Monday, April 03, 2006

My Recommendations For The Anchorage Municipal Election On April 4th, 2006

These recommendations are presented from the standpoint of one who is socially conservative and economically more of a moderate. The latter means I don't mind spending public money as long as it is done efficiently and clearly in the public interest.

Mayor: Recommend Jack Frost. Jack has pledged to direct more effort into essentials such as public safety and to reform our municipal taxation and revenue system.

School Board Seats: Note that all School Board seats are citywide, not geographical like Assembly seats.

School Board Seat E: Recommend Cynthia Kott. A slam dunk. Cynthia not only is fiscally conservative, but is concerned about discipline and ethics. She recommends in-school suspensions only. She does not agree with the open campus lunch policy due to impact upon local traffic.

School Board Seat F: Recommend Thomas Lamb. This was a tough call. Both are standup guys, but while Jeff Friedman has shown laudable concern for the public dollar and the public interest, he's a bit too tolerant on issues like homosexuality and controversial textbooks. We also need a representative of the working class who will subject the district to closer financial scrutiny and who will offer more choice in education. Thomas Lamb fits the bill, plus his tenacity is evidenced by the fact that this is his fifth try for a school board seat. Lamb wants more decentralization and community control of schools. He is a fan of the Edmonton model.

School Board Seat G: Recommend Crystal Kennedy. A proven conservative incumbent. The only school board member to have initially voted against reaffirming the use of the quasi-pornographic House of the Spirits textbook in March 2005. Explicitly supports intelligent design.

Next are the propositions. The list of propositions appears on the Municipality of Anchorage's website.

Proposition 1: Public Safety Capital Improvement Bonds. Cost: $12.88 million.
Recommendation: Vote YES.

Proposition 2: Citywide Parks and Recreation Bonds. Cost: $3.95 million. Comment: Desirable, but not essential. If you want to vote No on a bond to send a message to the city government to place public safety ahead of recreation, this is the one to vote No on.
Recommendation: Vote NO.

Proposition 3: Lease of Russian Jack Golf Course. No cost to taxpayers.
Recommendation: Vote YES

Proposition 4: South Anchorage Land Exchange. No cost to taxpayers. Comment: Land swap will permit the contiguous expansion of the already-overused South Anchorage Ball Fields.
Recommendation: Vote YES.

Proposition 5: Eagle River Land Exchange. No cost to taxpayers. Comment: Will provide secure public access to the Mount Baldy trailhead in Eagle River.
Recommendation: Vote YES.

Proposition 6: Acquisition and Restoration of Fourth Avenue Theater. Cost: $2.0 million. Comment: There are grave last-minute concerns about the cost. Theatre owner Robert Gottstein wants more money. This sabotages an otherwise worthy historical project. We must send a message to the city that these issues must be settled BEFORE a proposition goes on the ballot.
Recommendation: Vote HELL NO! See follow-up blog post

Proposition 7: Anchorage Road and Storm Drainage Bonds. Cost: $44.15 million. Comment: To be voted on only by people living within the Anchorage Road and Drainage Service Area (ARDSA), which consists of most of the Anchorage Bowl. It does not include the Hillside, Eagle River, Chugiak, or Girdwood
Recommendation: Vote YES.

Proposition 8: Fire Protection Bonds. Cost: $1.96 million. Comment: To be voted on only by people living within the Anchorage Fire Service Area (AFSA), which consists of Anchorage, Eagle River, and most of the Hillside.
Recommendation: Vote YES.

Proposition 9: Educational Capital Improvement Bonds. Cost: $20.8 million without debt reimbursement from the state legislature (debt reimbursement usually happens, but cannot be guaranteed). Comment: To fund necessary repairs and upgrades districtwide.
Recommendation: Vote YES.

Proposition 10: Educational Capital Improvement Bonds: Cost: $30.775 million without debt reimbusement (same consideration as in Prop 9). Comment: To fund renovation and expansion of two of our oldest elementary schools, as well as other similar projects.
Recommendation: Vote YES.

Proposition 11: Educational Capital Improvement Bonds: Cost: $48.2 million without debt reimbursement (same consideration as in Props 9 & 10). Comment: To fund several phased renovations districtwide. Renovating in phases permits continued use of the school during construction.
Recommendation: Vote YES.

Proposition 12: Charter Amendment on Vehicle Code Enforcement. No cost to taxpayers. Comment: Will permit APD chief to formally designate additional personnel for vehicle code enforcement, releasing sworn officers to pursue higher priority tasks.
Recommendation: Vote YES.

Proposition 13: Three-Percent Sales Tax. To be used to replace property taxes dollar-for-dollar. Comment: Imperfect. The $200 "luxury ceiling" is too low, it needs to be set higher, at $1,000 or more, to capture more of the "luxury" dollar. However, it's a start, and it will extend property tax relief to those not covered by Proposition 1 in 2005, as well as strengthen our financial base by diversifying our revenue stream.
Recommendation: Vote YES.

Propositions 14-26 apply to different Local Road Service Areas (LRSA) outside the ARDSA and I do not consider myself qualified to judge their value. I will make no recommendations on the LRSA propositions.

Additional References: Click on the desired highlighted reference.

Where Do I Vote?
MOA Bond Fact Sheets
League of Women Voters Ballot Review
Eagle Forum Alaska Candidate Survey
Jeff Friedman's Website
Thomas Lamb's Blogsite
Crystal Kennedy's Website
Anchorage Daily News School Board Candidate Profiles (published March 26th)
Alaska Star School Board Candidate Profiles (published February 23rd)

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