News from Patrick Flynn

Back & forth

Quite a couple of weeks, no?  On Tuesday, June 16, the Anchorage Assembly held a special meeting to hear yet more public testimony on the proposed Equal Rights ordinance.

On Thursday, June 18, the Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Solutions Technical Advisory Committee addressed the concept of delaying construction of the Knik Arm Crossing and allowing KABATA to address a myriad of options and concerns surrounding the project.  The compromise proposal, based on a framework I outlined several weeks ago, ultimately earned a unanimous endorsement by the panel.

Next up, the Assembly also unanimously endorsed the TAC plan during yet another special meeting on June 24 and, the following day, the AMATS Policy Committee added its universal support, thereby moving the Knik Arm Crossing from the short-term project list to the long-term list.  While some media accounts have reported that means no construction until 2018, there will be two updates to the Long Range Transportation Plan – in 2011 & 2015 – during which the bridge could return the short-term list.  Perhaps most surprising to me is that my preceding prediction came to fruition.  Who knew?

Whether the Knik Arm Crossing moves forward is, in my mind, heavily dependent on KABATA’s willingness to address legitimate community concerns while considering new options but recent actions bodes ill in that regard.  Not only did KABATA press its staff & public relations machine to relentlessly fight the aforementioned compromise but their attorney was seen passing notes to the lawyer representing the cities of Houston and Wasilla in their quixotic bid to overturn or at least delay AMATS’ decision.  Put another way, an organization that seems to hew to a policy of leaving no earth unscorched may have a tough time reorienting itself into one that actually listens to the public it is supposed to represent and then developing plans that reflect that input.  But that’s their problem, not mine.

Looking forward, Anchorage will welcome it’s next mayor when Dan Sullivan is sworn into office on Wednesday, July 1.  We’ve already had a first meeting where I explained my thoughts on how to handle the AMATS proposal on the Knik Arm Crossing, a proposal he ultimately endorsed.  And, as a new member of the Assembly’s Budget & Finance committee I’ve participated in discussions with the once and future OMB director, Cheryl Frasca.  So while I’m sure Mr. Sullivan and I will find plenty of opportunities to disagree, I’m also optimistic that we’ll find issues upon which we can work together to pursue our mutual goal of building on and improving Anchorage’s quality of life.

One of the first we will tackle is the aforementioned equal rights ordinance, which would provide the same protections to gays & lesbians as those enjoyed by other Anchorage residents.  While I suspect the new administration would very much prefer to avoid this discussion, I’m pretty confident the Assembly will ultimately pass some sort of legislation thus leaving open the question of whether Mr. Sullivan wants to be part of the conversation or let the Assembly follow its own path.  And, while we’re at it, next month we’ll begin the process of formulating the 2010-11 city budget.

For my part I’m looking forward to both discussions and am happy to take on whatever else arises in the coming months.  It should be an interesting ride so stay tuned!



This contribution was made on Saturday, 27. June 2009 at 19:30 and was published under the category Coming events, Transportation. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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