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Begich Responds to Allegations


U.S. Senator Mark Begich issued the following statement Sept. 23 in response to allegations of a "conspiracy" claimed by Anchorage Assemblyman Bill Starr about the city budget:

"It's unfortunate and unproductive that some are trying to use Anchorage's budget challenges for political advantage or political assault. Assemblyman Starr's allegation that I 'conspired to deceive the Assembly' as mayor is outrageous, untrue and entirely unsupported by the facts.

"My municipal administration worked closely with the Assembly to put Anchorage on firm financial footing. We ended the practice of paying on-going expenses with one-time windfalls. We reorganized city government for greater efficiency. We cut government and won wage freezes from employee unions. We collected millions of dollars in unpaid fines to help balance the budget. As a result of these numerous actions, Anchorage's bond ratings were upgraded.

Sen. Mark Begich released the following statement Sept. 23 after a lawyer hired by Assembly Chair Debbie Ossiander issued an opinion that two labor contracts are invalid:

"Every labor contract that my administration submitted to the Assembly for approval was done so with complete information and fully in compliance with the law, according to the city's Legal and Labor Relations departments. Municipal code calls for the city's internal auditor to verify the cost of union contracts and he did so in this case and with all labor contracts under my administration.

"I haven't had time to fully digest this opinion by a law firm hired by the Assembly chair and which acknowledges it is no expert in employment or labor union law. It appears to be a case of battling legal opinions, with these lawyers finding technical issues with two contracts. These contracts were fully examined and approved by a majority of the Assembly. As provided by city law, it's now up to the Assembly to decide whether to take further action on these contracts."

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