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Proposed new hire pits Anchorage Assembly against mayor’s office

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 10:47 AM AKDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2021 at 3:06 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage has two branches of government — the executive branch, which is the mayor, and the legislative branch, the assembly — but those lines are being tested.

On Tuesday, the Anchorage Assembly will consider an ordinance that would create a special assistant to the assembly. If approved, that person shall have “full, free and unrestricted access” to all records and activities of the municipal government and its departments.

The proposal has Mayor Dave Bronson’s staff concerned.

“It would be void of any checks or balances we typically see in government with no limitation on what this individual could or couldn’t do,” said Matt Shuckerow, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office.

Assembly member John Weddleton said, however, this should not be viewed as a power grab by the assembly since he helped draft the proposal before Bronson’s administration took over.

“It’s actually a position that’s been part of assembly staff before,” Weddleton said. “The staff’s workload has gotten so significant that we knew months ago, six, seven or eight months ago, that we needed to bring on more help.”

But that has not eased the concerns of the mayor’s staff.

“We frankly don’t believe this permissible,” Shuckerow said. “It would be a very clear violation of the grant of executive powers of the administration.”

But Weddleton does not believe opponents of the proposal should worry.

“Based on people’s concerns, we’ll tone it down,” Weddleton said. “We’ll change the wording so it’s really clear.”

Shuckerow said the administration will likely challenge the legality of the proposal if it’s approved without any changes.

Correction: A paraphrased sentence was corrected to show Mayor Dave Bronson’s unease toward the new position, which had said the opposite before.

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