“You have been absolutely pathetic,” Erik Lambertsen told Assembly members at a heated meeting over new rules that would allow the Assembly to remove the mayor for breaching public trust. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage Assembly on Wednesday voted to postpone a decision on whether to codify a set of procedures so the Assembly could remove a mayor for breaching the public trust. 

They’ll take the ordinance up again at their meeting next Tuesday. The decision to delay followed nearly five hours of public testimony, with most people opposing the ordinance.

The testimony was marked by frequent interruptions from the crowd of more than 100, including applause and cheers. At one point, opponents started singing the national anthem.

On multiple occasions speakers were paused after they made personal attacks on Assembly members, which is against Assembly rules. Security removed two testifiers for yelling, which the Assembly chair, Suzanne LaFrance, said created a disturbance.

Opponents underscored that they supported Mayor Dave Bronson — who has strongly opposed the proposed ordinance. Bayshore Community Council President Dave Weir pointed out that there is already a law that sets out how a mayor can be removed. 

“It’s called a recall,” he said. “The people voted the mayor in and the people should be the one to decide if he needs to be removed.”

Speakers also accused the Assembly of breaching the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches, and accused proponents of the proposal of stoking divisions within the community. Some said the ordinance — which allows for impeachment for things like accepting bribes, lying under oath, and “official oppression” — is written too broadly. 

Many speakers openly expressed their anger with the progressive Assembly majority.

“You have absolutely been pathetic,” said Erik Lambertsen.“If I can make one thing clear to you: I don’t like you.”

Downtown Assembly member Chris Constant, who authored the ordinance, has argued that the measure isn’t intended to remove the mayor, since it wouldn’t apply to breaches of public trust that happened before the ordinance was passed. Constant said it’s designed to set the same bar for the Assembly to remove the mayor that already exists for the Assembly to remove fellow Assembly members and school board members. 

Constant was among the eight Assembly members who voted to postpone the ordinance Wednesday night. Kevin Cross and Jamie Allard of Eagle River and Randy Sulte of South Anchorage voted against the delay. Cross previously proposed delaying the vote indefinitely. He criticized the ordinance ahead of Wednesday’s vote.

“I think the impression it leaves on the public is that we are power hungry and we’re grabbing. I don’t think it’s the right time,” said Cross. “I think the way it’s coming about is inappropriate. I don’t think that it was a bipartisan effort.”

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Lex Treinen, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage
2022-06-02 06:43:00
Alaska Public Media

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