The Big Picture of EaglExit

 Looking Back, And A Vision for the Future


Anyone who has lived here any length of time knows the region of the state that includes Eagle River/Chugiak/Peters Creek is a unique part of Alaska. Dan Kendall once represented this area on the Anchorage Municipal Assembly and has experienced the effort to preserve the qualities of this region as a
policy maker. He is now the spokesperson for EaglExit, a local grassroot movement with a vision for separating this area from Anchorage.

“I helped to establish the Road Service Area out here. It started as one road service area for each community council, and it was consolidated into one service area for the whole area,” Kendall explained over a cup of coffee at Jitters Coffee Shop. “I helped get that organized. Then one of the Assembly members asked me if I wanted to be on the Platting Board because as development was coming out this way they wanted somebody with an Eagle River/Chugiak perspective. I was on there for two terms and in the middle of my second term I got appointed to the Anchorage Assembly. One of the assembly members resigned and I took his place.”

Dan Kendall explains the goals of EaglExit over coffee
with this writer at Jitters Coffee House in Eagle River.
(Photo by Waneta Borden)

Kendall developed that local perspective after his family had moved here from Valdez upon being displaced by the 1964 Earthquake. He spent a few years in Anchorage and didn’t like it.

The Zyprexa Papers by Jim Gottstein

First Paragraph "It was just a normal day before Dr. David Egilman called me out of the blue on November 28, 2006. The days are short that time of year in Anchorage, Alaska, and it was getting dark by mid-afternoon. Dr. Egilman told me he had been hired as an expert witness by one of the law firms representing patients who had taken Zyprexa and contracted diabetes or other metabolic problems. He wanted to know about documents relating to Zyprexa I might have. In truth, he was feeling me out to see whether I might be willing to subpoena him, so he could legally send me secret documents. These documents revealed the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly (Lilly) had from the beginning suppressed information showing Zyprexa caused these life-threatening conditions. In addition, they showed Lilly had illegally marketed this powerful and dangerous drug for use in children and the elderly. He wanted me to then send them to Alex Berenson, a reporter for The New York Times with whom he was already working on a Zyprexa exposé." Continue Reading...

Less than a month later The New York Times began a series of front-page stories about the documents subpoenaed by Jim Gottstein, which became known as the Zyprexa Papers. A month to the day after the first of these New York Times articles, Gottstein had been hauled in front of the legendary United States District Court judge, Jack Weinstein, of the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn. Although Mr. Gottstein believed he obtained the Zyprexa Papers legally, Judge Weinstein decided he had conspired to steal the documents, and Lilly threatened him with criminal contempt charges. The Zyprexa Papers by Jim Gottstein is a riveting first-hand account of what really happened, including new details about how a small group of psychiatric survivors spread the Zyprexa Papers on the Internet untraceably. All of this within a gripping, plain-language explanation of complex legal maneuvering and his battles on behalf of Bill Bigley, the psychiatric patient whose ordeal made possible the exposure of the Zyprexa Papers.

Alaska’s Mental Health Crisis Predates Statehood

Editor's Note: Read about how the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights) and Alaskan Public Interest attorney, Jim Gottstein took on the State of Alaska AND Big Pharma and Won!

Alaska’s first governor, Bill Egan, who had presided over Alaska’s constitutional convention in Fairbanks during the winter of 1955-56, was also from Valdez: In Valdez, with only 1,000 people there, everybody knew your name. If you caused mischief on one side of town your mother would know about it on the other side of town before your got home, quipped Kendall.

Anybody who stayed in Valdez after the earthquake was basically camping. The town had been devastated and had to be relocated to where it is today. I have written a story that was published in ADN about that experience, said Kendall. Some of Kendall’s friends were lost on the docks during the earthquake. [1]

I felt like I lost everything, he continued. I lost my friends and my house, and my school, my community; so my family moved to this big city of Anchorage where I didn’t know anybody. My parents got divorced shortly thereafter. My mother tried to raise the three younger siblings. My older brother Jim was a trouble-maker and he got sent to live with a family we knew in Nome—he got to graduate from Nome High School. It was probably a good thing for him and my older brothers all joined the military but they stopped the draft when I turned 18.

The Viet Nam War was over. Alaska was a young state. We had a vision of what we could do beyond being a territory under the USA umbrella. 

Gov. Egan was one of the visionaries who saw the future of our Alaska as a state. Our political strategy was to go ahead and do what we would have to do, as the state of Tennessee had done, to show we were ready to take on the responsibility of being in control of our own destiny. It worked.

The organization known as EaglExit is also doing what it needs to do to show we are ready to detach from the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA).

An event reminded him of what he was missing: I was hitch-hiking on Minnesota Drive, and this fancy Cadillac stops to pick me up, he said. As I am getting in I hear “Hi Danny, how are you doing?” And it was Gov. Egan! That’s the kind of thing I missed when living in Anchorage—the small town friendliness.” But, we still have that here in Eagle River/Chugiak/Peters Creek.

A lot of the challenges we faced when I was on the Anchorage Assembly had to do with rezoning,Kendall continued. Walmart wasn’t here and the subdivision behind it wasn’t here. I will take the blame for those because some people like the way Eagle River has developed and some people don’t.

He explained: Old timers in this region said “we need large lots.” But newcomers are just fine with their smaller city lots. That challenge continues today. There are unique problems facing the area of the MOA called Assembly District 2 (AD2).


These are the kinds of decisions that should be made locally, not from Anchorage, said Kendall. I am concerned that any development projects that come before the Assembly don’t allow for give-and-take  anymore. Anchorage is limited in what direction it can grow and that makes it even more important that the people here can make their own local decisions about development here.

Public education in the Anchorage School District is another concern.

We have the best schools here. Before the pandemic there was a national study on 2nd grade reading levels and Alaska came in 51st behind Puerto Rico. The Anchorage School District is so large that it dominates all the numbers, meaning the study said ASD was not teaching proficiency at the 2nd grade level, Kendall explained. Later there was a 5th grade math study and Alaska came in 51st again. There is a real lack of accountability with a giant school district like ASD. With our own city we can have our own school district and it can be held accountable locally.

What is that independence going to cost?

Kendall responded: The number one concern I hear is ”how much are my taxes going to go up?” I believe worst case they will stay the same. They might actually go down but we cannot say that for sure because we are still doing the studies. That is the number one fear.”

The MOA has just raised taxes on property owners, could detaching from MOA reduce AD2 tax liability?

The timeline for detachment won’t staunch the tax increases we have just received, said Kendall. We are hoping to apply to the Local Boundary Commission sometime in May or June of this year and they can deliberate for up to one year. At that point we have two choices; 1) a vote of the people within the affected area, or 2) the legislature can approve it. We are leaning toward a vote of the people so somebody else isn’t telling us what we should have.


Alaskans in AD2 will be learning more about findings of the extensive studies being done now. In the meantime residents here will get to observe the way municipalities in the Matsu Borough and the  Municipality of Anchorage are able to recover from the pandemic. With quality businesses, and a community separated from the Muni by a military installation, residents of AD2 will be greatly impacted by decisions made for us in the mudflats.

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