News from Patrick Flynn

Easy does it

As I mentioned in my previous post, we’ve scheduled an extra meeting for March 16 to address a few issues for which we lacked time earlier this week.  One of those, low-priority signal preemption for buses, got me in a little hot water with the administration.

To explain, the Assembly chair, vice-chair and Clerk meet with senior administration officials prior to each Assembly meeting to discuss the agenda and answer questions raised by various items.  As part of this process the administration identifies specific measures they consider to be high priority, meaning they’d like to seem them acted upon rather than postponed.  At our meeting on Monday, March 1, the administration cited a relatively large number of priority items, the most prominent of which were bond sales authorizations but another of which was the aforementioned signal preemption ordinance.

While I’m willing to support the signal preemption program as an experiment I noted that there was some public concern about the issue and that the discussion would likely take some time.  That’s not a problem, it’s useful for the Assembly to hear from our neighbors, but the limited hours available during a given meeting means some things simply have to wait.  I also noted that, if the signal preemption program truly was an experiment then we should consider adding a sunset date to the ordinance, meaning that if we don’t like the test results the program goes away without any further action.

What landed on my desk Tuesday evening was an amendment directing the Public Transportation department to report back about the test to the Assembly next spring – not the same thing as a sunset clause.  I provided a copy of that amendment to Assembly counsel and asked for a real sunset provision, which is now available on the Assembly web site.  Shortly thereafter, the municipal attorney approached me and asked if I’d consider altering the initial amendment to reflect more traditional sunset language.  Having already sought that course of action, I happily agreed.

As readers already know, we didn’t have time to take up either the ordinance or the amendment, and for that I apologized to an administration official after the meeting.  The response caught me by surprise as I was told that bus schedules had already been changed to reflect route timing with signal preemption and, therefore, the two test routes would likely run behind schedule until the ordinance was passed.

Today I’ve been inundated with e-mails regarding the Assembly’s March 19 work session with administration officials variously asking for changes to a schedule set weeks ago, agreeing to an alternative schedule, then disagreeing with the alternative schedule because senior officials apparently intend to skip all but one hour of the meeting for some sort of retreat.  After several iterations I simply waited for things to sort themselves out.  I’m happy to report they did.

And I enjoyed over an hour of phone conversations where I learned about the extent of my doofusness for approving the life insurance disbursement to the George Sullivan estate.

Just another week in the glorious life of an Assembly member…



This contribution was made on Friday, 05. March 2010 at 17:59 and was published under the category Other. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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  1. Patrick,
    I would say it’s more than doofusness on this Sullivan pay out. I would suggest you get over to , they have done a lot of investigating and it seems that this “contract” needs to be made available to the assembly and the people of Anchorage. Something stinks and I would suggest you attach yourself to investigating this issue.
    Wendy Isbell/ south addition

    Comment: wendy isbell – 05. March 2010 @ 11:43 pm

  2. I would like to know a lot more about this payment. How dare this Mayor take taxpayer money. What did he do to deserve it? This is dirty and I think the assembly should have got an opinion outside the mayor’s lawyer. What bus service will be cut to afford this payment?

    Comment: Unbelievable – 06. March 2010 @ 1:20 pm

  3. Patrick

    A deal is a deal. But like others, I’m curious to the legality of the entire life insurance payment. If the Assembly had a legal contract signed back in 1982, then the Sullivan’s are owed the money.

    Ethically speaking, Sullivan has been screaming that the City is broke since taking office last year, and has gone as far as asking workers for concessions and eliminating essential services and employees. Now he misleads the public that he was unaware of this deal, until the ADN points out emails proving otherwise from 2002.

    If the City is in such dire straits, the honorable thing to do would be to give the money up, as City workers did in 2009 with their wage concessions. With such a unique deal, he could even ask for payment on installment until the future value of $193,000 is met.

    Comment: Eric – 06. March 2010 @ 2:20 pm

  4. Is the Municipality of Anchorage now in the LIfe Insurance Business? If an agreement had been made to pay $193,000 to the estate of George Sullivan upon his death, why didn’t the Muni set up an escrow account or purchase a policy to cover this obligation?

    That George was a pretty smart cookie, and left the Muni in sound financial condition at the end of his considerable length of service. If after all these years the Muni finally has to pay on that commitment, then it’s not his son’s fault that previous administrations didn’t prepare for this day.

    Comment: DonnListon – 06. March 2010 @ 10:16 pm

  5. dear Mayor Sullivan,

    I wanted to let you know that I’m disappointed in how you handled your father’s life insurance situation. The $193K payout is in my eyes a totally inappropriate use of public money. Several issues are linked together:

    1. Life insurance is generally understood to be a provision for the survivors of a breadwinner who suffers an untimely death. Seems like your family currently has plenty of money; your father’s “life insurance” policy has simply turned into a bizarre, obscenely profitably investment, paid off the backs of the taxpayers you so earnestly claim to serve.

    2. Your claim that you’re only doing your “fiduciary duty” in pursuing the $193K ring hollow. You could have simply chosen to receive the full amount and then return all of it, minus the premium payments and some reasonable rate of interest, to the muni.

    3. As you keep reminding us while you make drastic cuts to public services, we are in austere times that call for public and personal sacrifice. Did it occur to you that cashing out $193K from our treasury is not very austere or sacrificial? Personally I would prefer for my hard-earned tax dollars to go towards the citizenry at large, e.g. fire departments, mountain rescue, parks department, road and trail maintenance, etc., rather than the Sullivan Family.

    4. In fact the whole thing is steeped in irony, since the only reason your father was able to retain life insurance was by basically joining a kind of public option. As noted by several quotes in the ADN article, if he had to compete in the marketplace, there is no way he could have afforded the insurance. See the irony? Your Republican party keeps telling the American people that the marketplace solves all problems, e.g. health care. Yet at the same time you’re happy to pick up the payout of your father’s government-run, totally non-market-driven life insurance policy paid for by the citizens of Anchorage.

    Comment: saw this – 07. March 2010 @ 4:49 pm

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