Monday, March 12, 2012

Three Strikes Against Anchorage 2012 Mayoral Candidate Paul Honeman; Dan Sullivan Worthy Of Another Term

Update March 26th: The Anchorage Press has now published an interesting article in which Paul Honeman explains why he supports Proposition 5. He also discloses that he's a member of the NAACP, motivated by an unpleasant experience with the Klan in South Carolina as a youth.

Incumbent Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan is being challenged by five opponents in the Anchorage 2012 Municipal Election. One of them, Paul Honeman, is the Assemblyman representing East Anchorage. Four others are considered alternative candidates; in order of prominence, they are Bob Lupo, Phil Isley, Bruce Lemke, and Jacob Seth Kern. Local media have focused primarily on Sullivan and Honeman.

Dan Sullivan believes Anchorage is moving in the right direction. He thinks Anchorage is cleaner, safer and stronger than it was three years ago. Upon taking office, Mayor Sullivan immediately began contingency planning in case an energy shortfall causes a disruption in the delivery of natural gas. Working with the local utilities, gas producers, major consumers, and other government leaders, a comprehensive strategy has been developed that has significantly increases the level of preparedness in South Central Alaska. The threat of a catastrophic power outage in mid-winter has receded significantly. Sullivan has directed his capital budget program towards catching up on major repairs and upgrades to our public facilities, including our parks, trails, roads, rec centers and major facilities. And Sullivan claims that crime has declined in Anchorage during the past two years. Congressman Don Young has also commended Sullivan for his role in revitalizing the Port of Anchorage.

Paul Honeman has run unsuccessfully for mayor on two previous occasions, in 1988 and 2009. Wedged in between was a successful career with the Anchorage Police Department. Honeman brings a number of strengths to the table; because he's an ex-APD officer, he knows police protection better than any other Assembly Member and even the Mayor. He promotes zero tolerance for crime, especially gang violence
, stiffer penalties for violent and property crimes, and most importantly, more cops on the street. He took issue with Dan Sullivan's delay of a new police academy for budgetary reasons, one of the few decisions by Sullivan with which I disagreed. He does attach too much significance to a Forbes report suggesting that we are the fifth most dangerous city in the U.S; the CQ Press crime ratings for 2011 indicate that out of 405 cities, Anchorage is the 285th safest city. Flipped around, that means we're only the 120th most dangerous city in the country out of 405 rated. But aside from that, Honeman is on the right track when it comes to law enforcement.

However, there are three strikes against Paul Honeman that together make him only the second-best choice this time around (after the jump):

Strike One: Paul Honeman has come under fire over his supervisory relationship with ex-APD officer and convicted rapist Anthony Rollins when Honeman was still on the force. The Anchorage Daily News reported that in August 2005, then-Lt. Honeman walked in on Rollins and saw two additional legs under Rollins' desk, believed to be the legs of a female. A separate report by a Lt. Henry implied that Honeman did not confront Rollins over the matter. However, Honeman says he did confront Rollins on the matter and instructed him to remain in the office until he returned, but Rollins had to leave for another detail. Honeman then called Deputy Chief Rob Heun (Support Services – and his direct report boss). Deputy Chief Heun was unavailable, so he left a voicemail and noted that he needed a response urgently. He then called Deputy Chief Holloway, who was Rollins’ Division Director. After apprising DC Holloway of the incident, he requested his direction as to the Rollins incident. Due to the circumstances of Rollins’ departure before Honeman's return, and his denial of any other person in the office, DC Holloway advised that he would handle this incident on the next duty day.

Since Honeman was not Rollins' immediate supervisor, there wasn't much more he could do about the situation. When DC Holloway said he would handle the incident, he effectively relieved Honeman of any additional responsibility. This appears to be nothing more than a tempest in a teapot.

Strike Two: Paul Honeman has been raising hell about snow removal, showing photographic evidence of residential streets which are down to one effective lane because the snow removal crews haven't had time to scour the berms out. However, Honeman fails to account for the reason they haven't had the time to scour out the streets; they've been too busy keeping the main roads and the sidewalks cleared. Honeman is judging Mayor Sullivan's snow removal efforts by an exceptional year when we've received nearly double our normal winter snowfall. And it's not just the amount; it's also the frequency. Snow removal crews have been hard-pressed to keep up. While Honeman's beef is legitimate, we plan on the basis of average figures, not exceptional figures. Blogger Andrew Halcro also thinks Honeman is overplaying the snow card.

Ironically, Paul Honeman seems to think it's a sin to have a budget surplus and a rainy day fund, but during exceptionally snowy winters, a budget surplus could be used to acquire and deploy more snow removal resources. There was also the possibility that a judge would have ruled against the city in a dispute involving AWWU, requiring the payout of a judgment; fortunately, the judge ruled in favor of the city. So there's an advantage to having a rainy day fund squirreled away rather than proposing an Anchorage PFD-style giveaway program.

Strike Three: This is the dealbreaker and the main reason why I cannot support Paul Honeman. On January 31st, 2012, Honeman was one of five Assembly Members who voted against Mayor Dan Sullivan's proposal to end the IM emissions testing program effective March 1st. The immediate end was justified by the EPA's agreement that it could end straightaway. Fortunately, six members voted in favor, so the program is now ended. Honeman does have the integrity to defend his decision; he explained that the six-month transition period originally promised would have allowed for new training or new job opportunities for those employees. He claims that some IM test shops would have to lay off employees immediately if the program was ended on March 1st.

However, that six-month transition period was crafted at a time when it was still uncertain whether or not the EPA would agree to let us end the program. Furthermore, some IM shops, like Xpress Lube, had already prepared in advance by expanding their range of existing services. So in effect, Paul Honeman would have held thousands of Anchorage residents financially hostage to a superannuated program for six additional months merely to protect a few jobs.

Sorry, buddy, but that makes you unelectable -- at least during this election cycle. Your support for Proposition 5 makes you even more unelectable.

During an Eagle River candidate forum, Honeman expressed opposition to the Knik Arm Bridge, saying he would rather explore building a bridge to Fire Island and onto the Kenai Peninsula. In contrast, Dan Sullivan strongly supports the Knik Arm Bridge. And while Dan Sullivan favors a simple across-the-board municipal sales tax that would exempt necessities and effect a dollar-for-dollar reduction in property taxes, Paul Honeman favors yet another targeted tax scheme, either an alcohol tax or a seasonal sales tax.

The Bottom Line: While Paul Honeman was a good cop and seems like a decent Assemblyman for East Anchorage, he's only second-best for mayor. We experienced second-best during the six year regime of Mark Begich, and I'm not in the mood for second-best now. Dan Sullivan is first-best, and he'll be my choice on April 3rd.

Information about the four alternative mayoral candidates:

Bob Lupo: A perennial candidate who's run unsuccessfully for local office a number of times in the past. Has no campaign website, but during an Eagle River candidate forum, Lupo provided some insight into his intentions. His primary interest is public safety, although he concedes that Anchorage is heaven compared to East Harlem, where he grew up. Obviously he wants to take a proactive, preemptive approach to crime and keep Anchorage "heavenly", so to speak. On changing Anchorage’s tax structure, Lupo said he wants to implement a payroll tax that would get more money out of commuters who work in Anchorage but live in the Mat-Su. Lupo also opposes the Knik Arm Bridge. Lupo would also like to see the Chugiak-Eagle River area secede from the Municipality of Anchorage because he believes it plays second fiddle to Anchorage; this was one of the few statements by any candidate which attracted applause from the audience at the Eagle River candidate forum.

Phil Isley: Much of Isley's platform actually comes from his appearances at candidate forums rather than from his campaign website. At an Eagle River candidate forum, Isley said he would be a fiscally conservative and hard-working mayor. Isley doesn’t think a toll bridge over the Knik Arm would be self-sustaining — but it might if tied into the port expansion and an alternative hydro-electric project in Knik Arm. Isley said he thinks crime in Anchorage is due to too many entitlement programs. He does not favor any municipal sales taxes. In his response to an AEA Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire, Isley said he does not favor a return to a Defined Benefit for public employees, and opposes Davis-Bacon.

Bruce Lemke: A perennial candidate who's run for several offices unsuccessfully in the past. Has no campaign website, and has not been showing up at candidate forums.

Jacob Seth Kern: Interesting website, and that's about all I'll say about it.


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  2. you are nothing but a homophobic douche bag. its 2012 either grow up and deal with the freedom for people to be who they are or get the fuck out of this gene pool and off my planet. go back to the stone age asshole.

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  4. I appeciate the talent it takes to write such drivel well enough to pass the red face test. I do hope to be able to return the favor to all the "straights" as if there is such thing, who vote against 5. I would like them to live with the fear and terror I did growing up in Anchorage and being considered a "round mouth" as the nick name from Wendler Jr. High. If I can give back a small amount of the pain and fear that the wonderfull people of the Anchorage Bowl gave me I will have served my purpose.

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