A new standard for recall – Must Read Alaska

A new standard for recall – Must Read Alaska


Have you ever felt like perhaps the fix was in?

After a legal opinion by Anchorage’s municipal attorney, the city clerk – who, by the way, serves at the Assembly’s pleasure – dumped a recall application WHEN calling for removal of Assemblywoman Meg Zaletel.

The group pushing for her recall accuses her of:

“Removable misconduct by violating the Alaska Public Meetings Statutes at the Anchorage Assembly meeting July 28th, engagingly in willful, flagrant, and obvious collision to limit public testimony inside the assembly chambers. Zaletel conducted municipality business following the barring of public presence within the chambers except those approved by the assembly in a manner not disclosed to the public prior to the meeting.”

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What she did, as vice chairwoman, was run an Assembly meeting after Mayor Ethan Berkowitz ordered such meetings closed to the public, and she allowed only one person to testify in the chamber while the public was locked out. Former Municipal Manager Mike Abbot, who runs the Alaska Mental Health Trust, was brought in to discuss land availability issues.

The city’s legal opinion on the recall application, authored by Municipal Attorney Kathryn Vogel and Assistant Municipal Attorney Jessica Willoughby, says, among other things, the “recall application is factually sufficient; it is sufficiently particular to allow the reader to understand the allegations, and to permit Assembly Member Zaletel to respond in 200 words.”

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But there is always a but.

“Determining the legal sufficiency of the application is more complex, and requires analysis of the governing law on open meetings in Alaska as well as factual context of the allegations in the application.”

You might think because the application was “factually sufficient” and “sufficiently particular,” Zaletel’s recall would be a matter to put before voters. You would be wrong. The municipal attorneys found there was no violation of the Open Meetings Act and denied the recall petition application.

With the Zaletel recall effort at least temporarily stymied, you have to wonder how a shadowy group – we still do not know who is paying its bills – could manage to win Supreme Court approval to attempt a recall of Gov. Mike Dunleavy on little more than a whim. Where, we wonder, was all the complex analysis on the legal sufficiency of the blah-blah-blah factual context and governing law?

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There are, apparently, different standards. The recall standard in Anchorage seems to be: Did you murder somebody? At the state level, at least for Dunleavy, it is,“We don’t like you.”

Recall Dunleavy is lucky it did not have to undergo scrutiny by Anchorage’s city lawyers. It is unfortunate the Zaletel recall effort did.

Read more at the Anchorage Daily Planet.

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