Special assistant position approved by Anchorage Assembly

Anchorage Assembly.
Anchorage Assembly.
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 10:07 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - On the agenda at Tuesday’s Anchorage Assembly meeting was an ordinance that would create a special assistant to the assembly. Its members approved that ordinance in an 8-2 vote.

This person will assist with the assembly with the legislative functions on policy, advocacy, and community engagement, and other activities, according to a memorandum attached to the ordinance.

Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration had concerns that the person taking this position would have access to all records and activities of the municipal government and its departments, as stated in the original ordinance.

But at the assembly members agreed to make changes to remove language that the administration felt would violate the separation of powers between the assembly and the mayor’s office.

Language that was in the original ordinance that was removed on Tuesday stated the assistant would have “full, free, and unrestricted access” to all public records, municipal property, personnel, all activities of government and its departments, and all policies, plans and procedures, and records pertaining to financial expenditures.

“I appreciate the administration was open about their concerns with it and that we worked fairly briskly, Mr. Rivera and myself, mostly Mr. Gates and Mr. Burke, and others on the staff, to get this wording right, so everyone was comfortable with it,” said assembly member John Weddleton. “And I think we are in a good spot.”

Weddleton and assembly member Felix Rivera brought forth the amendment that removed the language that was concerning to the city administration. It leaves the special assistant with access to public records.

“Basically what this amendment does is just seeks to make this position in line the intention and the reality of the position,” Rivera said at the meeting.

The special assistant will be selected by the chair of the assembly. The position is needed, according to the ordinance memo, because the assembly’s workload has increased over the years. The position is needed to assist in coordinating town halls, for example, and for things like researching state and federal regulation or complex local policies as they relate to assembly work, according to the memo.

“Over the past years, as the business of the Municipality and the workload of the Anchorage Assembly has increased, the Assembly has recognized the need for the option to hire staff positions that are designed to assist it in its legislative functions,” the memo states.

Read more: Proposed new hire pits Anchorage Assembly against mayor’s office

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