If you watched Tuesday evening’s assembly meeting, you might find it difficult to believe that Anchorage Mayor David Bronson was once a disciplined United States Air Force pilot and Air Force Reserve Command plans officer.
A resolution brought by assembly members Meg Zaletel, John Weddleton, and Vice-Chair Christopher Constant, sought to greenlight the Muni to engage a third-party facilitator—who would be tasked with working with assembly members and Bronson’s administration to help bring about a solution to housing Anchorage’s homeless population.
The resolution ultimately passed, but not before Bronson attempted to bully the assembly into voting on an amendment to the resolution, which would have committed the Muni to a 400-bed mass shelter facility I’m dubbing ‘Bronsonville Lite.’
That’s right. Mayor Bronson attempted to bring his mass shelter plan out of the politically induced coma Conservative assembly members had sent it to just two weeks ago.
Incredibly, Bronson opted to introduce his own amendment instead of bringing his second plan forward as an appropriation.
As it turns out, forcing a last-minute amendment on the assembly proved to be a poor political maneuver by the inexperienced mayor, whose high level of frustration became a visible spectacle to those in attendance and watching at home. Despite Bronson’s assertions to the contrary, the current homelessness crisis is one that he self-manufactured when he rejected the detailed transition plan handed to him by the outgoing Quinn-Davidson administration.
Mayor Bronson’s juvenile attitude and novice level grandstanding were on full display at the assembly meeting—his performance arguably nothing more than an attempt to rally his conspiracy theory-riddled Save Anchorage base who were applauding Bronson with their approval.
Speaking to the motion he put forth, Bronson prioritized hockey players over the homeless—invoking hockey players first when he said that two things happen during winter in Anchorage, “people play hockey and homeless freeze to death.”
Bronson said that reviving his mass shelter plan would solve both the hockey problem and the homeless problem telling the assembly, “we need to get the Sullivan arena open, so our kids and our college-aged kids can play hockey, so the Ben Boeke is a safe place to play hockey for our young kids, and the parents don’t have to worry about problems with homeless in that area.”
Hockey, it appears, is more of a priority for Bronson than Anchorage’s homeless population—not at all surprising given that hockey players and Save Anchorage members supported his campaign for mayor.
After making his pro-hockey position clear, Bronson lit into the assembly, repeatedly asking while looking at his audience, “who am I supposed to be negotiating with?”
Bronson said that he had been talking with many people about his pet homelessness project.
“The story keeps changing,” Bronson said, alleging in not so many words that the assembly was stonewalling his plans for a mass shelter. Bronson asserted that “everyone” who had been in his office to discuss his ill-conceived homelessness plan was telling him a different story.
Bronson demanded that the assembly put two or three people into a room and negotiate with him, insisting “that’s how it works.”
Assemblywoman Zaletel called the mayor’s amendment a “farce” and said that Dr. John Morris, the Bronson administration’s Homeless Coordinator, rarely showed up to scheduled meetings.
She told the mayor that it was time for his administration to “show up and truly be collaborative” and said she felt Bronson’s administration was holding her “hostage.”
“You can’t have the Sullivan back unless you approve our project? That’s ridiculous,” Zaletel said while noting that there were other interim options and additional ways for the Muni to move forward.
The Midtown assemblywoman urged members of the assembly to reject Bronson’s amendment and let a “collaborative approach go forward.”
The assembly did just that, rejecting Bronson’s amendment 8-2.
If bullying tactics and temper tantrums are the way the new mayor plans on governing, not only will it be a very long three years—it will be a very unproductive three years for the residents of Anchorage—especially for those who may be forced to stay on the streets this winter.