Birch's bid to move election wastes time, kills trust
Assemblyman Chris Birch should have accepted the exit provided by the city's ethics board, which unanimously found that the Assembly has no business voting to change the date of city elections when its members would stand to gain by the change.
Instead, Birch says he'll introduce his ordinance anyway.
Because, said Birch, the low turnout in city elections is such a problem that we can't stand to wait even one more election to change it.
That reply doesn't pass the red face test. Not even close.
Has Mr. Birch just discovered low turnout not only in city elections but in state elections and even national elections?
Does he expect Anchorage voters to believe that the labor ordinance has nothing to do with his bid to move the election to November?
Is Mr. Birch unaware that in Anchorage and other cities in Alaska local elections are scheduled apart from statewide elections for the very reason of allowing residents to focus on local issues?
The last time the city changed its election schedule it went from October to April but with about four years lead time -- and no controversial labor ordinance repeal waiting for a vote that the mayor and several Assembly members, including Chris Birch, seem determined to prevent until they think they can stack numbers in their favor.
This is just another example of poor governing, and poor governing has dogged the labor ordinance from its development behind closed doors in 2012 to the mayor's recent veto of the Assembly's 7-4 vote to repeal the measure.
Respect for the voters and the democratic process would have Birch drop his bid to move the city elections this year. If he's serious about a such a long-term change, he should call for it when no ethical questions are involved and the fate of a lightning-rod labor ordinance isn't at stake.
Respect for the voters and the democratic process also would have the mayor drop his opposition to an April vote on the labor ordinance. An April vote was a reasonable expectation of the 20,000-plus voters who sought the referendum to repeal.
Putting off the election is disrespect, and no way to build trust with voters -- a trust already strained. If Birch persists, his colleagues should let him know that his ordinance is DOA.
BOTTOM LINE: There's no pressing need to change the date of Anchorage elections.