Nathaniel Herz

The Sullivan administration has unveiled its first deal with one of the seven city unions whose contracts expire this year.

The 70 mechanics represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have agreed to a 1-year contract with the city, which must now be approved by the Anchorage Assembly.

The deal includes a 1.5 percent raise, and a $100 monthly increase in the city's contribution to the mechanics' health insurance plan, which would be $1,818 in 2014.

The price tag amounts to $149,000 in increased costs for taxpayers next year, according to an analysis by the Department of Labor Relations...

Nathaniel Herz

The Sullivan administration is moving to tighten enforcement of the city's tobacco tax law after a bust last summer revealed a group of eight sellers who allegedly evaded nearly $1.4 million of the payments.

Treasurer Dan Moore says the abuses, evidence of which was first unearthed more than two years ago, showed the potential for fraud under the city's current tax code -- and his department is responding with a new version that will be introduced at the Anchorage Assembly's meeting next week...

Nathaniel Herz

The Anchorage Assembly has approved a 4.7 percent increase for municipal water and sewer charges, which will now be considered by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.

The Assembly passed the proposed increase unanimously at its meeting last week. It would raise bills for the average single family residential customer to $91.72 from $87.63, according to numbers from the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility.

The utility wants the new rates to go into effect starting next year. They represent a 4 percent increase in water rates, and a 5.5 percent increase in sewer rates...

Nathaniel Herz

A group of South Anchorage residents is trying to slow an effort by the Alaska Railroad to charge property owners hundreds of dollars for using land near the tracks, and potentially limit their access.

Residents of the Oceanview neighborhood voted 19 to 0 at a community council meeting last week to contact the railroad's board with concerns that people living along the tracks had not had been given adequate notice of a November meeting where a new permitting program could be approved.

"We just want an opportunity to let the public know this is happening," said Steve Beardsley, the community council president. "I want an opportunity to complain, or to back them up."...

Nathaniel Herz

The race to replace Mayor Dan Sullivan is kicking off with two former Anchorage Assembly members announcing their candidacies this week.

Former Assembly Chairman Dan Coffey has distributed invitations to "an announcement of great importance to the future of Anchorage," which will be held Tuesday evening.

Former Assemblyman Paul Bauer declared his candidacy in an email to the Daily News on Monday afternoon. Both men filed letters of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission last week...

Nathaniel Herz

The general manager of Anchorage's municipal electric utility has announced his retirement, effective at the end of the year, according to a prepared statement from the office of Mayor Dan Sullivan.

Jim Posey has occupied the position at Municipal Light and Power since 2003, when he was appointed by Mayor George Wuerch.

"The mayor and I had a discussion, and we agree on a date; that's all that matters," Posey said in a brief interview. "I'd been planning on retiring next year, or the next year. This is not bad -- it gives me the chance to do some other things I want to do."

A spokeswoman for Mayor Dan Sullivan said the city would be conducting a national search for Posey's replacement...

Nathaniel Herz

The latest clash over Anchorage's eight-month-old labor law centers on Mayor Dan Sullivan's veto powers.

At Tuesday's Assembly meeting, Sullivan tried to veto a measure that would set April 1 as the date for a referendum on the law. That drew a protest from an Assembly attorney. Sullivan's move was later set aside until it could be considered by a Superior Court judge.

The city charter will likely determine whether the veto stands. At the meeting, and in interviews, lawyers and Assembly members offered competing interpretations of charter provisions. The dispute essentially hinges on whether a mayor's veto power trumps the Assembly's ability to control elections.

Both sides seem confident...

Nathaniel Herz

The protracted fight over a new city labor law has already been the subject of a referendum campaign and a lawsuit that's reached the state Supreme Court.

But the battle between Mayor Dan Sullivan and his labor law opponents reached a new pitch at Tuesday night's Assembly meeting. Spectators watched a flurry of speeches, votes and vetoes that left the dispute no closer to resolution than it had been six hours earlier, at the start of the meeting.

The session ended with Sullivan using his veto to keep the Assembly from repealing the law. But a parallel skirmish over when the public might be able to vote on the measure is now headed to Superior Court, where a judge will settle a disagreement between attorneys for Sullivan and the Assembly over the mayor's veto powers...

Nathaniel Herz

A report released by the Anchorage Police Department confirms across-the-board increases in the number of serious crimes reported in the city last year.

The report, which was posted unannounced to the city's website, shows that Anchorage had more reports of serious crimes, including murders, rapes and burglaries, in 2012 than in 2011.

Those numbers, for major categories of crime, had been released by the FBI earlier this fall. But the department's report also includes a wealth of previously unpublished data on other types of crime such as DUI, prostitution, and weapons offenses, and it also contains detailed breakdowns for city neighborhoods.

A police spokeswoman said that Chief Mark Mew was not immediately available for comment...

Nathaniel Herz

The Anchorage Assembly voted twice Tuesday night for measures involving the repeal of the city's controversial labor ordinance, but were met with a pair of instant, prepared veto messages distributed by Mayor Dan Sullivan, who had pushed for passage of the law last spring.

Sullivan vetoed without legal challenge a measure that repealed the labor law outright.

But his other veto -- of a measure setting early next year as the date for a referendum on the law -- is heading to Superior Court, which will be asked to referee a dispute over whether the city charter bars Sullivan's move...

Nathaniel Herz