Nathaniel Herz

The Anchorage Assembly will consider several measures at its Tuesday evening meeting that could affect the fate of the controversial labor law spearheaded by Mayor Dan Sullivan.

The law, which passed the Assembly by a 6 to 5 vote in March, has been the subject of a referendum campaign by Anchorage's municipal unions, which oppose it. At Tuesday's meeting, Assembly members will consider when to schedule the referendum -- either at the city's April election, or another election as late as 2015.

The unions, and their supporters on the Assembly, want to vote in April, while members aligned with Sullivan prefer the later options...

Nathaniel Herz

A street light fight is brewing in Anchorage.

The Assembly, led by Jennifer Johnston, is considering a measure that would relax the requirements for lighting certain types of roads in semirural areas, over objections from the city's public works staff.

Residents of those areas and their representatives on the Assembly say that they need the measure to preserve their dark skies, and to keep the city from forcing lights on them when roads are improved or built.

The city's public works department, meanwhile, argues that Johnston's measure would limit their power to require adequate lighting near schools and intersections, and could force them into more expensive road designs...

Nathaniel Herz

On Thursday morning, Ryan Kingrea was working on a laptop at a downtown Anchorage Starbucks, doing an estimate for his family's construction company.

Kingrea would rather have been in an office, he said. But he wouldn't use one enough for a rental to make financial sense for his company.

One floor above him, two Anchorage women were working to give him another option: a new shared office space called The Boardroom. After driving to Anchorage from Seattle last week with a U-Haul of furniture, the pair is preparing to launch their business on Nov. 4, on the second floor of the Key Bank Plaza on Fifth Avenue...

Nathaniel Herz

The city's proposal for a housing and services center near Kincaid Park for the homeless generated strident opposition at the Sand Lake Community Council this month.

Some people arrived with signs that read "Save our land!" Others worried that chronic alcoholics could end up wandering the trails at Kincaid Park. One woman compared the planned facilities to Alcatraz.

To the relief of many of the 200 people in attendance, Mayor Dan Sullivan announced at the meeting that his administration had decided against pursuing the project, which it was calling Raspberry Court...

Nathaniel Herz

The Sullivan administration released plans Friday that it said would save the city money by changing the way it administers health insurance for more than 2,100 of its workers -- currently a $50 million line item in Anchorage's $470 million budget.

The proposal, made public at an Assembly work session at City Hall, would require approval from municipal unions...

Nathaniel Herz

The Sullivan administration is proposing fare increases for the city's buses and parallel transit service for the elderly, after the Assembly struck down similar plans last year.

The proposal, which was released earlier this month with Mayor Dan Sullivan's 2014 budget, would boost fares for seniors from 50 cents to $1, and notch adult fares upwards from $1.75 to $2.

Monthly passes would go from $19.25 to $30 for seniors, from $25 to $30 for youths, and from 55 to $60 for adults.

Fares for AnchorRides, a shared service for Anchorage's elderly and disabled residents, would go from $3 to $3.50 -- which is reduced from last year's planned increase to $4...

Nathaniel Herz

The Sullivan administration revealed plans Friday to spend an additional $7.5 million and take an extra nine months to finish a software project that was already $5 million above its original estimate and a year behind schedule.

At an Assembly work session at City Hall, officials said they want to break ties with the consultant that has been installing the software, and hire a new one called The Peloton Group -- which has a history of salvaging troubled projects.

"We have very good references from people who were in these very same difficult situations who have brought in this group and loved how things went," said Lance Ahern, the city's chief information officer. "We think that the team we're bringing on has a proven track record of executing their plan."...

Nathaniel Herz

Over the last 2-1/2 years, a crew of six Anchorage Police Department officers has patrolled downtown, driving away problems from the transit center and helping to shutter the crime-ridden Inlet Inn.

But bad behavior has been persistent at Town Square Park, just a block away from City Hall. There, in the shadows of trees or behind grassy mounds, young people can be spotted doing drugs, having sex, and smoking spice, a synthetic drug that mimics marijuana, according to Sgt. Mark Rein, who leads what's known as the Community Action Policing team downtown...

Nathaniel Herz

Assemblyman Dick Traini introduced a measure Wednesday night to repeal the controversial labor law that was passed by the Assembly earlier this year with the support of Mayor Dan Sullivan.

The measure appears to have the support of the majority of the Assembly, after member Bill Starr asked to be listed as a co-sponsor -- effectively reversing his prior position on the labor law.

Assemblyman Adam Trombley said in an interview that he could "potentially get behind" Traini's repeal effort.

The labor law, which passed in March by a 6 to 5 vote, has been the subject of a bitter and extended fight between the city and Anchorage's municipal unions...

Nathaniel Herz

The Anchorage Assembly set back plans for the construction of city-run indoor tennis courts at its meeting Tuesday night, voting unanimously to accept a chunk of state funding for other projects that does not include money for the Northern Lights Recreation Center.

The vote came after the Assembly heard testimony from dozens of people pushing for the construction of the public courts in Turnagain.

The Assembly had been considering two different measures Tuesday. One, pushed by Mayor Dan Sullivan, would have accepted a $37 million state grant for the tennis courts, as well as for renovations to several city ice rinks and other buildings...

Nathaniel Herz