It all started this past Tuesday when Anchorage resident Andrew Gray testified in support of AO 2021-117 — a proposed ordinance that would put additional rules for meeting procedure into municipal code. Gray asserted as part of his public testimony that conservative Dick Traini, a former Chair of the Assembly, was on record as stating that the Chambers belonged to the Assembly and control of the Chambers belonged to the Chair.
Gray pointed out this fact in an attempt to persuade the Assembly to pass the ordinance after Anchorage Municipal Manager ‘BS’ Demboski unsuccessfully ordered the Assembly’s televised live stream to be cut at an October 7, 2021 meeting. At the same meeting, the Bronson administration also ordered the security contractors tasked with providing order at meetings be dismissed. Media reports also claim that both Mayor Bronson and Demboski ordered APD Chief McCoy to instruct police officers to leave the Assembly chambers — an order McCoy is said to have refused.
After concluding his public testimony, Gray was called back to the podium by sometimes confrontational far-right Assembly Member Jamie Allard, presumably so she could entertain Gray with a question.
“I’m going to say something that was just said to me, and um, Mr. Dick Traini wanted to chime in — he said that your testimony was full of crap — so when you’re testifying on behalf of what Mr. Traini said, I would disagree that he said that,” Allard told Gray.
Traini said last fall that he watches each Assembly meeting, so it is conceivable that the former Conservative Chair of the Assembly did indeed message Allard during the meeting, as she claimed.
But what’s problematic about the comments Allard made to Gray is that it appears Traini did indeed say what Gray claimed he did — evidenced by an October 12, 2021 interview with the Alaska Landmine.
“The Assembly chambers belong to the Assembly,” Traini said during the October interview, adding that there was no conceivable way that he, as Chair, would have let anybody — including the mayor or municipal manager, decide when security was going to be in the chambers.
To make matters worse, Traini also said during the same interview that as long as LaFrance had the six votes needed to remain Chair, she could run meetings exactly the way she wanted to — ostensibly the “power” Gray referred to in his testimony.
Video clips compiled from public testimony given on Tuesday and Traini’s October interview with the Alaska Landmine can be viewed below.
In light of Allard’s comments about his testimony, Gray said he immediately sent a text message to former Chair Traini telling him that he was sorry if he thought his testimony was “full of crap” and told him he believed he had accurately quoted him.
“I am a big fan and I don’t want to cause offense,” Gray wrote in his text message to Traini.
Gray told me Traini did not respond to his message and that he decided to file a public records request for the message Allard referenced at Tuesday’s meeting. Gray says he has always liked and respected Mr. Traini and feels he deserves to see the message for himself.
In the hours following Tuesday’s meeting, Anchorage residents, who had witnessed the spectacle that transpired at the meeting, took to Allard’s Facebook page where she is known to post about matters directly related to her role on the Assembly.
Residents say they asked Allard to provide the text message she says she received from Traini during the recent Assembly meeting. Unsurprisingly, Allard, ever the free speech advocate, did not provide the text message and is said to have hidden Facebook comments made by residents about the now controversial issue in addition to restricting who can comment.
The comments were made on a January 5, 2022 Facebook post in which Allard referred to her colleagues as “9 little Mayors,” cheered the Bronson administration and contained an email from Municipal Manager Amy Demboski.
Allard is also known to hide from public view, Facebook posts directly related to her role on the Assembly, making them available only to a select group of individuals. It would seem that Allard is mostly interested in soliciting feedback on important Anchorage-related issues from a chosen few.
Others say they have been prevented from commenting on Allard’s Facebook page altogether.
Emails supplied to The Blue Alaskan appear to show that one Anchorage resident emailed Allard on her Municipal account and asked why they could not comment on her Facebook page.
According to the email chain, Allard responded that her Facebook account (where she posts and discusses matters related to her role in the Assembly) was her “private page” and was “only for friends and family.”
When the Anchorage resident emailed Allard back to share that they believed this was not in the interest of transparency, Allard responded, “You aren’t part of my private life and never will be.”
To many of her constituents, Allard comes across as a big talker when she’s either seated behind the dais and/or surrounded by loyalists in the private and secretive Save Anchorage operation Allard refers to as her “safe space.”
When confronted by individuals with a different opinion than her own or when asked to substantiate a comment made at an Assembly meeting, Allard has now apparently taken to hiding Facebook comments and limiting the responses of others, even though in many cases Allard’s posts are directly related to her role as a member of the Assembly.
Interestingly, Allard used to have a dedicated Assembly Facebook page, but said that Facebook had deleted it after she became embroiled in a scandal when she defended Nazi terminology seen on two Alaska vanity license plates last January.
Facebook refuted Allard’s claim however in a brief January 29, 2021 email which stated Allard “unpublished” her own page and could be activated at any time she chose.
“Facebook did not action against the page,” a statement from Facebook reads.
Allard has previously said she has been unable to reactivate her Assembly Facebook page, which is clearly a shame in light of the desire of many members of the public who wish to engage with her — as her Save Anchorage loyalists often do with her colleagues on the Assembly.
In any event, Gray says he hasn’t yet received a response to his record request, but it’s still early. He did take the time, however, to email Allard this week and provide her with a clip of Traini’s interview with the Alaska Landmine.
The response was about what one might expect from an Anchorage politician associated with a social media group comprised of the ‘very fine people’ she enjoys the company of.
“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”