One difference between the old America and the new America is the attitude towards money. In the old America, saving for a rainy day was considered a virtue; people who fell into bankruptcy or who suffered foreclosure weren't fawned upon as "victims".
In the new America, saving money is considered a vice; it is your "patriotic duty" to spend money and consume. A surplus is considered a sign of hoarding, or selfishness. In fact, a surplus is considered somewhat immoral, and almost criminal. This sentiment is not only deeply entrenched within the Democratic Party, but infects the Murkowski wing of the Republican Party as well.
Anchorage Assemblywoman Elvi Gray-Jackson, one of two Assembly Members who represent the Midtown District, falls into the latter category. On February 3rd, both the Anchorage Daily News and KTUU Channel 2 reported that Gray-Jackson decried the possibility of a $19 million surplus in leftover money from 2010 that didn't get spent. She thinks some of the cuts the city made in its 2011 budget are unfortunate in light of the surplus. These cuts included the closure of the Samson-Dimond branch library, the elimination of some bus routes, and a few layoffs of municipal employees.
Meanwhile, Mayor Dan Sullivan defended his budget and finance teams, saying they've been tracking the extra money. Sullivan said it's not appropriate to call the money a "surplus" at this point because the final expense statements haven't come in yet. He said the purported figure would likely be drastically reduced after those final reports are audited. Sullivan also pointed to the city's many legal cases that it must prepare for, explaining that if there is any extra money at the end of the year, it could be used to help protect the city if it has to pay out money as a result of those legal disputes. A prospective $50 million liability from a suit involving Anchorage Waste Water Utility has to be considered. KTUU news video embedded below:
Fortunately, Midtown residents have an opportunity to hold Elvi Gray-Jackson directly accountable in the upcoming April 5th, 2011 municipal election. Opposing her are two candidates, and one is a particularly well-prepared and financed opponent, Dave Bronson (the other candidate is Billy Ray Powers). As the president of the Alaska Family Council, Bronson has become thoroughly familiar with the rough-and-tumble of Anchorage politics and has compiled an impressive record of political activism. Despite not yet officially filing, Bronson already has an official campaign website up and running (if you're not sure which Assembly District you live in, check this map):
Bronson notes that "It is plainly irresponsible and self destructive to continue down this fiscal path we have been on for the past several years by continuing to spend more each year while raising taxes on the elderly and those on fixed incomes who are struggling to stay in their own home. The liberal majority is wrong about what government should do on our behalf. We simply can’t afford their way of thinking anymore". He has committed himself to four simple priorities:
-- Find cost savings through greater efficiencies in government.
-- Ensure long-term funding for essential services.
-- Communicate with Midtown constituents on how best to limit excessive government spending and get the most from our tax dollars.
-- Priority Four: Make the difficult decisions which ensure long term fiscal stability.
Much of this replicates the fiscally conservative vision promoted by Mayor Dan Sullivan, which has earned Bronson the endorsement of the Conservative Patriots Group. This means that if elected, Bronson would have a tendency to vote with the more conservative Assembly contingent, to include Bill Starr, Chris Birch, and Debbie Ossiander. Bronson is also a positive and articulate spokesman for those traditional cultural values which catapulted this nation to unprecedented power and prosperity, having taken a courageous stand against the misguided and inadequately-justified Ordinance #64 in 2009 (read his eloquent letter to Debbie Ossiander HERE). Because of his stand against Ordinance #64. Ivan Moore smeared Bronson as a "homophobe" in this November 2010 Anchorage Press article.
Dave Bronson is married with two children; here he's pictured with Mike Huckabee (O.K., nobody's perfect). Read a more detailed biography of Branson HERE, and you can read this series of posts by him on The Alaska Standard for more insight.
Finally, it would be also useful to recollect the unusual manner in which Elvi Gray-Jackson got elected to the Assembly. In 2008, she challenged incumbent Dick Traini. Traini had served two full terms and part of a third; he got a ruling that the partial term did not count against the three-consecutive-term limit. However, a Democratic sympathizer to Gray-Jackson sued to get Traini knocked off the ballot. At the time, Traini had a slight lead. Judge William Morse ruled that Traini should be knocked off the ballot. A couple of weeks before the election, the Alaska Supreme Court overruled Morse. But by then, Traini had lost his momentum, and lost to Gray-Jackson by a narrow margin.