Saturday, May 25, 2013
Assembly Reconsiders Sidewalk Sitting Ordinance
Assemblyman Traini says vote based on incorrect information
Several weeks ago, the Anchorage Assembly passed Mayor Dan Sullivan’s controversial sidewalk ordinance. Tuesday night, Assemblyman Dick Traini introduced a motion to rescind the ordinance, saying the vote was based on incorrect information.
"I'm a little concerned when our city attorney says reality is here but it's actually over there," Traini said.
On November 22, Assemblyman Traini needed some advice from Municipal Attorney Dennis Wheeler. “I said, have you talked to the ACLU about this? He said yes, they’ve looked at it,” Traini said. Shortly after that exchange, the assembly approved the controversial “sidewalk ordinance” by a vote of 7-4. As it currently stands, the ordinance would make this illegal at certain times of the day.
But a week later, Wheeler sent an email to assembly members saying he had “misspoke,” and his office had never discussed the ordinance with the civil rights group. “Dennis Wheeler more than ‘misspoke,’ he purposefully misrepresented that,” says Matthew Moll.
Wheeler says his email speaks for itself, but opponents of the measure say the incident was more than just concerning. “An egregious travesty of justice and misuse of the city’s power,” Moll said. A protester with “Occupy Anchorage,” Moll spends a lot of time on the sidewalk, and has several problems with the ordinance. “It’s a totally unjust law for a lot of reasons. It’s totally unconstitutional and doesn't even make sense cause it's not addressing a problem," he said.
Traini had problems with the way it was passed. “My fear is we need to bring this issue back in front of us, because if his testimony influenced some assembly members, we need to have it done and cleared.” Now, he’s heading back to the drawing board. “I just want to get in front of it so we can vote on it with that cloud off of it.” And no matter the outcome, it’s a debate with no middle ground.
Even if the assembly does vote to rescind the sidewalk ordinance next week, Traini says it wouldn’t preclude them from voting on the issue again at a later date.