Downing: ADN comes unhinged over Dunleavy’s streamlining the state’s organization chart

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Just when you think Alaska’s “paper of record” cannot get any more unhinged, twisted, and factually off, the Anchorage Daily News’ editorial page has had a “hold my beer moment.”

The most recent editorial, “Should any governor get to wield this much power?” took aim at Gov. Mike Dunleavy. In what can only be described as a convoluted list of grievances riddled with errors, the leaders of the Pulitzer Prize-winning publication went after Dunleavy for, this time, having the audacity to exercise his authority granted by the Alaska Constitution. 

Whaa? 

Alaska’s governor, unlike almost every other state, has limited authority to issue executive orders. While Gov. Ron DeSantis in Florida or President Joe Biden in Washington, D.C. can write out a dictate with the force of law in the form of an executive order, the Alaska Constitution allows that power for only one, specific, purpose: to organize the government’s departments. It is akin to the power to move an organizational chart around in the company. 

The constitution in Alaska is pretty clear: A governor can only introduce executive orders at the beginning of a legislative session and only for the chair-arranging purposes earlier described. From there, the order would have the force of law if lawmakers did not sit in a joint session and cancel them out within sixty days. 

Dunleavy is in a streamlining mood. There are dozens of boards and commissions that regulate tens of thousands of Alaskans. The past four years during the Covid lockdowns showed how hard it was for people to get their professional licenses. Are you a nurse? Wait for months to get approval. There is a good reason to make sure some people are properly regulated. We don’t need doctors with spotty records operating on our family members.

But do we need the same vetting for doctors, lawyers, and engineers as we do for … barbers? How about massage therapists? Dunleavy thought it was ridiculous, and issued executive orders that  proposed eliminating a board of people who would have long wait times to approve licenses and leave it with professionals at the Department of Commerce (you know, the agency responsible for making sure we have jobs and not a black market). There were also some advisory councils to certain state parks that have outlived their usefulness (A for effort, but still advisory), and executive orders were issued to get rid of those. 

The way the ADN is writing it, however, there is an assault on the institutions of this wonderful state at work.

The Legislature is often the villain, as far as the press is concerned, but in this instance is the newspaper’s champion. Legislators must charge forward “cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war,” to quote Wiliam Shakespeare. In this case, it’s the dogs of politics. 

Where to begin: With the fact that the editorial board could use a fact-checking editor? Time and again, the editorial referred to the executive orders as “administrative orders,” a completely different action that does not have the force of law. Fair enough, everyone makes mistakes, including this author.

But then the editorial really lets the mask drop, suggesting that what should happen is fiddling with the Permanent Fund Corporation’s Board of Directors. Among the changes: Why not make Trustees confirmable by the Legislature?

There may be some logic, except for one pesky thing: That would be blatantly unconstitutional, and a quick reading of the state’s rule book would have helped prevent ADN’s holier-than-thou screed. Article III, Section 26, limits who the governor appoints that must be confirmed by the Legislature; the CliffNotes say it is limited to commissioners of departments and members of regulatory or quasi-judicial agencies. 

That makes sense. The Regulatory Commission of Alaska, which sets rates for everything from trash to the landline phones, is a regulator; the Workers Compensation Board decided disputes between workers and employers; the folks sitting in those positions need to be vetted and confirmed. 

There was an attempt to make other agencies that manage “significant state assets” confirmable in a ballot initiative over 20 years ago. It failed, and it did not even include the Permanent Fund in the question. 

Why does this matter? Aside from the fact that a little bit of superficial research embarrasses the homily given by the institution that purports to report on facts and verified analysis, it reveal the depth of the animus for the governor by the press and is part of the environment in Juneau.

Despite being the first governor re-elected in a generation and only the second Republican to be returned to the Third Floor of the Alaska Capitol, the press cannot fathom that the public actually support what Gov. Dunleavy is putting out. And the ADN’s remedy to this, to get the Legislature involved, contradicts their earlier cries of the heart about nothing being done in the session on anything meaningful. 

The one constant of the past 10 years has been the unwillingness of the Legislature to make bold calls when the chips are down. Instead, the state’s savings have dwindled, a dividend is set every year in a stockyard auction manner, and meaningful reforms on education, labor, business, and resource development are strangled in committees run by special interests. 

And this is the cavalry the ADN is calling on. No wonder trust in traditional media keeps sinking.

Suzanne Downing is editor of Must Read Alaska.

30 COMMENTS

  1. Is Ryan Binkley really in charge at the ADN? Is it Ryan’s “Inner Communist” who’s calling the shots? His dad? Or is the ADN just out of control as usual and still missing regular doses of old-school Ritilin therapy?

    • Seems very odd and a contradiction in philosophies that Ryan Binkley, born into wealth with a ready-made career and business in place to support him and his family for decades, would run a newspaper that abhors the principles of streamlining and deregulation. Binkley’s grandparents were staunch Republicans and trailblazers in Alaska business. It’s totally weird that Ryan Binkley would hire a flock of bitchy communists that hate capitalism and hard work derived from the private sector. The only answer has to be that Binkley didn’t need to take business risks and become the hard-working entrepreneur that it takes to understand why capitalism works and benefits so many people. His family wealth always stood ready to bail him out. Instead, Binkley seems to take the woke approach that his progenitors didn’t deserve the wealth they earned, and he needs to join the Democrats to prove that he hates what his grandparents gave to him. These kind of reversal philosophies usually hinge on brainwashing fallout, or some kind of self-guilt for living a personal life in luxury. It’s hard to discern why Binkley would hire some of the biggest misfit and miscreant journalists in Alaska to run the voice of his family newspaper.

      • Someone should pay the ADN to put Mr. Teague’s MRAK comment as a full page ad in the ADN. Profit…….straight into Mr. Binkley’s cash register.

      • If Ryan Binkley was to enter politics, I doubt he would get to first base. The wishy-washy approach does not work in elections anymore . Ask his old man.

    • I suspect its a business decison. Most conservatives will not contribute to ADN’s delinquency buy subscribing. Subscribers are mostly Leftists. Not playing to that base of business will lose customers.

  2. Do people still buy the ADN?
    If you get your information from the ADN or KTUU you limit yourself to group think and communist propaganda designed to divide us as Americans in every way possible.
    They want to burn it all down and Build Back Better in there utopian nightmare of depopulation and enslavement to a One World Government.

    • Bob. I still buy the ADN occasionally, but only when I have to paint something. Even at it’s current price, it’s still the cheapest dropcloth I can find.

  3. LOL! You are giving the ADN more readers than they have. Obviously ADN readers care since they literally don’t have any subscribers! Last time I looked they were only at 220,000. MRA is way over that!

  4. ADN hasn’t been a Alaska news paper for decades. It’s more like a California propaganda rag. I haven’t bought one since 1988.

  5. What’s the real bitch? That’s the most pertinent question! The constitutional powers of the state’s administrative branch haven’t changed since they were first adopted by the Alaska constitutional convention! You’d have thought that the editorial board of the Daily Worker would have realized long before now that elections have consequences!

  6. EO 125 to sunset the Governor’s Alaska Council on EMS was way overdue. Unlike the other EO’s, EMS wants this archaic dinosaur of the 1970’s to finally go the way of the rest of the fossils….. It’s time to just let it go…. Please….

  7. If Govenor Dunleavy wasn’t serving as Governor. If he was in-between assignments. He’d make the closest ideal Alaska Republican Chair the party is looking for. He has the charisma. He is energetic. His mental state is sharp and on point. He has political astuteness. He gets along with everyone from the conservative to the Christian evangelical to the moderate to the bureaucrat. To move a State that’s been slow-boiled left for last forty years, it needs a leader who can slow boil the State back to the Right or Biblical standard.

  8. The ADN must conform to its readers’ demands, or cease publication. One look at the Assembly of Anchorage and we see the real problem. To keep what readership the ADN has and possibly gain more, it must look to the same people who elected that Anchorage Assembly. Since the Anchorage Assembly is a load of wackos, it stands to reason that the paper reflects their “viewpoints.” As for what the governor is trying to do, the legislature has already cried foul on most of the executive orders in spite of the fact that they are sorely needed. This fits in with the general makeup of what the Hill calls the worst legislature in the country. But I am glad the governor has not given up. Fight on, Big Mike! You may well score some victories in this area.

  9. Another reason why the daily rag is now the daily bathroom tool.
    Everybody I know quit the one sided liberal lying paper.
    I hope you are loosing money and will quit the one sided lies you so happily print.

  10. I love ADN…I collect them. It’s a great starter for my charcoal grill. Sometimes I give a salute whilst it burns. Been doing it for 20 years 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

  11. Not like any other previous governor of the State of AK has ever done this before but ignored by ADN.

    Bill Walker: AO #275 6/10/2015 Combining two divisions in the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

    Tony Knowles: AO #158 6/15/1995 Reorganizing the Department of Environmental Conservation.

    Steve Cowper: AO #107 4/12/88 1.Merge the Division of Community Development and the Division of Housing Assistance within the Department of Community and Regional Affairs. 2. Name the consolidated division as the Division of Rural Development.

    Bill Sheffield: AO #73 2/10/83 Withdrawal of Administrative Order No. 32 and termination of the Alaska Fisheries Council.

    Issuance of Administrative Orders by Alaska Governors is granted by Article III – The Executive. Sections 1 Executive Power and 24 Supervision.

  12. ADN is commie central. They want to tear down this state and reincorporate it as China 2.0. Can’t wait until they go out of business.

  13. Besides here, I don’t get or buy Alaska news. But, should read adn or ktuu once a great while, know what the liberal left are up to!

  14. People MRAK is protecting the governor from a “negative comments”, so much for free speech in or on MRAK! Jon you need to think about what kind of Media you bought into! This protectionism of Dunleavy isn’t in the context of America’s founders’ beliefs or principals! If your intent is to control a narrative of half truths your doing on hell of a job of it!! Liberty Ed Martin Jr

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