Hello, I/M Paul Honeman

***Publisher's Note- Assemblywoman Elvira Grey Jackson's response to a constituent's inquiry on this issue is posted below the story. It came to us after the publication of the story was posted.***

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Tonight the Anchorage Assembly will take up a proposal by the Mayor to do away with Anchorage’s I/M program as early as March 1st.

I have to admit when I heard the Mayor was bringing this forward I thought it was a slam dunk piece of legislation. How could anyone oppose a measure to end a program as unpopular as the I/M program?  Add the fact that in the last two years every level of government (Muni, State, and Feds) has declared the program unnecessary.

Imagine then my surprise when Mayor Dan Sullivan, during an appearance on my radio show, said his nose count showed the measure didn’t have the votes to pass.

Ruuuurow Shaggy!!!!!

Apparently the Anchorage Assembly promised the owners of the outfits doing I/Ms they would get an extra six months of forced I/Ming after all agencies had agreed the program should die.

This all sets up a hum-dinger of an assembly meeting tonight.  Mayor Dan says get rid of the thing.  Mayoral candidate/ Assemblyman Paul Honeman leads a majority of assembly members saying it should stay.

To be fair, here is how both the Mayor and Honeman characterized their positions:

Mayor Sullivan (taken from an email sent to citizens Monday):
“In 2010, the Assembly approved a six-month phase-out period once the program was decertified by the EPA. This means the test would still be required for the next half a year even though the federal government and the State no longer require it.

I think this is unreasonable, and I introduced an ordinance to the Assembly that would kill the phase-out period. They vote on it this Tuesday, and I do not know what they will decide.”

Assemblyman Honeman (taken from a string of emails to a constituent this weekend):
“My vote will be NO!

I voted to END the I/M program - that vote was in May, 2010 ....and the language directed that we (moa) abolish the I/m testing six months after the receipt of the epa and dec certificate.

So, to be clear ...my voting NO on the mayors draft ....does not mean I am voting YES to 'extend' the program. The six months end date was approved by a unanimous assembly in May, 2010.

My frustration is building around the confusion being created by this incumbent candidate....who is scrambling to find anything that sticks to make him appear that he 'cares' about people.”

In a second email he said:

“the incumbent candidate knows full well how the ordinance was created, the requirement in the code for a six month phase out....

And now, on re-election eve, he carts out this mantra......end it now.

That is not what he said in May, 2010.

So yes....in my view...he is pandering to the folks ....who....like him feel that agreements..contracts...your word... Should not be honored.

That is NOT how I conduct my life, not my business. I don't intend to do so in my role as an elected official.

Fyi- the businesses who perform I/m tests have been doing so to fulfill a government required program requirement. The moa did not run or operate its own I/m testing center.

These same business folks have a compelling argument that due to conditions (official action dates..etc) that they were exposed to layoffs and abrupt adverse business impacts at the hands of government.

The slow phase out was a compromise to job loss and negative impacts to small businesses in our community.”

Ok, so lets start with Honeman’s explanation for his position.  It makes no sense.  

I/M providers have profited for years from a government mandate on citizens to get an I/M. Removing that mandate does NOT constitute “abrupt adverse business impacts at the hands of government.” What it does represent is the free market being restored. Restoration of freedom “at the hands of government” is something most of us are willing tolerate.

Mr. Honeman’s claim that his vote will be driven by character appears it could be genuine, if misguided. Mr. Honeman is right on some level to follow thru on a promise, even when it is unpopular. What he doesn’t realize is the promise was inappropriate in the first place. Forcing people to buy a service for which there is no public good is wrong.  Standing by a decision to enforce such an agreement is foolishness multiplied by hubris.

To me this sure looks like corruption.  Think about it, government is forcing average people to give money to an industry for something that government acknowledges isn’t needed, and for no other reason than that government promised it to that industry.  If ANY of those pushing to keep the six month mandate have received any personal or campaign financial support from this industry then this is a textbook corruption case.

Oh and by the way Mr. Honeman, it isn’t pandering to do the right thing.  Also, a Mayor with a 65% approval rating doesn’t need to pander or “find something that sticks.”

I’m sure this is one of the many political lessons never-was-Mayor Honeman will be pondering after these kinds of mistakes hasten his quick slide into the political obscurity of history.

Bottom line:  Keeping the I/M at this point is at best wrong, at worst corrupt.
 

 

------Assemblywoman Elvira Grey Jackson's response to a constituent's inquiry on this issue------

Thank you for writing. I respect and appreciate your concerns. I also recognize that the 180 day transition period has been relied upon by many within the community who provide the service and the others who manage the Program on behalf of the MOA. Many citizens will lose their jobs including eight employees in the Department of Health and Human Services. I really hate to see anyone within our community lose their job especially without giving them time or assistance in finding work elsewhere. These are citizens who also contribute to the local economy.

Although we are hearing from citizens on both sides of the issue, I believe it is only fair to keep our commitment. I also look forward to the public hearing and Assembly debate at the meeting tomorrow evening.

As you may know, effective January 1, 2012, the Vehicle Registration Fee has been increased. Ms. Drummond and I recognized the concerns and potential hardships on some of our citizens because of this increased fee and the I/M extension; therefore, we introduced an ordinance to change the effective date for the Vehicle Registration Fee increase to coincide with the termination date of the I/M Program - July 1, 2012. Hopefully, this will provide some financial relief for our citizens.

Sincerely,

Elvi Gray-Jackson
Anchorage Assembly-Seat G
343-4118 (Voice Mail)
gray-jacksone@muni.org