BY ART CHANCE
I’m going to visualize Mike Dunleavy being Governor.
Dunleavy has no Executive Branch experience. I don’t know who around him has any, but there can’t be many.
In Frank Murkowski’s administration, we used up pretty much every nominal Republican who was at least marginally competent to accept a political appointment. We caught hell for firing so many selfless Democrat public servants, but we actually only replaced about 30 percent of the appointees.
If Knowles had won in 2006, he would have found most of his second term administration sitting there waiting for the return of the king.
Sarah Palin came in, and all the Murkowski appointees who hadn’t chosen to leave rather than work for her — I among them — got fired.
She replaced a few of them with some of her buddies but mostly Palin tried to run her government with a bunch of Knowles holdovers; what could go wrong?
Sean Parnell was so desperately afraid of the Sarah Palin tweet-in-the-night that he pretty much left her government, which was Knowles’ government, in place. Then he wondered why he was leaked, thwarted, sabotaged, and ultimately defeated by the Anchorage Daily News and its gaslighting National Guard phony scandal.
When Dunleavy wins, he’ll be awash in resumes from bright young lads and lasses who’ve always been dedicated Republicans and supported him to the hilt, or so they’ll say.
The first step is to see if they gave you any money. I’ve been around enough wannabe Republican appointees to know that the vast majority only want the appointment so they can parlay it into a lobbying contract and they couldn’t care less if the Governor that appointed them gets re-elected so long as they can get a lobbying contract.
The irony here is that the people who are most likely to be loyal to a Dunleavy administration are the merit system employees in State government, most of whom probably voted for one of the Democrats.
The government of Alaska was built by New Deal Era Democrats to be run by New Deal Era Democrats and employ the maximum number of Democrats. There is absolutely no way a Republican governor can fill all the politically appointed positions in State government with loyal and competent Republicans, and you can’t appoint the guy that did yeoman duty putting out signs for you as the head of a major division in State government.
But here is the rub for a Republican; you can’t run the government with holdovers. If you are to have a prayer of effectively running the government, you absolutely must fire everyone that you have a legal right to fire as your hand comes off The Bible.
The Hermaphrodite Administration (Bill Walker) fired everyone left from Palin/Parnell who’d ever had a Republican thought.
Consequently, almost everyone in the government in a position of any authority was hired or promoted by Knowles or by someone who was hired or promoted by a person hired or promoted either in Knowles or Walker. There are a very few relatively apolitical subject matter experts that it would be a shame to lose, but fire them anyway, let them miss a paycheck or two, and hire them back once they realize who is boss. The rest of them can lose their waterfront houses, boats, airplanes, vacation homes, and bedwarmers.
It is going to be lonely in State government when they’re all gone and you really don’t have much of a talent pool to draw on; there are really not a lot of competent, loyal Republicans who want to be a public employee, even a high-level one, when they grow up.
Find some good people to run the major areas where you must make changes.
In the rest of the government, go to the merit system employees who were direct reports to the appointees who are now unemployed. The vast majority of them will keep things running and not give you any trouble. It is far more trouble to fix something than to keep it running, so they’ll keep it running. You give them acting status and the pay of their former boss and most of them will behave and work productively. There’ll be a few ideologues and malcontents who’ll do something stupid, and you’ll just have to fire them. Yes, you can fire public employees, even unionized public employees.
Now the lobbyists and players who’ll flock to you once you’re elected will tell you that you can’t do this; that it will be too disruptive.
The reality is that the very hardest thing you could do would be to stop the government from running. The only major thing that will be disrupted are the contacts lists belonging to those lobbyists and players.
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. He only writes for Must Read Alaska when he’s banned from posting on Facebook. Chance coined the phrase “hermaphrodite Administration” to describe a governor who is simultaneously a Republican and a Democrat. This was a grave insult to hermaphrodites, but he has not apologized.