Anchorage Assembly begins inquiry after blog alleges ‘improper demands’ were made on police chief

A white woman with black hair and red glasses rests her chin on her hands in front fo a microphone
Suzanne LaFrance speaks at a June 2021 committee meeting of the Anchorage Assembly. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

Leaders of the Anchorage Assembly are asking for information following a blog’s allegations that Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration inappropriately pressured the police chief and interfered with the fluoridation of Anchorage’s water. 

Citing anonymous sources, The Alaska Landmine published a post Saturday suggesting the Bronson administration pressured the Anchorage police chief to order officers to leave a combative Assembly meeting on Oct. 7. It also says the mayor’s office attempted to pressure APD to enter a medical facility “in order to ‘rescue’ a man sick with COVID” and possibly to compel providers to treat him with ivermectin. The post also alleges the mayor turned off the fluoride in the city’s water during a visit to the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility plant. 

The Landmine claimed the requests from the mayor’s office led to Anchorage Police Chief Ken McCoy announcing he’ll retire after less than a year on the job.

Corey Allen Young, a spokesperson for the mayor, said the events described in the blog post did not happen.

“For all three of these questions the answer is this is false. These did not happen,” he wrote in an email on Monday.

McCoy, reached by phone Monday afternoon, said he had no comment on the allegations at this time. He referred reporters to Young.

Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance said that since the Landmine story was published this weekend, she’s heard corroborating stories from other city employees. 

“This is certainly cause for concern and Assembly leadership, Assembly members take this kind of information very seriously,” she said on Monday. “And I think it’s important to point out that we are still waiting for a response from the administration.”

RELATED: Bronson sues Anchorage Assembly over his right to fire chief equity officer

Bonny Salsbery is the daughter of Dan O’Barr, who the Landmine said was possibly the man hospitalized with COVID-19. She said her family never contacted the mayor’s office or asked for ivermectin. She said the family had reached out to state Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, over the hospital’s COVID-19 visitation policy, which prevented O’Barr’s wife from visiting. Salsbery said she was not aware of any attempt to remove O’Barr from the hospital where he was staying. 

On Sunday, the leaders of the Anchorage Assembly sent a request for all of the voicemails, emails, text messages or other records about the three incidents to the city’s records management office and to Patrick Bergt, the city attorney. It sent a separate request to Anchorage Water & Wastewater Utility, requesting information about the Landmine’s allegation and the mayor’s visits to the plant. It is also asking for all emails containing the name Dan O’Barr sent by city employees to be delivered ahead of the Assembly meeting on Tuesday. 

McCoy, Anchorage’s first Black police chief, announced that he’ll retire in February. He did not give a specific reason, but said the decision came after “much reflection and thoughtful consideration.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that the Landmine piece was written by two people: Jeff Landfield and Paxson Woelber. This story has also been updated with a comment from Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance.

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Lex Treinen covers culture, homelessness, politics and corrections for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at ltreinen@alaskapublic.org.

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