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Judge allows attorney’s lawsuit disputing Anchorage LIO lease to move forward

By Daniella Rivera 8:26 AM August 19, 2015
ANCHORAGE –

A judge forwarded a lawsuit challenging the Alaska Legislature’s brand new Anchorage building Tuesday.

Anchorage attorney Jim Gottstein owns “The Alaska Building,” which shares a wall with the Legislative Information Office in Downtown Anchorage. His lawsuit claims the wall was damaged during renovations and that lawmakers broke their own law requiring multiple bids when they signed the $3.4-million-a-year lease.

Critics of the remodeled building call it the “Taj Mahawker” after Rep. Mike Hawker, who handled lease negotiations. The LIO has glass-walled elevators and motion-sensor trash cans.

Developers say this lawsuit is based on claims that can’t be proven.

“What the court has before it is Mr. Gottstein yelling, ‘corruption corruption corruption!’ without identifying who’s involved in the corruption,” said Jeff Robinson, representing the owners of the building during the oral argument.

The state’s attorney agreed, and asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit because there are other people more affected by the no-bid lease.

But the judge disagreed.

“Any citizen taxpayer should have the right to challenge this public procurement process,” said Judge Patrick McKay.

He then addressed Gottstein, saying: “It’s not giving you any indication on how ultimately that will be ruled upon obviously, Mr. Gottstein. This is just barely your step into the door and I think you have that.”

The case will now advance to the discovery process, where both sides gather evidence to argue their case.

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