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Mayor & Assembly Take AO-37 Veto to Court

Published On: Dec 24 2013 09:36:39 AM AKST   Updated On: Oct 29 2013 06:07:39 AM AKDT

(KTUU-TV, 10-28-13)


Anchorage voters will decide if Mayor Dan Sullivan's labor ordinance, known as AO-37, stays or goes, but when the vote will take place could be decided by the courts.

At the Oct. 22 Assembly meeting, Sullivan vetoed the date set by the Anchorage Assembly for the referendum. The Assembly challenged his veto and left it up to the courts to decide. Late last week, the Mayor asked the Alaska Superior Court to rule in his favor.

Assembly Ordinance 37 has been opposed by unions, which say it diminishes the rights of city employees by prohibiting strikes and eliminating binding arbitration.

A referendum petition of the ordinance was certified. The Anchorage Assembly set a date of April 1, 2014 for it to appear on a ballot.

Sullivan vetoed this decision and says he prefers the vote take place in November during the general election, when he says more people participate.

In a complaint filed with the Alaska Superior Court on Friday, the mayor has asked the court to make an expedited ruling in favor of his veto power extending to the Assembly's action setting an April vote.

"The mayor has a very broad veto power," said Municipal Attorney Dennis Wheeler. "When the borough and city of Anchorage unified back in 1975, the voters created a very strong form of mayor government and it included the veto power -- at that time, it was understood the veto power was very broad.”

Assembly member Dick Traini disagrees and says the mayor’s veto was not designed to be used on actions such as those taken with AO-37.

“They want to force us using a veto to write legislation that picks the day they want, and that's not the role of a veto,” said Traini.

In a motion filed on Monday, both parties have asked the court to make a decision no later than January.