Jim Crawford: Who owns Alaska? Alaskans, and that’s why we need a Constitutional Convention

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By JIM CRAWFORD

Every 10 years, Alaskan voters are presented with a simple but critical question.  Article 13, Sections 3 and 4 of the Alaska Constitution requires that a question to be asked of voters: 

§ 3. Call by Referendum

If during any ten-year period a constitutional convention has not been held, the lieutenant governor shall place on the ballot for the next general election the question: “Shall there be a Constitutional Convention?” If a majority of the votes cast on the question are in the negative, the question need not be placed on the ballot until the end of the next ten-year period. If a majority of the votes cast on the question are in the affirmative, delegates to the convention shall be chosen at the next regular statewide election, unless the legislature provides for the election of the delegates at a special election. The lieutenant governor shall issue the call for the convention. Unless other provisions have been made by law, the call shall conform as nearly as possible to the act calling the Alaska Constitutional Convention of 1955, including, but not limited to, number of members, districts, election and certification of delegates, and submission and ratification of revisions and ordinances. The appropriation provisions of the call shall be self-executing and shall constitute a first claim on the state treasury. [Amended 1970]

§ 4. Powers

Constitutional conventions shall have plenary power to amend or revise the constitution, subject only to ratification by the people. No call for a constitutional convention shall limit these powers of the convention.

Alaska has been governed by special interests for decades. These special interests fund the election of legislators and the subsequent organization of the State Senate and State House. Then they control you.

The people of Alaska should have the last word in Alaska law. 

If you believe, as I do, that the people of Alaska should be the ultimate decider of Alaska law, you might consider joining a growing coalition of voters who see the Constitutional Convention as the only remaining means of returning power to the people to curb the special interests.  

Let’s deal with three issues that the public supports but the court or a majority of a respective legislative house has blocked: 1.  the right to a corruption free government, 2.  the right to determine the amount of your Alaska Permanent Fund dividend and 3. the right to life.

The most important issue that Alaskan’s must change is the corruption of our judicial appointees through the Alaska Judicial Council. The Alaska Judicial Council is governed by seven members, four attorneys and three non-attorney members. The four attorney members dictate whom the governor can appoint to their list of “qualified nominees”.  A member of the Judicial Council should not be practicing law in front a judge they appointed. The Judicial Council should exclude those with a conflict of interest. For instance, excluding attorneys who could try a case after appointing their candidate.

The voters can correct this only through a Constitutional Convention.   

The right to determine the dividend of the Alaska Permanent Fund must be resolved by a vote of the people. The Legislature has proved through Special Session after Special Session that it cannot come up with a dividend policy that is fair, consistent and sustainable.   Convention delegates can and will.   

The right to life can be on the ballot in Alaska in 2024. The U. S. Supreme Court could shortly rule that Alaskans, instead of the federal government or courts, can determine the length of a baby’s in utero life. Will Alaskans continue to be bound by an elusive mandate that the right to privacy and reproductive rights authorizes the taking of innocent life? The only way for the people to overrule that precedent is through a Constitutional Convention.  Exempting babies with a beating heart could be passed by a majority of Alaskans.    

Each of these examples could be added or excluded by elected members of the upcoming Constitutional Convention as outlined in the Alaska Constitution. The original authors provided the path to restrain out-of-control, special interests that practice conflicts of interests by controlling Alaska law.  

Does Alaska have the Constitution it deserves?  Are there glaring conflicts in need of correction?  Are there issues that have been blocked by special interests who choose their own law above the public good?  

The National Education Association opposes your right to a Constitution Convention.  And we know why, the budget they hold hostage each year.  

I’ve been a registered voter in Alaska since I turned 18 in 1966. I’ve opposed a Constitutional Convention each time since then. But I will vote for the Convention in 2022. Why? Because there is no other path that gives the control of government back to Alaskan citizens. The voters of Alaska are smart and can be trusted to study the issues prior to a vote. Each Alaskan will have the opportunity to weigh in on issues they feel are important. The power will be back where it belongs, with the people.

Those who oppose the Constitution Convention appoint judges to put their thumb on the scales of justice, scoff at the public’s right to set the dividend of the Alaska Permanent Fund and campaign with fear to advocate taking a baby’s innocent human life.      

A Constitutional Convention is an opportunity to take back our government, to reclaim for the people good public policy in Alaska. We have a bright future if we do not forfeit our rights to a clean government, our right to healthy babies and our right to determine our earnings through our dividends. 

Each of those three rights share a common ancestry. Each has been controlled for decades by special interests. A majority of Alaskans can change that.     

Jim Crawford is a third-generation Alaskan entrepreneur who resides in Anchorage with his editor and bride of 38 years, Terri. Capital Alaska LLC is a statewide commercial lender which analyses and may sponsor projects of sustained economic growth for the Alaskan economy. Mr. Crawford, known as the Permanent Fund Defender, was a member of the Investment Advisory Committee, appointed by Governor Hammond to plan and execute the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation

23 COMMENTS

  1. I’m still undecided on the constitutional convention, section 4 should cause everyone to take a serious amount of time while considering voting for or against. “Constitutional conventions shall have plenary power to amend or revise the constitution, subject only to ratification by the people. No call for a constitutional convention shall limit these powers of the convention.” A yes vote opens up Pandora’s box. I don’t know if voting for a constitutional convention solves all of the issues listed above, but I could see how it could make them all worse than they are now.

    • I am shocked to find myself in agreement with you here, Steve.
      .
      Indeed, seeing the gross levels of authoritarianism apparently supported by voters in Anchorage and Juneau gives me pause to open up our state constitution to the mass of profoundly ignorant, mis-educated and freedom-hating voters.

  2. The unions and the liberals own Alaska.
    It’s funny to see the people who bleat on and on about “ this is what democracy looks like” fighting like hell to keep the people of Alaska from exercising it.

  3. What’s there to lose? Our current State government is rotten to the core with corruption, conflict of interests and general ineptness!

    • I have voted against a convention in the past (more than once) but I now am at the point of agreeing with the sentiment, “what do we have to lose” Maybe we can get our mineral rights back or even make elections safer by requiring photo I’d and getting rid of mail in ballots other than absentee ballots that must be requested along with signatures that must be verified. Even change the way Supreme Court justices are chosen and other judges for that matter. I’m voting yes this time.

  4. Mr. Crawford sez:

    “The people of Alaska should have the last word in Alaska law.

    If you believe, as I do, that the people of Alaska should be the ultimate decider of Alaska law, you might consider joining a growing coalition of voters who see the Constitutional Convention as the only remaining means of returning power to the people to curb the special interests.”

    I couldn’t agree more. However, as the vote for or against holding a constitutional convention approaches in November 2022, Alaska will see unlimited amounts of dark money pouring in from both sides of the political spectrum. So much for Alaskans deciding their future. Until dark money is eliminated from politics, we will always be controlled by outside interests and in-state special interests..

    • Pandora only suffered because she was not masked, ‘vaccinated’ (sic) and properly socially distanced from her box before opening it. Doing all those things instead would have surely made her experience “safe and effective”.

  5. Why wouldn’t the same powers that currently control this state take over the constitutional convention and wreak havoc there? If the average citizen can’t be bothered to get off their butt and vote in regular elections, why expect them to suddenly have a change of heart when it’s time to choose the delegates, or when its time to ratify any amendments?
    This may be playing with fire.

  6. It is not a conflict of interest, let alone corruption, for a lawyer on the Judicial Council to practice in front of a judge the Judicial Council has recommended to the Governor and the Governor has nominated — no more than it’s a conflict of interest or corruption for the AG’s office to practice in front of a judge the Governor has nominated.

    • First of all the governor cannot nominate a judge unless said judge was approved by the judicial council, which consists of the four lawyers on the judicial council. Another area to consider changing the attorney general to an elected position.

  7. An Alaska Constitutional Convention seems justified. The caveat being that it is necessary that we can rely on the people’s votes being counted correctly, without the potential for their votes to be ‘algorithmed away’ via computer code manipulations. If we can rely on the how the votes are counted, then regardless of what the Convention produces, the people’s will is all that could possibly be successfully accomplished. If the way votes are counted goes further into the computerized realm, as it seems to be doing by some design, then I believe the end result of the process will ultimately turn out to be against the people’s will, and to their detriment.

  8. Cathy Giessel and John Coghill both recently came out stating they are opposed to a ConCon in 2022. Thanks to their respective constituents, both were easily taken out of public office in last year’s Republican primary election. Smart constituents!

  9. § 3. Call by Referendum
    “…Unless other provisions have been made by law…”

    What ‘other provisions’, if any, have been signed into law regarding ‘The Call’?

    “the call shall conform as nearly as possible to the act calling the Alaska Constitutional Convention of 1955.”

    I have read the original call, as reported by Jessen’s Weekly, November 4th 1955:
    ‘http://archives2.legis.state.ak.us/PublicImageServer.cgi?lib/5500220CONSTITUTIONAL%20CONVENTION%20SUPPLEMENT.pdf’

    Some of the language would have to be adjusted to reflect the fact that Alaska is now a State, and that The Call is to determine whether, and what, amendments to an existing constitution are to be made, and I’m certain that the districts from which delegates are elected would have to change, if not the total number of delegates.

    What concerns me most about a Constitutional Convention, is that certain current and former members of the Legislature would be certain to gain election as delegates.

    Section 2 of the Act calling for the original Constitutional Convention reads as follows:
    “Delegates to the convention shall possess the qualifications of legal voters of Alaska and shall have been resident of Alaska for not less than three years immediately preceding the first day of the convention. The holding of the office of delegate or any other office of the convention shall not constitute a disqualification for selection for or the holding of any other office, and the holding of any other office, except an appointive office under the Federal Government, shall not constitute a disqualification for election to or the holding of office as a delegate or any other office of the convention.”

    According to the original call, the only people specifically disqualified from becoming delegates to the convention are:
    Those legally excluded from voting in the Territory (State) of Alaska.
    Non-residents of Alaska, or those who have been resident for less than 3 years.
    Federal appointees.

    Have there been any statutes that have been adopted that modify the qualifications for serving as a delegate?

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