This is why we returned the Anchorage Assembly to left wingers?

January 13, 2009 at 11:10 pm | Posted in politics | Leave a comment
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From a press release Jan. 12, 2009:

Acting Mayor Matt Claman today announced the names of the community leaders selected to discuss and advise him on the potential impacts of the global economic downturn on Anchorage. The panel, which consists of a diverse cross section of the Anchorage economy [emphasis mine] includes individuals from the following sectors: health care; telecommunications; tourism; oil and gas; transportation; social services and investments. They are:

Michelle Brown, President and CEO, United Way of Anchorage
Jason Brune, Executive Director, Alaska Resource Development Council
Sheri Buretta, Chairman of the Board, Chugach Alaska Corporation
Steve Colt, PhD, Interim Director and Associate Professor of Economics, UAA (ISER)
Marilyn Crockett, Executive Director, Alaska Oil and Gas Association
Edward Lamb, CEO, Alaska Regional Hospital
David Lawer, Senior Vice President, First National Bank Alaska
Jerry Neeser, President, Neeser Construction, Inc.
Greg Pearce, Vice President and General Manager, GCI
Julie Saupe, President and CEO, Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau
Chris Stephens, Partner, Bond, Stephens and Johnson
Neil Thomas, Associate Broker, Coldwell Banker Best Properties
Diane Wilke, Executive Vice President, McKinley Capital Management, LLC
Rich Wilson, State of Alaska, Development Director, Ted Stevens International Airport

“I’m pleased with the individuals and industries represented in this advisory panel,” Claman said. “As we take a closer look at the effect of the national economy on our community, it’s important to understand how it will impact us as a whole, as well as the various sectors. I look forward to receiving their input and a better picture of our future.”

The members will consider Anchorage’s strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities to mitigate or avoid the potential negative impacts and stimulate economic growth in Anchorage. The panel will convene its first meeting on January 15, 2009.

Maybe I shouldn’t get too excited about any of this. Claman is only going to be the mayor for six months. He is finishing out the very end of Mark Begich’s second term and was appointed according to the rules for succession in the municipal charter.

Claman was elected to his assembly seat, and appointed Chair by vote of Assembly members last year, on virtue of his liberal bona fides and as a reformer. In a rare moment in Anchorage, the voters threw the bums out and tipped the balance of power on the Assembly to the left.

The voters did this on purpose! I give them a lot of credit. They had their reasons, and good ones. One of the reasons was NOT that the previous composition of the Assembly was doing a lousy job implementing the Republican agenda.

So I am reading the list of people on Claman’s committee and just shaking my head. And I start to tremble a little… and pretty soon I can’t concentrate on what I was doing and I’m turning red, and I start yelling: “FUCK! Who in the world does this guy think voted for him?” What gets into politicians? I mean, really, come on – the very idea that this is any sort of a “diverse cross section” – my god! How knuckle dragging dumb does he think we are? With maybe one exception [the professor, I’m guessing] there isn’t a single Democrat or single member with a sub-$250,000 annual income. Some of these people have enough money to buy the town outright. These people are absolutely at the pinnacle of their game – they are not merely in the top five percent of Anchorage, they are the top 1/50th of one percent.

Do some of them know what is best for Anchorage? Sure, sort of – in a “what’s good for General Motors is good for the USA” way. Should they be in a position of crafting public economic policy? Absolutely not, in any way, shape or form; any more than big oil should dictate national energy policy. At this point most of Claman’s committee should be engaging their spare time setting up foundations to distribute assets they can’t possibly spend in their lifetimes.

If Claman really wants to understand how the local economy “impacts us as a whole” there are a lot of other people he should be talking to outside the committee’s demographic. If he wants to find out why we are doing a lot better in availability of methamphetamine than in say, fetal alcohol syndrome, infant mortality – and domestic violence and rape and burglary – this might not be quite the right group. Why isn’t there a working single mother on the committee? A minimum wage worker? A homeless person? A 20 year old high school dropout? Someone who is mentally ill or disabled? Someone who is working for five figures, not six and is juggling utility bills, taxes and fees that have increased threefold, on pay raises that haven’t kept up with inflation?

Fucking hell, goddammit. I am am getting super pissed off again! Claman has only been mayor for a week and I am going over the edge. I will either soon be wandering the streets with a big distended belly, babbling incessantly, or else going into the voting booth and marking the ballot for a Republican for the first time in 30 years of voting.

Because when Republicans are in power, at least I know where I stand. They are enemies of the people and they make no bones about it. Life is simpler and more predictable and it is easy to rally people to a cause. I’m sick of paper tiger liberals. Life’s too short. Listen, your opponents are going to call you a left-wing lunatic dirty hippie moonbat commie anyway – you may as well actually act like one, brother!

Why is it, when Republicans control, it’s their way or no way. It’s their agenda, all of it, all of the time. No prisoners! And then when Democrats win, nothing but bipartisan compromise, even in situations where the public is to the left of BOTH parties. Dan Sullivan, Dan Coffey [and Tom Fink and Don Smith] have always been someplace between disdain and contempt in constituent relations and the role of public testimony and public input in legislation. Someone like Doug Van Etten comes along, flattens the pyramid and gets average people involved like never before, and he’s eviscerated. The public is sick of it. Claman may not realize it but the days in Alaska when you felt you had to act like a Republican to get elected as a Democrat are over!

I showed the press release to a couple friends. The first one said, wouldn’t you think a city with a $400 million annual budget would have its own economists on staff who have been already busily at work on this issue? Or maybe they downsized that department, so there’s just recent grads there [whose job it was to assemble the advisory committee]?

The second friend said – let me short cut it and say what their findings will be now [and Claman won’t even have to wait until the 15th]:
1. We have to get rid of all the unions. [Unions will turn out to be at fault for most of this.]
2. There is too much regulation on business.
3. We need to relax rules for public oversight on contracts and bidding.
4. The rest of Anchorage should pay for infrastructure upgrades to the Hillside.
5. Explore new revenue sources [sales tax, increase miscellaneous fees, etc.].

Evidence of item 1 wasn’t long in coming, for a half hour later my inbox contained another press release from Acting Mayor Claman. He paints a dire picture – basically that we’ll be short about five percent of our ’08 expenditures. This sentence stuck out: “In the last 24 hours the Claman administration has reached out to each member of the Assembly and to representatives of the eight employee unions [emphasis mine], to alert them and request their help.”

In the same way the federal bailout of banks didn’t help the people with sub-prime loans, the local belt tightening will mostly be by people who depend on government programs, and who are comparatively without real estate investments and top tier incomes. If I were the head of one of the eight unions I wouldn’t even take Claman’s calls. Let this clown twist in the wind for awhile until he figures out who his constituents are.

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