Assemblyman Chris Constant sent an email blast out to correct the record, as he sees it, on who is the real chief equity officer for Anchorage. Responding to an email about a Martin Luther King Day event announced by the Mayor’s Office, Constant wanted people to know that the mayor’s appointee is not the real equity officer.
Constant said that the real chief equity officer is Clifford Armstrong III, not Uluao “Junior” Aumavae.
“Just so folks know, Clifford Brown III is still the Chief Equity Officer and the individual names [sic] as Chief Equity Officer by the Mayor is in fact a special assistant,” Constant wrote, asking others to add their voice to the “permanent record.”
Mayor Dave Bronson’s City Manager Amy Demboski responded with an email of her own, which also went out to the wide group of people:
“On behalf of the Municipality of Anchorage, I am sending this email to correct the misinformation being spread by Assembly Member Constant. ‘Clifford Brown III’ (I think Mr. Constant meant “Armstrong”, not “Brown”) is not an employee of the Municipality of Anchorage. Furthermore, Uluao ‘Junior’ Aumavae is the Chief Equity Officer.
“If members of the press have questions as to the employment status of Municipal employees, those questions may be directed to Niki Tshibaka, Chief Human Resources Officer for the Municipality of Anchorage, at [email protected],” Demboski wrote.
Bronson released Armstrong in October and hired Aumavae. Armstrong had been hired by the unelected acting mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson, who named him to the role after it became apparent to her that Bronson was going to win election to the mayor’s office. It was a move intended to insert a leftist into the conservative administration. But Bronson wanted to pick his own team.
By the ordinance passed by the leftist Assembly and signed by former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, the chief equity officer can be hired by the mayor, but cannot be fired by the mayor. The Assembly retained that power. Bronson says that is a violation of the separation of powers, hobbling the mayor from being able to enact an agenda he or she was elected on.
The matter is likely to end up in court, as Bronson in December sued the Assembly over his right to name his own team. The complaint was filed in Anchorage Superior Court. Former Municipal Manager Bill Falsey, who worked for former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, is the lawyer representing the Assembly in this matter, which has not yet had a trial date set by Judge Dani Crosby.
The back and forth between Constant and Demboski continued, with Constant insisting that Armstrong is the chief equity officer.
“You are right. I did mean Clifford Armstrong III. It isn’t misinformation,” Constant wrote to Demboski. “The Mayor has sued the Assembly asserting that the Municipal Code is in violation of the Charter. But until such a time, any assertion that another individual is the Chief Equity Officer is in fact misinformation.” Constant cc’d the entire list of email addresses, including all members of the Assembly.
Demboski responded: “There have been many discussions about the separation of powers between the Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch recently, and I think it would be helpful for you if we recap a basic principle: the administration of government (which includes Human Resources) is the responsibility of Executive Branch, of which you are not a member, nor do you have access to employee records. You Sir are incorrect and are spreading lies at this point. Mr. Armstrong is not an employee of the Municipality of Anchorage. Period,” Demboski wrote.
“If this is confusing, I welcome you (and members of the press) to reach out to the Mr. Tshibaka, who will be more than happy to confirm the employment status of past or current employees,” she continued.
“Furthermore, I view your continual cc’ing of Mr. Aumavae, and telling members of the community he is not in the position, which in fact he is in, is harassing a Municipal employee. I strongly encourage you to cease this harassment of this employee; it is inappropriate, unprofessional, and clear intimidation by an Assembly member who will be voting on this employee’s nomination.
“Lastly, I want to point out that your emails on this matter are a clear violation of the Open Meetings Act, as you have included all Assembly members while spreading your propaganda in this email chain,” Demboski concluded.
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