ACLU Questions Assembly on Public Testimony Limits
The civil rights group says the assembly needs to hear more testimony on AO 37
ANCHORAGE - Since the mayor proposed an ordinance that would overhaul the city's labor laws, union members have signed up to testify at four assembly meetings and talked to the assembly during two work sessions. They fear the mayor's new ordinance would limit their ability to collectively bargain with the city.
On Wednesday, Todd Sherwood, a municipal attorney, released a memo saying the assembly would be within its legal rights to terminate testimony after the final public hearing on Monday.
Jeffrey Mittman with the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska disagrees. "Every Anchorage citizen, every Alaskan, has to know that the rules are fair. In this case, the assembly is looking to change the rules in the middle of the game. We all know that's not fair."
The ACLU said the assembly set a precedent back in 2009 when allowing hundreds to testify either for or against AO 64, which would have extended the city's anti-discrimination laws to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.
That proposal ultimately failed. Mittman said the assembly needs to be consistent. "You have to have the same rules for all citizens for all viewpoints."
Assembly member Paul Honeman said maybe the assembly should take more time to hear from residents. "The ACLU may be on to something here. It didn't feel right anyways the fact that we're rushing through this matter when the administration had since August of last year to work through to present this ordinance."