In an email to Assemblyman Chris Constant, Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar made fun of a local business owner, who had written to the Assembly to plead against plans to create a homeless industrial complex in Anchorage, through the purchase of hotels and other properties to convert into shelters and drug treatment facilities.
Dunbar forwarded the business owner’s email to Constant with a snarky note topping it that said: “‘Common Grounds” coffee, despite its name, appears to be not-so progressive after all…”
Michelle Duncan, the owner of Common Grounds Espresso for 17 years, had written to oppose the city’s purchase of the old Alaska Club on Tudor as a bad move.
“As someone who grew up in Anchorage, K through 12, married an Alaskan in Anchorage, launched a business in Anchorage, bought my first house in Anchorage; I worry for the reputation, safety, and peace of our city if we just spread the homeless out,” she wrote.
Duncan has been through a lot, witnessing crime and even a kidnapping that led to murder, as a business owner with locations in midtown Anchorage, once thought to be a safe place. A barista who worked at one of her coffee stands was abducted and killed by serial killer Israel Keyes in 2012 in a case that deeply frightened many in Anchorage, particularly young women working in coffee stands. The kidnapping was caught on the video security camera of the Common Grounds coffee hut.
Dunbar and Constant’s emails were accessed through a public records request by citizen activist Russell Biggs.