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Monday, May 28, 2018
HomeAlaska NewsJohn Torgerson is interim co-chair of Denali Commission

John Torgerson is interim co-chair of Denali Commission

(Sen. John Torgerson, Northern Gas Pipelines photo by Dave Harbour) 

Alaska’s congressional delegation today announced that former State Sen. John Torgerson of Soldotna will serve the Denali Commission as the  Interim Federal Co-Chair. The position is the person who runs day-to-day operations.

The appointment comes following a letter the delegation sent to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, requesting an interim federal co-chair as the Trump Administration vets candidates to fill the vacancy left by Joel Neimeyer, whose resignation took effect April 20.

Hawkins

“The Denali Commission plays a crucial role in the lives of Alaskans – especially to the health and economic development for those living in rural Alaska. John Torgerson’s vast experience in rural transportation and infrastructure, coupled with his wealth of knowledge in government small business, and budgeting will enable him to effectively meet the needs of the Denali Commission and the Department of Commerce,” said the letter from the Alaska delegation. “We have the utmost confidence that John will be a great fit to assist the Denali Commission during this time of transition as it continues its important mission of improving life in rural Alaska.”

For more information about Torgerson and the process for selecting a new Denali Commission Federal Co-Chair, view the letter sent by the delegation to Secretary Ross here.  

The commission was established by Congress in 1998 to fund economic development and infrastructure in rural Alaska and also serves as the lead agency to assist communities facing coastal erosion, flooding, and permafrost degradation threats. In the FY18 government funding bill, $30 million was allocated for the Commission to continue its critical mission of addressing infrastructure needs in rural Alaska.

Torgerson was elected to the State Senate in 1994 and 1998. Born in 1947, he has been a resident of Alaska since 1950.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • One wonders what exactly the “Denali Commission” has accomplished since 1988 that could not have been done faster, better, and/or cheaper by any other organization.

    The question seems reasonable because the Commission’s only function seems to be redistributing taxpayers’ money to various groups in favor at the moment.

    No? “…the Commission’s internal checklists and its online grants database meet established criteria for good grant management and oversight. However, the Commission does not have documented grant-making policies in place, leading to inconsistencies in how it awards and manages grants.” (Denali Commission: Options Exist to Address Management Challenges,
    GAO-15-72: Published: Mar 25, 2015.)

    Or this: “I have concluded that [the Denali Commission] is a congressional experiment that hasn’t worked out in practice,” wrote Marsh, who is the inspector general for the Denali Commission, an economic-development agency based in Alaska. “I recommend that Congress put its money elsewhere.” (www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal-employee-mike-marshs-mission-getting-himself-fired-and-his-agency-closed/2013/09/26/1277fc48-2149-11e3-966c-9c4293c47ebe_story.html?utm_term=.379e1075d10c)

    So let’s celebrate! Another endangered government species is rescued from certain extinction. Alaska’s very own intravenous connection to the federal treasury remains intact.

    What’s not to like?

  • John is very suited for this position …now get out the contract manual, follow the code and spend that money!.

  • Is the mission ‘improving rural life in Alaska’ or is it just another funnel for publicly financed corporate welfare?

    Maybe print the audit.

    • In that, we agree…

      Look at:

      “Denali Commission–Overobligation of Apportionment B-316372: Oct 21, 2008” (www.gao.gov/products/A84629)

      “Denali Commission: Options Exist to Address Management Challenges” GAO-15-72, Mar 25, 2015.

      And we still have no specific numbers showing where taxpayer money has gone since this thing was created.