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The election showed Anchorage is moving to the left. The Assembly’s child care proposal is a sign of the silliness to come.

  • Author: Paul Jenkins
    | Opinion
  • Updated: April 13
  • Published April 13

If the last election shows anything, it shows our fair burg is inexorably changing, transforming, sliding toward the left end of the political spectrum. With that, predictably, will come ever-increasing crime, taxes — and government silliness.

There are plenty of signs. Mayor Ethan Berkowitz's re-election, passage of all the proposed bonds, the defeat of Proposition 1 and blind approval of an oddly opaque utility sale — along with the earlier submissive acceptance of a 10 cent-a-gallon gas tax — are all signs of creeping blueness.

To see the future, to understand our betters' budding paternal concerns about what is best for us, you need look no further than the Anchorage Assembly. Before the dust could settle from the latest election, two members of that august body were conjuring up a scheme to spend more of your dough — and take government where government has no business.

The two, Forrest Dunbar and Suzanne LaFrance, decided taxpayers could pick up the tab for subsidizing child care to the tune of $5,000 a pop, per year. (That is, by the way, just slightly more than the annual property tax on a $350,000 home.)

Oh, but the proposed subsidy was not intended for you. For whom then, you might ask. For poor, single mothers who desperately are trying to attend school? Nope. For a frazzled family having to decide between food and child care? Nope. For somebody trying to improve their life and needing help? Nope. The subsidy would have been for elected Assembly members and those in the city clerk's office, election officials and the municipal ombudsman's office who have children younger than 6, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Dunbar and LaFrance, it turns out, fret the high cost of child care in Anchorage is keeping young parents from running for office, and, by golly, helping people with young kids get into office is a new national trend. Besides, few would have received the subsidy, they said. The ADN reports your money would have offset the $10,000 to $15,000 annual bill paid by families with children in need of care.

It could have gotten worse. Much, much worse. Dunbar said other city departments could sign on later if city law were changed, the ADN reported.

Dunbar and LaFrance apparently believe taxpayers owe elected Assembly members and their employees — and eventually all city workers — a little prize for their noble work; that the political class in this city somehow should be treated differently than ordinary folks. It should be no surprise.

"When Democrats are in control, cities tend to go soft on crime, reward cronies with public funds, establish hostile business environments, heavily tax the most productive citizens and set up fat pensions for their union friends," Investors Business Daily says in an editorial.

It is that way in far too many of the nation's cities run by Democrats. Detroit. Chicago. St. Louis. Baltimore. Philadelphia. New York. Oakland. Newark. Dangerous, corrupt, broken cities run by people who have no clue. Cities that pretend to be sanctuaries — remarkably, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz appears on a video leaning in that direction — cities that do it wrong again and again; cities where government is the be-all, end-all.

Anchorage is well on its way. Take crime, for instance. The city is No. 12 in the Top 25 cities where crime is soaring, according to 24/7 Wall St., a financial news and commentary website.

"After climbing by a near nation-leading 41.3 percent in the last five years, the violent crime rate in Anchorage, Alaska, is the second highest of any metro area tracked by the FBI," the website says. "There were 1,115 violent crimes in the metro area for every 100,000 residents in 2016, nearly three times the violent crime across the U.S. as a whole."

One might think Assembly members would be too busy trying to fix the mess to get into trouble. Local government, after all, has few legitimate responsibilities, but they require time, attention and diligence. We can argue about what those responsibilities are, but providing $5,000 day care subsidies for those in the political class — whether it is one person or a thousand — is certainly and inarguably, not one of them.

Having children, after all, is a choice. Living in Anchorage is a choice. Running for the Assembly is a choice. Taxpayers, by and large, are not consulted in any of those instances. Taxpayers should not have to subsidize child care for public officials or wannabes or their minions. Period.

Dunbar and LaFrance, after taking heat for their proposal, dumped it like a hot rock late last week, not because it was a lousy idea, but because, the ADN reported, it was misunderstood by the yokels.

All this only serves as a harbinger of government silliness to come.

Paul Jenkins is editor of the AnchoageDailyPlanet.com, a division of Porcaro Communications

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