Got coffee? Assembly members plow through marathon meeting

Nathaniel Herz

Before the start of Tuesday's Assembly meeting at the Loussac Library, Amy Demboski dropped a pair of Dove chocolates at each member's desk.

Demboski, the Assembly member representing Chugiak and Eagle River, was trying to sweeten what was expected to be a long afternoon and evening, with the meeting starting at 2 p.m. and having the potential to run all the way to midnight.

Before and during the meeting, Assembly members and city officials employed all manner of coping strategies to make it through what was expected to be a marathon session.

Paul Honeman, an assemblyman from East Anchorage, said he went to bed an hour early on Monday -- at 9:30 p.m. -- to steel himself for the long day after his 4:45 a.m. wakeup.

He also said he was drinking liquids strategically, to avoid unnecessary bathroom breaks.

"You watch your consumption," he said.

One chair to his right, South Anchorage's Jennifer Johnston sat with a thermos full of ginger green tea, plus a cup of coffee and packages of wasabi-covered almonds and spicy pumpkin seeds.

"What'd you do when you had all-nighters?" she asked a reporter.

On top of the chocolate, Demboski said she brought Excedrin: "migraine medicine."

Other members took less aggressive approaches. East Anchorage Assemblyman Adam Trombley was relying on a back brace, after a recent surgery, but he said he'd brought nothing special to the meeting.

Neither did Chris Birch, an assemblyman from South Anchorage who rejected the idea that a 10-hour meeting would be taxing.

"I don't know that I would say this is strenuous work," he said. "It's not like you're digging -- it's not backbreaking."

Assembly members did have the benefit of a dinner break, which Midtown Assemblyman Dick Traini said included noodles, Swedish meatballs, and fudge.

As for Mayor Dan Sullivan? He was overheard before the meeting discussing the need for caffeine to get through the session -- but if he had any, it did not come from his press secretary, Lindsey Whitt.

"I asked if I could bring him a coffee or anything, but he said no," she said.

Whitt herself, however, was well stocked: She brought two Red Bull energy drinks, plus some instant coffee.