Workers Voice Blog: Update from Anchorage

There were two issues up for a vote at last night’s Anchorage Assembly meeting.

First – When should the public get to vote on the matter of repealing A.O. 37? The city charter says “A referendum shall be submitted to the voters at a regular or special election held not later than 75 days after certification of the petition. However, the assembly may submit a referendum to the voters at a later regular or special election if the assembly suspends the ordinance until the election.” In short: special election in 75 days or just wait until the April 2014 election. Seems pretty simple to us. Why have the special cost of a special election when it can be lumped in at the next election? Some Assembly members thought it would be in their best interest to have the voters take up the issue during a statewide election. The municipal clerk urged the Assembly to not tie a city election in with a state election due to complications and confusion (“the Clerk’s Office opposes holding the referendum election as part of a state election“)

Two weeks after an overwhelming amount of testimony from the public on when the election should be held, they had their vote. In a 6-5 decision, the Assembly said that citizens should get to vote on the matter in April of 2014. That was great news! Yet within seconds, city attorney Dennis Wheeler handed out a notice to Assembly members. Chaos ensued and they immediately went into an at-ease. Mayor Dan had vetoed when the election would be held (see document below). After returning from the at-ease, Mr. Wheeler spoke saying that the Mayor has basically unlimited veto power. Next, the legal council for the Assembly spoke. Ms. Tucker said that the mayor does NOT have power over the Assembly to veto when an election should be held. Ultimately, the Assembly rejected the mayor’s veto, and declared that they would take the issue to court. Again, we find the mayor in court over this issue!

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