Task Force Says Assembly Broke Charter Rules

A citizens’ task force charged with reviewing the Anchorage Assembly’s public hearing process has released a draft of their recommendations.

One of their conclusions is that the Assembly erred in cutting off public testimony about a controversial labor law.

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The task force was formed after the Assembly voted to end public testimony before everyone had a chance to testify on a controversial labor ordinance last spring.

Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA - Anchorage.
Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage.

Jane Angvik chairs the panel, which released a draft of its findings Sept. 20. The task force made nine specific recommendations, including one having to do with the interpretation of the municipal charter.

“The charter says that under the bill of rights that citizens have the right to be heard at public hearings prior to the adoption of an ordinance,” Angvik said. “So we concluded that if you started with a signup sheet and you’ve got people who are signed up and ready to testify, that the Assembly has to listen to everyone; they can’t cut it off.”

That’s exactly what the Assembly did last March when hundreds of people flooded a public hearing on a controversial labor ordinance also known as AO-37.

A ballot measure to repeal that ordinance is awaiting a court test.

Angvik says the task force also recommended limiting the Assembly’s dinner break to 15 minutes, better visual aids during hearings, and finding a way for citizens to weigh in online during public hearings.

The Task Force is composed of 11 residents who met and reviewed the charter, ordinances and the policies and procedures regarding Assembly public hearings.

It had a public hearing of its own about the process on Sept. 3.

Angvik says the recommendations are based on public testimony given at that hearing.

A final public hearing is set for 6 p.m. at the Loussac Library Assembly Chambers on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

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Daysha Eaton is the News Director at KBBI in Homer. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.