After furious backlash over their decision not to rename the Port of Alaska the Don Young Port of Anchorage, several members of the Anchorage Assembly introduced an ordinance instead proposing to rename the Anchorage Regional Landfill the “Don Young Pile of Trash.”
“The debate about the Port got a little out of control,” said Assembly member Karen Bronga at an emergency Assembly work session to discuss the name change. “We hope this one will breeze right through. What could be more fitting than putting the Don Young’s name on a festering pile of putrid garbage?”
Assembly member Meg Zaletel said she planned to introduce a substitute ordinance that would not name the entire landfill after Don Young, but instead only put the late representative’s name on a single municipal dumpster in East Anchorage. “I couldn’t find one example of a landfill elsewhere being named after a person,” Zaletel said, “So I think dedicating the Don Young Dumpster would be more consistent with best practices in other cities. It would also better reflect the role that Don Young played in Anchorage.”
Responding to Zaletel, Assembly member George Martinez then rose to give a long, impassioned speech in which he claimed that siting the Don Young Dumpster in East Anchorage would be an act of colonization. Martinez claimed that if the dumpster were named after Young, it would then have to be barged down to the Lower 48 and melted, and the metal donated to a non-white-owned business as a form of reparations. “Only and exclusively in this way,” Martinez said, “could the urgent mission of decolonization be completed as it pertains to Mr. Young, and our community can thus begin to heal.”
Over the next hour, Assembly members additionally suggested bestowing Don Young’s name on an AWWU sewer main, two dog park trash cans, the culvert emptying jet-fuel contaminated runoff from the airport into Knik Arm, the APD car impound lot, and the section of mud flats behind the Rabbit Creek shooting range.
After the meeting, Assembly member Kevin Cross told the Landmine, “I was fine with renaming the port after Don Young. He did a lot for the state.” Asked about the opposition from his colleagues, Cross shook his head. “At this point,” he said, “to be honest with you guys I just can’t wait to be done with this job.”