is patently inappropriate and we will now turn to the courts for remedy.”

But at least there was a decision. This round of recall efforts has, so far, been met with stonewalled silence.

Donations Welcome

Share

Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • City Manager Bill Falsey has his fingerprints all over this…remember he wants to run for Mayor next.

  • At some Point the State AG needs to step in and remove the Municipality Attorney for failure to uphold Alaska Statute’s and Consitution. I’m sure they take an Oath to uphold the Consitution of the State of Alaska.

    • The municipal attorney formerly was a state assistant AG. She had no problem defending Walker stealing $333 million from Alaska citizens, so she believes individual rights don’t matter.

    • You’d think..I begin to wonder what the Dems have on Dunleavy because he seems to be treating Anchorage totally hands-off.

  • Berkowitz trained them well………….

  • Have they read the minutes pf Alaska’s Constitutional Convention? I seem to remember that it was stated that “we the people” should be able to petition to recall an elected official for pretty much any reason. If the reason is stupid, then the people will see that, and not recall them. I agree with that logic.

    A word of caution, recall attempts can backfire big time.

  • Sounds like a good basis for a recall petition for a mayor. If the mayor can’t comply with statute, they are unable to fulfill the requirements of office.

  • Can someone show me where the 30 day deadline is in the Charter or the Municipal Code? I have to say I was surprised that it wasn’t in the article.

  • I do not live in Alaska but am the author of a recall the mayor petition in Montana. The recall is on the Nov. 3 ballot. I was sued by the mayor who requested an injunction against the recall after the required signatures were gathered. The judge ruled against the mayor. This is a hard process. If your cause is just, you can prevail.

  • The municipality has become an oligarchy that is being controlled by the majority on the assembly, a handful of bureaucrats, and their staffs. The only remedy we have, at this point, is for someone to get hold of the Attorney General for the State of Alaska and waltz his ass into court. He should be petitioning the court on behalf of Anchorage property owners for violations of our civil rights by a tyrannical bunch of bureaucrats. The municipality of Anchorage shouldn’t be allowed to operate outside the constitution, for a virus or any other reason.

%d bloggers like this: