Dan Fagan: Former DPS Commish says Dunleavy fired her after she demoted politically connected trooper - Must Read Alaska
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Friday, October 15, 2021
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Dan Fagan: Former DPS Commish says Dunleavy fired her after she demoted politically connected trooper

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By DAN FAGAN

Former Department of Public Safety Commissioner Amanda Price took a direct shot at Mike Dunleavy on Facebook this week describing the governor as a member of the “good ole boys club.” 

Price believes Dunleavy fired her back in February after she demoted a former union boss and political ally of the governor’s. 

This past week, Dunleavy reversed Price’s demotion of Trooper Doug Massie from colonel to sergeant. He’s a colonel again.

Massie, who was president of the Public Safety Employees Union during the time Dunleavy was running for governor, played a big role in securing the union’s endorsement of “Big Mike.”

It was a huge get, considering Dunleavy ran as a government cutting candidate. Public employee unions aren’t typically too keen on candidates promising to cut government. 

Here’s what Price posted on her Facebook page on Thursday:

Price says in 2019 she spoke with Dunleavy about her concerns with Massie and what she describes as his inability to perform his duties as director of the Troopers’ Wildlife Division. She says she even considered removing him. 

“During the conversation I asked the governor if I could take appropriate and necessary personnel action with Massie or if he expected me to keep Massie as colonel regardless of performance issues,” says Price. “At that time, he told me that Col. Massie was my staff, and I should handle it as I see fit.”  

Price says she demoted Massie and quickly heard from Dunleavy. 

“A few hours after I took the action to demote Massie, the governor called me very upset,” says Price. “He was more escalated than I’ve ever heard him in the three plus years that I’ve known him, even though the action should not have been a surprise to him as I had spoken to both he and the Chief of Staff Ben Stevens a number of times about my concerns. He was very upset and ultimately hung up on me.” 

Price says Dunleavy called her a few days later and apologized, telling her he needs to think about this and that he would get back to her. 

Price says that was the last time she ever heard from Dunleavy. To this day she says he won’t take her calls. 

Three days later Stevens called Price to his office telling her she must resign or be fired. The only reason Stevens gave for the firing was the governor wanted to take the department in a different direction. 

Price believes she was fired because she demoted Massie. 

Price says because of his political connection to the governor, Massie now becomes untouchable for the incoming commissioner.  He or she cannot take action against the colonel if they want to keep their job. 

Price says it’s clear to her when Dunleavy promised during the campaign to make public safety a priority, what he really meant was he’d make the Public Safety Employee Union’s endorsement a priority.

Dan Fagan hosts the number one morning drive radio show in Alaska on Newsradio 650, KENI. He splits his time between Anchorage and New Orleans.

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  • This story keeps getting more tangled, but something doesn’t pass the smell test. And the Tall Man can’t really defend himself because personnel records are protected by privacy laws. I suspect the answer lies in why Mike fired Price, not the political connections and allegations of payback. Why did Price bust Col. Massie down to Sgt? Not supposed to disclose those records either. Hog farm manure piles smell better than this.

    • What doesn’t pass the smell test? The governor’s next door neighbor and head of the trooper union gets the union to throw their support behind “the Tall Man’s” election campaign (including a very sizeable chunk of cash), and then he gets promoted from sergeant to colonel/director of the wildlife troopers. No sergeant as ever been promoted directly to colonel before. Then when he gets demoted by the commissioner, the commisioner gets fired. Within a few days of her being fired, he is re-promoted back to colonel from sergeant. There is no amount of air freshener that can make this not smell bad for the governor. Anyone that is OK with this is approving political cronyism.

    • You hit the nail on the head, Rich.
      It is pretty well known that Ms Price was a main figure on the Dunleavy campaign team, so political relationships really are moot in this case. So, the way I see it, she put the Governor between a rock and a hard spot. I believe he did what he knew was the right thing, regardless of relationships. I am sure it was a very difficult decision for him to make, and I am confident he made the right one, given the unprofessional way she is dealing with it.

  • He was busted to Sgt because he had an agreement to return to his previous position if he was fired from the appointed position of Division Director “Colonel” rank. This is clearly the reason she was fired. This is clearly payback from the Governor to Massie. Moving from Sgt (and President of the Union) to Colonel. That smells just as bad as the appointment of Price to the position of Commissioner.

  • Doesn’t seem Doug Massie can take any bumps or bruises in his career when he’s done something wrong but instead goes crying to daddy. I’d be interested in knowing how close Dunleavy and Massie are to hunting lodges owners and operators.

  • Naked politics at its worst. Its not surprising that Dunleavy would be aghast at losing an important political supporter from his team. I’m sure there’s more to the story…such as why did Amanda Price feel she had to demote Massie for “an inability to perform his duties”. Do you suppose Massie ran around like he was “untouchable”? Well, it looks like he was right!

  • Maybe she should ask the men and women that he leads if he was doing a good job or not. The answer would be a resounding yes.

  • I would love to know her political connections and party affiliation. To demote someone from Col to Sgt reeks of a partisan hit. that’s a huge demotion and i’ve never ever heard of an officer being demoted so radically.

    • But being promoted from sergeant to colonel doesn’t reek of political cronyism? That has never happened before in the history of this state. This whole thing is cronyism at its worst, and has no business in the public safety department. This is how political corruption gets started, and of all of the departments that should be free from political pressure or involvement, public safety should be first on the list. And for what it’s worth, a big part of the reason she was appointed as commissioner is because she was on his election team. This isn’t partisan.

    • Perhaps you did not read the entire article, Massie was a Sargeant when he was promoted and agreed to return to his previous position if demoted. To wit ” I have never heard of an officer being promoted so radically”

    • Actually, Colonels/Directors and Commissioners are let go, and or asked to retire. It’s not that uncommon. As to motive, performance issues was cited previously. The real question is, why was he reinstated? Anything from the Governor’s office about that?

  • I really don’t know anything about these people involved, but the sarcasm makes it hard for me to take it seriously.

  • From colonel to sergeant? That’s quite the demotion. Perhaps if this is going to be elevated to a Palin/Wooten level, the public needs to be given a bit more detail, such as what Massie did or failed to do to warrant such a significant demotion?

  • Dunleavy needs to go!

  • 90% of what is going on behind the scenes in Juneau is connected directly to Dunleavy and the 90% of Alaskans haven’t a clue!!! Price is spot on !!!!

  • Price never made an arrest, drew a gun on a suspect, or had her life in danger during a police take-down. She was UNQUALIFIED to run the Troopers. End of story. She should go take a job selling perfume at Nordstrom’s.

    • ….I was thinking she should be a poodle groomer.

  • Dunleavy has turned into the worst kind of political hack. His promises have been broken and his competence diminished. As they say in Texas all hat and no cattle, time to go mini Mike.

  • The proof of her character is in the way she responded to her firing. In an appointment, you serve at the pleasure of the Governor. That’s it. He or she wants you fired, you are fired. You say thanks for the time and gracefully find another job. Her protestations were petty and immature and not the first time she has bad mouthed an admin she worked for. Unless you hate the Governor, and there are loud voices that do although I suspect he’s currently the most popular politician in the state for threading the needle on the pandemic—then it’s pretty obvious this is an entitled person who is projecting and who probably overstepped their authority and we’re let go as a consequence, then couldn’t take it like a grown up. I don’t know whether there is any relationship between Massie and the Governor? But I know those senior level hirings and firings are usually talked about a bit more so Its very suspect that he told her to do as she liked then was shocked when she fired him. I would suspect he told her to wait and she didn’t. I think that’s what the earlier reporting indicated, but I could be wrong. In any event, if she thinks the Gov violated some rules, she can file a complaint? But I think you would have to be an idiot to hire this woman again, to any level of leadership and accountability. She could run for office herself, there are many with her character traits in that profession, but I doubt that would go far.

  • I believe it. Dunleavy has been such as disaster it almost makes me respect Bill Walker. Walker destroyed the economic system of Alaska on purpose. Dunleavy is just a bumbling fool

    • How so? Who, of any conservative candidate you know of, would have been able to accomplish any of his platform issues with Giesel and Edgemon working along with the ADN, and a bunch of feckless GOP reps, ready to back down at a moments notice to let his vetoes get overridden? I’m curious who that would be? Treadwell? No- he would be in the “keep the PFD for government and make sure the Rasmuson’s et al stay rich” group. Reinbold? I hate the phrase but I think this lady literally does have a tin foil hat- and she just doesn’t get along with anyone- so no, neither of those two. Who else? Parnell? Nice guy, but how’d that go for him? Maybe a former politician from Anchorage? Good luck with that too, how’s that town doing?
      I don’t know this guy is perfect, but had the earthquake dropped in his lap cause Walker didn’t want to touch it and left three days early, then record fires, then a backstabbing GOP really
      In both houses but most of all the senate, and then weak squishy freshman Reps who were ready to stab him in the back on the cuts, etc etc. Then we get to the pandemic. The worse thing we had statewide was some travel restrictions. He didn’t shut down tourism, the damn airlines and cruise industry did. Even now, after the mandates are gone, the airlines are still making it look like they are—which, btw- ever hear of anyone ever getting a fine from the state over any of the limited mandates we had? No?me either.

      Look- you want to criticize the guy, that’s fine, but open your eyes. No one has had this much levied against them that I have ever seen, going back to Joe Miller- and he was just a candidate. This guy got the most dramatic cuts we have ever had, fought for the PFD, and managed 3 pretty much lifetime crisis (not to mention oil plummeting) and we did better than most states getting through them. So whoever this savior you have in mind to replace him, good luck. They will still have gutless GOP reps, corrupt media, and many knives stabbed in their back, and that is IF they are sane or competent enough to even get through a primary.

      • Huge conflict of interest on Massie’s part. No way any upper level trooper should also be the president of the representing union.

  • Trooper Doug Massie has a excellent record with the troopers, don’t throw stones if you don’t have all the facts. One side doesn’t tell the whole story.

    • Thank you.

    • Fact is that he was a mediocre Trooper and less than mediocre Sergeant. He did do a pretty good just as the Union President. So I can certainly see why the Troopers who are getting paid in $250,000 / per are ok

  • It all sounds like a Big misunderstanding not enough communication between any of them. What was their main communication text messaging?
    See! Ever since Leaders got on social media tools they forgot communication skills between eachother. They are more confident telling what they should privately say to one leader to all their social media supporters through using a third party tool. I vote All leaders get off social media tools.

  • I haven’t commented in a long time because of MRAK readers moronic attempts to defend the most corrupt law enforcement organization in America today…Alaska State Troopers . This incident should be a wake up call to all freedom loving Alaskans, and I find it sad that so many MRAK readers would defend this blatant corruption. It’s not clear to me how any thinking person could read this obviously truthful article and still not get it! The Troopers CONTROL of the Executive Branch of our State government is now an obvious fact and is the greatest danger to our “life liberty, and pursuit of happiness”. I commend Amanda Price for having more integrity and bravery than ANY supervisory Trooper I’ve ever had experience with. I would hope MRAK and Dan Fagan would stay on this story. I would also hope that those of you who see how truly dangerous this situation is, would call for an investigation. Being Alaskan Independence Party it pains me to say this…without a full scale Federal investigation we Alaskans will never regain our democracy or our rights.

  • Commissioners of whatever are mostly figureheads. The rank and file generally run the show.
    Price most likely made the mistake of believing that she was in charge … and failed to consult with the rank and file, before acting.
    Without a feel for the pulse of her organization, she couldn’t direct her resources effectively. If she failed to assimilate into the organization, she needed to be fired.
    This doesn’t excuse cronyism on the governor’s part though.

  • Politicians make all sorts of quid pro quo appointments during campaigns, and this is no different. This one however, might violate the ethics clause for public employees.
    AS 39.52.110 – Service in a public office is a public trust. The Ethics Act prohibits substantial and material conflicts of interest. Further, public employees, and their immediate family, may not improperly benefit, financially or personally, from their actions as public employees. The Act does not, however, discourage independent pursuits and it recognizes that minor and inconsequential conflicts of interest are unavoidable.

    The standard is, would the same offer have been made to a member of the public?

    The willingness of the governor to take on his own appointee speaks volumes about symbolic appointees (hatchet bait) versus venerated friends. Sometimes optics are just subjective perspective.

    • (hatchet bait) I like that…..

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