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Anchorage’s first chief equity officer provides personnel files after being fired by the mayor

Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 3:22 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage Assembly is still waiting for the grounds for cause Mayor Dave Bronson had for firing the city’s first chief equity officer, Clifford Armstrong III. In the meantime, Armstrong provided Alaska’s News Source with his personnel files.

The mayor’s spokesperson has continuously said the city is not allowed to talk about why Armstrong was fired because it is a personnel issue.

“I think it’s a common line,” Armstrong said. “It’s useful, I think, just as like a deflection kind of tool.”

Armstrong was let go on Oct. 7 and later replaced by Uluao “Junior” Aumavae.

“HR matters are personal, it’s not something that we’re allowed to talk about,” the mayor’s spokesperson Corey Allen Young said last week.

Included in Armstrong’s files is a letter from the city’s labor relations director, through the mayor.

“As the Chief Equity Officer at the Municipality of Anchorage, you are aware your position is an executive position and serves at the pleasure of the Mayor,” the letter states. “Please be advised that your service to the Municipality will end October 7, 2021.”

“I asked them (HR) specifically about ... whether there was cause,” Armstrong said. “They said no.”

The rest of Armstrong’s paperwork includes a resume, a passed background check and how-to on returning city equipment.

Armstrong was also given two weeks of severance pay.

Before he was fired, Armstrong said, he had given a draft of his equity report to a handful of people in the Bronson administration. He said he found disparities in hiring and promotions and low levels of people with disabilities, veterans, people of color and women being hired.

The assembly gave the mayor a deadline to explain why Armstrong was fired. Assembly leadership said in a letter to Bronson that they did not recognize Armstrong’s firing as leally valid or complete.

What divides the two bodies is a disagreement between a city code and charter.

Young has said previously that the mayor acted within his rights, citing a section of the city charter that describes the powers of the mayor, which states “Persons appointed by the mayor serve at the pleasure of the mayor.”

The assembly, however, is citing a section of city code that states the “chief equity officer may be dismissed by the mayor only for cause shown, and only with the concurrence of a majority of the assembly.”

Armstrong says his position has been politicized.

“My holding of that office is a bit of a political football, I would say,” he said.

Wednesday was the deadline Bronson was given to tell the assembly his grounds for firing Armstrong, or risk potentially going to court.

Bronson missed that deadline, but Young said via email the administration anticipates having a response “by the end of the week.”

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