Anchorage Assembly goes to court to obtain Gerace documents

FastCast digital headlines for Friday, March 17, 2023
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 1:30 PM AKDT|Updated: Mar. 17, 2023 at 3:32 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage Assembly has filed an appeal in court to force Mayor Dave Bronson to show them documents related to the hiring and resignation of former Health Department Director Joe Gerace that the mayor has refused to produce.

Gerace resigned last August after reports in the media indicated he allegedly fabricated large portions of his resume. Later, he was accused by the Alaska Department of Law of exaggerating his military record to obtain higher pay from the Alaska State Defense Force. The state is seeking reimbursement of more than $60,000.

Mayor Bronson’s office said the municipality conducted an investigation into the hiring of Gerace, but the mayor has steadfastly refused to share the results of that investigation with the Assembly or the public, citing personnel privacy issues.

The Assembly has subpoenaed the documents previously and the mayor has refused to honor the previous supboenas.

The appeal of the mayor’s decision now goes to the Alaska Superior Court. Lawyers for the assembly say in their appeal that the mayor is incorrectly asserting that the requested records are personnel files and thus exempt from disclosure.

Anchorage Assembly Vice Chair Christopher Constant told Alaska’s News Source the assembly has concluded that it is time for a judge to rule on whether the mayor has the right to refuse to share the requested documents.

“We provided every opportunity for the administration to do the right thing and provide the public with the records that they deserve. We went through every step, and so now we are finally at the step where we need a third party arbiter — a judge — to make the determination for us that their opinion is proper or ours. You know, no branch of government has the right to simply cast out the law or say I have decided and that’s it. If there’s a disagreement on the facts, that’s why we have a judiciary system,” Constant said.

“These are the public’s records. And so ultimately, this is asking for a judge to make final determination on the question of whether these records are releasable so that we can provide them to the public, as the public has a right to have them,” Constant said.

The mayor said he will not voluntarily turn over the documents unless and until a judge orders him to do so.

“There is a process where I guess you can go to court and a judge can order anything he or she wants, and we will follow the process,” Bronson said. “We’re not going to defy a court. We’re not ever going to do that, so it just is what it is. And we’ll see — but I’m not going to break the law by releasing personnel records to anyone to whom I’m not compelled to do that.”

It is not known how quickly the court will take up the matter.

This is a developing story. Check back for more updates.