(2-minute read) BEING REMOVED FROM OIL AND GAS COMMISSION FOR CAUSE
A letter written by Gov. Michael Dunleavy to AOGCC Commissioner Hollis French shows that French has been identified as being ripe for dismissal from the governing body “for cause.”
That cause is chronic absenteeism and a bad attitude.
The letter gives French a right to defend himself in a publicly heard session, represented by counsel. That counsel has been identified as attorney Kevin Fitzgerald, a reputable defense attorney who represented Mechele Linehan in the notorious murder of Kent Leppink in Hope in 1996.
The charges against French include:
Chronic absenteeism. He is absent from the office without submitting a leave slip and without consulting his fellow commissioners. In his two years as a commissioner, he has received a yearly salary of $145,000 and has only been at work 3.5 to 4 hours per day, despite the 37.5-hour work week that is the agency’s official policy.
Browbeating fellow commissioners. French is accused of not being able to set aside his disagreements with his fellow AOGCC commissioners and has disrupted the commission. While dissent and disagreement are appreciated, Dunleavy wrote, his fellow commissioners are being browbeaten to the extent that they are being undermined.
Publicly undermining the work of AOGCC. French has been publicly promoting views contrary to the commission’s stated position, putting his personal views above those of the agency and damaging the agency’s credibility.
Security breaches. French is accused of disclosing confidential information to the press regarding a test well.
Failure to perform. French has, according to Dunleavy, expressed disinterest in his job and is using his work time to pursue non-work-related interests.
French was to respond to the charges by Jan. 18, and the personnel hearing was to take place on Feb. 6, and end no later than Friday, Feb. 8.
Tim Petumenos is the hearing officer for the case. He was once hired as independent counsel to the Alaska Personnel Board in the dismissal case known as Troopergate, the July 2008 dismissal of the Alaskan Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan by Gov. Sarah Palin.
Must Read Alaska earlier this week attempted to locate the hearing, but was unsuccessful.
Public broadcasting station KTOO had one of the first known copies of the letter, which is now in circulation in political circles. The station got the letter as part of a routine public records request of the governor’s correspondence.