Department of Law says North Slope Borough seizure of RavnAir assets is not legal - Must Read Alaska
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Monday, September 28, 2020
HomeTop NewsDepartment of Law says North Slope Borough seizure of RavnAir assets is not legal

Department of Law says North Slope Borough seizure of RavnAir assets is not legal

A Department of Law opinion issued today states that the North Slope Borough doesn’t have the authority to seize the property of RavnAir, which had shut down operations and stated it would be filing for protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy rules.

According to a statement from Maria Bahr, spokesperson for the Department of Law, “the North Slope Borough does not have the authority to commandeer property.  All Ravn’s property is part of its bankruptcy estate.  This means the North Slope Borough order is void under federal and state law.  Any party seeking to operate air services also needs approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. 

“The State appreciates the concerns of establishing substitute air service for all communities impacted by Ravn’s bankruptcy, including communities in the North Slope Borough.  However, the North Slope Borough’s actions in this case were counterproductive.  As long as local governments might be attempting to seize Ravn’s property it will be more difficult to establish replacement air service.

“In addition, more than 1,200 Ravn employees who were laid off on Sunday are unpaid and actions by local governments that impede the bankruptcy jeopardize those employees being paid.

“Ravn, the State, North Slope Borough, and other stakeholders are working diligently to establish substitute air service as quickly as possible and get Ravn’s former employees paid, all within the bankruptcy context.  Any disruption by local governments makes those goals more difficult to achieve,” Bahr wrote.

Over the weekend, RavnAir Group announced it was grounding all flights due to financial hardships brought on by COVID-19 travel restrictions around the state.

Almost immediately, the mayor of the North Slope Borough issued a statement saying he was commandeering the assets of the company under his authority granted through his emergency orders during the COVID-19 crisis.

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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

  • Guy sounds like a pirate. Over-thought his authority. Best to let lawyers dictate legal status.

  • Honestly, if the mayor/borough could be successfully sued by Ravn, that would help in the bankruptcy proceedings!

  • Based on what is reported, Alaska’s U.S. Attorney is respectfully requested to prosecute North Slope Borough officials who authorized and conducted what appears to be a clearly illegal search and seizure conducted in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
    Based on what is reported, we sincerely hope Ravn Air corporate officials initiate a civil lawsuit against North Slope Borough officials who authorized and conducted what appears to be a clearly illegal search and seizure of Ravn Air property, conducted in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
    Based on what is reported, the request for prosecution is made to the U.S. Attorney because the State Department of Law appears to have abrogated law-enforcement responsibility by limiting itself to issuing an opinion.
    The relevant reference is:
    TITLE 18, U.S.C., SECTION 242
    “Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both…”

    • Chapter Eleven actually protects assets
      while the company is reorganizing. This is an illegal trespass and seizure.

    • NSB Mayor Brower’s illegal action is exactly why there is resistance to establishment of “Indian Country” in Alaska.
      That one isolated act has probably set back our efforts to regain federal protection of our lands from asset seizure, by several years.
      It gives opponents an “See! Told you Indian Country would cause problems” rallying cry.
      Thanks a lot Brower, for nothing………..

    • Possibly grand theft as well as Felony Trespass. Best to leave upholding the law to the professionals.

  • Government overreach?

    Shocking…absolutely shocking..

    • You’re kind of missing the point. What happened here was local government overreach (in a very thoughtless, stupid fashion), immediately corrected by higher State authority in accordance with existing laws. Which is what is supposed to happen in a nation of laws, which protects individuals and corporations from abuse by government.
      The State DOL did good; North Slope Borough got spanked good. Hopefully others will take note.

  • Example of money and ignorance!

  • Now let’s hear a legal opinion about local efforts to close the Bristol Bay salmon fishery!

    • Fish all you want. Just find housing on boats and package everything off shore. Stay off private tribal land. Yes, tribes have the authority.

  • Let me guess, the mayor is a Democrat.

  • Compensation must be provided. And that doesn’t mean in pounds or tons of muktuk.

  • The “United States Code, U.S.C.” sits outside the Constitution and is not a Lawful Constitutional action. “Statutes at Large” are Constitutional. Our country has been turned upside down. The “U.S.C.” can only be used against “Persons” and “citizens of the United States”, an unlawful designation, created after the Civil War. Please read the different Dictionary definitions of “Persons” and “People”. A “Person” is the same as a Corporation, Partnership, etc. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

  • Let’s see, the Department of Law issued an ‘opinion’.

    That isn’t a legal order, or a court decision,

    What is the record for the administration and their ‘opinions’.

    Their record stands at zero and six unless it’s worse and they haven’t released more of the court’s decisions against them.

    As I’ve said, if Ravn owes them money, there is a precedent that could mean the courts rule against the Dept. of Law.

    Happened many times before with this administration.

    • Nope. The filing protects them from exactly this.

  • Too remote and too little oversight; Unfortunately for Alaska Mayor Brower and NSB officials aren’t the only ones engaging in this type of conduct.

  • Another example of predators taking advantage of a situation for their own gain. We are seeing this over and over now with little wannabe dictators in local governments, who have become big sharks in little ponds. “Never let a good crisis go go waste.”

  • With all the money the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation has, why won’t they step in and provide funding to keep shareholders mobile. It’s insane. Are they not the richest native Corporation in the world?
    They can’t invest in ensuring good solid air transportation for their people?

    • Good with taking, not so good with giving.

  • Let us see if there is action to back it up . Troopers sent out to check on and secure Ravn assets wherever they may be in the Borough.

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