The new controversy is the budget shortfalls in city government. Some, mostly Bill Starr, Dan Coffey and mayor Sullivan himself appear to be making political hay out of trying to blame our money woes on outgoing mayor, now U.S. Senator Mark Begich, saying that his administration hid facts from the assembly so that he could meet his budget. This is factually incorrect and I believe they know that. Starr has pointed to one internal Begich administration email and attached spreadsheet as evidence that the former mayor deliberately hid the shortfall from assembly members. Which begs the question -- how did someone who essentially is a member of the legislative branch of local government (the Anchorage Assembly) get his hands on internal documents that were only meant to be seen by staff members of the administrative branch? Mayor Sullivan, would you care to answer that question? Have they never heard of the separation of powers? It applies even at a local level, Mr. Starr. I believe the method and manner in which he came into possession of these documents needs to be exposed. If it were I am sure we would most likely see the links leading directly back to the new Sullivan administration as mayor Dan attempts, with the help of partisan political hacks like Coffey and Starr to scapegoat the former mayor for yet to be determined reasons.
As already addressed by Begich in direct response to the asshattery of Starr, the documents Starr now holds up as evidence of deliberate deception against the assembly were internal planning documents that detailed various budget scenarios. They are 'game theory'. Begich asked his staff to come up with various best and wort case scenarios for budget planning and submit them. Starr is whining about the path NOT taken and claiming that mayor Begich was less than forthcoming and honest with the local assembly. Bullshit, Mr. Starr. It has already been explained that they did the best they could with the money they had available for the budget and any shortfalls are really because of our current economic situation. In other words times are tough all over even for city government. The documents you now hold up as evidence of obfuscation were scenarios, not reality or the resutling actual policy that came from mayor Begich's administrators. You literally are using them as a straw man to score political points with Anchorage conservatives and you should be ashamed for doing so, Mr. Starr.
In my opinion all of this political theatre is nothing less than a prelude to mayor Sullivan attempting to introduce a very unpopular local sales tax in order to lessen the fiscal sting and make it appear as though it's not HIS fault that he had to do it -- it's all Begich's fault for putting us in the position we presently find ourself in as a city not able to meet its budget. Sullivan has proposed a sales tax before and he will no doubt be pushing for the same thing again in order to score political points with conservative, Republican and Democratic homeowners who now bear the brunt of local revenue generation through collection of local property taxes, the only way things get paid for in Anchorage municipal government.
If there is any conspiracy whatsoever it is between these three a-holes -- Sullivan, Starr and Coffey -- all longtime conservative agitators looking to snare all Anchorageites within their web of taxation deciet. What Starr is asking for is for the administrative branch to provide the assembly with copies of their internal work papers, a clear violation of the separation of powers. His demand is a double edge sword because if successful and any new laws are passed they will provide unprecedented access to internal administration documents. This would also presumably apply to Sullivan and HIS administration. Do you guys REALLY want to go there?
My suggestion is they quit dicking around and playing the blame game by coming up with their own solutions to the present budget crisis rather than trying to pin the blame on someone who hasn't been in office for well over a year. Oh and quit making mountains out of molehills where no wrongdoing exists just so you can sneak an upopular tax in through the back door -- a tax that discriminates against the poorest members of Anchorage society as Sullivan refuses to add exemptions for critical items such as food. It unfairly places more of the local tax burden upon those who can already barely afford to live and survive in this town while relieveing the tax burden from those who are more than capable of meeting taxation and cost of living requirements to be able to live comfortably within this municipality. After all, how much infrastructure do those who rent or those who are homeless or with marginal, low paying jobs use as opposed to homeowners who rely on water, sewer, lights, roads, snow removal and a host of other municipal services paid for by their taxes? The answer is that the majority consumers and beneficiaries of those services need to pay for them and quit whining or trying to foist the bill off on those who can ill afford it and to those who don't own property in this town. We already have 'hidden' regressive municipal taxes (alcohol and cigarettes) that punish those of lower economic means and now these idiots want to add more just so they can score political points with their conservative constiuents? Fuck that, Mr. Mayor! You and your buddies on the assembly need to man up and come up with real solutions instead of being dickheads, which by the way doesn't help anybody -- not even Anchorage property owners (who, by the way, have enjoyed a cap on taxes for well over a decade), ultimately.
(I will have a couple more posts on more local political hot button issues in the very near future, so stand by for those later