Behind the Landscape on Alaska's Politics & Culture


March 28, 2013

One big splash after four years of Anchorage city Republican mediocrity

New Anchorage Glenn Highway sign

Mediocrity: ordinariness as a consequence of being average and not outstanding; the quality of being commonplace and ordinary.

The question to the Mayor and his supporters on the Assembly is why now challenge the unions? Why did Mayor Sullivan wait 4 years into his Administration to challenge public employee unions on the huge contracts he inherited from Begich and while the nation struggles through an economic crisis?

AK INSIDER speculated in a previous article that this reeks of self-centered and self-serving politics for the Mayor’s future office. If this is so, all at taxpayer’s expense.

The taxpayers demanded this sort of action four years ago when they voiced support at the ballot box for Sullivan and Assembly Republicans. The lack of response and mediocrity from the Mayor and the moderate lead Republicans on the Assembly have now cemented in stone the Begich era largest tax and spending increases in Anchorage’s history.

The old adage; once something is in place; the harder it is to get rid of, or words to that effect.

Four budget years later and the spending still increases way above the pre-Begich years. It would almost seem like if Begich did not increase the city budget so much during his 2-terms in office we would have had a city-wide economic disaster on our hands. But, we did not; it had the opposite effect and now very ordinary to have mid-high $400 million budgets.


Anchorage spending grew immensely under Begich even before union contracts were renewed in 2008. All Begich did at the end of his last term was throw more icing on the cake rewarding the unions for their support. The Sullivan Republicans and former Democrat Coffey lead Assembly ate it all up and let it happen without a fight.  

Point. An important and lavish part of the city labor law challenge has escaped scrutiny. That is the part that allows senior public employees to reap overtime in the last 3 years of their service that averages their last salary for retirement. Every senior public employee by contract racks up the most OT to get the most money for retirement will still continue. A current APD senior officer racked up $107,000 in OT on top of his $84,000 salary and probably retire with an $80,000 plus retirement. Anchorage taxpayers will pay for the rest of their life and after they move out of the State.

The APD Union says that (one officer) was involved in 225 DUI cases during the year. How many were repeat offenders and are liquor store ID checks working?

In AK INSIDER’s mind Sullivan’s effort to curtail public employee union’s lavish taxpayer contracts created some awareness to the local union contracts and will help slow down the spending, but it may be too late and too little for taxpayers. About four years of Assembly approved Begich budgets and another four years of Sullivan mediocrity has cost taxpayers a uncecssary more tax burden.  

AK INSIDER says Anchorage taxpayers will not see any major decrease in city spending at least back to pre-Begich years, not counting annual inflation and an average 2-3% growth that was typical for this city before Begich. What would have been so impossible about going back to pre-Begich budgets if the unions were forced into making concessions four years ago? What will be the next excuse to  not decrease spending be?

The good-old boy Republican floundering on key conservative issues is an issue in itself. Local city Republicans like their national counterparts have always been reactive and in a state of mediocre when addressing conservative and taxpayer issues; unless of course if it is for their next higher office; than they become staunch active conservatives.

The last four years!

The last four years!

About the Author

Chief Editor
Paul Bauer has served in various positions on Anchorage community boards, commissions and councils in and out of elected office with over a decade of business management experience after serving 22 years of national service. His background includes living in and visiting many diverse communities around the United States, Europe with small excursions to the Pacific that had him working with culturally diverse groups of people most of his life. As an Assembly Member he was one Member that voted against Mayor Mark Begich's costly budget increase; the largest spending budgets in the city's history; raising awareness to get a public discussion on illegal immigration in the city and removing the city's "Sanctuary City" status; bringing public awareness of the Mayor's lavish spending and his conflict of interest with his family's gift shop on the “E Street” road improvement project.


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