News from Patrick Flynn

A busy night

The Assembly swung back into action this evening with quite a bit going on. I’ve seen more media representatives and lobbyists present than any time since my first Assembly meeting back in April. Regarding the former, they’re mostly here to interview Mark Begich, who was declared the victor in his Senate race earlier today. Regarding the latter, I suppose they’re here for the same reason we’re seeing a large – though not unprecedented – crowd, which is the third and final public hearing on the municipality’s 2009 budget.

Anchorage’s budgetary process is an interesting one with most of the spending used to provide basic, non-controversial services. Assembly members then hear from two countervailing forces; those who seek tax reductions, period, and then various groups seeking support for small operating or capital grants. Regarding the latter, the two largest present this evening are supporters of libraries and the arts. At a previous public hearing we also heard from a number of folks supporting Project Access, which provides critical medical care to those who cannot otherwise afford it. What surprises me is the paucity of spending critics at Assembly meetings. I certainly hear from some of them via e-mail and occasional letters to the editor, but virtually none of them appear in person.

Anyhow, we’ll take up a series of amendments later this evening – both increments and decrements – then hold over the budget for a final vote on November 25. While policy issues often generate the most political intrigue, it’s the budget that makes the biggest difference in the lives of Anchorage citizens so this is pretty important stuff.

Speaking of political intrigue, because of Mayor Begich’s apparent election to the US Senate, there’s a quiet undercurrent regarding the current Assembly organization. When Begich resigns from the mayor’s office the Assembly chair becomes acting mayor until June 30, following the April election. Because our current chair, Matt Claman, is considering a bid for mayor some of my fellow members would prefer that someone else be chair and then acting mayor in order to preclude Mr. Claman from achieving a perceived electoral advantage. This is an unprecedented situation in that the Municipality of Anchorage has never had a mayor resign prior to finishing his term, and I therefore find it rather interesting. Expect to see some sort of resolution of this issue by mid-December.

Finally, three other mayoral candidates were in the audience tonight:

And, of course, Assembly Vice Chair Sheila Selkregg has declared her mayoral candidacy. We’ll be here a few more hours, but that’s all the news for now and we’ll be back next week!



This contribution was made on Tuesday, 18. November 2008 at 20:39 and was published under the category Other. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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