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June 13, 2021

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The New and Unimproved Debbie Ossiander Scoffs at Democratic Process

So how completely impressed are we with our new Assembly Chair Debbie Ossiander? Just as impressed as we were with her the last time she was Chair. And that would be… not at all.

Her ignominious rise to the top spot hinged, apparently, on her loyalty to Mayor Dan Sullivan, and she’s been eager to prove her empty-headed devotion since her return to the throne. First on the list of things to do it seems, was to circumvent that thing we like to call “democracy.”

Anchorage is in the middle of redistricting. This is as important as it gets. The lines of elected representation are being redrawn on the city map, and the game that’s played is that the side in power appoints people to draw the lines to benefit themselves, while the rest of us try to minimize the damage that this will cause us in future elections.  Last Friday was the final opportunity for comment to the Redistricting Board, where people could come and tell them what they thought of the proposals they’d drawn up.  And so Debbie Ossiander, Chair of the Assembly showed up with a letter and told the Board that the Assembly, the Municipal Clerk and the Mayor were all behind it.

Only one problem.

Most of the Assembly had absolutely no clue that this had happened, and hadn’t given their opinion one way or the other about redistricting. They hadn’t heard the decision of the committee tasked with reviewing the redistricing. They hadn’t voted. No resolution. Nothing. The vast majority of our elected leaders were in the dark, which was exactly and conveniently where the Chair wanted them to be.

This afternoon outside the Assembly Chambers, two members of the Assembly – Elvi Gray-Jackson and Harriet Drummond decided they’d like to let everyone know that the new and unimproved Chair had gone rogue.

Highlights of the embedded clips are transcribed below:

Gray-Jackson:  What happened was that our Chair, along with the Mayor submitted a plan – a recommendation to the board, and said that this was from the Assembly and the Mayor. I haven’t seen it. My colleague hasn’t seen it, and we’re very very concerned about the process.

Our Chair just simply didn’t follow the process. We were left out of it. She established a committee to address the redistricting plan. It was herself, Assembly members Johnston and Paul Honeman… You have a committee, the committee brings a recommendation to the Assembly, and then the Assembly by resolution would normally vote on whether or not we agree with this program… except that I never saw it. And now it’s in the hands of the Redistricting Board.

Drummond:  I was extremely surprised when I heard this plan was presented as being agreed to by the entire Assembly, and that was the first I’d heard of it, and it had already been presented and handed in.

Gray-Jackson:  We received a copy of the letter that was sent, and it says “The Municipality of Anchorage Assembly, the Municipal Clerk and the Mayor’s office have reviewed the various plans presented to the Redistricting Board and how they affect the Municipality” and it goes on to talk about the plan that was submitted, the map that was submitted with this letter that went to the Redistricting Board on Friday without any input from the majority of the Assembly.

Drummond: I’d like to say that I’m disappointed that [Ossiander} didn’t care enough to present the findings of the committee to the rest of the Assembly in public. There was nothing secret or private about this, and it should have been discussed in public by the entire Assembly, and some sort of decision or agreement made by the entire Assembly before it was presented to the Redistricting Board as a decision of the Assembly.

This is a non-partisan organization, and for the Chair [of the Assembly] and the Mayor to weigh in on a partisan redistricting plan is truly unfortunate – that they didn’t come to the rest of us and get input.

~Elvi Gray-Jackson and Harriet Drummond sign a letter to the Alaska Redistricting Board

Linked below are copies of the letter sent to the Redistricting Board, signed by the mayor and stating the Assembly’s support, and the letter that Assemblymembers Gray-Jackson and Drummond drafted to the Redistricting Board after learning of the mayor’s letter. The second letter was also signed by former Chair Dick Traini, and Assemblyman Paul Honeman who sat on the Assembly’s redistricting committee. Assemblyman Patrick Flynn was not present but indications are that he will write his own letter.

The rest have not signed. Remember the next time we have one of those April elections nobody goes to, that this is why they are so important. Whoever said “all politics are local” hit the nail squarely on the head. Thanks to those who stand up and call out these vulgar attempts to circumnavigate the democratic process they swore to uphold.

Municipality of Anchorage Letter (link)

Letter to the Alaska Redistricting Board (link)

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Comments
21 Responses to “The New and Unimproved Debbie Ossiander Scoffs at Democratic Process”
  1. Pinwheel says:

    Yes, but redistricting is the stuff of dreams for the hardcore, institutional political animal. If the electorate won’t cooperate, wait 10 years, change the district lines, and really get into change. It should be no surprise that the population in Alaska has shifted so much. State government has done their best to make village life soooo difficult. Uncle Ted really was the only one who tried valiantly to sustain rural Alaska.

    I have always envisioned the election day when Alaska Natives would vote in unison for the State Legislative candidate who will represent Alaska, not necessarily the city or big business, or even Native Corporations.

    My recommendation continues to be to register to vote, become a participant in your neighborhood organization, help to get out the vote, VOTE.

  2. Moose Pucky says:

    Good on Harriett and Elvi for bringing this to everyone’s attention.

    Pathetically partisan politics has a grip on Alaska–from Anchorage to Juneau to the rural communities.

    Legally, redistricting is supposed to be done in a manner that gives all citizens a fair voice.

    Decisions made in back rooms and bars only benefit a certain few.

    Thanks Jeannie for helping to share the info.

    Alaskans, all, keep on speaking up for your rights.

  3. akgrrl says:

    While last Friday was the last day to testify to the Redistricting Board in person, this Friday, May 13th, is the last day to submit written comments. See http://www.akrightsplan.com for more information and an address to drop off your comments.

  4. Hedgewytch says:

    I was listening to Shannyn Moore yesterday with Debbie Ossiander talking about the redistricting board actions. I had to say I was very surprised when Debbie was talking about a “short period of time to respond” and that she “appointed a committee to reiview”. I was even more surprised that Shannyn didn’t seem to call her out on those actions – but maybe she was just being polite to an in-house guest and will discuss this move more thoroughly on today’s show.

    • physicsmom says:

      If that was what happened, “politeness” is not the role of a political radio personality. It is more important to challenge the guest in person than to analyze it the next day. I didn’t hear the show, but if that’s the way it went down, I’m terribly disappointed in Shannyn.

  5. I See Villages From My House says:

    The Mayor, the Municipal Clerk and Chair Ossiander should be censured for such blatant abuse of the system to support a partisan agenda.

    Strip her of her Chairmanship, she lost the privilege, and censure the Mayor and place the clerk on unpaid leave.

    Sigh.

    Not.Gonna.Happen.

  6. clark says:

    it would be interesting to see the two attachments referred to in drummond and gray-jackson’s letter…….

  7. Millie says:

    Can the lady from Eagle River be demoted as Chair of the Assembly for being so blatant with this misdeed. She makes me sick and did in the prior year when Chair. I want Traini back!!!

    How do we go after her – she is Sullivan’s puppet and will do anything he says. God forbid. Eagle River – pay attention to who you are electing please.

  8. Pinwheel says:

    I think it was Tip O’Neil, fmr Speaker of the US House of Representatives, D-MA. “All politics is local”. Forever true, now critical. Anyone have a fix on Leasa with “Stupak on Steroids”, redefining rape, or the Ryan Budget plan. Young voted for both.

  9. luckycharms says:

    THANK you to both of these fine Assembly members, and the others who do the right thing. This is not the first time Ms. Drummond has spoken up when they try to pull the wool over our eyes. She spoke out when Sully was writing the huge check to his family. I haven’t forgotten that.

    Keep up the good work. It doesn’t go unnoticed.

  10. ks sunflower says:

    Just in case there is anyone out there chomping at the bit to read Dunn’s book on Sarah and wanted/needed to save some money, try the Kindle or Kindle for PC version. It’s a bit less expensive and has the added enticement of being instantaneous! I don’t have a Kindle, but I did download the free Kindle for PC software – easy to do.

    It took mere seconds to order and receive the book this morning. I promised some comprehensive cleaning today, so I have an incentive to do it record time so I can sit and read. After all, I want to get this book completed before I get AKM’s book later this book.

    So, if you want it, but don’t want to wait, do try the Kindle or Kindle for PC download of The Lies of Sarah Palin. Can’t think of a better way to spend twelve or thirteen dollars. That way, you can afford Blind Allegiance as well! Oops – gotta go, clean, clean, clean so I can read, read, read!

    • ks sunflower says:

      er., sorry I left out a word or three. Just too excited to take the time to proofread.

    • Ndjinn says:

      I preorderd for my Kindel but forgot the date and havt check to see if it’s downloaded yet. Thx for reminder.

    • physicsmom says:

      Got my physical copy of the Dunn book yesterday and started reading the prologue in which he is contextualizing Palin in the realm of Alaska politics, the history of Alaska, and…yawn. It’s generally well-researched and I learned about Manichaeism (after I looked it up), but I wish I had just started with Chapter One. Also, there was one statement of fact that doesn’t jibe with what I’ve read. In a paragraph about the Corrupt Bastards, he states that Ted Stevens’ conviction was vacated by the Supreme Court after a decision that narrowed the scope of the investigation. I thought the Department of Justice threw out the case after learning there was prosecutorial misconduct. Can anyone in AK clarify?

      Can’t wait for the Bailey/Devon/Morris book later this month.

      • John says:

        The Supreme Court decision narrowed the scope of the law they were applying against Rep. Bruce Weyrauch. I don’t think that law impacted Stevens’ case, but it is possible it did. The main problem though was the misconduct.

  11. sauerkraut says:

    What is to prevent Drummond or Gray-Jackson from filing a simple mandamus action in court? Making people aware of the issue is only part of the process; enforcing their rights as elected officials must follow up the talk.

  12. Waay Out West says:

    Same question as benlomomd2, also in Wisconsin, aren’t there any laws about changing the voting regulations right before an election?

  13. benlomond2 says:

    Are there no lawyers in Anchorage to challenge this sort of #$#$ ???

  14. ks sunflower says:

    “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”
    – John Philpot Curran (24 July 1750 – 14 October 1817), an Irish orator, lawyer and Protestant liberal.

    If we do not learn from the past – even our most recent past (say, the last election) – we are condemned to repeat our errors. I guess people have too many important things to do like watch American Idol or the sports news or sit around twiddling their thumbs rather than vote. How sad.

    When we lose our right to vote, we will hear nothing but outrage from those very same lazy folks, and lose our right to vote as to how we are governed (or oppressed) we may if the GOP keeps adding conditions on the right to vote such as government ID (the disabled, the elderly, etc. often cannot get out to get government-issued ID such as driver’s licenses or even simple ID cards). It isn’t such a stretch of the imagination. We’ve excluded people in the past.

    Unless you vote, you get corrupt or contemptible people such as Mayor Sullivan telling you what you can or can’t do, what services you can or can’t have, all the while lining their own pockets and padding out their resumes.

    Next local election, get busy and get out the vote – or simply vote.

    AKM – another eye-opening post. The people of Anchorage may not realize what a treasure they have in you and your dedication to better government, but your readers do.

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