During the time when the Municipality of Anchorage was awash in money to hand out to just about any entity in city limits from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act, Austin Quinn Davidson was acting mayor.
She had ascended to the position after the hasty departure of former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz in October, 2020. The leftists controlling the Assembly refused to hold a special election, as required by law.
There has been finger pointing from the left, with Democrats and their media lapdogs saying it’s Mayor Dave Bronson’s fault that the House of Transformations was not properly vetted before it received a $1.6 million grant.
But a look at the facts shows that Bronson was not even mayor at the time the appropriation was made.
In the spring of 2021, the Assembly was rushing to get more than $50 million appropriated before Mayor Dave Bronson took office. The check for the House of Transformations, $1.6 million, was issued in August under Bronson, but only because the appropriation had been made on May 18, 2021, and Bronson was sworn in on July 1. He was required to issue the checks to the organizations chosen by the Assembly and former acting Mayor Quinn-Davidson.
In May, when the Assembly approved the funds for House of Transformations, Felix Rivera was the acting chair of the Assembly, and it’s his signature that is on the appropriation resolution.
That same resolution approved numerous other appropriations, including $437,000 to the Alaska Black Caucus so it could buy an office building.
Some of the other grantees included in this first large tranche of ARPA funds were:
$300,000 to Shiloh Community Housing to provide accessible, affordable, and quality housing for young adults 16-24 years of age. Funding will support their transitional housing program for young adults experiencing homelessness who also experience employment barriers.
$500,000 to Choosing our Roots to acquire a multi-unit dwelling, to be used to temporarily house for transgender and gay youth ages 18-24 awaiting host home placement.
$56,000 to Northern Culture Exchange to produce a targeted economic impact study, ecosystem assessment, and set of strategies and policy recommendations to reignite the creative economy and ancillary businesses in Anchorage.
$150,000 to SALT and Northern Compass Group to continue work on the Roadmap for a Vital and Safe Anchorage for the another 18 months.
$100,000 to the Business Boutique, owned by Jasmin Smith, to communicate funding opportunities to BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) owned small businesses.
House of Transformations was just one of many grants that are listed in the nine-page resolution passed by the Assembly. Rosalina Natazha Mavaega, 41, and Pastor Esau Malele Fualema Jr., 44, now stand accused of using those House of Transformations funds improperly and obtaining the funds through fraudulent business practices. The entire list is linked below:
The Anchorage Daily News has pivoted its news coverage to reveal, breathlessly, that Mavaega was appointed by Bronson as a member of the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission, and is on the city housing and homelessness committee. And the newspaper makes the story about how Mayor Bronson won’t fire her from these commissions, which is something he doesn’t have the authority to do on his own.
But those are distractions compared to the $1.6 million grant that federal authorities now say is improper, and that came with the blessing of Austin Quinn-Davidson, Felix Rivera, and the other liberal elected officials running Anchorage, grants that were hastily made in an effort to spite the incoming, more fiscally conservative mayor.