Like many of you, I was surprised at some of the results in the recent primary election. Mead Treadwell’s very strong showing in the GOP Lt. Governors race had pundits wondering, as every one predicted a close race with Jay Ramras. Locally, I was equally surprised in the hillside race for Con Bunde’s state senate seat, as Cathy Giessel won handily over Dr. Mark Moronell and Assemblywoman Jennifer Johnston, who retains her seat on the Assembly. Jennifer has been a good common sense member of the Assembly and while I know she is disappointed, I look forward to working with her on municipal issues during the next few years.
The race that won’t end, however, is the primary for U.S. Senate where Lisa Murkowski, a seemingly safe bet to handily make it to the general election, trails upstart conservative Joe Miller of Fairbanks. With over 20,000 ballots remaining, it’s anyone’s race and there is already unnecessary back and forth between the camps, posturing by lawyers and countless press releases. Can’t we all just get along?
The Governor’s race squares up as predicted with acting Governor Parnell and perennial candidate Berkowitz in the finals. Alaskans will be looking for vision and leadership. Whoever can make the best case that they will keep the pipeline full of oil should win, because there is no more important issue facing Alaska. We cannot continue to have 6% annual decline in production and maintain anywhere near the level of services we now enjoy.
As a side note, the democratic Lt. Governor candidate, Diane Benson, served as my Cultural Coordinator when I was the Executive Director of the 1996 Arctic Winter Games. We may not agree politically, but I count her as my good friend and wish her well.
A long awaited review of what is now known as the Wheeler Report has been submitted to the Assembly and was the topic of an Assembly worksession last week. The independent auditor was commissioned by the Assembly, and he concluded that Municipal Attorney Wheeler’s analysis of the questionable financial practices of the Begich Administration was correct. Wheeler had previously listed numerous instances where the Begich Administration did not follow prudent fiscal management practices and violated municipal code and charter. The report also chided the Assembly for failing to ask for the necessary documents they needed to make major financial decisions, including the labor contracts passed in late 2008.
Several Assembly members, Bill Starr in particular, took great exception to being chided in the report. Starr had repeatedly asked for information from the previous Administration and was either given outdated information or did not receive what he had requested. Where does this go from here? Stay tuned.
Thanks to all who participated in the community dialogues held over the past several weeks. Hosted by Viewpoint Learning, the four different dialogues asked the participants to share their thoughts on spending priorities and community needs. An anticipated $20 million budget deficit for next year prompted our desire to hear from a true cross section of Anchorage.
The participants that I talked to were pleasantly surprised at the depth and quality of discussion and the format used by the facilitators. Viewpoint Learning is preparing an analysis of the dialogues and we will use those results as a tool to help us in formulating the 2011 budget.
FILL THE BOOT
We have finalized our official policy and procedure governing the use of municipal resources for outside entities. The bottom line is that on duty personnel may not use their time to help raise money for private groups. On duty personnel have a fiduciary duty to taxpayers to use their work time to do the job they were hired to do.
For the Fill the Boot campaign, however, we will allow the use of turn out uniforms by fire fighters so that they can help draw attention to their volunteer effort. Anchorage is one of the top volunteer cities in the nation and I have no doubt that this year’s campaign will be a big success with the help of true volunteers, not paid municipal employees.
HAVE A GREAT LABOR DAY WEEKEND AND BE SAFE!