Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wait, Ear, You Missed The Best Part . . .

The Alaska Ear is the Sunday political gossip column in the Anchorage Daily News.  It covers the more personal aspects of local politicians and other local celebrities.  Personally, I think the behind the scenes relationships - who went to school with whom, who regularly fish together, who are business partners, etc. - helps us understand the surface news.  The point shouldn't be to embarrass folks as much as to let people know things like  Politician X and Lobbyist Y were college roommates.  That sort of stuff makes it easier to understand why some bills move through the legislature and others don't.

Anyway, the Ear  today had a short piece on former Assembly member Dan Coffey's walking out miffed after he made a presentation at the Huffman-O'Malley Community Council meeting.  Coffey's had lucrative contracts* over the past year  to suggest revisions to the Mayor on the last draft of the Title 21 revisions.  This is the code for implementing the Anchorage 2020 plan that was the product of 8 or so years of massive public meetings on the future of Anchorage.  The new Code was approved by the Assembly - including Coffey - and sent to the Planning Department for minor technical changes for consistency and such things.

But then Mayor Sullivan got elected and he's given Coffey a couple of sole-source contracts to look into making the code, apparently, more builder friendly.  A coalition of groups that had been involved with the public process that created the Code has gotten organized.  (I got invited, as a blogger, to a couple of their meetings.) They argue that Title 21 has already been through lots of compromises with the building interests and now Coffey has spent a year talking with people at BOMA** (Building Owners and Managers Association) about how they'd like the Code to be changed after it was basically approved.   Not in open meetings where others could hear and challengel inaccuracies. Like you negotiate  to buy a house and after you're done, the realtor goes back to the seller and makes more changes behind your back.

The Coalition - loosely grouped around the call to "Free Title 21" - has been asking to see Coffey's new draft, but has been regularly told it wasn't going to be available until October when it is heard at Planning and Zoning.  They're upset they'll only have two weeks to go through hundreds of pages trying to figure out where Coffey made changes.

So, Ear writes:
During the Q&A session that followed, according to people who were there, local resident and former Planning and Zoning Commissioner John Weddleton*** told the group that Coffey's presentation was "one extreme view" with "many inaccuracies." Earwigs report a clearly irritated Coffey replied that if people wanted to know what was in the plan, they could get a copy and read it themselves, then stalked out. [2nd emphasis added.]
Hmmm. Dan, who was often the smartest man in the room on Assembly night, could always dish it out but can't always take it.

Wait Ear, you missed the best part.  The real issue is that so far, the public has not been able to get or see a copy of the report.  Coffey and Sullivan have refused to share it. Does this mean it's now available for public view?  Or has Ear taken liberties with the facts herself?

*  What I understand is the second contract (the work wasn't completed in the first contract period) for Feb - June 2011 was for $30,000.

**The Mayor gave his State of the City Address at a BOMA meeting this year.

***Weddleton has been part of the Free Title 21 efforts.


  1. The Ear only knows what she heard. You, Steve, research the facts, and are therefore closer to being... The Brain. (The Jock Buddies probably hate you for it, but since only smart people read your blog and smart people who look out for the common good are in the minority on the Anchorage Assembly, it doesn't matter to them.)

  2. Anon, Are you trying to start some sort of Cult of the Blogger Brain? Whoa! I'm a very mere mortal. Assume my posts have errors and keep wary. Don't trust what I write here without double checking. It's when you think you are great that you stop being careful, and when you have unrealistic expectations of someone, you are sure to be disappointed.

  3. Gee, I'm smart just for reading this blog? Flattery works for me. This could really help the reader numbers, Steve. Hire this guy as a publicist!


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