MEA Official Accuses Anchorage Assembly Of Misusing City Funds

A Matanuska Electric Association official charges that the Anchorage Municipal Assembly is spending city funds on private interests.

Joe Griffith, MEA’s executive director, has contacted Anchorage officials with concerns that city money is being spent on one Assemblyman’s legal fight against a power station upgrade.

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In a letter to Anchorage Municipal Assembly chair Ernie Hall, MEA executive director Joe Griffith says that one Assembly member, Eagle River’s Bill Starr, is planning to spend city funds to fight MEA’s appeal of a Muni Planning and Zoning Commission decision. Griffith says this is clearly a misuse of public funds.

“The Assembly has had no role whatsoever in this process,” Griffith said. “Now they, so far, have not had to weigh in on it, so therefore, they have no formal position.”

“And yet they have chosen to fund the attorneys that are fighting MEA’s request of a review of the process that refused us the right to upgrade a substation.”

Griffith adds, that, by law, MEA must maintain it’s facilities to keep up with power demands.

The city’s planning and zoning commission had earlier denied a bid by MEA for a conditional use permit for the upgrade of the power company’s Justine Parks substation in Eagle River. Now MEA is appealing the commission’s decision to the Board of Adjustment.

According to Griffith’s letter, Starr has tapped the law firm of Ashburn and Mason to help him in opposing the power station upgrade.

Starr would not agree to a recorded interview. He says there’s no impropriety, because the city maintains legal counsel for Assembly members. He says the “Board of Adjustment process is complicated” and that he wants good legal advice on how the Board operates.

Starr says MEA wants to build the substation in a residential neighborhood, and that “the residents have a right to complain.”