Shutting the public down: Anchorage Assembly eliminates public participation at start of meetings

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The half hour that has been reserved for audience participation during the early part of the Anchorage Assembly meetings is no more. The Assembly majority has killed it with a stealth move.

AO 2022-82 passed on Tuesday night, with a surprise amendment from Assemblyman Chris Constant, removing the “initial audience participation” that was given one half hour after some early business was taken care of by the Assembly. There will be a limited time for a member of the public to speak if that person has made an appearance request in advance. At this point, the reservations for those appearances are limited to three people, for three minutes each.

The title of the ordinance didn’t suggest that audience participation would be limited. That came from the surprise amendment by Constant, which passed. Assemblyman Felix Rivera, who usually votes with the leftist majority, broke from the majority to vote against the amendment.

The title of the ordinance gave no indication of what was coming: “Ordinance No. AO 2022-82, an ordinance of the Anchorage Assembly amending Anchorage Municipal Code Chapter 2.30 Rules of Procedure for Assembly, Assembly Chair LaFrance and Assembly Vice-Chair Constant. P.H. 9-27-2022. 14.G.1. Assembly Memorandum No. AM 481-2022.”

Constant said the intent of having the public participation had failed, and the public can still testify at the end of the meeting and during any item on the agenda that allows testimony.

There were only about five people in the audience at the Assembly meeting by the time the item came up for a vote. Those observing said it appeared that Constant had pre-arranged it with the Assembly chair and others to slip the amendment in.

Public participation at the Assembly meetings is often contentious to the Assembly majority, with people using their three minutes to heap criticism on the Assembly for one transgression or another. The public testimony portion has been one of the more entertaining portions of the Assembly meetings, but clearly aggravates the liberal majority.

In the past 18 months, the Assembly has tightened other rules pertaining to participation and the public, such as cordoning off the area in front of the dais to prevent the public from approaching Assembly members. During the Covid pandemic, the Assembly severely limited the number of people allowed to attend Assembly meetings in person, and during that time angered the public by passing numerous controversial provisions.

40 COMMENTS

  1. This is just the adult equivalent of a toddler putting their hands over their ears and shouting LALALALALA so no one can hear anything they do not want heard.
    .
    How fast can we get these people out of office?

  2. When are you gonna have enough, Anchorage? Really?

    You are being ruled by petty tyrants because you allow them to get away with it.

    If the Politburo were right of center, the left would be in the streets protesting. Businesses would be boycotted. Anchorage would be shut down. Lawsuits would be flying.

    But conservatives go home and complain. Beats actually doing something.

    It’s past time to stand up, get out, or shut up and take it like sheep.

  3. Don’t forget people when democrats/liberals do stuff like this it’s for Democracy. When Republicans/conservatives do something like this it’s Tyranny!

    • First axiom of politics.
      It is no the action taken by the person that causes offense.
      It is the political affiliation of the person taking action that causes offense.

  4. Good move
    . Divert the public toward their neighborhood
    city councils. maybe conservatives, or save anchorage, can flip more councils. Change takes painstaking time like weight gain and loss.

  5. This assembly reminds me of the dysfunction in Washington. Partisanship run amok. Opposition at every turn. Scorched earth adherence to opinions and ideas. No reasoning. My way or the highway attitude.
    We need a new clean slate.

  6. So, the Jerry Springer show continues without an audience. Maybe they need cutouts and fake applause like the NFL used. That way they can feel validated when King Constant makes a declaration, and nobody will have to be hauled out for disagreeing. We will have nothing to worry about, so long as we pay our overinflated property taxes.

  7. Once again, they violate the Open Meetings Act — and nothing happens. We have thouhsands of lawyers in this town and no one will take this on? I know we can and should file Ethic Complaints, but don’t they go through the Corrupt City Clerk Barbara Jones? It is way past time to act.

  8. Ideas so good that it needs to be impermissible to challenge them…
    .
    At some point, perhaps the breaking point, these tyrants will receive their comeuppance, and I suspect it will be commensurate with the level of tyranny that they have sought to exert over the citizenry. Every action creates an equal and opposite reaction. The push to reclaim the liberty that has and is being stolen, will of necessity be of an intensity that is, at the very least, equal to what has been exhibited here.
    .
    The deliberate destruction of moderates and moderating viewpoints will come at a high cost.

  9. How is the GOP so weak that it couldn’t even end the leftist supermajority, in a city which elected Mayor Bronson ?

    • Because the assembly is elected by districts. And the leftists have solid majorities in most of the districts. I think Pelosi said it best when she was smacking down A0C, “A glass of water with a (D) after it would win in your district.” Or something similar.

  10. Ah yes, the democratic process of the voice of the people at work….not. These are the same people, who scream so loudly that conservatives are destroying our “democracy”. This make me afraid of what else they have planned.
    Maybe Bernadette can organize a sit-in at the next meeting and we all will sing “we shall overcome”!
    Kudos to Mr. Rivera for recognizing the bridge too far…..

      • Except with their new rules Bernadette will never again be allowed to speak, as her “request” will be ignored and she will not be one of the three chosen to have an opinion at the beginning of the meeting. Cutting off public testimony at meetings now has another effect, they can now rely on the chain mail emails they get from activist groups to supposedly “speak to public opinion”.

  11. Do the people of socialist Anchorage have a legal option to fight the corrupt assembly. Soon it will have to be pitch forks and touches to run the damn communists out of town.

    • They have the option of working to get someone else elected.
      They can run for Assembly.
      .
      I cannot speak for others, but I spent a lot of time last spring working to ensure Weddleton was not re-elected. I walked the neighborhood, talked to everyone I met, knocked on doors, etc.. Do that, and it can make a difference. Save Anchorage started because people knocked on doors, not because some outside group funded it.

  12. Assembly person Constant, complaining again with his 8 other Commie 8, and when one of them votes against these, its also a “show”, so Felix drew the short straw this meeting…

    “Constant said the intent of having the public participation had failed, and the public can still testify at the end of the meeting and during any item on the agenda that allows testimony.“

    When and if they allow testimony! Cause they decide that oart foo.

    The Assembly commie 9 have failed us, not the other way around there buddy! You and your co-conspirators have been breaking every open meeting law we have, dismantling our democracy one tuesday at a time…..

  13. What a sad comment on Anchorage that members of the community would even entertain the idea of a “government” with NO participation of the people? That’s not “government at all! NO Thank you! I would think neighborhoods would be pulling away from this body ASAP!

  14. Remember when Constant and LaFrance pointed at me and said “arrest that man!”
    …. show me the man and ill show you the crime.
    Maybe they should SHOW UP and do their jobs and I won’t be so angry.
    Democrats : the party of government censorship.

  15. “and the public can still testify at the end of the meeting and during any item on the agenda that allows testimony”

    Setting aside all political issues (I know it may be difficult), doesn’t testifying about specific agenda items when they are being discussed make more sense anyway? It means that comments are directly related to the specific matter being discussed. The question of which items on the agenda allow testimony at all may be an issue though, and I am not familiar enough with Assembly rules to comment on that.

    • Testifying about the specific agenda item is likely the best place for that testimony to appear, but that does not allow an open mic time. All testimony must be specific to the agenda item, and the Chair will shut you down if she thinks your testimony is not relevant.
      .
      Limiting public speech to agenda items is limiting public participation in the public process. Something that is needed as a matter of public discourse.

  16. Does anyone see a violation here in AS.44.62.312 State policy regarding meetings

    · (a) It is the policy of the state that

    (1) the governmental units mentioned in AS 44.62.310(a) exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business;

    (2) it is the intent of the law that actions of those units be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly;

    (3) the people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them;

    (4) the people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know;

    (5) the people’s right to remain informed shall be protected so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created;

    (6) the use of teleconferencing under this chapter is for the convenience of the parties, the public, and the governmental units conducting the meetings.

    (b) AS 44.62.310(c) and (d) shall be construed narrowly in order to effectuate the policy stated in (a) of this section and to avoid exemptions from open meeting requirements and unnecessary executive sessions.

  17. The Anchorage Politburo has never bothered to pay attention during the public participation period anyway. Most of the comrades used that time to skim over the upcoming agenda for the first time and sometimes pass snarky notes back and forth.

  18. Think that’s bad, watch what happens when talk of a ten or twelve percent city sales tax comes up, maybe reinstating the personal property tax to help the struggling school district.
    .
    Anchorage’s Assembly members have no incentive to change their ways while they control Anchorage’s easily corruptible mail-in ballot system and are accountable to no one for what they do.
    .
    So that’s Job #1, voters have to figure out what props up their easily corruptible election system, how to demolish it, how to replace it with a traditional voting system having a semblance of credibility and integrity.
    .
    Until then… BOHICA.

  19. Not surprised as I was told by a family member of someone who works with the Assembly that it was “horrible” that Assembly has to listen to the public testimony. He said he didn’t understand why the public thinks they need to go testify when no one cares about their opinion. He also said they should not allow public testimony like other cities in the lower 48. Didn’t Meg Zaetel say that she doesn’t have to sit there and listen to the public? We only pay taxes we shoudn’t have any input.

  20. Mike Porcaro and Crash discussed this on the Mike Porcaro Show on 9/28, snarked that the Assembly will now surround the dais with a moat, and will sit on Kings and Queens chairs.

    Dan Fagan read this article during his 9/29 show, calling pompous Christopher Constant, who pushed this, “King Christopher.”

  21. Pretty certain its not legal to vote out public participation in public meetings by public servants. Someone better sue these knuckleheads and show up anyways regardless of what they think.

  22. After all, who among us doesn’t love coming to testify AFTER the Assembly has already deliberated and acted on the important decisions before them?
    It’s extremely helpful for the body to have the benefit of additional perspectives AFTER taking action…

  23. It is extremely helpful to the city for the temps, the selected re-presenters of their constituents, to actually hear the gruntled and disgruntled constituents in a US Constitutional republic fashion. Aspirations of tyranny will still be met with formal written protest all the way up the chain to the Secret Service for military review of formal, written protests lodged with law enforcement and state and federal attorney generals, the respective executives and state legislative and Congressional inquiry though, evidently, foreign influence has infiltrated them in this largest city in resource development held in abeyance for the future installed cabal or communists in lieu for state of mind Alaska. Keep watching TV for further entrancing and psyops.

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