Posts Tagged ‘Mayor Sullivan’

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George Sullivan, 1922 – 2009, RIP and Sleep in Fame.

September 24, 2009

[Reposted from Alaska Commons]

Death is never a welcome guest in anyone’s life. The tragic event of a loved one’s passing never comes as an expected event, no matter the circumstance. When I was a little kid, my grandmother suffered in a hospital bed for months suffering from emphysema while the candle light slowly flickered before it finally gave way to the very empty darkness that always and sadly prevails. Still, no one was able to prepare for the moment when the heart rate monitor told us what logic had warned us of for a long time beforehand.

georgeanddan1Tonight, George Sullivan, father of the current mayor of Anchorage, Dan Sullivan, passed.

According to the Anchorage Daily News:

George Sullivan, the mayor who steered Anchorage’s city government into a modern municipality, died at home Wednesday night of complications from lung cancer.

His eldest surviving son, Tim, said his father died peacefully in his sleep at 10:08 p.m. He was surrounded by his family. He was 87.

A lifelong Alaskan, Sullivan was born on March 31, 1922, and raised in Valdez.

He had a long and storied career in Alaska and its politics. He was a deputy marshal in Nenana, a city councilman in Fairbanks and Anchorage, and became Anchorage’s city mayor in 1967.

He held that position until the old Anchorage city and borough governments unified under a new charter in 1975, when Sullivan won election as the new municipal government’s first mayor.

He served the charter-limited two terms in that position.

Altogether, Sullivan held the top post in Anchorage’s city government for 14 years, longer than any other person.

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He and his wife, Margaret Eagan Sullivan, had 9 children. Margaret Sullivan died in 2007.

One of his sons, Dan, is Anchorage’s current mayor.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Tomorrow, the ongoing disagreements that are commonplace in politics should take a breath to bid farewell to an important and respected figure in Alaskan history. I’m not a fan of anyone’s passing sanctioning Fox News-esque mythology and don’t think this will be the case. More importantly, I’m not a fan of anyone having to deal with a loved one passing. Period. I hope we, as a community, can separate the vitriol of politics from the compassion and apathy of recognizing that death hits us all; each uniquely and deeply.

Let me be clear. There should be not one case where one conflates the passing of a loved one with heated political argument.

If only for a day, away from politics as usual, and out of respect for the Sullivan family, I hope they find comfort in family and community and memories. For those who pray, please do. My thoughts are with the Sullivan family. I am deeply sorry for your loss, and I raise my glass to the passing of someone whom you cared so deeply for.

I can’t offer anything substantive, only relative. Here are some words that helped me through a similar situation, when a close friend of mine named Tom Valero passed a couple years back; they’re from Pearl Jam’s song “Come Back,” which was written for Joey Ramone, a close friend of Ed Vedder, shortly after his passing:

If I keep holding out
Will the light shine through
Under this broken roof
Its only rain that I feel
I’ve been wishing out the days
Come back

I have been planning out
All that I’d say to you
Since you slipped away
Know that I still remain true
I’ve been wishing out the days
Please say that if you hadn’t gone now
I wouldn’t have lost you another way
From wherever you are
Come back

And these days they linger on
And in the night I’ve been waiting for
The real possibility that I may meet you in my dreams
I go to sleep
If I don’t fall apart, Will my memory stay clear
So you had to go, And I had to remain here

But the strangest thing today
So far away and yet you feel so close
And I’m not gonna question any other way
There must be an open door
For you… To come back

We all have, and will have, and probably should have our differences. This isn’t, and can’t be, one of them. Mayor, I wish you well on this sad and trying day. May your father rest in peace and sleep in fame.

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Announcement: True Diversity Dinner!

September 14, 2009

cropped-true-diversity-header3

September is our Mayor’s Diversity Month and September 25th is the Diversity Awards banquet at the Hilton in downtown Anchorage. Unfortunately, Mayor Sullivan is uncomfortable with the term “diversity” and has changed the name to the “Unity” Awards Banquet and celebration. The mayor has stated publicly that he does not celebrate the ways in which we are all different, but rather, the ways in which we are the same.

Some of us do not feel celebrated at all, and are organizing a true diversity celebration on the same night. We have rented the Snow Goose (September 25th, doors will open at 7pm and festivities begin at 7:30pm). We wish it to be as diverse and multi-cultural as possible and much more fun than whatever will occur at the Hilton. And while the “Unity” Dinner will feature a silent auction and cost the small price of $60 a ticket… Ours will be only $10 (just to cover costs) and is quickly filling up with local performers, an awards ceremony, and speakers including Assemblywoman Elvi Gray-Jackson, Diane Benson, and Shannyn Moore!

It will be a great night, after what has been a rough summer for many in our Alaskan family.

Now we need you to figure out who gets the awards! Nominations begin now! Head over to the event website and check out the voting page! This is your event, Anchorage. Have your say! So tell your friends! Spread this around! And we’ll see you on the 25th!

Advance tickets are now available for sale at Borders Books & Music!

(Cash or check only; Sorry, due to short notice)

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One small step

August 11, 2009

Ordinance 64 (S2), the Equal Rights ordinance, passed today.  7-4.

Let that soft, floaty happy feeling encompass you.  Stay there for a bit.  I can wait.

From Floridana Alaskiana v2.5

From Floridana Alaskiana v2.5

Did you enjoy that?  I know I did.  I have bad news, though.  It’s not over, not by a long shot.  We have to work now, and we have to work like never before.  We have to call Mayor Sullivan.  We need to call him now, and we need to call him frequently.

Contact Mayor Sullivan.  Tell him not to veto Ordinance 64.

Contact Mayor Sullivan. Tell him not to veto Ordinance 64.

I’m now going to ask more of you than I ever have.  Some of you won’t do it, I know it and that’s fine.  This is only a blog, after all.  But I know that some of you will, so please listen.  I need you to call Dan Sullivan’s office.  The number (343-7101) is for his Executive Assistant, Betty Fauber.  Be respectful, but assertive.  Say that you want to leave a message for Mayor Sullivan.  You may leave any message you wish, but please emphasize that you do not want him to veto Ordinance 64.  It is imperative that Mayor Sullivan hears this message, and that he hears it often.

I know that you probably have a lot of things to do throughout the next few days, but this won’t take a long time, I promise.  Take the number 343-7101 and add it into your cell phone if you have one.  Tomorrow, Thursday, and throughout the next week, try to call a few times a day.  Just call, leave a message, and then go about your day.  It shouldn’t use up but a few of your minutes, and you’ll be doing something invaluably helpful.  You’ll be letting the Mayor know that we care about what decision he makes.

We don’t want the hard-deliberated decision that the Assembly has come to to be overturned.  They listened to over twenty-five hours of testimony.  They didn’t come to their decision lightly, and the Mayor needs to respect that.  I need to you to do this for me.

The second thing I need you to do is to send Mayor Sullivan an email. This might be easier for you, some people don’t like to call strangers on the phone.  I can understand that.  Just send him an email tomorrow, maybe two emails, or you could send lots.  Let him know how you feel about this decision.  Tell him about the happy floaty feeling if you want.  Just tell him to let the decision stand.

If you have the time and energy after that, please tell the Assembly “thank you.” Whether they voted for us or not, they have dealt with this issue in an incredibly respectful way and that needs to be acknowledged by their constituents.  It may seem like a small gesture to you, but I assure you it will mean a great deal to them.

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AO 2009-64; The Fate of Equality in Anchorage

August 10, 2009

[Reposted from the Alaska Commons]

Equality-In-Anchorage2“Hello, thank you. My name is Mike [last name omitted]. As a fantastic orator, Mark Hamilton once said responsibility means… if you have the ability to respond, you have the responsibility to speak. I will take a moment to remind all present… of the words in our great constitution, that all persons have the natural right to life, liberty, and enjoyment of industry and are equal, and entitled to equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law.

The essence of this matter is not of [how] one religion or one amnesty group feels, but whether we, as Alaskans, come out in equality to persevere. Denying the rights of an entire minority is beyond morally reprehensible. And something I cannot in good conscience stand idly by to watch happen in my city. I want to make it clear. I do not seek to force or push my opinion on others; merely to be free from their persecution against myself, my brothers, sisters, our children, and yours. The protection of a minority… from the tyranny of a majority is one issue each and every Alaskan ought to be proud of.

I won’t ask you for liberty. I will scream for it from the mountaintops. From city hall and on the steps of the old courthouses. I will fight for liberty because I know better than most that freedom is not free and because it is the American thing to do, I urge you to vote yes.”

This was the twenty-first testimony offered to the Anchorage City Assembly during the public hearings regarding the fate of Anchorage Ordinance 64; the (unsuspectingly to many) controversial legislation which would extend workplace, housing, and credit protections to the LGBT community.

The biggest problem faced by our community and a largely patient, accommodating, and attentive city assembly was that, of the more than 600 three-minute testimonies offered by residents of Anchorage, and peppered liberally (entertaining to use that word in this application) with people from other cities and states, AO 64 wasn’t the focus of the argument at all.

The S2 version of the ordinance (the third draft of this legislation) proposed by Assembly member Patrick Flynn summarizes the intent and purpose perfectly:

“It is the express intent of this title to guarantee fair and equal treatment under law to all people of the Municipality, consistent with federal and state constitutional freedoms and laws, including freedom of expression, freedom of association, and the free exercise of religion.”

This, throughout all the prevailing tumult, has been the aim of the LGBTA community; to finally be recognized as equal in the eyes of the law. To be protected, and to not leave any of their ranks under the bus. To have somewhere to go when they are denied basic civil liberties because they suffer from the same “human condition” that we all are afflicted with.

From Floridana Alaskiana v2.5

From Floridana Alaskiana v2.5

Alaska is a conservative state, and Anchorage is also weighted heavily with an evangelical and conservative outfit that is screaming bloody murder in the face of this ordinance. Much like we are seeing with the tea party movement, some members of our community feel that if an assembly member were to accurately reflect the views of those whom they were elected to serve, they should vote down this ordinance. But the message sent by AO-64 supporters to the assembly is a powerful one: The needs of a minority outweigh the wants of a majority. Equality should always trump opinion, regardless of the numbers. As elected officials, public policy has to be a very calculated dance with a concerted effort to reflect one’s constituency. But, issues like this, at first glance, seem to turn the logic of the duties of public office on its head. Which is more important: the views of a majority of people in your district, thousands strong, whom you were elected to represent, or the possible life of a single teenager that can’t deal with a society that believes he or she is less than human? Is backing him/her up really shameful legislative activism?

I strongly believe it is not. And that same majority, spoiled by the strong numbers which have secured them, would feel the same if they were put in a similar position. Among all the claims of this ordinance being against the bible and against the intentions of our founding father, I would relay the words of James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist Papers No.51:

“In a society under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in a state of nature, where the weaker individual is not secured against the violence of the stronger; and as, in the latter state, even the stronger individuals are prompted, by the uncertainty of their condition, to submit to a government which may protect the weak as well as themselves; so, in the former state, will the more powerful factions or parties be gradnally induced, by a like motive, to wish for a government which will protect all parties, the weaker as well as the more powerful.”

Tables can turn. Our forefathers were wary of that, if not paranoid. But they believed that equality could not be infringed upon, because of equality.

“…The society itself will be broken into so many parts, interests, and classes of citizens, that the rights of individuals, or of the minority, will be in little danger from the interested combinations of the majority.”

If we were a universally equal people, this would most likely hold true. But we aren’t. And, because we aren’t, certain people in our community can pool resources, wealth, and ideology, and use it as trans-generational doctrine to suppress any who try to rise up from within; identical to the corporate interest groups that have scripted the outrage in our current health care debate. And certain institutions can do it without even having to pay taxes.

Instead, these groups can simply warn their flock that a storm is coming, and it makes God angry.

Anchorage Baptist Temple

Anchorage Baptist Temple

And it’s a big and mighty storm; a weather pattern consisting of one part Satan, and two parts “the gay,” who have no legal backing from the discriminatory actions of those claiming to be the victims. Taking heed from the story of Noah and the Great Flood, they prepare. They build mighty fortresses. Compounds. They open private schools and teach children from a young age about what is good and what is evil, meanwhile calling for public funded education to be drowned in the bathtub; wasteful spending. They advertise on their websites that they have the answers to life’s most challenging questions… every Sunday!

In one case, an institution even openly displays its belief system in regard to law, stating “a sacred preeminence over all institutions of human origins,” meaning that they carry a banner that proclaims that God’s Law, as interpreted by man, trumps the United States Constitution, state law, and of course, our city assembly.

That’s an understandable claim when you take it as a parallel to the bumper stickers that can be viewed all over town with the message: “Don’t judge me by my car, my treasure awaits me in heaven.” Awesome, I hope you invested well. But some of us live here and plan on continuing to live here. We’ll be here after you’ve been airlifted to the pearly gates. But while we’re sharing the planet, we would kindly appreciate more than the bottom of your boot in our face. For some of us, the future still exists on planet Earth. And that includes investing in a future our children, rather than just passing down ideology. Even the gay kids!

The outrage that has come out into the open lately has brought us to a pivotal moment in our young city’s history. And, right now, it’s ugly. Mudflats, earlier today, posted a report on some of the hurtful events that took place outside of Senator Mark Begich’s Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Celtic Diva reported on this as well. Anchorage, arguably more than any other city in the country, depends on our sense of community. Now it’s ripping us apart, and it needs to stop.

I implore you to lay down your anger. Open your mind and your heart, and remember that we’re all in this together. Nothing good comes from destruction. Let’s not tear down this conversation; this community.

Email the Assembly, and Mayor Sullivan.

Show up tomorrow. Not to disrupt the events, but to listen and lend your support to a struggle that is far older and wiser than any of us.

Loussac Library. 5pm (Although I suggest 3pm if you want to make it inside).

Equality now.

from Floridana Alaskiana v2.5

from Floridana Alaskiana v2.5

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Calling Eagle River! Operator?

July 24, 2009

[Reposted from Alaska Commons]

Anyone from Section 2 (Eagle River, Chugiak) who supports Anchorage Ordinance 64, it is imperative that you get in contact with me ASAP. PLEASE! And if you know anyone in the neighborhood who supports equality and wants to see equal protection extended to our LGBT community, this is the time to speak up.

Please email John!

You have no idea how important it might end up being, and if it does end up as important as it may conceivably be, you will in fact try to kick yourself in the head if you stay silent. And now, enjoy these photos from Mel, taken at the last meeting.

We made a lot of new friends.
We made a lot of new friends.
Activist trendsetters.

Activist trendsetters.

"This isn't going well, is it?"

"This isn't going well, is it?"