Monday, February 14, 2011

Downtown Anchorage Assemblyman Patrick Flynn Briefly Holds Forth On His Two Opponents, Ron Alleva And Albert Swank

During his first term as the Assemblyman for Anchorage's Downtown district, Patrick Flynn has been a breath of fresh air in contrast to his predecessor, the late Allan Tesche. While he shares much of the same political philosophy as Tesche, they are poles apart personality-wise. While Tesche was confrontational, cantankerous, and sometimes even downright obnoxious, Flynn tends to personify class.

Flynn, who is the son of former Anchorage Assemblywoman Heather Flynn, is not afraid of compromise. During the protracted Ordinance #64 (AO 2009-64[S-2]) food fight, Flynn, instead of labeling opponents of Ordinance #64 as homophobes and bigots, sought to make the ordinance more palatable by rewriting it at least twice. To his credit, Flynn also joined with other liberals on the Assembly to unsuccessfully oppose Dick Traini's recent 75 cents per pack hike in the city's cigarette tax. Flynn's problem with the tax hike is that he thought it was too much of a bite. But Flynn also opposed allowing the Taxpayer Protection Act to go on the ballot, claiming that it has no practical effect but merely placates a segment of Anchorage voters, and that it would preclude a future Assembly from granting a one-time tax break to Anchorage residents unless said Assembly was willing to cut a commensurate level of services the following year.

Despite Flynn's positive attributes, as a resident of the district, I was pleased when two opponents emerged on February 11th, 2011, the last day of filing. Longtime community activist Ron Alleva and Albert Swank jumped into the race. Patrick Flynn made this brief reference to them:

One is a local auctioneer who frequently criticizes certain local social service agencies (he chose to make his home on industrial land adjacent to two agencies that serve Anchorage’s homeless population), while the other was briefly infamous for his efforts to install a cyclotron in his garage. I’m sure we’ll all enjoy a lively dialogue!

While I realize a candidate has no obligation or desire to promote the candidacies of his opponents, would it really have killed Flynn to at least mention their names? C'mon, Patrick, you're better than that.

-- List of Assembly and School Board candidates HERE
-- List of Ballot Propositions HERE

The local auctioneer is Ron Alleva, who is also a longtime community activist. His campaign website is HERE. Living next to the Brother Francis Shelter and Bean's Cafe for 36 years, he's had to contend with the problem of misbehavior by homeless people forever. He's had to put up with homeless people urinating, defecating, expectorating, and even copulating on his property. But the fact that Alleva "chose" to live in that part of town does NOT make him any less entitled to police protection; one of the problems with liberals like Flynn is that they seem to believe that people who live in economically-depressed areas of town are not as deserving of optimal public safety as those who live in more affluent areas.

Alleva's big issue during the past two years has been the proposal to transform the Red Roof Inn into a shelter for homeless inebriates, to be renamed Karluk Manor. ADN reporter Julia O'Malley claims that the Manor would keep strict control of overnight guests. Residents would pay rent. Loitering and panhandling outside the building would be forbidden. There would be daily supervision and access to health care and other social services.

While the proposal sounds good on the surface, it has one fatal flaw: The inebriates will be permitted to drink on the premises. The assumption is that inebriates are capable of "social drinking". This is a flawed assumption; inebriates operate in only two modes; drunk or sober. Many recovered alcoholics will tell you they can't afford to take even a single drink for fear it will become a full-scale binge. So what this means that once an inebriate starts drinking, he doesn't stop until he is shitfaced drunk. The end result is that the Red Roof Inn could become a dump. And that's what Ron Alleva wants to prevent. Impose a sobriety requirement, and Karluk Manor becomes more viable. Alleva's testimony before the Planning & Zoning Commission in July 2010 opposing Karluk Manor begins on page 22. In addition, there is not only a major homeless camp in Mountain View, but homeless camps are springing up in many public parks throughout Anchorage, spreading trash, the threat of disease, and public disorder throughout town. The Fairview Community Council published a report about the impact of inebriates in their community back in 2008, to which Alleva, as the Council's treasurer, contributed.

Alleva's activism has borne some fruit. The Manor, originally scheduled to open between February and April 2011, has been pushed back until next winter. This indicates that Ron Alleva is not a fringe candidate, but a serious candidate with the power of persuasion. He can do well against Patrick Flynn if he makes public safety the centerpiece of his campaign and mobilizes Fairview, Mountain View, and Government Hill behind him.

The other candidate, Albert Swank Jr., was much less prominent. A civil engineer by trade, his primary claim to fame is that he wanted to install a nuclear particle accelerator, or cyclotron, in his home. The intent was to produce radioactive isotopes that can be used in treating cancer patients. But the Anchorage Assembly shot his proposal down in 2005. Since Swank has yet to launch an official campaign website, his platform has yet to be established. But the presence of someone with engineering experience on the Assembly could be useful in effectively evaluating any construction bonds or proposals coming up before the body; he would be well-qualified to judge their cost-effectiveness. More information about cyclotrons from Wikipedia.

Prognosis: Obviously, Patrick Flynn is the favorite in this race. But Ron Alleva is capable of making serious inroads, and can force the homeless issue back on the front burner where Flynn will be forced to confront it. And since this post was first published, Albert Swank has been making significant progress, positioning himself as a fiscal conservative who would not have awarded such liberal contracts to the public sector unions.

1 comment:

  1. I think I can win and not only the one issue of public safety would I address. I would work on jobs-fairness in taxation,help increase efficency in the school budget,bring back and inprove bus service and voice -may it be rough around the edges-opinions that would state the truth rather than pandering sound bites!!!!