After weeks of witch hunting, the Sullivan Administration has released the Wheeler report. Mayor Sullivan has been whining about the budget, the unions and Mark Begich since…well…seventh grade. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but since taking the helm of Anchorage, he has talked of little else.
If the city is in such financial disarray from the previous administration, why did Dan Sullivan take a mayoral paycheck for the weeks BEFORE he was mayor? Matt Claman was already being paid to be the acting mayor. Because of Sully, the good taxpayers of Anchorage had to cough up an extra $12,115.20. There is no record of any mayor EVER taking a paycheck between election certification and the swearing-in ceremony. The legal loophole Sullivan took advantage of ought to be closed.
Last week, Mayor Sullivan was shamed into showing up for President Obama’s first ever stop in Alaska. The mayor selfishly turned down 10 tickets he could have and should have distributed. Later, Sully said, while calling in to a local right-wing talk show, that he had to “watch his wallet” because he’d gone to see the president. I don’t know if the mayor was worried because the president is a black man, a “socialist” or more likely, a black “socialist”. If anything, it’s the Anchorage taxpayers that have to “watch our wallets” when Sully’s in the house. How much money did the unnecessary fishing expedition that is the Wheeler report cost? The only thing Sully and Wheeler caught were a bunch of suckers-i.e. the Anchorage taxpayers.
Mayor Sullivan claims to be concerned with the financial straits the city is in. If that’s true, instead of spending time and taxpayer funds pointing fingers, he should man-up, put his money where his mouth is and give his $12,115.20 interim paycheck back.
That would be the honorable thing to do. But, instead of being accountable, Sully has relentlessly, maliciously and pointlessly attempted to scapegoat Senator Mark Begich. Perhaps the mayor ought to take a page out of the senator’s playbook: stop complaining and just get to work.
There are other ways of demonstrating concern and accountability. If the Borough of Anchorage is in financial ruin, why doesn’t Mayor Sullivan do what nearly every other city administration has done and tax to the cap? Instead, Sullivan decided to play political games with real people’s lives in a shameless display of politics and simultaneous self-promotion.
Dan Sullivan has an additional $10 million dollars that would fully fund the municipality. But Sully and his have theirs. They aren’t concerned with the little people; little people who depend upon bus schedules, libraries and emergency services-life and death matters that are measured in precious minutes. Minutes that can never be traded for once they are lost. Minutes that matter when a loved one’s had a heart attack and the closest fire station is closed-closed because Dan Sullivan would rather cut emergency services than access $10 million in available funds.
Dan Sullivan must submit a budget that allows full funding of the municipality. Only then can his “concern” be taken seriously. But Sully would rather put the “I cut taxes” feather in his cap-essential services be damned. By not fully funding the city and utilizing the available funds, the city will be even more hard pressed the next fiscal year as the tax cap will adjust downward-in other words, next year, we won’t have a $10 million dollar potential cushion; it will evaporate with essential services and municipal jobs.
There has been a lot of shrapnel and fallout from the erupting war between the left and right factions of city government. As a result, civility was one of the first casualties of the Sullivan Administration. Some Anchorage Assembly members have behaved in ways that would get your children suspended from school. They have exhausted every means possible to demonize Senator Mark Begich and the unions-the unions that represent the men and women that get the power grid up when it’s the middle of the night and 20 below; the unions that represent the men and women who respond at a moments notice and provide life-saving care and comfort in your hour of need; the unions that represent the men and women who put their lives on the line day in and day out to protect and serve. To the Republicans, the Firemen and Policemen are nothing more than election cycle props. They don’t want to honor their tremendous sacrifice and pay them a living wage. When you hear the local radio jocks regurgitate those right-wing talking points about “the unions”, notice how they NEVER mention WHO it is those unions are representing! That’s because they want it both ways. They want to shake the fireman’s hand while stabbing his union in the back.
According to the Wheeler report, it is important to note that former Mayor Mark Begich DID NOT violate the city charter. AND, the union contracts that have been under constant fire are VALID and PERFECTLY LEGAL!
I could go on and on, but here is Senator Begich’s statement:
November 18, 2009
Statement from Sen. Mark Begich on release of Wheeler Report:
“It comes as no surprise that the report issued by Municipal Attorney Dennis Wheeler is
critical of me and my administration. We should not pretend that this review of the facts was objective, fair or complete. The Sullivan Administration, in concert with a handful of Assembly members, is determined to tarnish the record of my administration and this is just the latest step in that effort. “I cooperated with the Municipal Attorney, provided documents showing information the Assembly had about the state of city finances in 2008 and throughout my tenure as mayor, and supplied facts and information to put those documents in context. I sent Mr. Wheeler several letters inviting him to submit any additional questions he had, but it wasn’t until Nov. 12 – after receiving my fourth such letter and three days before he released his report – that any questions were submitted. I promptly answered those questions (see attachment).
“As I have said since day one, the Anchorage Assembly was fully apprised of all
financial information related to the Municipality throughout my terms as mayor. The suggestion that the Assembly was not fully informed about the Municipality’s financial condition is absurd and totally at odds with the record. We held multiple work sessions, issued reports and memos, and fully answered all questions. I could not, however, hold their collective hand to make sure they retained and analyzed the information provided. I think what we’ve seen is the result of an Assembly that eliminated its own budget analyst office and then was unable to keep up with the job they were elected to do. It’s regrettable that some have tried to gain political advantage calling into question labor contracts that were vigorously negotiated and contained terms that were fair, both to the Municipality and to the police officers and fire fighters who put their lives on the line for us every day.
“When I was elected mayor in 2003 and inherited a $33 million budget gap, I didn’t
complain about the previous administration. We got to work, closed the gap and pulled the city together. I would urge the Sullivan Administration and the Anchorage Assembly to stop trying to divide the community, deal with the budget challenges they face, and put the citizens of Anchorage above political games.