BY ART CHANCE
In the summer of 2002 some friends and I decided to take our professional lives in our hands and come out in open opposition to the Knowles Administration and its anointed successor Fran Ulmer. Enough was enough.
We were all relatively non-political, long-term, high-level merit system State employees and all were direct reports to political appointees of that administration.
In a company town like Juneau, you make a political contribution to the administration’s opponent large enough to show on an APOC report at your own peril; you immediately have a laser dot on your forehead.
But we’d all seen that movie. We’d been there when Knowles’ first commissioner of administration waddled into our office, summoned us to the conference table, and announced that he’d been appointed commissioner and had campaigned for the office with the unions.
As a part of his campaign he announced he had promised the unions that he would fire us all and replace us with people more acceptable to the unions. That’s what you get as a State employee for just doing the job you’re directed to do. We were all still there after he wasn’t; revenge is best served cold.
We developed a white paper on the state of the State government and accompanied it with sufficient contributions to the Murkowski Campaign to get it noticed.
In addition to an analysis of the current operations, we made specific recommendations for changes we thought necessary. One of the things we lamented was the nihilism that had pervaded State government; the rules had all been repealed, the experts had all been removed or silenced. The private deals were so common that most employees with some justification believed that everybody around them had some special deal. Morale was atrocious.
It hadn’t quite reached the level of the old Soviet saw, “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work,” but it wasn’t far from there. The only real policy directive was to reward friends and punish enemies. In my world of labor relations the administration’s labor relations policy was “ask the union what it wants.” The only thing that held them back was a Republican controlled Legislature that wouldn’t give the Administration what it wanted.
Those of you who pay property taxes in Anchorage know what they feels like when a Tony Knowles, a Mark Begich, or an Ethan Berkowitz doesn’t have a legislative body to hold them back; that’s how you get quarter million dollars a year cops and third of a million dollars a year warehousemen.
We proposed that the new administration develop and inculcate some value propositions in the workforce and a chapter in the white paper was titled “Values Matter Most,” in which we opined:
“The new administration must be committed to “Keeping it Simple” and “Making it the Best.” Complicated processes and structures are inherently inefficient, and they usually represent indecision or unwarranted compromise. We must inculcate the principle that anything less than the best is unacceptable. Alaska’s unique revenue and governmental structure dictates that government is far too important to Alaska and Alaskans to be anything other than the best that it can be.”
The new administration accepted some of our reform proposals and we set out to implement them over the vehement opposition of the entrenched bureaucrats, led primarily by holdover appointees. As long as we who were the original architects were in the government we could resist the opposition. All of the leaders were gone by the end of the Murkowski Administration and the people who succeeded us lacked the will and the power to resist the entrenched powers.
The bureaucrats led two successive Republican governors to ultimate defeat and loss of the governorship to the unions/Democrats for the first time in twelve years and loss of the majority in the House for the first time in almost thirty years. Now after four years of union/Democrat misrule, the State government is even more insolvent and just as dysfunctional as it was in that long-ago summer of 2002.
Alaskans face a stark choice next Tuesday. Mark Begich is a creature of the Anchorage union/Democrat machine; they have perfected talking like a conservative and governing like a Saul Alinsky disciple.
Begich lives in the world of rewarding friends and punishing enemies and a Begich Administration will just be a continuation of the Walker Administration with a little less emphasis on the vaporware gasline.
For his corrupt bargain with AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami, all Walker got was the opportunity to give some of his buddies fancy jobs and contracts and to play at building a gasline; the rest of the government was firmly in the hands of the union/Democrat machine.
Begich will just step in and they’ll never miss a step in spending Permanent Fund earnings, and if they can get control of the Legislature enacting taxes so that their unionized public employee, healthcare provider/consumer, and welfare recipient constituencies keep their hooves in the trough.
If you’re not a union employee, an environmentalist, a teacher, or a welfare recipient, Mark Begich doesn’t care whether you live or die; he doesn’t need to.
If you’re not one of Begich’s friends your interests are as blocked from consideration as your opinions would be on some snowflake’s page on Facebook.
Mike Dunleavy is not a creature of the machine. If you are an Alaskan whose name isn’t on the contact list of a union or a leftist non-profit and you aren’t on the client list of the Department of Health and Social Services, the only person who will represent your interests is Mike Dunleavy.
The union/Democrat machine proved over the last four years that they would tax even the poorest Alaskans to make sure that even some of the best-off Alaskans didn’t lose a dime in wages and benefits; the PFD that you didn’t get went to State employees, teachers, and welfare recipients.
Had enough yet? I think my family’s best interests are served by voting for Mike Dunleavy.
Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon.