By RUSSELL BIGGS
The Anchorage Assembly is entering Act Three of the summer’s biggest blockbuster disaster.
Six months ago, there was a recall of hard-left Anchorage Assembly member Felix Rivera being obstructed by $100,000 of California and special interest money, a highly contentious health order, and millions of federal economic stimulus dollars at stake.
Fast forward to now: There’s a pending recall of hard-left Assemblywoman Meg Zaletel being obstructed by $100,000 New York/special interest money, a highly contentious health order, and another likely tranche of 3 trillion federal dollars of relief money on the horizon.
The difference in this sequel, however, is a populist uprising of Anchorage citizens have been labeled as extremists, homophobes, anti-semites, and radicals. These citizens have co-opted control of the Anchorage Assembly chambers by actually showing up and participating in the democratic process, as guaranteed to them in the municipal charter.
Also added into the mix is a full-scale propaganda campaign by a three-headed Cerberus of interests:
- Providence hospital (which made $2.5 billion in revenue with a 626 percent markup of emergency room care that was apparently not enough financial buffer to prevent a nursing staff shortage)
- Special interest dark money (such as the Alaskans for Posterity that recently spent tens of thousands of dollars of anonymous mailers to all addresses in the municipality blaming Covid, harsh language, and over-salted food on the duly elected Mayor)
- The same left-leaning media that destroyed their credibility with descriptions of the “mostly peaceful protests” and crisis standards of care announcements that ignored the local hospitals performing elective penile prosthesis surgery.
The reality is that the leftists have found a convenient foil in “Save Anchorage,” the Facebook group that formed in the summer of 2020 to protest the diversion of millions of dollars of CARES Act funds through wholesale disregard of the title 21 zoning laws.
The 8,000-member Save Anchorage group closed to the public after continued harassment and doxxing campaigns against its members forced the administrators to lock the page. That predictably resulted in even more caterwauling that group that Ethan Berkowitz labeled “astroturf” was just a vocal minority of rabble rousers and insurrectionists, doing their domestic terrorist deeds in secret.
To the surprise of many, the “vocal minority” managed to elect a conservative mayor, win an Alaska Supreme Court case to force a recall election, and jumpstart a conservative takeover of the Assembly in 2022.
The group, despite claims to the contrary, has never been led by Dave Bronson or Jamie Allard, although both helped Save Anchorage fundraise thousands of dollars for local homeless shelters.
Because it is much easier to stoke the flames about “right wing” terrorism claims against a vetted and closed group than it is against the mom of autistic child who can’t tolerate a mask, the Left has continued its spin campaign against the the hockey moms and property owners of Save Anchorage.
All of this has set the stage for the current battle of control of what the actual reality is.
As was witnessed last week, the same Anchorage Assembly of 2020 that removed the citizens from the chambers under cover of COVID mandates to prevent them from demonstrating against CARES act funding diversion and also prevented a timely vote for the mayoral vacancy, is now suppressing the free speech rights of the mayor and an Eagle River Assembly member.
The Assembly continues to amplify the narrative that the response of the public, many who waited for 15 hours to speak to the Assembly, is unpredictable, unreasonable, and a conspiracy of right-wing cultists intent on destroying democracy.
The reality, however, is that the average Anchorage citizen is standing up against the political machine that is destroying this state.
Those same citizens showed up for 5+ days of non-stop civic involvement.
This worries those intent on keeping the status quo, and they are teeing up a recall campaign against Mayor Bronson for his ”failure” to use the power of the government to force Anchorage citizens to take responsibility for their own health.
It has been an enlightening journey observing the Left’s spin Save Anchorage, which is a homespun Facebook group posting news of Anchorage, into an existential threat of democracy.
It’s been enlightening to see Rep. Zack Fields take to Twitter to claim those who showed up to testify in the Assembly chambers were “approximately 200 anti-semitic, racists, illiterate fanatics.”
The reality is these are people who care deeply about their community and their rights to representative government.
Russell Biggs is an Anchorage resident and civic activist who has led the Recall Zaletel effort.