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June 13, 2021

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Anchorage Assembly Meeting 2011 Budget – What are People Saying? (Live blogging)

I’m here at the Assembly Chambers as public testimony is being taken on the Anchorage municipal budget. (See previous post)  I’ll try to hit the highlights for those of you who couldn’t make it.  There is a long line of people waiting to testify and the room is packed to standing room only.

Guy in weird hat and American flag scarf thinks the mayor is doing a great job. Thinks the Assembly should buy their own lunch. Quoting from a book “citizens are a milk cow ready to give buckets of money… absurd taxes, bla bla bla.” 18th Century, Declaration of Independence, tyranny, nobody listens to us. The Assembly has a “bountiful cow” attitude. He hasn’t gotten a raise this year. (is his 3 minutes up yet?) Time to lay off city union employees.

Soft spoken guy in brown jacket. Protesting cuts for bus services. Uses bus to go to school. He has a 3.95 GPA. Needs money for other things, and can’t afford a car. Doesn’t want anything cut from People Mover as it is desperately needed by people to get to work, school, hospital, etc. There have already been cuts, and now it’s his bus (36) is being cut. Wished he had spoken up before when others’ buses were cut.

Woman with long pony tail.  Speaking up for the Samson-Dimond library. Many people who live in the Dimond area have power and affluence and could initiate a recall against Dan Sullivan, Jennifer Johnston, and those who support cutting it.

A couple people talking about a condo project in Eagle River. Not sure what this is. (glazing over) Wants to meet with the Mayor so he can see how bad it is.

Woman in blue jacket from Airport Heights community council. Wants a road project.

Another person from the condo association. ‘Senior on fixed income. The city should fix what they are responsible for. Get the drainage problem fixed.

Woman with long brown hair. Talking about the fire department cuts. She is visibly upset. 17 years ago, her son stopped breathing. She called 911. She tried to revive him and kept thinking where are the paramedics. Her son was 2, and she felt a sense of calm when they came and she thought everything was going to be OK. It was only four minutes from the time she called to when they arrived, but her son died… (this is so so sad) Four minutes matters to somebody somewhere, she said. If you take away the fire truck in Eagle River they will have to come from Muldoon and it will take 12 minutes. The cuts will affect the community and human lives. If only one life is saved by you not cutting the budget, it’s worth it.

Woman in fleece jacket is appalled we’re “run by unions.” As tax payers, social security has been cut but we’re obligated to pay. I do not like unions and I never has. They had their place in the 1800s and they now need to be abolished. Sounds like a total jerk especially coming after the last woman.

Representing Standing Together Against Rape.  As part of sexual assault response team the screening is by the Sergeant of the unit who is dedicated and knowledgable, thoughtful, and well-trained. He is good at working with victims of sexual assault. Several serial sex offenders have been brought to justice. The budget cut will not directly affect this unit, but this sergeant will be moved back to patrol, and this will affect STAR and victims. There is no reason there should be a disruption, but the current team is working well. No need to break it apart.

Woman with short brown hair -Project Access connects low income residents of Anchorage with health care. Since 2006, they’ve helped 1600 people get health care. Over 10 million in donated care. Currently 459 volunteer providers. Asking the Assembly to keep the partnership going. All funding was pulled this year. Need to keep partnership alive. This is an Anchorage project.

Silver haired lady with glasses – Client of project access. Has cancer, and if it wasn’t for Project Access, she’d be dead. They went through every penny they saved since they started working. They are still helping me with medical referrals. Husband has VA, but she has nothing. People like me need them. Can’t get insurance for herself. Appreciates PA being there when she needs them. Has friends in the same situation. We don’t all have insurance and some day everyone may need help.

Eccentric guy who has testified twice already. Wants to use his own clock. He grows weary of admonishing people. He grows weary and tired at loss of self-dignity. A cop saved his life. He was close to dead many times. He’s yelling at Paul Honeman about life essential energies, and don’t dare tell him it’s not, because he’s an older man. Developing bureacracies and mind sets, and money. Now he’s yelling at the mayor. Men want their sons to be more than they are. (his face is bright red) He wants to point out something positive. A block of water 10x10x10 weighs a lot. We have trillions of tons of water and moving hydrogen. We try to conjure a pipeline like a Harry Potter girly movie. We should be developing the Knik arm….. (buzzer)

Whew!

Man with good news in green shirt and man in suit. For every dollar invested in arts grants, the Muni makes more money. President of Anchorage Cultural Council. Has a chart of arts grants. Shows percentage of Muni budget. Even in our direst circumstances, we have not been as low as we are now. We’re down to $85,000 from $216,000 two years ago. Been cut disproportionately. Arts generate 45 million in local economic activity, 1200 jobs, cultural tourism. Events make this an exciting place to visit. Anchorage film festival. People who attend spend money in the community. It’s quality of life and also a business proposition. Artists are small businesspeople.

(Update: I was just told that Bristol Palin lost Dancing With the Stars – finally. We now resume our regularly scheduled blogging…)

Man in brown shirt talking about Anchor Rides. Wants to express concern about cuts to People Mover bus service and Anchor Rides. He is blind and rides the bus all the time. These cuts would affect people who don’t have vehicles but still contribute to our local economy. The cuts affect a vast segment of people who run medical errands or work in town.

Woman in dark jacket. Speaking up for People Mover. She’s part of a one car family. Finds it challenging as it is, but the 36 route is the one she uses regularly and is the only one near her home. She doesn’t want it cut. Public transportation requires some subsidy. She’d be willing to pay a small fare increase, she is fortunate. Some can’t.  She is also a frequent library user and doesn’t want those funds cut, or funds for the Boys and Girls Club.

Lady with short hair. Talking about Federation of Community Councils. Talking about the Boys and Girls Club. If enough buses get cut back, maybe people will be forced to stay home and take care of their kids and the Boys and Girls Club won’t need any money. (tongue in cheek I’m assuming!)

Man in green shirt – We have a sizeable work force with many skills and abilities. Politicians that want to cut the work force often couldn’t qualify to have the jobs they want to cut. Further cutting the Muni will only do more damage. There has been damage done already, but nobody has actually determined what it is. We’ve been treating the Municipal workforce as if they are to blame for a situation that doesn’t exist.  They should be respected. Thinks tax cap is unconstitutional. Assembly should be held accountable but also should do what’s necessary.

Man in plaid flannel – Completely supports the mayor’s start in budget cutting. As we’ve gone into a bigger and bigger government. People here will bring attention to union contracts. Their job is to get the best benefits they can. Unions aren’t the problem, negotiating wasn’t aggressive enough to protect us. Nobody wants to get rid of police or fire. The finances are a completely different issue. Mayor’s budget cuts are a good start.

Man in nubby sweater  40-ish- He’s here for the Young Republicans. (??)Every dollar that comes in is someone paying into the system. The current proposal is good. ‘There has been criticism because mayor doesn’t tax to the cap, but he thinks that’s OK. Sends a message to young families and entrepreneurs that Anchorage is a stable and predictable place to live. These are tough times and Anchorage is no exception. Assembly shouldn’t make it harder.

Woman in pale jacket – Chamber of Commerce. Given current economy we need a budget that reduces cost while preserving essential services. Recently the Chamber reviewed the budget and approved the general direction of the mayor to find operational efficiencies. Chamber applauds the mayor for hosting opportunities for dialog. Taxing to the cap would result in 15 million in revenue but would still leave a shortfall. Chamber supports the budget and recommends it be approved. Muni should focus on long term efficiencies… (she reminds me of my HS English teacher. I can no longer pay attention to her.)

Woman in striped shirt – Family physician. No more taxes. The more taxes and rules and regs the less freedoms we have here in America. We’re getting more taxes now than ever. A lot of union contracts are too big. She’s voluntarily taken a 10% cut. She’ll have to work another 20 years before she can retire. Unions are getting benefits and health insurance, but now she’s going to be taxed more. (she’s getting super agitated) 

Woman with dashing red scarf – Lives in Spenard. Doesn’t make a lot of money but managed to buy a piece of property. She’s a property owner who is willing to pay more taxes. Doesn’t hate labor unions. Efficiency is good. Proposes a snow shovel amendment. Some people have sidewalks and every Alaskan knows how to use a snow shovel. Muni shouldn’t remove snow, but should require business owners and home owners to do it.

Man in leather coat – How much more do you want? More union bashing. Supports the mayor in keeping taxes below the cap. Mayor is doing a wonderful job. Nothing against the police or fire, but if you increase the police by five times, you’re not going to decrease crime unless it happens at Dunkin Donuts.

Woman in plaid shirt – Here to speak for People Mover. Gets a bus pass from her employer, but every day she rides the bus with people who are poor, elderly, homeless. Even a small increase in fare for these people will mean that they can no longer ride the bus. Need to consider that fewer people would actually ride the bus. Costs will be passed on to society. The math doesn’t add up. Also spoke up for Boys and Girls Club and does not support cuts.

Man in dark green – From the Valley. Worried about unsustainable spending. We need to make some sacrifices to save our country and our state.

Man in black shirt – God bless firefighters, police and unions. Manages senior housing. Several of his tenants rely on Anchor Rides and it’s their only form of transportation. Budget is of concern to everyone but if not for Anchor Rides, several tenants couldn’t get to doctor or out to buy groceries. They are living on social security. This community is a giving community. Has lived here for 28 years and has paid taxes. Seniors and handicapped people need this system. Find it in your hearts to put funding in to Anchor Rides. George Sullivan housing – named after the mayor’s father. (the mayor is totally ignoring him. Typing and trying to pop his neck.)

(Debbie Ossiander is confused about the 14 cents thing. Nobody can explain it. Can someone email her? She has no idea what it means?)

Another man in leather jacket – opposition to members of body who view their job as to provide social and economic justice. Their job is to promote employment, and industry. Shame on the members who choose to engage in politics to bestow money on organized labor in exchange for their election. More union bashing. They provide more than private sector employers. He sounds like he’s going to cry or like he’s nervous. Hard to understand.

Woman with cane – Rides Anchor Rides every day. We cut services for the elderly, the poor and the disabled. Many of them areon fixed incomes. Services go up but social security doesn’t. We will force people to make hard choices.

Woman with pony tail – the opposite of the leather jacket man. Would like to see the tax cap maxed out. Doesn’t mind paying more taxes for a better life, and a better life for her children and grandchildren.,

Woman with glasses – This budget totally disregards concensus of the public at meetings. Concensus was do not reduce services, and increase public safety. A good city is judged on services, education, taxes, recreation, public safety. Why would people elect to come to substandard environment where they can’t rely on public transportation, and inadequate police and fire. We get paid to live here. Our taxes are among the lowest in the country. Anyone who complains is ignorant or greedy.

Mousy woman. Doesn’t think anyone could live on her income. Makes $1285 a month. When did we become a police state?  Her friend got pulled over and the cop approached the car with the hand on his gun. Wants to cancel all union retirement plans – current, past and future. Why are you throwing money down a sinking hole? Are you guys dense? Hello? What about parks? Do you want to add money to parks so the bears can take over? No more taxes! I support every tax cut and 3000 more.

A Geissel – supports the budget cuts. Doesn’t go to work to support growing government. Doesn’t want to pay more taxes. Totally in support of Sullivan’s cuts and hopes it continues for many more years.

Woman in magenta sweater – Concerned about cuts that will affect STAR. Reiterating the testimony of the other woman from STAR. Full of praise for the Sergeant who interacts with victims. Wants him to stay.

Woman with short silver hair – Thank you to the police and the fire department. 10 years ago her husband collapsed and she called 911. They came right away and saved him. Her “lovely dear man” is still with her. Talked to some insurance people.  We now have about a 3 minute response time, if it goes over 4 or over 10, our insurance will go up substantially. House next to her burned down but the firefighters prompt response saved other buildings from burning.

Woman with glasses – First time she’s spoken. Must be fun spending other people’s money. The more we can privatize and the more taxes we cut and the more we rely on ourselves, the better off we are. Govt has to do some things, but we have to be able to say no. Can’t buy everything you want. You’re going to have to say no to things. We are charitable. She wants to help people, but there are so many govt programs, that she can’t find anybody to help. (oh, good god!)

Man in sweater – Here for Boys & Girls Club. He was an inner city kid. He’s a single parent. Cutting the budget would have a big effect. (Mayor left the room) If we don’t care for kids, we have more kids committing crime. We give them a place to go. He is teaching the dangers that surround children and how to prevent them. Police come out and talk about cyber-crime. Helps single parents who need help. Involved in basketball, and he gets the respect of the kids. (Several kids raise their hands and smile) If you cut, there will be problems in the future. He has lost many friends as a kid, but the YMCA and Boys & Girls Club saved him. And he learned to respect the police and law & order. (Ossiander is justifying by saying its “only a 7% cut”.)

Woman in suede coat – Lives in south Anchorage. Favors taxing to the cap. Cuts don’t make sense. Doens’t support bus cuts, cutting the Dimond branch library,cutting fire equipment. Had a fire at her house and response time was quick and saved the majority of her house. No hydrants in her area. Equipment was needed. Doesn’t support cuts to police. Police presence in schools is important. Hears noise about cost of labor. They are repeatedly demoralized. They have made concessions and are asked to make them again. Supports taxing to the cap. Please keep our city safe and expand public transit.

Woman in purple shirt – Live in south Anchorage and teaches at UAA. Simple message. Please raise my property taxes. We choose to live in Anchorage, we want comprehensive public services and we expect to pay taxes. Nearest library is Dimond branch. Stopped going there because after cuts it was always closed. Volunteers and is aware of Project Access that connects people in need with doctors who volunteer their time. We have willing doctors and people in need, so the money it takes to administer is important. Report on the news about gangs in Anchorage. This is not the time to reduce funding to the Boys & Girls Club. 7% is important. They make good use of their money and they need more and not less. There are homeless kids in Anchorage. Obesity epidemic. Is this the time to close pools? Please raise my property taxes so we can live in a thriving city.

Woman in white hat – Playing something on a tape recorder. Nothing is playing. Song starts… I don’t know what this is. She is swaying her arm. Ah! It’s Pink Floyd – The Wall.  It’s an instrumental version.  She sings, “Hey, leaders! Keep our bus alive!” (everyone laughs)

Man in black leather jacket – Anchor Rides, People Mover, police, fire, makes it attractive for people to move into the community. Population center of Anchorage is a few blocks north of Dimond library branch. Many schools in the area. Bill Gates funded the library with computers. It’s active with young children, and the elderly. Computer lab for those who don’t have computers at home. Impossible for many to get to midtown library. Not adequate bus service. Not one book store in the mall.

Man in beige vest – School administrator at East High School. 7% does impact the B&G club. They collaborate often. Have any of you including the mayor been to the B&G club at 6pm in Mt. View? I’ve been there at that time. I’m in charge of attendance and special programs at East High. When I go to B&G, I see a lot of activity going on. To get up here and speak in front of you is humbling, and there are many students who are ready to speak to you. I want to share that with you – as a tax payer and a home owner it does me good to see this. Their money is well spent.

Boy in black coat with a group of about a dozen other kids– Recent graduate of military academy. Mom asked him what helped and he said if he hadn’t gone to the B&G club I would have been in a lot more trouble. 7% is 20,000 dollars. That’s a lot of money. The bus picks up the little kids from school and brings them to a positive place. I think that it’s not necessary to cut that money.

Boy in grey hoodie – This week we sent out forms with signatures and we have 100 pages of signatures – 1800 just this week to support not cutting the B&G club budget.

Volunteer for B&G Club. These kids are like my brothers and sisters. I want to make sure that what they want is here. I don’t want to see another child out there becoming a statistic.

Boy in black hoodie – Yesterday we took our time out to close the gym. There are families that don’t have enough money for Thanksgiving or holidays. We give out cards and we received over 4000 families that came to the B&G Club so they could have a good Thanksgiving dinner.

Boy in black jacket – Going to B&G Club for 3 years. Runs music studio. If it werent’ for them, he’d be out in the street getting in trouble, but he goes there for music and after school activities.

Boy in grey coat – Where would we be without the B&G club, if it wasn’t there? They care for children. He is 11.

Woman – Has five kids. If you do the budget cut, these kids won’t have anywhere to go. They are already short-staffed. These kids will have nowhere to go. Please don’t let that happen

Man in grey shirt – Serves snacks at B&G Club. Pray that you don’t cut funding.

(Mike Guttierez asks the group how many of them imagine sitting in one of the Assembly seats. Many kids raise their hands. Mike Guttierez is happy.)

Man in plaid shirt – Pres of Govt Hill community council. Encourage you to maintain funding for Fed of Community Councils. Provide valuable service and teaching tool for community councils. Used to be able to help out in the Clean & Green and limb trees. Parks are getting unsafe because people can lurk unseen. We’ve been blocked by Parks and Rec from doing that. Bad decision. Volunteers are willing to do it. Please follow recommendations of groups this summer. Many cuts will lead to hidden taxes. Increasing response times for police and fire will result in higher costs for everyone. Need to tax to the cap.

(Debbie Ossiander tells him that even if we tax to the cap we still have a 12 million dollar problem.  I wonder why she’d rather have a $23 million problem?)

(My hands are cramping!)

Head Library guy – People use libraries, and the one in south Anchorage. Survivability in this town depends on transit and a good library system. Go spend time in the library and you’ll see. When this body makes the hard choices, do not cut libraries. We’ve been asked to do more and more with less and less. If you keep it the way it is, you will lose library services. We’ve been underfunded for 20 years. This system is understaffed. When people go on Monday it’s closed. Sometimes at 8:30 at night it’s closed. It’s a travesty. We need to start speding money on the library system.

(10 minute break…. 2 hours to go.)

Man in white shirt – Homeowner, can’t afford to pay more property taxes. Doubled in value since he built it. They expect to pay in excess of $10,000.  Wants to reduce services and lower property taxes.

Guy in black t-shirt – Supports the cuts. Not only do we see tax increases every year, but water bills and trash goes up. I don’t work for city or state. I don’t get retirement. Don’t raise our taxes. As far as the bus system goes, how about we make the buses self-sufficient and make the cost of the ticket pay for the bus. We shouldn’t ask our neighbors for money. Why is our school budget more than our city budget? It’s ridiculous. Stop raising my taxes.

Woman in flowery shirt – Property owner, and some may consider me one of the bad guys. I have a career as a municipal employee. Doesn’t make sense we’re cutting services without taxing to the cap. Cutting fire, police and transit doesn’t make sense to me. Used to walk to branch library. My first job was as a library clerk. They used to be open six days a week. A lot of opportunities to visit the library, use resources and check out books. My current branch closes at 6 four days a week. Most others are not much better. The bus system needs to grow. Fare increases will affect quality of life. Feeling quite a bit beat up by administration and public opinion as a municipal employee.  Muni employees are being treated like liabilities and not assets.

Woman with black shirt – Boys & Girls Club. It’s an 8% cut of $40,000. We understand that we all need to find efficient ways to do business. Mt. View B&G serves 1100 kids a day. Huge program. Partners with muni and police department to give kids support they need. They are working on being efficient too. Overwhelmed at the number of kids who showed up. All those kids will talk about how they had influence tonight.

(Debbie Ossiander continues to be confused because she didn’t mention the B&G Club in Eagle River. She seems not to know where the funding comes from. She is now less confused.)

(False alarm.  She continues to be “confused” about how the funding works. If “I’m confused” was the drinking phrase, I wouldn’t be fit to drive for a long time.)

(Dan Sullivan is nodding off. Rubbing his eyes now.)

Heather Aronno! President of the UAA college Democrats but speaking for herself. Many proposed budget cuts will have the biggest affect on the least among us. When she had a fire in her home, they responded quickly and damage was minimal. Supports STAR. Proud to make these program functions. Wants to tax to the cap. Won’t fix everything but will get us closer to the solution. Not happy about the raise for Dan Sullivan and his executives.

John Aronno!  This budget is somehow a war between unions and taxpayers. Not sure what side he’s supposed to be on as he has been both. Vic Fischer one of the Consitutional founders said, “Dammit, tax to the cap!” We can’t let programs deteriorate. Other pivotal moment of the meeting was when Eddie Burke got up and said ‘I don’t read much.’ (giggling) We live in Anchorage for the way we interact with each other. Sometimes charity isn’t enough. That’s when the govt should step in for the general welfare of the people. We didn’t tax to cap last year either.  Keep funding STAR, B&G and all the programs that keep the town sustainable.

Man in black coat – It’s been interesting listening to testimony.  Have been looking at this thing narrowly. Has some wild ideas. Has a paper box as a prop. It just fell apart. Should subsidize buses on a needs based basis. Fire and police problem of contracts you can’t do much about that. I’m a former police officer, however it is possible to recoup some amount of ……. (now I’m nodding off)

Woman in blue turtleneck – Thank you Mayor Sullivan for protecting us from property taxes. Shame on the Assembly for spending other people’s money. You think it’s fun to spend other people’s money. You’re spending our blood and we’re about tired of it. Shame on you union members for accepting the contracts and expecting us to bend over and smile. Don’t ever call me again for money. (This woman is ticking me off. She’s talking right to the police in the room and Dick “Traini just admonished her to talk to the Assembly)

Woman in black shirt – Unemployed with 2 children. She won’t take a handout from the muni even though she is eligible for those programs. Taxing to the cap is a punishment to her because it would increase her taxes by $200. She is required to  budget and live within her means. Thank you Mayor for taking a beating and protecting my check book.

Woman in baseball cap – Lived here for 41 years. Seen city grow. Former mayor was volunteering for the homeless and for people who needed turkey dinners. Took her mother there. She is a property owner with six rentals. Most people think she’s an alcoholic who came off the street. “This is the discrimination she faces (as a Native?) She doesn’t like her residents not having libraries or bus services. Irritated that the Mayor gave himself and his executives pay increases. The Mayor needs to put himself in other people’s shoes.

Woman in blue shirt – Oversees B&G Clubs. Was asked where to make $40,000 in cuts. We cannot cut any more. We serve a lot of kids with very little staff. 3 full-time and 2 part-time to manage more than 1000 kids a day.  Also volunteers. The kids that were here tonight are future teachers, assembly members. Value of prevention. Return on the dollar for prevention is about $13. Cost to incarcerate a kid between 30-60k per year.

(Mayor left)

Man in white shirt – muni employee. No bribery, it’s a contract negotiation. In the end we got some of what we wanted, and the city got some of what it wanted. We all want to become more efficient at what we do. We are not going to achieve $15 million in efficiencies. 

Man in suit – Chair of Mayors Public Safety Advisory Commission. Tasked with advising mayor and assembly when asked.  Decreased coverage for fire and increase in response time from cuts to fire department. ISO rating reduction would cost citizens more in insurance. Wants to urge adequate budget for police, fire and emergency services.

(Oh, look. The mayor is back with coffee. Maybe he’ll be able to stay awake now.)

Man in black shirt – Has a giant binder. It’s the municipal budget. There’s a lot to the municipality. Over the years the Assembly has taken on a lot. Gets frustrated because we have a really good mayor but wonders if he’s going to get there. His dad built Sullivan arena and other things. We spend too much time on things that aren’t governance. There are solutions to these problems. We can do better with a lot less than what we’re spending but you can’t do it because you have too much on your plate, but a lot of you want to be the mayor. You’re supposed to be about policy… yada yada yada. (Why is it that some three minute segments are SO much longer than others???)

Andy Clary – former candidate for Assembly.  Comes as member of the budget advisory commission. Is impressed with every single public servant. Everybody works well, answered questions. We were able to have great discussions. Everybody was committed to work together to come up with solutions to deliver services. Wants to single out the IT department. Every project they are involved with is tied to a return on investment. ‘Several projects in the works now – time tracking . As you look at our report, departments came up with savings to the city. Budget is only part of the solution. We have to tackle the long-term problems. Can’t keep coming to property tax payer. Need to diversify tax base. Would like to see a sales tax that’s a dollar for dollar offset for property taxes.

Bald guy in purple shirt – Chair of Health & Human Services – Never seen so much dexterity and thinking out of the box.  They were able to minimize cuts by using state and federal grants. It was enlightening and helpful and everyone pulled together. Lived here since 1982. (He should be a hypnotist…. or a narrator for a Zen meditation tape…) Something about page 11 dash three…. (I am getting sleee

(BEEP! I am snapped out of it by the 3-minute beeper.)

Seven men are left in line,not including the one speaking.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say six of the seven are Sully fans. I think they saved them all to the end.  Shannyn thinks they all are.  We’ll see how our prediction goes.

1) Diversify our portfolio. Many stories of people being affected. Are we going to keep going back to taxing the cap? It’s going to remove the incentive for me to better myself.  (That’s one!)

2) Two requirements to run for public office. You have to be short and stupid, but if you’re as stupid as me they waive the height requirement. Doesn’t want to pay more taxes. Don’t have a revenue problem. Failure to prioritize. Quoting Forbes survey about property taxes.  Private sector solutions. (That’s two!)

3) Take pity on you, it’s a big responsibility. Since when does taxing to the cap solve the problem. I dare you to prove it to me. (That’s three!) We pay you to be budget hawks. Let’s have a zero based budgeting exercise. (I’m getting to the point where I’m fantasizing about throwing the stuff that’s in the bottom of my refrigerator at this guy.)

I suppose I should mention that there is a guy in the fron row with plastic bags on his feet, doing some kind of intermittent interpretive dance with his hands.

4) Military personnel do not draw overtime so why should municipal employees work overtime? (And that’s #4! Shannyn may win this…)

5) Support for the fire department and the police department, and support their excellent work. As an Assembly have you considered talking to other sister cities to ask if they have any advice about how to solve problems? Just thought I’d throw that out there. (Yay!)

6) Not here to bash anyone. (#5) In full support of the mayor. People have challenges every day and you have tough choices. All of us have to work with each other and set aside attitudes and egos. There is waste in every single process that you have.

Front row guy is standing up and staring at Assembly. Security has approached him. hand on shoulder. He is ignoring him and continues to stare. He sits. They are talking. Crazy guy just said “I will kill you” to the security guard. Freaky. Seriously.

7) Said he admired the mayor “for having physical restraint.” (Guess he wasn’t counting the Party Planner…)  (#6! I win!)

Linda Kellen Biegel! – Daughter was six, and Campfire Girls got cut. She was too young for B&G club. Was sitting home watching on TV and couldn’t stand it. If B&G Club gets funding cut, it will really bother her.  Shame on you Mr. Mayor!  (WOW!)  Took money for fake insurance, taken raises for yourself and executives. Until you return that money don’t expect to take money from the poorest members of the community.

Guy with muppet voice – He doesn’t expect the fire department on the Hillside. He subcontracted his security service to the Louisville slugger. I wish you wouldn’t give people so much of my money. He wishes the mayor would cut the budget more.  Why don’t we get rid of one of the reps from South Anchorage? (I’ll second that!) He wants to shoot all the bears in Bicentennial Park and make a subdivision as a revenue stream for the city. Government is the problem.

The interpretive dance guy is in line to testify. Holy cow…

Woman in grey sweater – Feels stongly about advocating for the homeless and transportation. Basic essential needs are food, transportation, shelter and child care. Being provided in community centers and at the B&G club. Many parents are single parents. We really need to keep these children occupied. Thanks the mayor for the budget dialogs this summer. Believes in sales tax, and a tax on alcohol even though she likes her martinis.

Woman with white hair – She’s a property tax payer, $350 per month. Taxes will go up in January and she’ll pay more next year. Taxing to the cap will hurt her budget. When did government become the ones to provide the services? (That would be in the 1700s)

Interpretive Dance Guy – Is that you Traini? Maybe it’s Traini days. Traini to (laughs) I don’t know the Anchorage school district look at the children. (Stands and stares.  Long silence. Getting weird.) More testimony… um… this is to the department of corrections… and officer that he did his services. He is a former united states navy and he is united states navy. he is never going to leave anchorage alaska this is where he stays with the department of corrections. Former chief of police Honeman I recently got out of the Anchorage jail, but before I did (unintelligible….some crying) He is never leaving Anchorage Alaska. He says when he dies he’s going to be buried in Ft. Richardson… People Mover bus riders haven’t had a raise in three years. Prince Charles is in the house. You don’t want to f*** with England. Don’t f*** with Prince William.

(Traini asked him to sit. Now he’s getting escorted out by the security guy and police. Wow. Sad. He obviously needs to be somewhere else.)

Guy in brown shirt – I live in Eagle River and I support cutting the fire department. Fire and police cost too much. I urge you to support the mayor and cut the budget.

Guy in black shirt – fire department saved him. He does a lot of volunteering. Doesn’t know what will happen with cuts to services.

Woman with black shirt – part of national citizens police adademy. A lot of passion for all this. I am here to support our public safety department. The last thing we want to do is to try to do more with less. Come to a citizens academy class. See what a day in the life of a police officer is like.

Man with silver pony tail – (I’m getting bleary… he’s talking about numbers) Police and fire shouldn’t have a retirement plan. Hates to say it but you could negotiate the sale of ML&P to Chugach Electric to remove a tier of administration. Libraries should be funded through the state. Get B&G Club to volunteer to clean up parks.

Guy in baseball hat – Not a property owner, uses the pools, and supports all the cuts. Whatever. Police and fire are spoiled.

Guy in suede coat – Thanks to the mayor for cutting the budget.  He doesn’t own property, but some day if he did own one, he doesn’t want his future imaginary taxes to go up.

Guy in rainbow shirt – Ah! Billy Ray Powers.  Hot shot cops are making $191,000 a year. (I didn’t see this joker volunteer to escort the crazy man out of here…) He wishes he made that much money. They are stand up guys. I would like to see everyone in Anchorage make that kind of money. The gubmint, city state and feds and welfare are not the engines of this city. Private sector is. We need to fuel the private sector. Union with tiers are sorry excuses for unions. bla bla bla. Some story about ‘Eric Croft’s neice starting a coffee shop who had to talk to seven agencies to start her coffee shop. Should do away with the agencies.

President of Anchorage Firefighters – Correcting some stuff in the budget report they received. Reduction in personnel not only affects the ISO rating, but also public safety. Overtime budget. Any time you operate 24/7/365 you expect overtime. We’re also down 36 positions so people have to get overtime. Grossly misleading when they print salaries in the paper without the explanation about the number of hours they work. Tax cap is supported by the voters.

(Debbie Ossiander is confused AGAIN!  Everybody drink!  For someone as confused as she is all the time, she shouldn’t be so condescending.  Just saying.)

Jennifer Johnston is trying to dicker with him to reduce the Eagle River Truck #11 crew to three people instead of four. He told her it’s already at three.

Debbie Ossiander reminds me of Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter.  Only more of an idiot.

Don Smith from the School Board – Lived here 72 years. After watching the growth of gov’t wants to put a lid on spending. He wrote the tax cap amendment. He keeps repeating himself.  He never thought it would go to the lid every year. Is happy about restricting school budget. Congrats to the mayor for the budget.

Kelly Walters! – We are 23 million in the hole? If we fully tax to the cap we’d still be $12 million in the hole. Last year we didn’t fully fund the city.  If we’d fully funded the city the last 2 years, we’d only be $3 million in the hole. Congrats to Mayor Sullivan b/c if you tell a lie often enough it’s true, and he blames unions and Senator Begich. Just got back from Colorado Springs. That’s a city in crisis. Tells the people that say people who want to pay more taxes to write a check, that he’ll do it when those people give up their fire and police.  We should tax churches with an obvious political bent. Change the charter to drop Eagle River so we can stop supporting them and they can pull themselves up by their bootstraps.  (HA!)

That’s it for public testimony, folks… The meeting continues and I’m outta here.

********************************************

Final Tally: 

In favor of the new slashed budget:  32

Not in favor of the new slashed budget: 52

Crazy: 3

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20 Responses to “Anchorage Assembly Meeting 2011 Budget – What are People Saying? (Live blogging)”
  1. EyeOnAlaska says:

    I’ve thought about running for Assembly, but just wouldn’t be able to sit and listen to some of the public testimony without wanting to get out a baseball bat.

  2. Moose Pucky says:

    What a great cross-section of Alaska (and America)! Great live blogging.

    Cheers to the sliver haired lady with glasses who took some time out from dealing with her cancer to speak to importance of health care assistance/ Project Access.

    Why do they always propose cutting the services most important to folks? Libraries? Youth programs? Arts? Public transportation? But still manage to splurge on executive perks?

    So they can raise taxes and splurge more on executive perks and bloated projects for bloated contractors who pay for campaigns for bloated politicians.

    Does anyone ever question how much of a municipal budget goes to insurance companies, to utility companies? Start your cuts there….and there will be lots left over for actual services.

  3. mag the mick says:

    I lve the Boys and Girls Club kids who came to speak. May this be the first of many times in their lives they stand up and speak out. Hey you kids – never sit down. Never shut up.

    • Dagian says:

      I’m right there with you. Takes me back to high school when a bunch of us would regularly troop down to protest apartheid in front of the South African embassy.

      We were also halfway hoping to get arrested for it too, as it would have added a LOT of cachet to our college application essays. Ah well.

  4. sarafina says:

    How entertaining. When’s the next election?

  5. Dagian says:

    A list of my favourites (with no slight intended towards others):

    Woman with short brown hair -Project Access connects low income residents of Anchorage with health care. Since 2006, they’ve helped 1600 people get health care. Over 10 million in donated care. Currently 459 volunteer providers. Asking the Assembly to keep the partnership going. All funding was pulled this year. Need to keep partnership alive. This is an Anchorage project.

    Woman in suede coat – Lives in south Anchorage. Favors taxing to the cap. Cuts don’t make sense. Doens’t support bus cuts, cutting the Dimond branch library,cutting fire equipment. Had a fire at her house and response time was quick and saved the majority of her house. No hydrants in her area. Equipment was needed. Doesn’t support cuts to police. Police presence in schools is important. Hears noise about cost of labor. They are repeatedly demoralized. They have made concessions and are asked to make them again. Supports taxing to the cap. Please keep our city safe and expand public transit.

    Head Library guy – People use libraries, and the one in south Anchorage. Survivability in this town depends on transit and a good library system. Go spend time in the library and you’ll see. When this body makes the hard choices, do not cut libraries. We’ve been asked to do more and more with less and less. If you keep it the way it is, you will lose library services. We’ve been underfunded for 20 years. This system is understaffed. When people go on Monday it’s closed. Sometimes at 8:30 at night it’s closed. It’s a travesty. We need to start speding money on the library system.

    Representing Standing Together Against Rape. As part of sexual assault response team the screening is by the Sergeant of the unit who is dedicated and knowledgable, thoughtful, and well-trained. He is good at working with victims of sexual assault. Several serial sex offenders have been brought to justice. The budget cut will not directly affect this unit, but this sergeant will be moved back to patrol, and this will affect STAR and victims. There is no reason there should be a disruption, but the current team is working well. No need to break it apart.

    Woman with long brown hair. Talking about the fire department cuts. She is visibly upset. 17 years ago, her son stopped breathing. She called 911. She tried to revive him and kept thinking where are the paramedics. Her son was 2, and she felt a sense of calm when they came and she thought everything was going to be OK. It was only four minutes from the time she called to when they arrived, but her son died… (this is so so sad) Four minutes matters to somebody somewhere, she said. If you take away the fire truck in Eagle River they will have to come from Muldoon and it will take 12 minutes. The cuts will affect the community and human lives. If only one life is saved by you not cutting the budget, it’s worth it.

    Woman with short silver hair – Thank you to the police and the fire department. 10 years ago her husband collapsed and she called 911. They came right away and saved him. Her “lovely dear man” is still with her. [b]Talked to some insurance people. We now have about a 3 minute response time, if it goes over 4 or over 10, our insurance will go up substantially. [/b] House next to her burned down but the firefighters prompt response saved other buildings from burning.

    Woman in blue shirt – Oversees B&G Clubs. Was asked where to make $40,000 in cuts. We cannot cut any more. We serve a lot of kids with very little staff. 3 full-time and 2 part-time to manage more than 1000 kids a day. Also volunteers. The kids that were here tonight are future teachers, assembly members. Value of prevention. Return on the dollar for prevention is about $13. Cost to incarcerate a kid between 30-60k per year.

    (Mayor left)

    Must have been time to use his gold-plated @ss-scratcher. What a glassbowl!

    I simply cannot imagine how any of the people sitting on the other side of the podium could possibly NOT see how these cuts are going to be very costly in the immediate AND long-term future.

    I hope you all prevail, and that someone with good sense wins the office next election.

  6. marlys says:

    Much Thanks AKM, Shannyn, Linda, Kelly, Pink Floyd fan,,,

  7. Harriet Drummond says:

    That condo project is called East Thunderbird Condo Assoc and its on Alexander Ave in Midtown close to Bragaw I think. Ask Elvi, it’s in her district. AWFUL drainage problems, the photos are downright disgusting, what an unhealthy place to live.

  8. Renee99503 says:

    “Woman in striped shirt – Family physician. No more taxes”–would bet this is my loony former in-law that has affiliated with ConservativePatriots or whatever the tea party group out of the Valley is named, and who fought so hard against the rights of her teen patients to have privacy rights over their own reproductive life. Must be awful to be a doctor making 6 figures and have to take that voluntary 10% pay cut.

  9. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    Makes one wonder if there isn’t already a pollution problem with Anchorage water. Someone pouring in barrels of right wing kool aid maybe?

    So the mayor walks off with $200k from the city coffers on a trumped up deal that has no documentation to speak of and because he already spent it nobody can do anything about it? Of course that $200k would pay the salaries of what, 5 fire fighters?

    The governess takes off her governess hat for a few minutes to shill for the mining companies and people actually fall for it? Same person works a sweet deal for a Canadian outfit to suck $500 million out of the state economy to put up a phoney pipeline proposition that a half wit would realise will never fly and nobody blinks?

    It is interesting that Alaska seems to be a microcosm of the overall plight of the whole nation. A plurality of the electorate is asleep or brainwashed to the extent that they can be readily fooled into voting against their own interests and then – seemingly, ignore the criminal exploitation that occurs once the thieves come into power.

    If I get the story right, it seems that the grifter governor managed to land the office by claiming to want to “clean up corruption”. But now what you’ve got there is more corruption than anyone could have imagined. Just like the lie sold ten years ago about compassionate conservatism. The only people conservatives are compassionate towards are themselves.

    I rant, I know, and probably to no purpose because the audience is selective and predisposed to paying attention, when the people who really need to hear are predisposed to , surviving.

    • loki says:

      I have well, not city water, and therefore: please raise my taxes (just a bit) to support these community services. Many I use regularly, others I hope to never need. I live here because of the cultural and recreational services. And frankly, I’d rather have more arts and recreational opportunities than paved roads.

  10. Elsie says:

    AKM, I don’t know how you, Linda, Shannyn and all the other Alaskans attend all those meetings and still maintain any composure or intellectual capacity. Thank you all for all you do to inform the rest of us like you do.

    • dogrowdi says:

      they laugh and drink with confidence..self confidence..we are the assured!.. as liza-nut sides w the lame ducks the quack will shatter the native voters foolishness..

  11. benlomond2 says:

    seems the Mayor epitomizes the philosophy of YOYO….especially as he’s gotten HIS already….

    • benlomond2 says:

      Your On Your Own…

    • dogrowdi says:

      i am amazed at the “flats” recount of the ass-meat..she is one quick witted lady of liberty! the dull-mindedness of the anchorage home owners is mind blowing for me! (reading flats blog)she reminds me why i chose to live in mountain view..i am a minority..an artist, ironworker pirate..and a father of two kids the same age as the goofey wasilla sin/family..PALIN.my pride for shanney and devon..run deep into my heart.
      the bristol loss was cool reporting by the “Flats”..by the way..i was the humble artist in 1975-76, that wes hired by pat parnell to illustrate the anchorage/eagle river girdwood unification ballott. 36 drawings, the unification builders were v. fisher, tony, fink, sulli sr., there were more but one thing rings out!…waste..graft!
      young sullie has taken the spirit of the unification and has it off like the 1930’s corrupt bastards of new jersey..and we are such a young state..shanney! HELP ME..FLATS..

    • dogrowdi says:

      i am amazed at the “flats” recount of the ass-meat..she is one quick witted lady of liberty! as a home owner here..LISTEN, the dull-mindedness of the anchorage home owners is mind blowing for me! (reading flats blog)she reminds me why i chose to live in mountain view..i am a minority..an artist, ironworker pirate..and a father of two kids the same age as the goofey wasilla sin/family..PALIN. my pride for shanney and devon..run deep into my heart. it is not about saving money, tax money.. it is the support of your city! why gripe so much!? mayou sulli is a self proved TAKER!..why dont wedesolve him! run him off!
      the Bristol loss was cool reporting by the “Flats”..by the way..i was the humble artist in 1975-76, that was hired by pat Parnell to illustrate the anchorage/eagle river Girdwood unification ballot. 36 drawings, the unification builders were v. fisher, tony, fink, sulli sr., there were more but one thing rings out!…waste and graft, e. river, girdwood..soon it became apparent that the controlled vote came from e. river (temp. alaskan soldiers). as well the liberal and
      elitist folk like Ted Stevens, moved to Girdwood. i got there in 1974-75..my feel is that the (unification) borough project would have worked but the “controlled military vote” has destroyed the democratic voting process, kinda like how (today) media is strangling/truth in our news reporting..vote your values not in your (instilled) fears! Grow up mayor sulli!
      you taken the spirit of the unification and has it off like the 1930’s corrupt bastards of new jersey..and we are such a young state..shanney! HELP ME..FLATS..

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