Ossiander's Politics of Division, round 2

It's not enough for Assembly Chair Debbie Ossiander to try to block the presentation of an award from the Imperial Court because she thought it was from the Diversity Dinner, and then be curt to the Anchorage residents presenting the award, as Bent Alaska reported last week. Now she's answering complaints about her bad attitude with divisive attacks.

"When a viewer named Mark e-mailed his displeasure at Ossiander's 'dismissive and condescending attitude' and 'efforts to prevent the presentation of the award,' he got an acid reply," reports the Alaska Ear column in the ADN. "Debbie apparently thought he was part of the presenting group, although Ear is told he wasn't."

The Ear quotes Ossiander's response to Mark:
"Our meetings are for our agenda ... not for you to make your statement. ... You apparently believe you merit special treatment above others who have to wait, so you found a way around the rules. I did not appreciate it."
"OUR" agenda? "YOUR" statement? Since a majority of assembly members voted in favor of the ordinance and accepted the Imperial Court's award, who is Ossiander calling YOU?

Whoever YOU is, we are all the same - we all belong to one organization, we work together on everything (if only!), and apparently no one outside of that group would ever support us.

She uses the word you/your five times in that short quote and makes four accusations against YOU: making a statement, wanting special treatment, not waiting your turn, and breaking the rules. That's a lot of anger over a 1 minute 20 second presentation... unless the accusations are really how she feels about the equal rights ordinance.

"Special treatment" is strikingly like "special rights." After all that testimony, she still doesn't get it.

But "special treatment above others who have to wait?" We sat through weeks of ordinance hearings with homophobic religious fanatics, waiting all summer for the ordinance to pass. We've been waiting for legal equality in Anchorage for over 40 years, and because of her, we're still waiting for the basic protections that other minority groups receive. It's absurd to think that we're wasting her time with a one minute award.

Grady Jenkins, who presented the award from the Imperial Court, wrote that it wasn't really a political statement, but "an acknowledgement of who our true heroes are."

Heroes. The leaders who stood for fairness and equality, the allies who support civil rights for everyone, despite the threat of consequences. True heroes.

Ossiander isn't the only Assembly member with a bad attitude toward some of the people she represents. Bill Star also showed his temper at the meeting, according to a comment from Tim. Jenkins presented the award, the Court members left the room, and Tim describes what happened next:

"The ever so pleasant Assembly member Bill Starr jumped all over me after the ICOAA's presentation to the 7 assembly members who voted for Ordinance 64. I guess he assumed because I was sitting in the row behind the wonderful ICOAA folks who did the presentation that I was involved. It is the seat I sat in almost all summer - that's just where I plop down when I'm at the assembly meetings now."

"He said he thought the presentation was improper and in poor taste. I informed him that I had never met any of the folks who did the presentation nor am I a member of ICOAA and that his rant might be better directed at the folks who made the presentation. He asked that I pass his comments along to them. I think I will have to write a formal response to Assemblyman Starr telling him MY thoughts on HIS actions, and by the way... I thought the presentation to the "fabulous 7" was outstanding. That was the main reason I attended the Assembly meeting Tuesday evening."

Assembly member Starr made the same mistake Ossiander did in assuming that all gay people in Anchorage know each other and belong to the same group. There couldn't be more than one gay group in Anchorage, could there? And he wants Tim to find the Imperial Court of All Alaska and pass along the rude comments, instead of contacting them himself. I guess no one has introduced Starr to Google search.

Like Tim, I too have a place in the Assembly room where I sat all summer, waiting for equality. The time will come. Until then, we have our friends, our heroes, and our dignity. Not even the Assembly Chair can take that away.

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