Liveblogging from the Assembly Hall August 11, 2009

August 11, 2009

We’re liveblogging again from inside the Assembly Hall at the Loussac Library. The Assembly is moving quickly through the agenda, or the “aggenda” as sosanchorage.com puts it.

The Assembly is currently discussing an ordinance regarding insurance coverage for the spouses of certain police officers and fire fighters. Harriet Drummond made mention of how many people are sympathetic to the concerns of anyone having difficulty with health insurance right now, and that she believed that President Obama is working hard to ease those concerns for everyone. At the mention of Obama’s name, lots of “rabble rabble rabble” noises erupted from the red shirt contingent. It was rather amusing.

After making comparisons between his own insurance coverage and that of the police and firefighters, stating that after he dies his would have to pay 100% of her own insurance, Ms Selkregg pointed out that unlike the spouses of the officers and firemen, his wife would have the option to buy into his insurance. The whole matter is rather complicated, but none of the Assembly seem heated about it.


Discussing a school budget proposal, I think we’re witnessing the spill-over from the general Town Hall rantings that have been going on across the country. Lots of podium smacking.  The budget was approved anyway.


We’re on a break, and then we’ll be talking about the Equal Rights Ordinance.


Assemblyman Coffey is proposing his floor bill for setting up a “task force” to investigate discrimination in Anchorage.  Assemblywoman Selkregg regrets that “we didn’t begin this way.”  She appreciates Mr. Coffey’s efforts to do the right thing, but she won’t support it.  Mr. Gutierrez echoes those sentiments.


Assemblywoman Drummond just moved to vote on the Task Force until after a decision is made on the Equal Rights ordinance.  The motion failed.  The vote on the resolution itself also failed 4-7.


Mr. Flynn moves to approve Ordinance AO 64 (S2).  He believes (and so do I) that this is the best version of the bill.  It protects religious organizations to hire employees compatible with their values.  It also more explicitly protects the GLBT community.  Ms Selkregg speaks for this version of the ordinance.


Ms Johnston is speaking about how the person who taught her about civil responsibility would have been covered by the ordinance.  In honor of this person and Matt Rose, she will support the ordinance.  A very touching story.


Mr. Birch doesn’t believe that GLBT discrimination is an issue, and seems to resent the fact that the discussion has take up so much time.


Mr. Gutierrez mentiosn that this has been an interesting and difficult process.  He’s proud to live in a community where people on both sides of the issue who had enough courage to come down and give testimony.   He will support version S2 because he thinks it is a good compromise.


Mr. Flynn spoke about the mailman that served his neighborhood, Glen.  Glen always did a good job, was a pleasant guy, and everyone liked him.  Mr. Flynn recieved a note from Glen thanking him for what he is trying to do for the community.  Unfortunately, Glen was moving to a more progressive city to retire.


Mr. Claman supports the ordinance and urges Mayor Sullivan to support it if it passes.  Mr. Starr doesn’t believe that overt discrimination exists (as he doesn’t see any signs saying “No Gays Allowed” around town) so we will not support the ordinance.  He believes in God and his faith, and he says he listened intently to what was said to him.


Ms Gray-Jackson doesn’t want to speak to0 much about why she’s supporting this ordinance, as it’s too emotional for her.  Her nephew is gay, and she’s known he was gay since he was young.  She urges her fellow Assemblymembers to support it as well.


Ms. Drummond is speaking about her experiences being on the school board, where they teach children to accept each other.  She isn’t willing to tell those children that once they leave school they are no longer protected within the community.


Ms Ossiander is speaking about her experiences with people on both sides of this issue.  She believes in protecting and respecting all of Anchorage’s citizens.  She tried to look into the data, but she discovered that there isn’t any data as this is not a protected status.  She looked into what is covered under Federal Title 7, which protects against discrimination in businesses with over 15 employees.  She asked the Equal Rights commision to start compiling data last week, and still supports the idea of a task force to investigate discrimination.  She doesn’t believe that the ordinance will stop hurtful behavior.   She is concerned about the language regarding transgendered people.  She isn’t sure if it will create a cost to businesses.


Ms Ossiander says there isn’t an easy answer.  She can’t support the S2 version.  She is upset.  Ms Selkregg is proposing an amendment: respecting the bathroom issue.  Basically, making it so that businesses can maintaiin gender separated bathrooms as well as dresscodes.


Mr. Gutierrez is telling Ms Ossiander that she has handled this situation as well as she could have. Standing ovation.


The measure passed, 7-4.


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