Anchorage

Anchorage Assembly to hold special meetings on fired municipal manager’s allegations against the mayor

Anchorage Assembly special meeting

The Anchorage Assembly is holding two special meetings on Thursday and Friday in response to allegations leveled last week against Mayor Dave Bronson and his administration by Bronson’s recently fired municipal manager, Amy Demboski.

The Assembly is holding the meetings to get advice from attorneys and plan a course of action, according to a written statement from Assembly leadership on Wednesday.

In a letter sent from her attorney to Bronson last week, Demboski accused the mayor and his administration of violating the law, acting unethically, discriminating against women and creating and tolerating a hostile work environment. Demboski claims she was fired in retaliation for raising concerns to the mayor over the issues, including concerns about officials breaking city laws in their handling of contracts and purchasing.

The mayor and his administration have not publicly responded to the letter and allegations. They have not answered questions from the Daily News, citing related “potential litigation.”

On Thursday, the Assembly is scheduled to vote to formally incorporate Demboski’s letter into its record. Members would then likely vote to enter an executive session, meaning the public would be excluded from that portion of the meeting and no formal action would be taken, Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance said.

Assembly attorneys will then advise members about the scope of their powers, liabilities and actions the Assembly may consider to respond to the allegations raised by Demboski.

[From Mayor Bronson’s first day in office, a domestic violence case loomed over Anchorage City Hall]

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On Friday, the Assembly may take some action, although exactly what action members would vote on is not yet clear.

“Assembly leadership intends to bring forward legislative and financial items for action on Friday to protect the immediate interests of the Municipality by safeguarding the finances, assets, workforce and reputation of the Municipality,” LaFrance said in a statement. “I am committed to maintaining our focus on good governance and ensuring that critical municipal services continue.”

If members have more questions for attorneys after Thursday’s executive session, the Assembly may again vote to go into an executive session on Friday, LaFrance said.

According to city code, the Assembly can go into executive session for several reasons, including to discuss legal matters, matters that if publicly discussed would “clearly have an adverse effect upon the finances of the municipality” and subjects that “tend to prejudice the reputation and character of any person,” among other reasons.

“While the letter from the former muni manager’s attorney was made public, it was 11 pages, covered a number of items and mentioned individuals. Given that, it’s likely we’ll need to discuss with attorneys their guidance to identify any exposure – the exposure the municipality may have, its liability and risk,” LaFrance said.

In December, when Demboski first said she was fired in retaliation by Bronson for raising concerns about law violations, the Assembly announced they would launch an inquiry into the administration’s handling of contracts and purchases.

After reading the letter last week, members said they were “shocked” and “blindsided” by the detailed allegations.

One of the most serious accusations Demboski has made is that the mayor’s senior policy adviser, Larry Baker, tried to get the former municipal attorney to drop or reduce domestic violence charges against his business partner. She also alleged that Baker tried to prevent the city’s deputy municipal manager, the victim in the cases, from being hired to work in City Hall.

Thursday’s meeting is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Assembly chambers at the Loussac Library. Friday’s meeting will run from 3 to 5 p.m. at City Hall, Suite 155. Both meetings will also be livestreamed, according to the statement from Assembly leaders.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the location of Friday’s special meeting. The meeting will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. at City Hall, Suite 155, not at the Loussac Library.

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Emily Goodykoontz

Emily Goodykoontz is a reporter covering Anchorage local government and general assignments. She previously covered breaking news at The Oregonian in Portland before joining ADN in 2020. Contact her at egoodykoontz@adn.com.

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