On Monday morning, Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson announced that effective immediately, Municipal Manager Amy Demboski would be replaced by Public Works Director Kent Kohlhase. Bronson provided no explanation for the abrupt change in the city’s leadership, and a spokesperson for the mayor declined to comment on the matter, citing “personnel” issues. Demboski had served as municipal manager since Bronson took office last year.
Now, the Landmine has learned that Demboski was dismissed following a long-running conflict between herself and Purchasing Director Rachelle Alger, which came to a head at a meeting early last week when Demboski referred to Alger as a “fucking cunt.”
The meeting included high-ranking city officials, according to multiple sources. Attendees joined either in-person or remotely via Microsoft Teams. Tensions were running high after a series of historic snowstorms and an inadequate city response had left Anchorage partially paralyzed.
During the meeting, Demboski stated that all municipal employees should be required to report to work in person, and that those who failed to do so should have to use accrued leave. Several in attendance, including Alger, who was participating remotely, expressed concern about compelling Municipal employees to commute in dangerous conditions.
A heated discussion ensued, with tensions quickly rising between Alger and Demboski. At some point, either Mayor Bronson or Adam Trombley, Bronson’s chief of staff, decided to end the meeting. Immediately after the remote session stopped, Demboski stood up, pointed to Trombley, and exclaimed, “You tell that fucking cunt to never question me again!”
Others in attendance were speechless. Later, Bronson, who sources say was visibly upset by Demboski’s outburst, expressed to staff that her behavior had been unacceptable. Meanwhile, Demboski allegedly sent an email to Bronson accusing Alger of improper behavior in her role as purchasing director.
The clash was not the first between Alger and Demboski. Sources told the Landmine that the two have long been locked in an acrimonious power struggle within the Bronson administration.
During a November 21 Municipal Audit Committee meeting, Assembly member Jamie Allard, who is closely aligned with Demboski, requested an audit of Alger’s Purchasing Department, alleging illegal behavior regarding sole-source contracts. “When there’s activity going on that I believe is breaking code–law–then it needs to be addressed accordingly,” Allard said. Demboski, who was in attendance, clarified that the audit should start July 1, 2021, the first day of both the Bronson administration and of Alger’s tenure as purchasing director. During the meeting, Demboski expressed interest in expediting the audit.
At an Assembly meeting the following day, Allard introduced a resolution calling for the Assembly to approve the audit. However, Allard did not move the resolution, and it died without explanation.
On November 14–a week before Allard’s accusation against Alger–Alger’s husband, Brian Flynn, filed a letter of intent to run for the open West Anchorage Assembly seat currently held by Assembly member Austin Quinn-Davidson. Quinn-Davidson is not seeking re-election. Flynn is hosting a campaign fundraiser on Wednesday night co-hosted by Mayor Dave Bronson and Bronson’s wife, Deb.
With Demboski’s departure halfway into Mayor Bronson’s first term, the municipal manager, municipal attorney, and CFO are now all working in acting capacities, without Assembly confirmation. In September, the Assembly rejected Bronson’s appointment of Mario Bird to replace his former municipal attorney. Kohlhase, who is now serving as the acting municipal manager, had been scheduled for confirmation as Public Works director at tonight’s Assembly meeting, leaving another key position in the Bronson administration unfilled.
Demboski did not respond to multiple requests for comment.