Assembly holds confidential executive session for Joe Gerace files, moves to release report to public

Assembly holds confidential executive session for Joe Gerace files
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 5:57 AM AKST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2023 at 8:11 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage Assembly is finalizing all questions that are going on the ballot for the April election, and besides the standard Assembly business, the topic on everyone’s mind is the subpoena for the investigation into the alleged fabricated resume of Joe Gerace, the city’s former health director.

The Assembly approved a resolution to authorize the chair, Suzanne LaFrance, to issue a subpoena for the Gerace report to Chief Human Resources Officer Niki Tshibaka. The investigation dealt with how Gerace was able to land the health director position with Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration with a resume that listed falsified credentials.

“The administration had asserted that it has conducted an internal investigation into how Mr. Gerace was identified, chosen, and nominated for this position, but after repeated requests for the information, very limited information has been provided to the Assembly, Assembly leadership was recently informed that information would only be shared under the order of a subpoena,” LaFrance said.

In a press release late Tuesday night, LaFrance said that Assembly members voted 7-4 to release the tapes immediately to the public, excluding names of personnel who were not subject to the subpoena.

“Unfortunately, the administration’s findings presented to the Assembly in executive session lacked details that would help our municipality understand and move beyond this troubling issue,” LaFrance said in the release. “As a result, the Assembly will continue to monitor this issue and press the administration to provide answers.”

LaFrance noted that the Assembly is currently seeking legal opinion on how to proceed with the public release of the report, adding that the community deserves to see the contents of the investigation.

After giving the Mayor’s report, LaFrance gave Bronson a moment of privilege Tuesday night to address the community on the recent allegations, but Bronson did not go into detail.

“HR records are a private affair and we are required by law to not divulge HR records, whether it’s Mr. Gerace or anyone else,” Bronson said.

The Assembly also returned to several matters from Monday’s meeting that were pushed to Tuesday, including an Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department bond.

At a prior meeting on Monday night, the Assembly approved a majority of the ballot propositions that were on the agenda, which will be on the April 4 ballot, including a bond that would create a new service area to alleviate parking issues in neighborhoods near access points to the Chugach State Park.

“The administration put forward a bond that was wholly insufficient,” Assembly Vice Chair Chris Constant said. “It had only had five projects when there are dozens of projects that are programmed — and there are some tactical moves we’re investigating for how to make sure we have a full park bond for the people to vote on.”

Additionally, the Assembly unanimously passed a key item to keep the capacity of the Sullivan Arena at 360 people, despite an assault at the facility, which is currently serving as a homeless shelter, earlier on Tuesday.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information.