'You can't fire me!' Workers who resigned now sue governor - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, September 15, 2019
HomePolitics‘You can’t fire me!’ Workers who resigned now sue governor

‘You can’t fire me!’ Workers who resigned now sue governor

CLAIMING THEY WERE NONPOLITICAL EMPLOYEES

In what could shape up to be a landmark case, three former at-will employees have filed lawsuits against Gov. Michael Dunleavy, his chief of staff, and the State of Alaska. It’s unclear if they want their jobs back, but they want to exact a price from the Dunleavy Administration for releasing them from their jobs.

The case could decide whether a governor really is in charge, or whether the deep state extends even to assistant attorney generals, who simply cannot be released from their posts.

Shortly after taking office, Dunleavy’s transition team asked for the resignation letters from all at-will employees. This is the normal course of action during a change in administrations and is happening across the country.

The requests for resignations didn’t cherry-pick employees in a targeted way, but were sent as a blanket notice to all who are in the politically appointed category called “exempt.” That means when they are hired they sign a form that says they will submit their letters of resignation when asked. They are not covered by union contracts.

The governor accepted some of the resignations, but retained most of the exempt employees.

One Dunleavy didn’t retain is a Juneau celebrity blogger, Libby Bakalar, whose stock in trade is writing saucy commentary on her life and politics.

A former assistant attorney general, she is a prolific writer and unabashed liberal provocateur, and most recently was known to travel to Washington to lobby against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The judge was ultimately confirmed, but without the support of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who caved to the anti-Kavanaugh protests.

Others suing Dunleavy are two doctors of psychiatry at the troubled Alaska Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Anthony Blanford was the director of Psychiatry and Dr. John Bellville was a staff psychiatrist at the institute. Neither of them actually resigned, and thus were dismissed because they didn’t send in their letters saying they wanted to work for the new administration.

Blanford, in particular, took his complaints to the Anchorage Daily News, penning a bold rebuke of the new governor in an opinion that was published in December.

The three are saying their free speech rights have been violated and that their firing was retaliation.

BAKALAR, POLICY, AND PRIVILEGE

Libby Bakalar says she was never in a policy-making role as an assistant attorney general.

But she was involved with reviewing and advising decision makers on the Stand for Salmon petition in 2018, which led to a costly initiative on the recent November ballot.

The petition for the initiative, which was defeated by voters, was initially deemed to be unconstitutional, but rather than simply deny the petition, Bakalar and her boss, former Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth, allowed the group a “do over” and even coached them in rewriting the language so the petition could be deemed constitutional.

Eighteen days before former Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott had to make a decision on the petition, the Law Department sent the petitioners a detailed letter, describing the constitutional deficiencies of their petition, explaining that it was not likely to pass legal muster, and giving them ample time to remedy it.

[Read: Department of Law nixes petition but lets group have a do-over]

But the ACLU says the matter is all about political retaliation for Bakalar’s outspoken views on her blog, which is widely read throughout the Juneau liberal intelligentsia and government establishment, and which uses the F-bomb repeatedly, such as in this recent posting:

She also was a legal staffer to former Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott’s election policy task force.

That policy group was making and deliberating policy changes that extended far beyond the choice of voting machines. They discussed moving Alaska to a mail-in ballot, and forcing the Alaska Republican Party to pay for its own primary, since it has a semi-closed ballot available only to voters not registered with another party.

In other words, the election policy group was deliberating topics that could have broad consequences in elections.

The ACLU says that Bakalar submitted her resignation under protest and says the acceptance of her resignation was because of her blog, although it offers no evidence.

As for the psychiatrists, they refused to resign, and refused to say if they wanted to stay with the new administration, and so they were terminated. They are claiming that amounts to an oath of political loyalty.

The ACLU will have a tough case to make. When Bill Walker became governor, his firings reached far and wide, and included an assistant working in the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Why? She was married to a Republican lawmaker.

Ironically, the attorneys at the Department of Law who will have to defend the governor will be doing so against their former colleague.

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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

  • Why do the heathens rage?

  • So can those who Walker let go without cause be able to sue as well? Hard telling where this ends up.

  • Party of the Perpetually Pissed Off…It’s really gotta suck to be that way!?!

  • Just like the whiny kids they are. Hope that Gov. DUNLEAVY puts them over his knee and spanks their butt!
    They are “at will”, and can be let go.

  • Legal staffer to Lt. Governor Byron Mallott? That did it for me. Working with/for a known pedophile and abuser of women……what’s wrong with this picture? Bakalar is a disgusting puke. Take her deposition and make her give up the known location of Mallott…..the little coward who won’t come out of hiding.

    • All of these revelations about Bill Walker are telling. I don’t think Alaskans really understand how corrupt he was and how close to disaster we really were with him in office. It sounds strange to say this, but in some ways the Byron Mallott affair was a blessing in disguise. It exposed Bill Walker and all of his hidden criminal elements.

  • It’s all just for show, they know there is no traction for the lawsuit. Wish the ACLU had the same passion for defending the second amendment which they seem to ignore.

    • Jakob, that is exactly it. The ACLU only defends “rights” that fit into their narrative and the second amendment never does.

  • This is not a lead pipe cinch for the Governor; the State has lost these before. There is a Superior Court judge out there who’d just love to poke a finger in a Republican Governor’s eye and the ACLU certainly knows how to judge shop, so the Administration needs to plan on an appeal to the AKSC.

    I was around but not directly involved in the “Dot Charts” debacle early in the Hickel Administration. The State lost at least a couple of those wrongful discharge cases, at least one of them involving an AAG. That said, I don’t know how effectively a new Republican administration was represented by the Department of Law, and I do know that much of the State bureaucracy was openly at war with the Hickel Administration. As I recounted in a piece I wrote here a couple of weeks ago, as a group of us returned to the SOB from Gov. Hickel’s swearing in, an appointee in the group remarked, “This is going to be like having to ask your parents for the car keys again.” That pretty much sums up the bureaucracy’s attitude, at least the Juneau bureaucracy, towards any Republican administration.

  • Bakalar is foul-mouthed and has the looks of a troubled old spinster. Her dirtiness can only be appreciated by the Juneau lefties ……. the disenfranchised Trump and Dunleavy haters. I doubt seriously that she could land a real job in the private sector. Who would want her as their lawyer? The female version of Avenatti? So glad we have Suzanne, who conducts herself honestly and has passion for the truth. And Suzanne has writing skills. Bakalar has the communication skills of a 7th grader on anti-anxiety drugs.

  • I find it interesting that the word “Provocateur” is used in this story.
    Originally from the French Revolution, it was meant as “Agent Provocateur” who was falsely implanted into a group (by the government) to make trouble in that group, not against someone who chooses to exercise free speech against an opposing political party (which is what this site does to Democrats and Independents from time to time).
    I believe another French expression is in order: “Épater la bourgeoisie”…
    Which translates to “Shock the Bourgeoisie”…
    Which is exactly what Libby has done with her open speech on her Blog.
    Just like during the French Revolution, censoring and silencing of any “challenging” debate is occurring daily in America.

    • Censoring and silencing is what the Left does throughout the mainstream media. When was the last time you heard fairplay and opposing viewpoints in “regular reporting” by NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, etc.? Answer: never.
      That’s why radio talk shows thrive in this country ( and MRA). THAT is the balance. Otherwise, the mainstream media would serve as the defacto government censorship bureau. The Left are the true fascists and “provokers.”
      btw, The French put on a pretty good revolution, and when it was all over, Louie the 16th and Queen Antoinette had no place to wear their crowns about.

    • Steve, it’s great to see someone of a different viewpoint reading and commenting.

      I’m curious to know if you believe Libby should be able to keep her job and how you came to that belief (value system). I’m also curious if you trust her to be objective, particularly if she disagrees with the law as written.

      Reading the story, I would conclude she’s shown a propensity for conflicts of interest and selective enforcement (ends justify the means).

      What are your thoughts on the merits of her dismissal?

      • Well Dukdodgers,
        Thanks for the thought out reply.
        I do feel this case will raise several important issues for Alaskans.
        First, the administration was probably legally allowed to fire Libby under the conditions of her employment “at will” situation.
        Is this morally correct if the person has over a decade experience with exemplary performance reviews?
        We all know how difficult it is to get educated individuals to relocate and commit to living in Alaska.
        The larger concern for me is the “political reasons” that may have contributed to this situation and the “loyalty oaths” we are seeing throughout America.
        This level of partisanship has not been seen since “McCarthyism” spread like wildfire in the 1950’s and displaced nearly 100 professors throughout many universities along with countless other professionals across the country.
        I am from the school of thought that justice should be blind and not committed to an ideology of any dominant political party…hence the blindfold seen on statues of “lady liberty” throughout courthouses in America.
        So, yes…I do feel she could carry out her duties while holding a different political opinion than the majority around her (while still upholding the law).
        Vic Fischer describes Wally Hickel’s opinion on why Alaska should remain non-partisan.
        “He used to say that he is beyond parties, basically he felt we should be not just bipartisan, we should do things nonpartisan for the sake of Alaska.”

  • The photo on the front page of the ADN shows Libby the Hot Mess with her head down as if she’s off in deep space somwhere. Just curious if she was like that throughout the whole press conference or if the ADN’s photographer caught just the right moment.

  • Since I had the time, I actually bothered to glance at her blog. The above excerpt with the middle finger was taken from yet another anti-Trump diatribe heavily centered around usage of the “MF” word. Reminds me of one of my favorite but seldom-heard Muhammad Ali stories. Ali visited North Korea in 1995 and wasn’t there very long at all before he was heard bellowing out “No wonder we hate these MF’ers”.

  • Ms. Bakalar needs to have her mouth washed out with soap. Her parents are proud I am sure. I actually listened to one of her radio blog spots. Yes, I actually did (painful). She spoke of how she insists her child invite ALL children to birthday parties to promote inclusion and tolerance. Well isn’t she setting a fine example to the children on how to accomplish goals with her latest stunt. It is fascinating how Ms. Bakalar’s public actions and MF words aren’t representative of the tolerance the left insists they possess. I wonder if her child has the spawn of republican lawmakers at birthday parties. Now that would be tolerance and inclusion! Hmmmm Doubt it.

    • How silly of me. Of course her parents are proud. After further research, I see that her mother is an activist as well, protesting the election of the President and marching on Washington.

      • Liberalism is a “genetic” mental disorder.

  • I too took a few moments to look at Libby Bakalar’s blog and Twitter feed.

    It’s downright disgusting that this unhinged wacked out activist was our AAG.
    It says so much about Walker and his administration. She had exactly zero business being part of our state government.
    It suddenly became clear how the married Mallot’s putting the moves on his married lover’s teen daughter just vanished from sight.
    The previous administration was corrupt far beyond what we knew.

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