- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 19, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Discovery will begin in a lawsuit challenging the Legislature’s $4 million lease on Anchorage office space.

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Patrick McKay decided Tuesday not to dismiss the case as requested by a lawyer for the state, the Alaska Dispatch News reported (https://bit.ly/1Ll4QSk).

Attorney Jim Gottstein brought the lawsuit earlier this year claiming renovations damaged a wall that the Legislative Information Office shares with a building he owns.

The state is paying almost six times more than last year for the renovated space, equipped with glass walls and trash cans that have motion sensors.

Anchorage Republican representative Mike Hawker negotiated the lease. Opponents call the building the “Taj Mahawker.”

Gottstein’s lawsuit also says the state erred in extending the lease without a bid process, which Alaska law only allows if the cost is 10 percent below market rates.

McKay’s decision means the discovery process can proceed. He also granted Goldstein citizen taxpayer standing in the proceedings. Attorneys for the Legislature had argued against Gottstein’s standing in the case because there were other, larger entities impacted by the no-bid lease.

“When we’re talking about a public procurement case, citizen taxpayers have a dog in those fights. They don’t have to be big,” McKay said. “There is nobody else.”

In the discovery process, Gottstein is seeking lease documents from the state as well as developers Bob Acree and Mark Pfeffer.


Information from: Alaska Dispatch News, https://www.adn.com

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