Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Update: 317 People Sign Up To Testify, Anchorage Assembly Unable To Decide On 2009 Gay Ordinance June 9th

Update June 16th 8:50 P.M. Alaska time: There is now a third version of this ordinance. Assembly chair Debbie Ossiander has introduced her re-write of Ordinance 64. It is designated AO 2009-64(S-1), and can be viewed HERE. Changes are in boldface.

The Anchorage Daily News initially reported that 180 people (ultimately 317) signed up to give testimony on AO 2009-64(S), the proposed legislation to extend nondiscrimination protection to gays in Anchorage. This means there was a chance the Anchorage Assembly may not get an opportunity to vote on the measure tonight (June 9th). KTUU, which claims 330 signed up to testify, has two stories; HERE with two raw videos, and HERE with news video directly accessible HERE.

Also being live-blogged on The Alaska Standard. A pro-gay site also live-blogged the meeting HERE.

Assembly Chair Debbie Ossiander says she feels obligated to let all of them have a chance to be heard, but reminded everyone there's a three-minute time limit and that she will try to hold people to it. But she acknowledges it will be a full night. "I had hoped and still hope that we (the Assembly) will get an opportunity to discuss (the ordinance tonight) but it may be problematic," she said.

"Problematic" may mean "impossible". Here's the math. 180 people times 3 minutes each equals 540 minutes, which converts to nine hours. If testimony began at 6:00 P.M., it wouldn't wrap up until 3 A.M. The Assembly normally doesn't meet past 1 A.M. In similar previous situations, the Assembly cuts off testimony at 1:00 A.M. and allows testimony to resume at the next regularly-scheduled Assembly meeting, which in this case is slated for June 23rd. If this happens, more people could sign up at that meeting as well, in addition to any of the June 9th holdovers. Or they could call an additional special meeting any time in between.

Update June 10th 12:13 A.M: This proved to be the case. The Assembly adjourned at 11 P.M., having heard from 88 of 317 people who had signed up to testify, by Assembly Chair Debbie Ossiander's count. Efforts to extend the meeting to hear from a few more of them failed to get the needed eight-vote supermajority. Ossiander said the testimony will pick up again next Tuesday (June 16th). This will be the out-of-cycle special meeting I anticipated. If all remaining people show up, even that meeting may be insufficient to accomodate them all.

This is an interesting strategy, because if executed properly, it could conceivably delay final resolution of AO 2009-64(S) until AFTER Dan Sullivan takes over as mayor on July 1st. And since Debbie Ossiander as Assembly Chair controls the debate, she would be in a position to make this happen. While current Mayor Matt Claman says he would not veto AO 2009-64(S), incoming Mayor Sullivan has not publicly disclosed what he would do. He would be more likely to veto it, but this is not guaranteed.

Of course, there's always a chance that a special meeting of the Assembly could be called in the interim to speed up the process and defeat this strategy. That's also been previously done.

Meanwhile, opponents of the proposal, led by the Alaska Family Council, wore red and indicated they were there to protest gays and lesbians they say are trying to take away their religious and civil liberties. In contrast, supporters of the proposal, led by Equality Works, were not dressed in any particular fashion, but were also well represented.

KTUU ran an "unscientific" poll to take the public pulse. In response to their poll question, "Do you support the latest version of a proposed amendment to a city anti-discrimination ordinance?", 72 percent voted No, 28 percent Yes. There were 555 respondents to the poll. The progressives may be making a lot of noise, but they're not winning a lot of hearts.

Will update this post when anything newsworthy happens.

No comments:

Post a Comment