After today’s special meeting, a showdown over masks looms on the horizon

A properly noticed special meeting of the Anchorage Assembly was held this afternoon where a proposed ordinance was introduced that would require masks be worn indoors and at large outdoor gatherings.

The ordinance, introduced by Assembly members Meg Zaletel and Pete Peterson, comes at a time when Anchorage hospitals have become more vocal about emergency departments being flooded with COVID-19 patients. Last week, Alaska’s largest hospital, Providence Alaska Emergency Center, announced that it had begun rationing care to patients.

Zaletel and Peterson previously introduced a resolution which asked Mayor Bronson to direct that masks or face coverings be required in public indoor areas of Municipal buildings. That resolution was ultimately passed by the assembly but has been ignored by Mayor Dave Bronson, who has repeatedly refused to enact measures that would help reduce the volume of patients streaming into Anchorage hospitals and protect public health and safety.

The proposed ordinance is expected to face fierce opposition from Mayor Dave Bronson and his loyal supporters of the politically active Facebook group “Save Anchorage,” a group created by the former social media director of the Alaska Republican Party, Joseph Lurtsema.

The ordinance could be voted on at the September 28th meeting of the Assembly.

RELATED: Providence Alaska Medical Center Implements β€œCrisis Standards of Care.”

During today’s special meeting, members of the public accused the Assembly of attempting to control an individual’s right to oxygen and referred to the coronavirus as the flu. Others who provided public testimony said that they had taken it upon themselves to adjust the state’s collective COVID-19 data and had arrived at a different conclusion than health experts who have said COVID-19 mitigation strategies are effective at reducing the transmission of the virus.

In January, a report released by the state Section of Epidemiology, showed that COVID-19 restrictions helped slow the spread of the coronavirus in Anchorage.

Alaska Watchman legal analyst Mario Bird testified at today’s special meeting, telling members of the Assembly that he didn’t want to see more recalls, urging them not to violate the separation of powers doctrine.

Public testimony of Mario Bird, September 20, 2021

The proposed ordinance was drafted by the assembly’s legal counsel, however, and no concern was raised by them that the ordinance might violate the separation of powers doctrine. Both branches are charged with protecting public health and safety.

Also providing testimony today was longtime “Save Anchorage” member / Republican operative Frank McQueary. McQueary is also the director and president of “Alaskans for Open Meetings.”

Shortly after today’s Special Meeting concluded, Eagle River Assemblyperson Jamie Allard posted to “Save Anchorage,” writing that it was clear to her that the assembly had a “savior complex” and was “hell-bent on violating the public’s constitutional rights.” Allard, a supporter of Mayor Dave Bronson, frequently uses “Save Anchorage” to rally support for political causes important to her.

It seems more than likely that members of the pro-COVID “Save Anchorage” group will attend next week’s Anchorage Assembly meeting and provide false information on mask wearing, vaccines and the coronavirus in the form of public testimony.

Comments made in response to Allard’s post alleged that the Assembly was attempting to usurp Mayor Dave Bronson’s powers, while others suggested COVID vaccines were a marketing ploy turned political.

The full recording of today’s special meeting of the Assembly can be viewed here. A copy of the proposed ordinance put forth by Assembly members Zaletel and Peterson can be found below.