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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Sensing Impending Doom, Mayor Sullivan Pulls the Sidewalk Ordinance

Yes, you can still fight City Hall!

The latest news from Rosemary Shinohara at the Anchorage Daily News is that Mayor Dan Sullivan has requested a “postponement” of consideration on the new sidewalk etiquette ordinance:

The administration asked that it be referred to the city’s Public Safety Commission, said Ossiander.

A public hearing on the matter will still be held at today’s Assembly meeting as advertised, said Ossiander.

But the hearing will remain open until the measure comes back to the Assembly later for a decision, she said.

For those who need a recap…

Mr. John Martin, a homeless man, started sitting peacefully downtown to protest the closing of the Campbell Creek camp he called his home and Mayor Sullivan’s policies towards Anchorage’s homeless. Mr. Martin’s one wish…to be able to speak to the Mayor one-on-one about these issues. To be very clear: this is his only request and would have been a simple way for the Mayor to end all of this.

Not Mayor Sullivan…his solution is to establish a new, very bad law:

(Yes, you also heard a very nasty slap at ADN writer Rosemary Shinohara.)

Mayor Sullivan refused to speak to this man one-on-one. However, he had no problem “telling” Mr. Martin in television, radio and newspaper interviews that he should “get a job” and “take a bath.” He also emphasized and misrepresented irrelevant legal troubles from Mr. Martin’s past:

In questions that I asked Mr. Martin, he gave a summary of what happened to bring him downtown and why. (I apologize for some of the interruptions…I was going crazy with worry watching his dog and kitten move about unleashed on the corner with busy downtown traffic just beyond the curb and it was irritating Mr. Martin.) One unique aspect of this video…he explained why he no longer sits on the same block as City Hall…something I hadn’t seen thoroughly covered previously:

My disgust came when the police arrested Mr. Martin, claiming he was “non-compliant” with his registration on the sex offender database. However, Mr. Martin had just registered on May 31, 2011, listing his address as “around Campbell Creek.” When they closed the camp and kept arresting him for trying to stay there, he came downtown, IN FULL VIEW OF JUST ABOUT EVERY POLICE OFFICER AND PUBLIC OFFICIAL IN THE CITY. Sullivan knew why he was, allegedly, “non-compliant” and I don’t believe for one second the police would have arrested this specific guy without a go-ahead from the Mayor.

In spite of denials from Sullivan and Police Chief Mew, it didn’t seem that others believed it either. While the Mayor and Righty Radio tried hard to refocus on Mr. Martin’s place on the sex offender registry, it didn’t seem to work. Anchorage residents were able to see this Ordinance for what it really was…one really powerful bully trying to get his way by stomping on one pretty powerless guy. The result was an ill-conceived law that could stomp all over Anchorage residents’ freedom to assemble:

I was amazed to see the number of people who were regularly visiting Mr. Martin across the street and who came and sat with me outside of City Hall. I was also impressed by the excellent pieces of prose that arose from the outrage:

From Shannyn Moore:

“Much of the legislation and focus of the mayor’s time in office has been on the homeless. Not to solve the problem, but to hide it. The mayor has a special knack for fighting symptoms while ignoring root causes. Putting your boot on the throat of someone powerless is probably a lot easier than finding solutions.”

From Assemblyman Pat Flynn:

“Second, when the administration capitulated to the ACLU’s standards I cautioned that enforcement was only one part of the issue – we had to work with service providers, particularly in the more-efficient non-profit sector, to help break the cycle of homelessness. Instead, the opposite has occurred. Not only has the municipality’s support of non-profits declined over the past two years (though the Assembly has restored some of the most draconian administration-proposed cuts), but the administration’s ill-considered attack on the fire department’s “Fill-the-boot” campaign cast a chill over municipal employee volunteerism as evidenced by an anemic 2010 Share campaign (the city’s version of a United Way workforce campaign). I’m told employee efforts were severely curtailed following the administration’s new policy, meaning that many municipal employees were never given an in-person opportunity to make a contribution, and the numbers bear this out. The 2009 campaign saw pledges of $145,077.17, which dropped to $53,361.00 in 2010 following new administration restrictions.”

My initial guess was that the “Team Sully” members of the Assembly told the Mayor they weren’t going to be able to vote for this Ordinance as it stood. Assemblyman Flynn’s blog post from tonight may bear this out:

“My take? This is likely a face-saving measure aimed at preventing the Assembly from flat-out rejecting the proposed ordinance. If the Assembly votes to “postpone indefinitely” – meaning the measure is dead unless reintroduced at some future date – I’m likely right. If we instead vote to postpone to a date-certain then I’m likely wrong and the PSAC is actually expected to report back a recommendation. In case it’s the latter circumstance readers may be well-served to hold off on testifying tomorrow night because, technically, citizens are only permitted to testify once on any given piece of legislation. (If we do review a substantially different substitute version at a later date I’d ask the chair to waive that rule, but there are no guarantees.)”

I guess we’ll find out exactly what’s going on tomorrow night…I recommend that folks not testify, but still show up in significant numbers to let the Assembly and the Administration know we’re watching. I’ll still carry my chair around in my SUV, in case some serious sitting is required in the future.

Tonight, I’m just going to enjoy the fact that, even though the Mayor pulled out all of the stops, the Mayor had to yank his ordinance, knowing he was doomed…yes, DOOMED:

We must celebrate the victories where we find them!

(The Anchorage Assembly Meeting is tonight starting at 5:00 pm at the Loussac Library, 3600 Denali Street.)



25 Responses to “Sensing Impending Doom, Mayor Sullivan Pulls the Sidewalk Ordinance”
  1. Mo says:

    An interesting article:

    and Wickersham’s Conscience dug up a good one that brings the above article into the present. There’s a preview feature at Amazon where you can read parts of the book. Even that little was harrowing.

  2. Moose Pucky says:

    Good on Anchorage. Shot that stupid ordinance of Sully’s right down.

  3. Baker's Dozen says:

    Homelessness is a real problem for everyone, and I don’t think we’ve found the equitable and economic solution, yet. Of course, not just one solution will do, as there are very many individuals with individual needs.

    In Santa Barbara, it was also getting so bad you couldn’t get down the main street of town, and that’s the life blood of town–tourists and all those shops–so something had to be done. It isn’t fair to kill off someone’s livelihood because shoppers no longer want to walk down the street. In the place I manage, we have people come in and ask for change, complaining that they don’t like the meals at the shelters and places that hand out food. Frankly, they often eat as well or better than we do, right now. Not that I want to be homeless, but they aren’t feeding them swill. The sidewalks must be power washed frequently to keep the odor down and to wash away vermin. They may have to take out the nice benches on the sidewalk because homeless have benches that “belong” to “them” and scream at tourists if they sit in them.

    I have never handed out money (in the store we are forbidden to do so, even the customers, or we get inundated by panhandling). The store donates to the shelters and food programs. I used to buy people a meal, but one day, I saw someone I regularly bought for throw the entire meal in the trash. I can’t afford to throw out food myself. I’m not going to buy a meal for someone who can.

    We’ve had our plumbing plugged by paper towels because they use the restrooms for baths. We’ve had to use lysol and febreeze to kill of the germies and get rid of the odor.

    The city is aggressively asking people not to give hand outs, but contribute to a hand up. It seems like it’s having some success. There’s a little less homeless on the streets, and last I heard, greater participation in the food programs and programs to help them get off the street.

    I am not unsympathetic. In my home town, I know some of the homeless personally. One had grown up in my church and had been a contributor to the church and society. She had some sort of break down and ended up on the streets. Her sister tried to get her to move in with her. She refused. She gave away all the food and clothing her sister gave her to other homeless. She would still come to church sometimes, and everyone was very kind. We didn’t talk to her, though, as she’d get upset and leave.

    One time another church decided that nothing was being done for her, so they bought her a wardrobe, cleaned her up, and provided her with a condo. She was furious and trashed the place. I knew one of the parishioners and asked what they knew about her. They didn’t even know she had a last name or a family. It was just a holier than thou condescending pat on the head to make themselves feel better.

    Finally, her sister convinced her to move into her own place, one provided by a group really trying to help. She’s doing much better now, visits her sister, and is taking care of her place. This has been decades of work for her family and a few years of help from the state. I hope that doesn’t all go down the drain in this economy.

  4. auni says:

    Pat from WA State–thank you for a fine post. About a year ago in Seattle a released sex offender was “assigned” to live under a bridge, since there wasn’t a placement for him. Do you remember how that came out?

    • I’d forgotten about that, but now that you mention it, I do remember it. No, I don’t remember how it turned out. Any way you look at it, it’s a disgrace that people are treated that way. And really, why would they want someone coming out of prison living on the streets or under a bridge? Do they really think that is any way to help someone assimilate back into society, get a job and live responsibly? They are just setting them up for more failure so they can point their fingers and say, “See, we told you that they don’t want to get out of poverty or stay out of jail.”

  5. Moose Pucky says:

    Glad Sully got some backlash on that one.

  6. Millie says:

    The Mayor of Anchorage is a mess and we need to be very observant of every step he takes/makes in his ‘control’ style of governing.

  7. And btw, good on all of you who have joined Mr. Martin in his protest. 🙂

  8. No one is defending Mr. Martin’s past. They are only defending his right, and the rights of all citizens, to stage a peaceful protest, be it one person making a statement or a whole bunch.

    Sullivan keeps bringing up Seattle. I know that there is an ordinance or law or whatever it technically is that deals with the homeless living on the downtown Seattle streets. For a while, it was nearly impossible to walk downtown in Seattle without passing many homeless on the streets. Some were sitting or sleeping without really bothering anyone, except that they were a visual reminder that there is a problem of lack of housing and/or services for the unemployed or unemployable. But there were quite a few who were panhandling, some in a very agressive and threatening manner. And I think that’s when the new rules went into effect.

    Well, it helped Seattle, I guess, but it just pushed the homeless out into the suburbs where the laws weren’t as strict and there were more places where they could camp. I’m in one of those suburbs. I am also one of the people who refuses to give someone standing on the street any money. I will, however, give them food or a coupon to a restaurant. In one case, I walked back inside the mall with a woman and bought her a meal. When you make that sort of offer, you recognize the person’s humanity and you also know right away who really needs help and who is just hanging about to panhandle. It meant so much to that particular woman that when I saw her a year or two later in the food bank when she returned to this area, she thanked me again for helping her.

    Mayor Sullivan says he is addressing the issues of the homeless, but I doubt that he is. Destroying their camps or taking their things isn’t helpful to anyone. When they lose the few things they have to survive, then it means that they have to go somewhere to get another sleeping bag or tarp or tent. It also means that the police might have inadvertantly destroyed any photo ID they have, which they will have to have to get any social services. People who are homeless can’t afford to go get a new photo ID or replace their lost or destroyed Social Security cards as they have no address to send it to.

    People end up homeless for all sorts of reasons. In volunteering at my local food bank, I’ve had my eyes opened to some of the problems and just saying someone should take a bath and get a job is ridiculously simplistic. Most communities offer help at food banks or community suppers, but most don’t have places where the homeless can take a shower or do their laundry. There are now families who, because of the recession, lost jobs and then lost their homes or apartments when their meager savings were depleted. They had no place to go and have ended up living in their cars or camping in one of the camp grounds around the area. Many of them never imagined they would be homeless or need any kind of social services. Some manage to get back on their feet fairly quickly while others get increasingly lost in a system that doesn’t really help.

    Others are homeless because they are unemployable, no matter whether they can find a place for a bath or not. Some have addiction problems, some have mental health issues that aren’t being treated, some are veterans who have come back to find no job waiting and no one to really help them get back into a job outside of the millitary. And some are homeless because they have committed a crime and once they are out of prison they can’t find anyone who will hire them.

    One of the things I hear at the food bank from those who have been homeless for a while is that they are frustrated. Not all of them want to remain homeless but they are in a situation that seems to have no way out unless someone is willing to give them a hand. Some stay outside because they don’t feel safe in the few shelters that are available, or they don’t fit the narrow criteria for those who are accepted into a shelter. And once they are in that situation it can be very hard to get out. Here in the Puget Sound region there are some programs that are helpful and some that are not. But it seems to be hit and miss and I think that Mayor Sullivan using Seattle as his model is a mistake. Seattle hasn’t solved the problem, they have just passed it off to other communities with less resources to address the issues.

    Mr. Martin sounds well-spoken, whatever his past. And he looks a lot like the homeless that I have talked with at the food bank. Most of them aren’t willing or are afraid to stand up for their rights. He is doing so in a peaceful and what should be a law-abiding manner. If his rights are taken away, then Sullivan is just one step closer to taking away everyone else’s rights when they disagree with him.

    • Ratzo says:

      Nelson Mandela went to prison for 27 years and he walked out to become President of his country. Based on his record, he couldn’t rent a apt in most places in America. I had to point out to a landlord once, based on their rules the President couldn’t have rented an apt. Neither could have Cheney. There is redemption, once you’ve paid the cost for the crime as laid out by the Courts. The slate should be clean and you should be encouraged to find a new life afterward. A Better One. Instead of not having a life at all. I thought this place was the pinnacle of Freedom? When did we stop championing everyone to have their slice of the pie?

  9. Actual Moderate says:

    This guy had repeated sex with his 15 year old foster daughter and you defend him and want him hanging around listlessly in Anchorage? Please. If any of you are so concerned about this guy, take him home so that he’ll have a steady address for the sex offender registry.

    I’m with Sullivan. This guy should take a bath, get a job, and get out of our faces.

    • Ann Strongheart says:

      Who are you or any of us to judge this man? We all have a past just some worse than others. Have you never in your life been down and out? We all make our choices and have to deal with the consequences but in no way does that EVER take away our right to Free Speech.

      I and many, many others proudly served this country to protect not only the rights of people like Mr. Martin but also babbling idiots.

      Ones past or present situation, decisions, actions, and/or opinions never takes away the right to Free Speech. That is why this is the United States of America!!!

      Climbing down off my soap box now 😉

      • bubbles says:

        Actual Moderate i don’t like child molesters. if i had my way Mr. Martin would be serving the rest of his life in prison where he would no longer be homeless or hungry but the laws do not equate molesting a child to capitol murder. this is where people need to focus their anger in changing to statutes that make child molestation punishable by death or life without parole. i don’t blame you for being repulsed by this man.
        what our friends here on the Flat’s are defending is not Mr. Martin but their own right to assemble and sit on their own streets. i have go along with that because my city also has a mayor who likes to micromanage and pass laws i don’t agree with. laws that i manage to break every time i step out my door.

    • Ivan says:

      i disapprove of ignorance, , does that mean you think i should be able to impose my values on you and pass a law that bans stupidity to keep you out of my face. you nor anyone else get to say who has rights and who dose not. .

    • Juneaudream says:

      I suggest Actual..that you rethink your choice of the word..defend. You stand..or attempt to..upon ..bits and pieces of idea, and phrasing. Pull yourself together..and say something..a touch more worthy. you ..wordsmith..perhaps the glaring what you have more clear to you.

    • bubbles says:

      nicely said. thank you Pat.

    • beth says:

      Not second guessing the jury that convicted him or the judge that sentenced him, I have to wonder how broken a foster care system is that would place a teenager with ‘parents’ barely out of their teen years, themselves.

      Does anyone believe 8-years difference in age would give the early-20 ‘parents’ the wisdom, the life experience(s), and the ‘tool box’ necessary [to draw upon] to help the placed woman-child find the grounding and stability she needs?

      Does anyone know if this type of placement is common in AK and/or if are there there just that few foster families that it can’t be helped? beth.

      (Not that it makes any difference –other than to negate Sully’s innuendos and outbursts– do we know the actual charges brought against Martin? Was it for sex with an underaged person? With a person ‘in custody’/over whom he had ‘control’? Was Martin’s wife –the ‘mother’– charged with anything? Any idea? b.)

    • John says:

      I don’t think anyone is defending Martin,or what he did. As discussed below, we are defending people’s constitutional rights to peacefully assemble and petition their government. Sex offenders do not lose their constituional rights. Whether he should have ever been released from jail is an entirely different issue. He was released and he now has the right to petition his government just like you do. btw, shouldn’t we be judged by how we treat the least of us? It is easy to allow a clean, well dressed milionaire to petition the government. A little more uncomforting to let a homeless person do it.

    • tinydancer says:

      Well, Actual, as a registered sex offender it is probably difficult to find a job. Without a job it is hard to keep a home, without a home, it would be difficult to be able to take a bath. All of that aside, he is still afforded the right to question his government and peacefully assemble.

  10. Ann Strongheart says:

    Hey Ms. Linda!!

    Your website seems to be down. I had several other mudpups double check and they got the same thing….

    If you’re seeing this page via a web browser, it means you’ve setup Tomcat successfully. Congratulations!

    Thought we better let you know.

  11. Ann Strongheart says:

    Excellent post Ms. Linda!! Quyana for your hardwork!! I look forward to reports about what goes on at the meeting tonight.
    Wish I could be there to join y’all!

  12. marlys says:

    pitchfork ever ready *~~~

  13. Juneaudream says:

    Moi..smiling quite broadly…. ;)..see Mr.yerLowness..old lady..grinning up a storm..ah today feels good..yessiree pups..mighty good!

  14. merrycricket says:

    Wish I could come sit with you and be an outside agitater. Did I spell that right? Doesn’t matter. MUCH cooler this morning. I’ll be catching up on some yard work shortly. 🙂

  15. thatcrowwoman says:

    Well, how about that?!

    Boots on the ground report this evening?
    I’d enjoy watching slimy Sully squirm.

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