Sure, it’s a guess…but a damn good one. This Friday, Mayor Dan Sullivan will cross the picket line at the ONLY boycotted hotel in Alaska for his “unity” dinner. In May, the Hilton workers overwhelmingly voted to place their hotel under boycott because their employer degrades their quality of life. Make no mistake, the media war being waged against the unions is partisan politics as usual. With all the vitriol against former Mayor, now Senator Mark Begich, I wonder if we aren’t seeing the opening salvo of a future “Sully” run for Senate.
Yesterday, Assemblyman Bill Starr released some serious allegations against Senator Begich. Bill Starr alleges Begich was part of a cover-up conspiracy to put the city in the hole in order to get the union contracts signed. An attorney just released an opinion stating the contracts are invalid. The attorney was hired by Assembly Chair Debbie Ossiander for $5,000; an amount not needing approval by the assembly. He has admitted to not having any expertise in employment or labor union law. Sources say the city has been billed for an additional $12,000. The unions rejected Mayor Sullivan’s proposal to cut their hours
Member Starr sent an email to the press:
These indicate communications from the former CFO (Sharon Weddleton) to former Mayor (labor contracts of APDEA and IAFF were approved. A very specific email was sent with back-up spreadsheet outlining a shortfall or projected shortfall of from 10 million to 31 million with warnings of 100 million possible. I do not have Mayor Begich’s responses to these written concerns.) advising of revenue shortfalls and over budget indications in December 2008. This was just before the
I plan to consider rescission actions for these AFD and APD contracts and others, and request subpoena powers from the Chairman of the Assembly for further inquiry. I believe now that the assembly was intentionally misled on the fiscal condition of the City. It will be interesting to see if there was widespread knowledge of the financial position of the City, and a conspiracy to deceive the assembly amongst the leadership of the Begich administration. I do not believe the assembly would have approved the widesweeping contracts under consideration on December 15th 2008 if this information was shared by the executive branch, as required, with the legislative branch (assembly) of government.
Under municipal code (AMC) the Mayor has the requirement to disclose revenue shortfalls to the assembly upon knowledge. When this memo was received by Mayor Begich he purportedly “sent” Ms. Weddleton home without pay. These communications confirm the assembly was not notified as required. Needless to point out, we, as a body, approved the subsequent labor contracts under limited fiscal information. In some cases there was retroactive pay and benefits further impacting the 2008 budgets. I have additional emails from Ms.Weddleton in which she will not certify funds availability for the labor contracts costing. As you are aware we are in significant fiscal straights and our fund balances (savings) are depleted at year end 2008 and going forward into 2009. We may not recover from our obligation to restore these savings accounts (fund balances) in the 2010 budget plan.
Today, Sharon Weddleton, the city’s former chief fiscal officer under Begich, told KTUU’s Jason Lamb:
“I was disappointed in the claim that there was a conspiracy to deceive the assembly. The administration went to great efforts to repeatedly communicate the state of municipal finance to the Assembly at numerous work sessions, beginning as early as October (2008).”
When Lamb asked about being “sent home”, Weddleton responded:
“That is incorrect. Absolutely false. The mayor has always been a gentleman to me, he has never done anything of that nature to me, ever.”
Senator Begich released a statement that included:
“I am pleased to help answer questions city officials may have about budget actions under my tenure as mayor, within the constraints of my duties as a United States Senator. But I will not tolerate a character assault on me or members of my administration who worked so hard for the people of Anchorage.”
Hmmm. It’s hard to put much stock in anything coming out of Mr. Starr’s mouth. He asked us a few years ago to ignore what he’d said in a “private” conversation between him and Assemblyman Dan Coffey. Coffey “butt dialed” Assemblyman Allan Tesche’s home phone and inadvertently left a damning message several minutes long. You can listen for yourself here.
Their conversation was laced with vulgarity and Mr. Starr had some nasty things to say about the police union.
In the first part of the recording, Coffey and Starr discussed raising money for their favorite “conservative” candidates. They were doling it out $250 at a time to “show they cared.” In the case of Dick Traini, who was running for re-election, it would be used as leverage to ensure Traini voted the way they wanted him to. After the tape went public, Coffey claimed it was just a joke. They referred to Dan Sullivan as “Sully” and were giving him money to hold. Funny joke.
In another section of the recording, Starr was mad the Anchorage Police Department’s union (APDEA) wasn’t endorsing him. Starr had supported a shooting range, but had been against them driving their police cars home to the Valley at night.
Mr. Starr: “…You go my way or the freeway, you know. Here’s–I got a call from Del Smith today and I’m going to tell those sons-of-bitches to fuck themselves…”
Mr. Coffey: “...down on the mudflats…and up your ass…”
Wow, Mr. Starr…Do you kiss your mother with that mouth? When the “butt dial” recording went viral, you told us your own voice and words caught on tape weren’t true…so why would anything you say now be gospel? You have been a muppet for Dan Coffey and Dan Sullivan for years. Your contempt for the unions is articulated in your own words. Your willingness to compromise the truth for “Team Dan” is evident. Your family values seem a little fetish.
“Sully’s” aspirations for higher office are obvious. You would think a man with such dreams would be more cautious. No recent mayor had ever taken a paycheck for the period of time between the election certification and the swearing in…until now. It’s wasteful spending to pay TWO mayors at one time. Dan Sullivan took a paycheck (check #710638) for $12,115.20 for a period of time HE WASN’T WORKING. We were already paying Matt Claman to be acting mayor. It’s not illegal to take a paycheck for not doing any work…because no one in recent history had ever pulled that stunt…until Mayor Sullivan. My advice to the Assembly? Tighten that little loop hole. Now there’s a conspiracy you can believe in.
As mayor, Sullivan is “cracking down on wasteful spending.” He’s pulled the city employee credit cards and made a lot of press doing it. That’s fabulous…now how about you, Mayor Sullivan? Leading by example is always a good start. Though Sullivan is a minor owner (10%) of a local pub, he has, on at least three occasions, been reimbursed for dining there on city business.
PRO0685047 9/2/2009 MCGINLEYS PUB Working lunch with staff member, DAN SULLIVAN $61.50
PRO0685047 9/2/2009 MCGINLEYS PUB Working lunch with John Rodda, DAN SULLIVAN $31.50
PRO0682746 8/3/2009 MCGINLEYS PUB Working Lunch with Assemblymember DAN SULLIVAN $30.50
Granted, not a huge amount of ownership or grand amount of money involved in the scheme of the city budget…it’s the HYPOCRISY! Had Mayor Begich taken anyone to lunch at his wife’s establishment for a bowl of soup and been reimbursed by the city…well, it would have been a Depends moment for Sully, Coffey and Starr.
I find it ironic that the same people who say we are in “Obama’s recession” are the same ones blaming Anchorage’s financial condition on the previous mayor. Funny thing; you never hear the dominant right wing radio jocks nor Mayor Sullivan mention the fact that the previous mayor, Mark Begich, inherited a deficit of $33 million from former Mayor George Wuerch. Unlike the current mayor, Mayor Begich didn’t complain about it-he just went to work.
Hey, fellas, when you’re done playing “Broke Bank Anchorage” and, “It’s all Mark Begich’s fault”, could you answer why “Sully” paid himself for doing nothing for six weeks? Or why he demands pay cuts from the union employees but not the city executives? Or why is it OK for the mayor to dine at and receive reimbursement for an establishment he has an interest in? Let us know when your next butt dial tape is coming out, OK? Thanks.
When you’ve got all that cleared up, maybe you could dig a little bit further and find out why the same speaker, Lynn Swann, hired for the “Mayor’s Unity Dinner” is also the headliner for a Republican fundraiser on the same day. Hmmm…unity? What is unifying about a former Pittsburgh Steeler and Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate, with a $40,000 speaker fee? Oh, you meant partisan…easy mistake. It makes more sense that you’re holding it at a union-busting hotel now. Something about all those “diverse” looking hotel workers not being paid a living wage must really “unify” your party.