Jamie Allard: Founding Fathers would be appalled at Anchorage Assembly overreach
I am thankful for the wisdom of our Founding Fathers who gave us a representative republic, where the rights of the minority are protected from the mob.
“A republic, if you can keep it,” is the way Benjamin Franklin described it at the end of the Constitutional Convention.
I’m thankful for those checks and balances, the separation of powers, and for elections.
In our local governing body, Assembly members are non-partisan representatives for their constituents. They provide these checks and balances at the local level.
But what I observed this week at the Assembly meetings leaves me dumbfounded.
I witnessed a super-majority of the Assembly launch a new volley of attacks on community members trying to do their civic duty. Like bullies on the playground, a progressive cabal has unleashed the hounds on anyone who doesn’t align with their exact political agenda.
From mothers giving testimony to qualified, willing public servants volunteering to serve on boards and commissions, this Assembly majority weaponized its power and is now holding Anchorage hostage.
They have intimidated those who have stepped up, even so far as to ridicule and destroy reputations. Their goal seems to be to wreak havoc.
What the Assembly majority did in denying Mayor Dave Bronson his choice for Real Estate director for the municipality can be called gangster government.
Jim Winegarner has an impressive resume as a real estate professional, landman, with over 40 years of experience in oil and gas land work, mostly in Alaska, doing acquisitions, negotiating operating agreements, and working on joint ventures for the next generation of oil and gas, among other things.
For the past several months, he served as the as the Anchorage Chief Housing Officer. When the previous Real Estate director didn’t work out due to her own problems with the Bronson Administration, Winegarner was named as her replacement.
He is a good fit, and this is a nonpolitical position. Unfortunately, the Assembly majority wanted to punish the Bronson Administration for dismissing Winegarner’s predecessor, and all for the purpose of causing havoc. It’s embarrassing to witness.
There is yet another aspect of this that should give the citizens of Anchorage pause. The position of Chief Housing Officer is embedded in the Mayor’s Office. That position is funded by the Rasmuson Foundation, whose CEO Diane Kaplan donated $250 to the Forrest Dunbar mayoral campaign this year. She also donated $450 to the Suzanne LaFrance Assembly campaign last year, and $250 to the Vote No on Zaletel Recall campaign this fall.
The chief housing position to which Winegarner was originally appointed upset Kaplan and the Rasmuson Foundation, which wanted to have its say, and have its way. Here’s the reality: The Rasmuson Foundation has embedded into the Mayor’s Office a position that believes it controls, like it did under the previous Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson. This mayor is not going to allow Kaplan to tell him who he can hire.
You can see where this is going. There is a liberal war declared on the Mayor’s Office, and even a position as uncontroversial as a Real Estate Director is not immune to this warfare.
Never before in the history of Anchorage have citizens seen a rogue Assembly, one that is using the tools it has been granted by our charter as daggers against good, upstanding, and qualified people. The charter is clear — they must vote on an appointment based on qualifications.
The Assembly majority’s actions are transparent. People in Anchorage and across the state see these actions for what they are: Not serving the public, the majority mob has a political agenda, fueled by their hurt egos as they try to damage Mayor Bronson. The harm they are creating to Anchorage and our children’s future is simply collateral damage to them, acceptable because the ends justify the means.
Jamie Allard, a veteran, is one of two Assembly members representing Chugiak and Eagle River.