Black Rifles Matter: Buscaglia gets 15 days on the beach

Art Chance
Art Chance


“Days on the beach” is labor relations slang for somebody being suspended without pay. Alaska Human Rights Commission Director Marti Buscaglia was suspended without pay for 15 days, starting Monday.

[Read: Human Rights Commission to meet on personnel matter]

The seven commissioners might have let Buscaglia cash in personal leave so she had money for the pay period, but if they’re telling us the truth, she lost a couple of weeks of pay.

In the public employment world, 15 days without pay is a big deal. Where you have a statutory or contractual requirement of progressive and corrective discipline, 15 days off without pay means your string has about run out.

If you’ve had a 15-day suspension without pay and you screw up again, not many arbitrators or administrative law judges are going to have much sympathy for you if you get fired.

[Read: Some Rights Matter: Commission retains executive director]

In the Human Rights Commission executive director’s case, the commission has no obligation to observe the progressive and corrective discipline rules since she is not a classified or union employee, but rather an appointive employee. If the commission wanted to, they could do nothing to her or they could dismiss her. It’s not quite that simple, but close.

The Human Rights Commission is an artifact of The Great Society, a series of domestic programs with the goal of total elimination of poverty and racial injustice. The 1964 Legislature took time off from dealing with the Good Friday Earthquake to enact it. It can and has been used to shakedown employers with claims from poverty pimps, but mostly it just exists to provide sinecures for minority supporters of an administration.

So, it isn’t surprising that the holdover appointees from the Walker Administration wouldn’t want to take decisive action against one of their own over the “Black Rifles Matter” event.

Executive Director Buscaglia doesn’t work for the governor; she works for the commission. The commission works for the governor and the members, according to AS 18.80.020, are “appointed by the Governor for staggered terms of five years, and confirmed by the legislature.”

They can be removed for cause, but removal of a Democrat appointee for cause by a Republican governor is usually a fight to the Supreme Court. Why bother with a nothing agency and a nothing appointee? This is one of those things that you just let go.

A phone call will make sure that the plumber whose truck decal offended Buscaglia doesn’t get 86’d from work in the building. And make sure the commissioners understand that what goes around, come around.

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.


  1. Great assessment of the situation Art. Thanks. But we (at least not me) have heard nothing about what the Chief Probation Officer’s role was in this since there were the 2 business cards left there on the truck. Actually, of the two, the Probation Officer should have had the most reservations about becoming involved since working in law enforcement the one thing you generally are aware of is don’t go out on a limb & do things which you can’t enforce as being criminally illegal. And the PO would have or should have known there was nothing criminal going on there. Anyway, just wondering. Thanks

    • If anything is done, you aren’t likely to hear about it. The PO is a classified, unionized employee and personnel matters are confidential under AS 39.25.080. The PO might get a letter of warning or a letter of reprimand, but that’s about it. And for all the people screaming for blood, I wouldn’t do much more either, at most maybe three days on the beach for poor judgment and bringing discredit to the employer.

  2. The punishment did not fit the crime and you could say she got away with murder. I think she needed to lose her job over this.
    There was no justice. This was not a slap on the wrist, it was a pat on her hand. The next time will be worst and there will be a next time.
    If she is an appointee, then the governor should be able to UN spout her. Just cause??? How about abuse of her position?

    • Did you read the piece? She’s not the Governor’s appointee; she’s the Commission’s appointee. The Governor can reach out and touch some commission members if he’d like a big noisy fight over nothing. Their day will come.

  3. What are her qualifications for her position? Sowing fear and dissent? Lying on your resume? Not self policing or personally issuing an apology after wronging someone?

    If those are KPI’s for her job description, she’s doing a bang up job!

    Wouldn’t it be great if someone had the courage to defund this redundant, bully of a commission?

  4. So, to disband this commission and agency would take an act of the legislature? It is my understanding this agency is a redundancy of a federal agency, and in these days of tight budgets, I think the legislature should consider its value and productivity versus other agencies. If necessary eliminate or reduce this agency’s budget as a budget matter. Folks might want to bring this matter to the attention of their representatives in the Alaska legislature.

  5. I do not disagree with anything you’ve said here, Art, but there are a couple of things missing. Are there written findings made by the commission that explain what their ED did wrong? And second, has the ED “seen the light” and vowed to mend her ways? We have no sure way of knowing about either matter but I do think we need to keep an eye on this agency and its doings. I am glad Suzanne is doing so but others should too. Perhaps a squad from the NRA could be so tasked.

    • I’d bet a dollar to a doughnut there are no written findings. What we’re really seeing is a sort of tribalism. The holdovers who hired her had to virtue signal by doing something to her for show, but nothing that would matter much. I put that pitch in there about the leave cash out because they could easily let her cover her unpaid suspension with a leave cash out, and it has been done lots of times before.

      She’s really just a product of what Democrat governments look like; there is no adult supervision and there are no rules other than don’t do anything to embarrass the Administration, which is another way of saying, “don’t get caught.” Early in the Murkowski Administration we went on a purposeful campaign of whack a mole with the activists and dissidents who thought that they didn’t have bosses or rules. We made smoke and noise and broke things for a little while and peace settled over the land.

  6. I’m a government employee, and am both surprised and disappointed that her employment wasn’t terminated, or at the very least she should have been demoted to a position with less responsibility and less trust/independence.

    Someone at the Executive Director level shouldn’t get second chances for something of this magnitude.

    The standard an employee is held to rises with their rise to higher pay / higher profile positions. She was the EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR. She not only left the note on her business card (bad enough on it’s own), but she posted it on the Agency’s FaceBook page (even worse than leaving the note) – demonstrating judgement that isn’t acceptable for even an entry level position.

    I don’t know, but I wonder if the way she’s gotten away with this is because the deciding officials confused the issue at hand with an irrelevant talking point: she thought it was hate speech.

    I suspect they focused on her assessment that it was hate speech, and whether this was confusing enough to be considered a mitigating factor in her defense.

    I hope not, but cannot imagine another plausible possibility as to why she’s kept her job. The problem with getting side tracked by such a viewpoint is that her conduct was equally inappropriate … whether the bumper sticker was hate speech or not (It wasn’t).

    It’s government employees like her, AND THOSE who decided a two week suspension was appropriate, that make the rest of us look bad. Very disappointed.

  7. Governor Dunleavy should fire the whole commission and just never getting around to appoint replacements. This whole agency is just a useless government money suck that needs to be closed up for budget reasons.

  8. These are all great comments and of course this commission, as many others are archaic leftovers. I won’t try to add to the wisdom of all the Above comments but would remind you all if this situation can be Corrected through the initiative process.
    Back in the 80s, I lead an initiative to eliminate the Alaska transportation commission, ATC. We createdThe initiative , Gathered the signatures to place it on the ballot then campaign for it, it carried the day and the ATC was and is no more. I strongly that those of you who feel strongly about this do the same. We can have significant control of our government but it requires much form many of us.
    I hope many of you will step up and abolish this useless and counterproductive Commission.
    I wish you all possible Success.

  9. So I gather from this article that the Alaska Human Rights Commission no longer serves a viable purpose, lets decommission it! We are in fact trying to save money.

  10. no note should’ve ever been left on this man’s truck. if buscaglia had such a pressing problem with this sticker (and the person who put it there), she should have confronted this man directly. her “response” was cowardly. on the other side of the coin, if the truck owner was that offended (and/or surprised) by discovering that somebody left this note on his vehicle, he should have confronted these people directly. so with having said that, he’s just as much a coward as buscgalia and her underlings. I personally would’ve tossed the note in the garbage. and I would’ve shown up to work the next day with sticker still firmly in place. hell, I may have even left the note up for good measure. and I would have continued to do that same thing for every day I had to show up. I imagine that one of two things would’ve happened from my course of action: a) buscaglia would have gotten tired of writing notes and would’ve confronted me (unlikely, but possible I suppose) or b) nothing. but alas, we’re in the social media age. a time where everything is everybody’s business, and everything, and I mean everything- from the nice looking lunch you had at the local café to the ridiculous thing your 8yr old said at school to your own personal bout with the common cold- has to be sensationalized. so that’s what happened. what should have been a discussion between a handful of people, was instead shared with all of the “legal professionals” lurking around on facebook, and elsewhere on the interweb. these two snowflakes oughta get together for a cup of coffee and hash it out amongst themselves.

    • Gary, I’m afraid you’re not in possession of all the relevant details. Not only did she leave a note, but she took to the official state HRC facebook account to castigate this man and his business. Them’s fighting words to most folks. In no uncertain terms should he have shrugged off this attack on his liberties.

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