Sunday, March 02, 2008

Dr. Peter Mjos Contributes $150 To Elvi Gray-Jackson's Anchorage Assembly Campaign, Now Trying To Sue Her Opponent Dick Traini Out Of The Race

This story was originally appended on to a different post, but it seems to have grown some legs now that KTUU Channel 2 has picked up on it, and so it deserves individual treatment. The bottom line - a voter who lives in the Midtown Assembly district, currently represented by incumbent Dick Traini (pictured at left), wants Traini's bid for re-election administratively brought to a halt without regard for the will of the people. This story actually first surfaced on the Anchorage Daily News' Alaska Politics blog on February 26th.

Dr. Peter Mjos, who resides within the boundaries of Midtown, but whose practice is located in Downtown Anchorage, is suing the city of Anchorage and the city clerk. His objective - to get Dick Traini removed from the race. Dr. Mjos' contention is that Traini has already served three consecutive terms on the Assembly, and that he shouldn't be permitted to run this election cycle. Click here to read the complaint.

Click HERE to read updated post on this issue.

Under the Anchorage Municipal Charter, assembly members are not allowed to serve more than three consecutive terms. But, while Traini has served during three consecutive terms, his first term, in 2001, wasn't a full term. Because of the shortened term, the city clerk ruled Traini is eligible for re-election. Click here to read that opinion. Obviously Traini wouldn't have bothered to seek re-election without first resolving that question. However, Dr. Mjos thinks the clerk made an incorrect ruling. And he wants the courts to overturn it.

What makes this action suspicious is that Dr. Mjos has financially contributed to Gray-Jackson's campaign. A check of the APOC campaign contributions record on Elvi Gray-Jackson reveals that on January 25th, 2008, Dr. Mjos contributed $150 to her campaign via credit card (transaction #124). Hmmm...makes one wonder if there is any collusion between Dr. Mjos and Elvi Gray-Jackson (no evidence has been found so far).

But further fueling the suspicion of collusion is that Dr. Mjos is being represented by a lawyer named Bruce Bookman, who is working pro bono. “If the court rules that the clerk is not correct -- then if there’s time, Mr. Traini could be taken off the ballot,” he said. “If there’s not time, I think there’s only one person running otherwise, and assuming the person had a few votes, they would be elected…" Bookman, whose residency I have not determined, but whose practice is located within the boundaries of the Midtown District, doesn't seem to be concerned about this. Even more suspicious is his willingness to work pro bono; this implies ideological involvement. Wonder if they're part of the same clique currently trying to politically lynch Dan Coffey and Bill Starr?

If Dr. Mjos' interpretation is accepted, it would leave the Midtown district with only one candidate - Elvi Gray-Jackson - to choose in the April 1st municipal election. This would effectively disenfranchise the voters, since the process does not allow the selection of a replacement candidate at this point.

And Traini, while not personally worried about the issue, echoes the concern about voter disenfranchisement. "My only concern is that if they do overturn the clerk's decision it disenfranchises my voters," said Traini. "The only option will be to leave one person on the ballot - which wouldn't be me."

Commentary: I believe that this could be a deliberately orchestrated plan to knock Dick Traini out of the race and hand the Midtown Assembly seat to Elvi Gray-Jackson on a silver platter. Here's what fuels my suspicions:

(1). Dr. Mjos contributed $150 to Gray-Jackson's campaign. He has a partisan interest in getting her elected.

(2). Bruce Bookman is pursuing the legal work pro bono. Why else would he do it at no charge? He obviously wants to stick it to Traini.

(3). They are not seeking a clarification ruling, but to overturn an existing ruling. The Municiaplity has already ruled that Traini is eligible. So by pressing the suit, Dr. Mjos shows that he's not interested in clarifying murky guidance (since it's no longer murky), but to overturn and thwart the voters' choice in the Midtown District.

These points expose this whole process as being unethical, and I predict that the suit will deservedly fail. Since I live in the Downtown District, I have no direct interest in the outcome of the Midtown race.

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