News from Patrick Flynn

Angels dancing

Like most everything, life on the Anchorage Assembly has its ups and downs.  For the most part I enjoy the work and appreciate the opportunity to serve my community.  But every now and again I encounter one of those low spots that leave me shaking my head.  Friday was one such day.

The occasion was a work session on a resolution (AR 2012-42) that would accept $13.2 million from the federal government to set up, in effect, a venture capital fund aimed at helping small businesses in Anchorage grow.  The person primarily responsible for obtaining the allocation (it’s not a grant, the feds tell us, but it sure sounds like one!), Lucinda Mahoney, is the municipality’s CFO and, in my opinion, does a terrific job for our city.  She’s been aided by Alan Johnston, Jennifer Johnston’s husband and a gentleman I’ve encountered in several entrepreneurial settings, not the least of which include an advisory committee for APU‘s business department.

The so-called “49th State Angel Fund” is slated to have a committee of financial professionals that will review applications and invest in small businesses that meet various requirements (some imposed as a condition of the grant allocation, and some that the committee itself will likely promulgate).  All we, the Assembly, have to do is approve receipt of the funds.  Sounds simple, right?

Alas, it was not to be.  Some of my colleagues expressed concern that the Assembly wouldn’t be part of the approval process, to which I thought, “really?”  We want to substitute our political judgement for the fiscal judgement of financial professionals?  We want to be bombarded with phone calls and e-mails from applicants who aren’t approved due to deficiencies in their business plans?  Don’t we have enough to do?

And then another colleague who, to the best of my knowledge, has never worked in banking complained that government involvement in business somehow resulted in banks making bad real estate loans due to the Community Reinvestment Act.  I have worked in banking and actually helped with CRA compliance so I know that statement was as far removed from reality Anchorage is from Zimbabwe.  Indeed, here’s quote from a Wikipedia article on the subject:

“Legal and financial experts have noted that CRA regulated loans tend to be safe and profitable, and that subprime excesses came mainly from institutions not regulated by the CRA.”

But at that point I was concerned the silliness in the room might rub off on me so, having real work to do, I left to attend to those matters.  It’ll be interesting to see if a weekend of reflection brought anyone to their senses.



This contribution was made on Monday, 13. February 2012 at 17:25 and was published under the category Fiscal matters. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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  1. Do keep in mind that, in a democracy, even silly/dumb/ ill-informed people have the right to representation. Obviously they are well represented on the Anchorage Assembly.

    Comment: friend43 – 13. February 2012 @ 6:27 pm

  2. Dear Anchorage Assembly Member,

    I attended Start Up Weekend, Alaska, the very weekend before the Public Hearing; as such, I felt that this was encouraging for all the innovators in Alaska. Passing Resolution No. AR 2012-42 will support all the participants attending this powerful event in Anchorage. Alaskans who innovate may create the next hard hat, foot sizer, parking meter, or Phillips-head screw. While these are not glamorous, like the internet or computers, can you imagine life without them.

    Your positive and politically unencumbered actions supporting businesses on this resolution may bring about fantastic gains for Anchorage and Alaska. An independent board of financial experts should be responsible for appropriating funds as concerned citizens who ensure our community’s entrepreneurs gain access to this opportunity to increase employment of Alaskans. This ensures that the criteria for funding are not a moving target that small businesses have to contend with every election cycle.

    Passing Resolution No. AR 2012-42 is the very thing PMRB needs to go forward in our vision that will employee Alaskans, innovate in Alaska, nurture Alaskan collaborations on a global basis, and most importantly, affect positively, the education of urban and rural Alaskans.

    A small business, such as mine needs this level of help to achieve our goals.

    Please pass Resolution No. AR 2012-42

    Thank you very much,


    Comment: PMRB – 14. February 2012 @ 7:07 pm

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