“Small government” Bronson finds job for failed appointee Winegarner

Christina Hendrickson, incoming-Mayor Bronson’s pick as real estate director who was confirmed by the Assembly in August, was fired on September 16 after less than 3 months on the job. She was fired after filing a whistleblower complaint with the Assembly alleging that Bronson Administration officials had improperly placed James Winegarner in a position within her department. She has since filed a lawsuit against Mayor Bronson and members of his administration.

Hendrickson’s lawsuit alleges that Craig Campbell told Adam Trombley, who told Ms. Hendrickson that Mr. Winegarner would be the Executive Director of the HLB and that they would seek funding for his position because this was a campaign promise.

Winegarner, who had been acting real estate director since September 16 watched last week as the Anchorage Assembly voted 5-5 against confirming him for his appointed position. Anchorage Assembly Vice Chair Chris Constant, who participated telephonically, did not vote on Winegarner’s confirmation due to what has been described as a technical issue.

Even though the longtime Save Anchorage member and deputy treasurer of independent expenditure group Building Alaska was not confirmed as Mayor Bronson’s real estate director and even though Winegarner was the subject of a whistleblower complaint, the rejected mayoral appointee appears to have found a home nestled within the bosom of the Bronson Administration where he is said to now serve as the Senior Policy Advisor on Real Estate for the Municipality of Anchorage.

As of this morning, Winegarner’s name still appears on the city’s real estate department webpage where he remains listed as director and it’s not clear whether Mayor Bronson will even name another director of the real estate department. It seems probable the mayor is playing a similar game with Winegarner as he did with the appointment of Judy Eledge. Mayor Bronson has proposed that the Anchorage Public Library (APL) be moved under the scope of the Parks and Recreation department in what appears to be a blatant attempt to circumvent the Anchorage Assembly’s authority to confirm appointments — especially those not qualified to hold their positions.

Last month, the nine-member Library Advisory Board (LAB), established under Chapter 4.60.40 of the Municipal Code and which acts as the planning body for library activities and special projects, makes recommendations to both the administration and Assembly and which reviews annual budgets and operations, passed a unanimous resolution opposing Mayor Bronson’s plan to move APL under the Parks and Recreation Department, where they say a “non-librarian” would oversee the library system. LAB sent their resolution to the Anchorage Assembly.

Worth noting is that Sami Graham became Mayor Bronson’s chief of staff after her appointment as director of the APL was turned down by the Anchorage Assembly.

In the case of Winegarner, it appears the Bronson Administration is playing another game with another new high-paid executive. The cronyism seems clear.

After publication of this post, James Winegarner’s name was removed from the city’s real estate department webpage and is no longer listed as director. Adam Trombley is now listed as Acting Director – Real Estate/Executive Director – Community Development.

Winegarner is now listed as Special Administrative Assistant II in the Office of the Mayor.