AO37 Testimony Ends, Vote May Be Delayed (VIDEO)
Last night was the last round of scheduled public testimony on Anchorage Ordinance 37, which would take away the rights of municipal unions for binding arbitration, the right to strike, and would restrict annual raises. AO37 would also utilize managed competition to outsource city work done by public employees to private companies.
For another five-hour session, city workers and supporters of labor stood on the podium and gave their three-minute testimony. Sadly, their opinions and experiences seemed less interesting to the Mayor than his manicure.
Ultimately, police officers, firefighters, city employees, and concerned citizens were left standing in line to testify, after the Assembly voted 6-3 to turn them away. There were also about 150 people in the overflow area at the Wilda Marston Theater across the hall that were not able to speak.
Assembly members Paul Honeman (East), Dick Traini (Midtown), and Patrick Flynn (Downtown) were the only three to vote to allow the testimony to continue. Elvi Gray-Jackson (Midtown), who is not supportive of the Ordinance as written was excused and not present for the vote.
Those voting in support of cutting public testimony, despite a strongly supported legal argument from the ACLU, were Chairman Ernie Hall (West), Cheryl Frasca (West- appointed temporarily to this seat and running for it against Tim Steele in just a few weeks), Jennifer Johnston (South), Chris Birch (South), Bill Starr (Eagle River), and Adam Trombley (East).
Debbie Ossiander (Eagle River) was Chair of the Assembly for the infamous equal rights ordinance 64. She stated, at that time, her passionate opinion in no uncertain terms that ALL who wanted to testify should be given the opportunity. She allowed even those who lived outside the Municipality of Anchorage to testify, and the process took many more hours and weeks than what has been given to Ordinance 37. Many were waiting to see how her deep belief in the right of people to be heard would apply this time.
Ossiander was present at the meeting, but left the room just before the roll call vote was taken, and was not there to cast her vote. I guess the last time she was waving the flag and opining about the sanctity of public testimony she didn’t have to pee.
The vote on the Ordinance itself which was originally scheduled for this evening, may be postponed until Tuesday, March 26. Chairman Hall announced that there would be a motion made at tonight’s meeting to delay the vote.