Russell Biggs: Anchorage Assembly has passed more than 30 emergency orders in three years. It’s time for change

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By RUSSELL BIGGS

Between 1989 and 2019, the Anchorage Assembly passed five emergency ordinances. That was over the course of 30 years.

In the approximately three years since the outset of the Covid pandemic, the current lockstep Assembly members passed more than 30. 

The most recent “emergency” is related to a series of allegations made by the former municipal manager that resulted in the Assembly moving to grant special powers to the ombudsman. 

This is of particular concern because it grants, under emergency authority, the ombudsman immunity from lawsuits, while also altering the rules of attorney-client privilege (among other ”temporary” emergency modifications).

Usually, the reason for enacting emergency ordinances must be set out for specific reasons, yet the current allegations being made by the Assembly do not meet the definition of emergency in any form or fashion, and instead begs the question of why a regular, non-emergency ordinance was not created that allowed for public input?

The Assembly’s emergency ordinance implies that municipal code in regards to the ombudsman is currently in the process of being updated, arguing that “this internal matter regarding employees is really important” and that debatable urgency is somehow meant to be equivalent to an unforeseeable condition harming the public welfare on the scale of a global pandemic or natural disaster.

The Assembly’s ordinance also shows a clear level of detail and specificity that goes far beyond what is reasonable or necessary, by amending code to state: “A civil action may not be brought against the Ombudsman or a member of the Ombudsman’s staff for anything done, said, or omitted in performing the Ombudsman’s duties or responsibilities under this chapter.” 

Does that sound reasonable?

It is questionable, at best, whether the Municipality is legally capable of granting such immunity. It is also not necessary; the ombudsman is protected from personal liability already. Navigating that protection can be done through normal public processes and no adverse effects would be felt in the interim except to the political expediency the Assembly currently enjoys through a voting bloc that may change significantly in April. 

More important than the legal validity of an exclusive and broad immunity granted on an emergency basis is how the ordinance, discussed primarily in executive session, hamstrings the public in favor of the limited few in the legislative branch that have historically shown an astounding lack of transparency in producing records as required under the Alaska Public Records Act. As of this writing, Clerk Barbara Jones has settled two lawsuits for failure to provide the assembly’s records as required by law. 

The Assembly has also abused the executive session privilege by failing to release even the “reason why” their communications involving the formerly anonymous Alaska Democrats communications director were somehow protected under deliberative “privilege.”

By eliminating the normal two-meeting requirement required for changes to municipal code, the Assembly bypassed, again, the normal public process requirements which are designed to provide transparency and allow people to voice their opinions. That change invested publicly unvetted powers in one individual, and subsequently removed that power and oversight from the public.

By attempting to grant immunity to the ombudsman above and beyond what other municipal officials enjoy, the Assembly also restricted access to the courts while compromising public access to both the legislative and judicial branches of government. 

Anchorage citizens deserve better than a perpetual state of emergency, or rule by emergency decree. Without a change in April, at some point in the near future there will be no public process left, as this group of legislators have worked consistently to remove any of the public’s input (and even the public’s physical presence) from the government of Anchorage.  

Russell Biggs is a citizen watchdog keeping an eye on the Anchorage Assembly.

23 COMMENTS

  1. This assembly cabal did more to contribute to the irreversible impoverishment of property owners under edicts to support a select few by funneling millions into groups supposedly to fix the homeless problem. The only people that can fix the homeless problem are those making the choices that put themselves in that incredibly small percentage of the population.

  2. When everything is an emergency, nothing is…I’m old enough to remember when leftist lock steppers were all bleating against their imagined “right wing monarchy” during the Bush(s) era yet here they are in Los Anchorage with their Assembly oligarchy..This is the stuff that feeds Babylon Bee! ?

  3. No kidding. However, Anchorage has had repeated opportunities to change the makeup of its ruling Politburo and flatly refuses to do so. There is zero evidence this is going to change anytime soon.

    These people ruled Anchorage like tyrants for years. The chose sides in business, virtually imprisoned the citizenry, violated every rule there is regarding basic governance, even denied you an election legally required.

    And for the most part, Anchorage did nothing about it. No major protests, no lawsuits, no civil disobedience. Just sat there. Then in the last election sent virtually every single one back.

    It’s time to accept a harsh reality. Alaska is a blue state, and Anchorage is so deep blue it’s almost black.
    Denying this is classic insanity. You’re worse than Juneau by miles.

    Can this change? Certainly. But it requires doing something the dwindling conservative citizens in the Muni don’t do. Get off their collective butts and do something. The first step is accepting the reality of the situation. This is what the bulk of the citizens want.

  4. It’s an uncomfortable reality but a true one. People get the government they deserve.
    Anchorage is living proof

    • No one deserves a punishment as bad as a government. If voting changed anything the politicians would outlaw it.

      • They will not outlaw it. As evidenced over the last several years, they will; prevent photo ID requirements, use machines to make the count unauditable, push for mail in voting, extend early voting for weeks to months, set up drop boxes, prevent observers from watching the count, slow walk the count, and institute stupidity like jungle primaries and ranked choice voting.
        .
        Old saying: If something is valuable, it is worth stealing, and elections are valuable. Every election reform being pushed these days is just another way to make election fraud easier to get away with.

  5. what can be done, Vote harder? all I ever wanted was to be left alone by these parasites. even if and its a big if you all swing this back to the right it doesn’t matter these activists on the assembly (or future assemblies) never rest. The citizens of anc. need long term solutions I.E. how do we permanently defang the political class in anc. from top to bottom they have far to much power.
    in 2020-2021 they destroyed lives and cost people their lives through gross Ignorance and negligence with no other consequences other than not getting reelected or elected to higher office these are not sufficient to the negative outcomes that their authoritarian rule has caused at the very least they should face financial ruination that they brought upon their victims in 2020-2021

    • Assuming you actually want an answer.

      -vote harder is a good start. The pathetic voter turn out in the muni is why you’re in the crap you’re in.

      -volunteer at the grass roots level. Everything from getting out the vote stuffing envelopes.

      -vet better candidates. Left to its own devices, the AK GOP is a suicide cult.

      -attend public meetings in such numbers you can’t be ignored. Especially the school board.

      -the list of things the assembly could be sued over is massive.

      -volunteer for causes and candidates you support.

      -get to know your neighbors and be nice to them. Soft power goes a long way.

      -when your local rep acts outside ways your support, write them. Copy SD, Porcaro, your friends/neighbors who are in agreement or open to discussion. Then write them again.

      The list is almost endless. It just requires the will to do the actual leg work. Of course, most AK conservatives prefer to whine than work. Like whining actually fixes anything.

      Not 15 years ago Anchorage was a solid red town with blue dots. Now it’s a near reversal. Why? Simple. The left did the actual work to change the course of the city.

      Nothing stops you from doing the same except you.

      • We you get all the union voters and their spouses voting for libs to get their raises and more benefits we need more conservative voters to get off the couch and vote. One would think we would have record voters as we have had our PFD stolen from us and our tax dollars go to mainly union employees. I think that people that don’t vote should loose their PFD or have the government put on their bank accounts so politicians can help them self’s. It has to get a lot worse to get the lazy my vote don’t count Alaskan off the couch.

        • Mark,
          Those union members, their spouses and families believe they are getting something in return for higher wages or an additional paid days off. They truly believe the lie that the union is doing them a favor. And the union has a captive audience, brainwashing them was probably fairly easy.
          Solution:every union member paying dues should have to write the check to the union, no more automatic deductions. If you realized how much money you are giving them to lie to you and undermine the business you work for, you would immediately stop paying dues and would vote opposite of everything they tell you.
          And unions, get out of politics, your time is up the moment you work against we the union members.

    • What can be done?
      When was the last time you spoke with your friends/neighbors about local politics? There is an election coming up in April, will you be willing to chat with your neighbors about what your current representative, or school board member is doing?
      .
      During the last Muni election, I made a point of talking to everyone I saw in my neighborhood to encourage them to vote. I did not push a candidate, but I did say “please look at your current representative and ask yourself if you like what they are voting for.” Curiously, most people were surprised to find out what your current representative was doing. Most were not happy about it.
      .
      People do not pay attention to local elections. Not at the same level they do National elections. But, in reality, your local government can screw up your day to day life a LOT worse than the Feds can.
      .
      Just talk with folks around your neighborhood. Take the dog for a walk and say Hi to everyone you pass. Chat weather, whatever, but before you leave, say “Muni vote is coming up. Make sure you vote!”

  6. Thanks for writing Andy….Knowledge is importand and perhaps it will cause a few more to get out and vote we need so badly to make some changes in this soon upcoming Muni Election….both on the Assembly and the school board..!!!

    • As long as we all get out the vote and educate those around us as to the rational reasons to vote in conservative candidates.
      1. Stop gender anything, crt, die, climate control, et al programs from being any part of our childrens education. That means vote in conservatives to the school board.
      2. Stop gender anything, crt, die, climate control, 2a and 1a restrictions. That means vote in conservatives to the local assembly to get our city back.
      3. Sign the RCV recall petition. That means get this state out of fanked choice voting, which should never have been implemented. Our legislators could remove it themselves, but they are weak.
      4. Attend an assembly meeting in person to truly see how awful our representatives behave. You wont believe your own eyes.
      5. Attend a school board meeting in person to see how badly Margo Bellamy treats thise in attendance. Our first amendment, free speech, squashed here.
      These meetings are open to the public, are available online to watch.
      Get out the vote.
      Get off your butt.

  7. Wow.
    Thank you for laying this out for us, Mr. Biggs.
    We do need to motivate people to vote this upcoming Assembly election cycle. We need to keep reminding people why a changeover of Assembly members is needed right now.

  8. Well, if you cannot implement your leftist paradise with the support of the taxpayers, impose via emergency orders.
    It is totally not a fascist move in any way… No dictator/tyrant ever pulled that move.

  9. Batman movies apparently made a big impression on members of our assembly. They obviously thought the example made by Danny Devito was the way to be in charge.
    It sickens me to realize we have Gotham City right here. The assembly knows nothing about running a city. We need BATMAN!

    • They should all have to have proven business skills before being on our assembly.
      No more lawyers undermining our city code.

  10. The Democratic Party has become bed partners with the government employees union who encourages their members to vote in order to get more financial benefits. Until there is a strategy as strong to remind people on the bleeding side to vote nothing will change. Remember how effective the truck parades were?

    • Calling all union members to look at how much money you VOLUNTARILY GIVE to the union. Are they truly working for you and your familys best interest? Are you better off this year?

      • Really, Maureen? Such a specious comment is bad, even from you.
        .
        The overseas military can always vote as they always used to, by absentee ballot. Holding the (lost) integrity of our elections hostage to the inconvenience of a tiny minority, who are not disenfranchised in any case, is just another example of the maliciously disingenuous tactics of the radical left, for whom rank-choice voting and main-in voting are just ploys to further corrupt and steal elections. I know that, and you know that. Because for the amoral and unprincipled radical left, ANY underhanded, deceitful, unfair tactic is fair game, as long as it advances their political agenda and furthers their acquisition of power.

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