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May 9, 2021

Sidewalk Sitting Has New Appeal

By Shannyn Moore

I’ve never wanted to sit on a sidewalk so badly in my life.

This week, seven members of the Anchorage Assembly voted for Mayor Dan Sullivan’s ordinance to create sidewalk sitting hours and rules. Ernie Hall, who has talked about being independent of the mayor, once again, with his vote, proved he is a lockstep lapdog.

The most surprising, and disappointing vote was Dick Traini’s. Traini most certainly is not the mayor’s lackey, but he voted like one. The rest — Debbie Ossiander, Chris Birch, Bill Starr, Jennifer Johnston and Adam Trombley — voted as expected, right in line with Mayor BurgerMeister MeisterBurger.

Is this an indicator we have no bigger problems to solve in Los Anchorage? So, all the snow is plowed, little white lights strung, and violent crime abated? Is there some out-of-control epidemic of sidewalk sitters who are clogging passageways and impeding commerce? Have we nothing more to do than put useless, redundant laws on the books, and plan parties? What’s next, a ban on toys?

For a crowd that calls for less regulation, telling you where to put your bottom, and at what time, seems like bigger government to me. Supporters of the law can’t even pretend this is something other than a personal vendetta for the mayor. Last summer, John Martin, a registered sex offender, protested the mayor’s treatment of the homeless. That’s why it’s now illegal for you and me to sit on the sidewalk.

This entire episode reminds me of the political posturing years ago when President George Bush and Congress interrupted their recess to create a law during the Terry Schiavo situation. One law for one person. That poor comatose woman generated more frequent-flier miles than anyone before or since.

Our laws should protect individual liberties, not take them away in some fake gesture to the greater good. I know, I sound like a Tea Party member, but I don’t agree with curbing personal liberty any more than they do.

Last summer, after the ordinance was proposed, the mayor said Mr. Martin needed to take a bath and get a job.

Newt Gingrich said the same thing this week about the Occupy movement.

I guess if you paint folks as dirty and lazy, it becomes easier for the public to give you a pass when you take away their rights. The consequence of not paying attention is that the fresh new laws apply to you as well as whomever you thought didn’t deserve protection. And in this case, people were paying attention. It’s just that it didn’t matter because seven big-government, liberty-squashing members of the Assembly knew better than you.

The night the anti-First Amendment ordinance passed, the Assembly chamber was filled with folks waiting to comment. Not a single person testified in favor of the law. Not one. Nor were any emails received urging passage. Despite overwhelming and unanimous testimony against Mayor Sullivan’s ordinance, seven members did not waver.

Mayor Sullivan said, “My review shows that there is clearly a lack of quantifiable evidence necessitating this ordinance. My review also shows that the vast majority of those who communicated their position … are in opposition. As elected officials, we are charged with reflecting the will of the community in our decisions, particularly in the absence of compelling data that would supersede that will.”

Oh, wait. He said that in 2009, after he vetoed anti-discrimination legislation.

What effect did the worldwide Occupy movement have on passage of this anti-civil rights ordinance? How will this new law, specifically, affect the civil liberties of those protesting with the Occupy Anchorage group downtown?

In Mayor Sullivan’s quest to demonstrate mayoral power to a homeless man, did the mayor just pass a law that sets the stage for confrontation between the peaceful and nonviolent Occupy Anchorage movement and the Anchorage Police Department?

Henry David Thoreau, in “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience” (1849), wrote, “If … the machine of government … is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.”

Perhaps we should all head downtown on the day this anti-civil rights ordinance becomes law, sit down and occupy the sidewalk.

Comments

comments

Comments
46 Responses to “Sidewalk Sitting Has New Appeal”
  1. COalmost Native says:

    Aargh! I send from my new iPad, and I’m in moderation… You’d think I violated the sidewalk rule (heh heh)

  2. beth says:

    mike from iowa @ 19: (Under the “For What It’s Worth” category) for years, we’ve used AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition and had nary a moment’s worry with it – no bugs, no viruses, no problems. Our DS1 and 2, both gamers, have loaded their computers up with ‘name brand’ and ‘not-so-name brand’ anti-booger ware since forever, and have had to take their respective harddrives in to the shop at least once a year, every year!, to get them cleaned out. I finally convinced them both to go with the AVG –only!– about 18-months ago. Knock wood, they’ve had nary a problem with ‘attacks’ since they listened to Momma about virus protection…their computers keep humming along just as clean as a whistle. Your mileage may vary, of course, but just thought I’d share. beth.

    PS: You can purchase protection they offer or just go with what they offer as a freebie- the freebie has been more than fine for us — updates quietly and constantly with no hassle…don’t even know it’s happening. Yup, I really like it. b.
    Their site: http://free.avg.com/us-en/homepage

  3. ibwilliamsi says:

    This issue has been in and out of the city council and the courts in Portland, OR for years. You would think that the states would pay attention to what happens in other places instead of trying to shove something this unconstitutional down people’s throats. What a waste of time and money and what an awful thing to try to impose upon people. It doesn’t matter whether they pass it or not, this is not going to fly.

  4. mike from iowa says:

    Ms Shannon-where could one find a copy of this regulation for perusal? I’ve been shutdown with a computer virus and just got back on line this very day. I will not give in to blackmail when I got my computer de-bugged for thirty dollars less than the extortionist website-SystemFix-tried to charge me for the virus they installed. PHOOEY on them SOBS!!! BTW I am glad to be back on line.

  5. Zyxomma says:

    I guess it would be okay to sit on the Hoveround, since that’s the preferred mobility solution for the T party types.

  6. fishingmamma says:

    I’m tired of this mayor. When is he getting voted out?

  7. Mag the Mick says:

    With some prior rehearsal and a boombox, one could stage quite a fun display of “synchronized sitting” outside city hall. Wait till summer when the tourists come to get even more attention.

    • CO almost native says:

      Oooo… synchronized lawn chair routine! We, the infamous English teachers, did one for a Homecoming Rally- got a standing ovation (pun intended). This could rate viewing on You Tube πŸ˜‰

  8. Gramiam says:

    This quote from Gandhi says it all. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Mohandas Gandhi

  9. LibertyLover says:

    Does the Government clean the sidewalks of snow in the winter? What if you are actually sitting on the sidewalk, but on a pad or a chair or a blanket?

  10. blue_in_AK says:

    I’m wondering if the mayor would have let Bill Allen sit on the sidewalk if he wanted to.

  11. Moose Pucky says:

    “Sit, Shannyn, sit!”, says moose pucky struggling to get nose above 129 inches of snow here in the slough.

    We aren’t going to have any problem with sidewalk sitting here in the slough. We cannot find our sidewalks or much of anything else. Slough is in major shutdown.

  12. Writing from Alaska says:

    Meantime, back at the ranch, muni snowplows have so thoroughly covered my sidewalk with snow that I won’t see it again until July. Children walk to street on my block…..

  13. hedgewytch says:

    This law was NOT about the homeless man, though that was a darn good excuse and a perk.

    It is about controlling the populace and the message the public sees. This is about Sheraton workers picketing outside the hotel for what a couple of years now right? And the Walgreens picketers. And more importantly, about the OWS and other protesters exercising their Constitutional rights.

    This legislation should be and will be challenged in court. Please consider donating and/or joining the ACLU – this organization is exactly for situations such as this.

    • Dale Sheldon-Hess says:

      Picketers stand. OWS sits in the park, and only stands on the sidewalk (and hadn’t started by the time Sullivan first proposed this ordinance last summer.)

      By all means, join the ACLU to fight this stupid, misguided law. But it DID start as a personal vendetta against a single homeless man (speak out, even though you are not homeless.)

    • No, this really was about the Mayor being pissed off at one guy (and getting perks with the Koch Brother types as well) .

  14. Dia says:

    Can we occupy Happless Dan Sullivan’s sidewalk before the law goes into effect?
    I hate to see this law become reality.

  15. beaglemom says:

    With winter coming and with all of its accompanying trials and tribulations, it would be nice to think that elected leaders would be concentrating on ways to help and not hinder.

  16. juneaudream says:

    HMmmm..moi can see quiet little ..legions of scissors being used..to cut stencils of a.’.buttprint’..all over town..along with a sandwich baggiy filled with ..soot/ashes..for the snowy months..and..flour..for the nonsnowy months. Also..sweats with a logo on the seat saying..”guess where I SAT?…..

  17. Steve says:

    One can fight using rhetoric and use the lack of specific language to bring attention to this issue. Does the language in this new regulation specify how one sits on the sidewalk? Sitting is a specific action. One could squat on their heals, does it state you cannot lie down on the sidewalk? If not have a lay-in. Does the regulation specify the curb, gutter or street. If not, sit on the curb, in the gutter, or on the street next to the sidewalk. If the regulation does not refer to sitting on a chair, on the sidewalk, use chairs. This can be used to force the issue, if arrested go to court and make the claim that sitting on the chair is not sitting on the sidewalk, as the chair is on the sidewalk.

    • Dale Sheldon-Hess says:

      You’ve missed the point entirely of civil disobedience.

      You don’t try to out-smart the specific wording of the rule. You break the rule, proudly. You get arrested (or, in this case, fined), publicly. You suffer. You make your case an example, by which you force the courts, or public opinion, to change the law.

      This should be easy; public opinion is already on the right side.

      Dec 22nd and 23rd (maybe 24th?), as last-minute shoppers are rushing to get their gifts purchased, we should sit, not blocking any pedestrian traffic, with signs (I’m thinking “I’m just sitting here, breaking the law”) and an explanatory flyer to hand out.

      • Mary Morgan says:

        You are correct. Perhaps some people that can’t physically sit down themselves could offer to pay fines for those who can. It would need many people to be successful by hopefully raising negative publicity for our “we know better than our constituents” leaders. Call out the masses, or else el mayor will just celebrate the city’s new income source from fines.

  18. Our little liberal town tried this to get the panhandlers off the Plaza. All it did was cause a multitude of local citizens to start sitting on the sidewalks all over the plaza. My mother and i made a special trip downtown just to sit on the sidewalks. It’s up to the good citizens of Anchorage to make a fool out of the mayor and his toadies. Regularly scheduled sit-ins should become the entertainment of the year. And yes, if citizens don’t step in and mock the ordinance, then you will definitely have confrontations between police and Occupy.

  19. benlomond2 says:

    I would suggest a mass sit-in , but schedule it for spring…be sure to wear gas masks, as APD would probably emulate Ca Campus Security with pepper spray…

  20. WakeUpAmerica says:

    On what day will it become law?

  21. GoI3ig says:

    Honest mayor, I wasn’t sitting, I just slipped on the ice.

  22. OzMud says:

    If you’re sitting in a lawn chair does it count?
    Can you still tell your dog to sit or will there be special sections assigned for dog obedience?
    If you’ve passed out from low blood sugar, can you be arrested?
    Will paramedics need to remove patients from the sidewalk before beginning life-saving treatment?
    When an answer only leads to more questions you know you’re in Palin Country πŸ™‚

    • WakeUpAmerica says:

      Funny!

    • Dale Sheldon-Hess says:

      Yes, yes, no, no.

      Reading is FUNdamental. Even in “Palin country” (eww; don’t call us that.)

      http://media.adn.com/smedia/2011/11/23/08/27/IRLhL.So.7.pdf

      (It’s still a stupid rule.)

      • Hmm, I just read through most of that. I don’t have a problem with cities prohibiting panhandling, to be honest. It was out of hand in Seattle for a while and some were very agressive. I had some uncomfortable situations in parking lots in my town, actually.

        However, I see so many holes in their rules – they have clearly made an effort to word all that so it can’t be construed as the city trampling on people’s civil rights and constitutional rights.

        But do you now always have to have a permit to demonstrate? Some demonstrations are spontaneous and that wouldn’t be allowed, hence, that would violate one’s free speech, would it not?

        So the way you get around the sitting and lying down is to have a wheel chair or a walker. No? They’ll probably want a doctor’s permission slip next.

        I seriously think that the city must have more pressing issues than this, however. But they obviously were cowed into doing what the mayor wants rather than what they should be doing.

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