Governor lets Hollis French go from oil and gas commission - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, August 4, 2020
HomePoliticsGovernor lets Hollis French go from oil and gas commission

Governor lets Hollis French go from oil and gas commission

Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Chairman Hollis French was released from his duties immediately today, as Gov. Michael Dunleavy decided that French’s chronic absences were cause for dismissal.

A personnel hearing was held earlier this month, and during the testimony, his coworkers relayed that French spent very little time at the office, and seemed disinterested in the work when he was in attendance.

The personnel hearing officer forwarded the findings to the governor and he issued his decision this evening.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy had earlier placed French on administrative leave, with pay. Not all of the charges against French were found to have merit, but there were enough that the governor had to decide if he should simply dismiss him.

In the hearing officer’s report, he said the commission’s work was not delayed or affected in any material way because the other commissioners chose to cover for French by doing his work for him.

“While the notes/journal/diary contain some errors, the document presents substantial evidence that the overall pattern of Commissioner French’ s presence in the offices of AGOCC was perennially and significantly less than a full day. Leave slips did not account for these absences, which were more norm than the exception,” the report said.

French is a former legislator who ran for lieutenant governor as the running mate to Democrat Byron Mallott in 2014. After the primary election, Mallott and Bill Walker formed up a ticket with Walker as the gubernatorial candidate and Mallott as his running mate. French was forced out by the Democratic Party, which went on to support what was called a “unity ticket.” French was likely offered the lucrative job at the AOGCC as a reward for dropping off of the ticket, political observers concluded.

[Read: Chronic absences mark Hollis French at commission]

[Read: Hollis gets confirmed, but with drama]

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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

  • A Demoncrat who actually is forced out of his “No-Show Job”! I can’t believe what I’m reading!

    • Being a liberal Democrat, he’ll probably sue to get his job back.

  • Lets hope that the governor does a collection on the unexcused absences and any perks he received from Walker.

  • Now that French is history, he can reunite with his former running mate Byron Mallott and begin fishing. While one trolls, the other can lure.

    • Will there be any teen girls with the fishermen?

  • I’m actually a little surprised it took this long. Is this position structured a little differently than other appointed positions? Why wasn’t this one a straight-up cut and release when Dunleavy took the reins like the rest of them? I’m sure the Governor has a person ready to post in the slot and the liberals are going to go nuts! Regardless, adios and good luck Gunny.

  • AOGCC is an exempt agency and its employees are in the exempt service of State employees under AS 39.25.110. Exempts are not subject to the State Personnel Act and thus cannot appeal discipline or dismissal to the State Personnel Board, but they may have procedural rights and appeal rights under either their agencies policies or under a labor agreement. Teachers who work for the State are exempt from the SPA but have statutory process and appeal rights under Title 14 as well as from labor agreements. Vessel employees of the Marine Highway System are exempt but have very robust process, cause, and appeal rights under labor agreements.

    In my State days if my choice of explanations for something was conspiracy or incompetence, my bias was always towards incompetence. The State’s organizational culture is so badly deteriorated these days that I’m not sure there is anybody left who could mount a conspiracy, so I’m not going to say that the Governor got sandbagged with the list of putatively “at will” employees he was given. I know that if I were asked for a list of “at will” State employees my answer would be that there are none. The closest you get is probationary employees and some other partially exempt and exempt employees whose duties are so policy driven that they have something like a “satisfaction contract;” so long as their work satisfies the hiring authority, they have an expectation of continued employment. But even with those, the courts have found an “implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing” in all employment contracts which is just a fancy legalistic way of saying that the judge can substitute his/her judgment for the hiring authority’s judgment. I suspect the Administration is going to find out all about that at the trial court level with the two exempt shinks and the partially exempt AAG who were dismissed at the transition. It would be a good thing to take the issue to the Supremes and have it honestly argued and answered by the AKSC.

    • Ugg. Now Gunny is crying “Despite all my work, I could not get the commission to see that it had the power to act to stop that gas leak,” French said. “And that’s what led to my writing a letter to the governor—Gov. Walker—eventually, and that’s what led my co-commissioners to decide to try to remove me from the commission for cause.” …………..Really? This is his story? A gas leak? What say you Art?

      • I don’t know enough facts, really. His fellow commissioners couldn’t act to remove him for cause, but they could certainly lobby for it. I know Seamont (sp) a little from my State days and he always impressed me as being a pretty straightforward, professional guy. I don’t really know French, but I know enough lefty legislators and former legislators to have a pretty good idea of just what a pleasant person he might be to work with.

        I think the whole hearing officer thing was way too belt and suspenders. I’m pretty sure the Commissioner of Administration could fire an AOGCC Commissioner, and I know the Governor could, pretty much just because s/he wanted to.

  • French is actually pissed off that Mallott was chosen over himself for the Walker unity ticket in 2014. I can see French’s position too. This is his way of acting up and trying to garner early media attention for his own 2022 run against Dunleavy. I seriously doubt that Mallott will be there to help French, though. Mallott still hasn’t come out of hiding. When he does, the #MeToo gang will be waiting for him with tomahawks.

    • I don’t think so Maverick. The #MeToo gang are the same ones sleeping with Byron. It is all a tangled freak show. The liberals are stabbing each other at the same time they are lifting each other up. Black Face Virginia Governor and his “alleged” rapist Lt. Governor and Black Face Attorney General are all still clipping along – coasting under the radar – yesterday’s news. Next thing you know Jussie Smollett will be made whole again, doing PSA commercials “The More You Know” on how growing up black and gay can traumatize you so terribly, it makes you do CRAZY stuff, so #dotherightthing boys and girls! The same standards NEVER apply to them as they do to those that think differently than they do. They seldom hold themselves accountable. The #Metoo Gang will be waiting for Byron with kumbaya and hugs.

  • Drones of the state, Art. Seems to be that the state’s bar for production is very low, which makes your argument for incompetence be the likely bet. With so many drones in the hive, where do the remaining worker bees go to find the honey? What prevents colony collapse?

    • The State is a 90-10 operation; 90% of the meaningful work is done by 10% of the people. People with routine jobs are generally kept doing something, though not a lot. The real drones are the people who are paid to decide what ought to be done and how to do it; most of them have positions, not jobs and lots of them only have knowing someone as a qualification.

      A lot of supervisors and lead workers work hard themselves, but not many ask their subordinates or co-workers to work hard because it really doesn’t pay. The very worst thing you can do in State government is cause any sort of upset. Political management in either a Democrat or Republican Administration will abandon you and in a Democrat administration if the union complains about you, you’ll be lucky to have an office with no windows and a seat that flushes.

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