True Diversity v. fake unity

Update 1:10 AM: Just after posting this, I learned of the death of Mayor Dan Sullivan’s father, former Mayor George Sullivan. Political differences notwithstanding, I suffered the loss of my own father last May, & know the sorrow that can bring. My condolences to Mayor Sullivan and to the entire Sullivan family.

As we come up on Friday, when the True Diversity Dinner sponsored by a few of us bloggers will be held at the Snow Goose at the same time as the Mayor’s Unity Dinner at the Hilton, Shannyn Moore provides some additional context for the dinners in a post she wrote yesterday, “Is Dan Sullivan Running For Senate?” (crossposted at The Mudflats). [Ref #1]

Dan Sullivan at his first Assembly meeting as Mayor of Anchorage on July 7

Dan Sullivan at his first Assembly meeting as Mayor of Anchorage on July 7

Shannyn speculates that by means of the political maneuvering associated with his actions as mayor & with the tactics of his cronies — such as Assembly Member Bill Starr — that Mayor Dan Sullivan might be positioning himself for an eventual run for U.S. Senate against Senator (and former Mayor) Mark Begich.  Among the tactics at work are attempting to blame the Municipality’s current fiscal problems on Begich, while ignoring the huge deficit that Begich inherited from our prior mayor, George Wuerch (who, coincidentally or not, shared Sullivan’s brand of antigay conservativism) and the current attempt to invalidate the Municipality’s contracts with the IBEW and the police union, [Ref #2] with the help of (1) an opinion by an attorney who has admitted to having no expertise in employment or labor union law and (2) a widely distributed email from Bill Starr, backed by fellow conservative Assembly Member and Sullivan crony Dan Coffey, alleging Mayor Begich withheld financial information from the the Assembly that, had they known it, would have resulted in the contracts not being agreed to in the first place.

Well, we’ll see the claims and counterclaims played out in the press — and in the blogs which, all too often nowadays, are better sources than the dailies and broadcast news for the real nuts and bolts of these things. We’ll see if the Anchorage Daily News reminds us, as Shannyn already has, about the phone call Dan Coffey’s butt accidentally made to Allan Tesche, which led to a recording of a conversation between Coffey and Starr involving some highly questionable campaign financing practices (and a lot of trash talk about the police union) — because that kind of corruption is also part of the context.

But what’s this got to do with True Diversity Dinner and the Mayor’s Unity Dinner? (Besides, that is, the fact that Shannyn Moore will be the keynote speaker at the True Diversity Dinner.)

This: that Mayor Sullivan’s dinner will be held at the only hotel in Anchorage under boycott by workers because of bad faith negotiating by Columbia Sussex, the Hilton’s owners.  I hadn’t known about this situation before, & thank Shannyn for providing that context. I got additional information through an article penned in June by Brendan Joel Kelley of the Anchorage Press,[Ref #3] while I was preoccupied with the battle for the Anchorage equal rights ordinance.  The mayor’s choice of venue goes hand-in-hand with the union-busting tactics being used against IBEW and the police union (and one must also hasten to wonder about Mayor Sullivan’s valuation of the city’s other first responders in the Anchorage Fire Department, about which Brendan Joel Kelley has also written [Ref #4]).

Mayor Sullivan appears to care as little about fair terms for Anchorage police, fire, electrical, and hotel workers as he does about LGBT workers.  Are unionbusting, bad faith bargaining, and unilateral attempts to get out of contracts part of the Mayor’s platform of diversity — or rather, er, unity?  As for me, I think a strong diverse workforce is rather essential to both, and unions are part of that.

Shannyn also points out the partisan credentials of the Mayor’s keynote speaker, former Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann, who will also be getting a hefty fee for headlining a Republican fundraiser while he’s in town. “Unity”?  Looks more like Republican party-building to me.

True Diversity Dinner program

Meanwhile, planning for the True Diversity Dinner proceeds — and we’re almost there!  Our speaker line-up includes Rev. Marquita Pierre, Diane Benson, Elvi Gray-Jackson, Shannyn Moore, and more. We’ll also have performances by Yup’ik dancers and singer Steven Alvarez, plus a dance afterwards.  We’re gonna have a great time!

Plea$e help!

But here’s time for a plea for help: the $10 being charged for tickets to the dinner only begins to cover the dinner’s cost; much of the cost has been coming out of our pockets.  Any help you can give will be appreciated — just go to the True Diversity Dinner web page and use the handy Donate button.


  1. 9/23/09. “Is Dan Sullivan Running For Senate?” by Shannyn Moore (Just a Girl from Homer; crossposted at The Mudflats).
  2. 9/23/09. “City labor contracts invalid, attorney says” by Don Hunter (Anchorage Daily News).
  3. 6/17/09. “Housekeeping – The Hilton’s union employees institute a boycott” by Brendan Joel Kelley (Anchorage Press).
  4. 8/19/09. “AFD gets its axe handed to it” by Brendan Joel Kelley (Anchorage Press). See also the Anchorage firefighters’ blog AFD Status about rolling closures instituted by the Sullivan Administration and other current issues affecting the Anchorage Fire Department’s ability to effectively serve the people of Anchorage.

[Crossposted at Celtic Diva’s Blue Oasis]

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