Thursday, April 9, 2015

It's no longer Coffey time

Dan Coffey's Anchorage
Well if you had not seen the mayoral election results from this Tuesday, it's not over yet. With Ethan Berkowitz and Amy Demboski pulling away from the rest of the pack with the most votes, the two will face each other in a Cinco de Mayo election to see who gets to be Anchorage's next mayor. What is worth noting however, and this is the reason why I even make a post about this topic on a non-political blog, is what happened to Dan Coffey. Berkowitz and Andrew Halcro got into the race in January this year. Demboski declared her candidacy last August. And Mr. Coffey? He started campaigning in October... of 2013!! Dan Coffey's campaign was as long as many presidential campaigns. Even the race for governor isn't this long. And like a presidential campaign, Coffey did indeed rack up quite a bit of dough from his relentless fundraising drive. In all, his war chest collected over $300,000, far outpacing any of the candidates. But that was, after all, his stated purpose in running what is safe to say, the longest mayoral campaign in Anchorage's now 100 year history. Finally after one year and six months, it was election night. Coffey was looking giddy as he unexpectedly inserted  himself in a Channel 2 live shot Tuesday afternoon at a busy intersection crowded with sign wavers. But it is safe to say the happiness soon wore off as the election tally that night revealed him to finish... in last place (among the main contenders). Dan Coffey was Mayor Dan Sullivan's hand picked successor to the municipal throne.

And it is this relationship between the mayor and Dan Coffey that makes AnchorageJoop relieved in his election night implosion. You may remember that not long after Sullivan took the mayors office in the late 2000s, he hired his old buddy Coffey to review the newly rewritten Title 21 code. With Title 21, the city's design and building standards, having just gone through a decade long review in which developers and the general public had their feedback taken into account, the newly minted code was thought to finally be finished. It was a compromise between developers who fought against added regulations, and the people of the city who fought against loosening regulations that would adversely affect their way of life. But with Mayor Begich gone and the conservative Sullivan in, Coffey was unexpectedly hired as an outside consultant to review and revise the newly completed Title 21. Needless to say, a number of codes and standards which had already gone through a long and exhausting review process, were quickly nixed by Coffey. And not surprisingly, Coffey swung in favor of developers. Among the major changes made was Coffey's eradication of the designated density zones. So now instead of having highrise buildings only in Midtown and Downtown, you can now have a 25 story highrise go up next to your house in South Anchorage. In addition, sidewalks no longer have to be on both sides of the street, thanks to Coffey's backroom revisionism. Ivan Moore captured the spirit of the frustration at the time with his column Bubba's Anchorage or yours?

Of course, this is just one of numerous other complaints that I and many others have toward Coffey. As a bigoted man, Dan Coffey voted against the anti-discrimination ordinance just as his master, Dan Sullivan had wanted. Having spent years leading CHARR, a restaurant and bar industry group, it was certain that he would as mayor continue to protect corrupt bar owners and fight new regulations that promote public safety as he did when leading the corrupt CHARR. And let's not even get started on the recorded phone call conversation in which Coffey talks about paying Assembly members to vote a certain way. It was this phone conversation, recorded thanks to Dan Coffey's butt-dialing of the late Allen Tesche's answering machine, that is believed to be the biggest factor in his loss.


With this chapter in Anchorage history appearing to come to an end, what pleases me most is that even in the afterlife, Allen Tesche can still take down Coffey. Here's to ya, Assemblyman Tesche.

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