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Wednesday, November 20, 2019
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Know your enemy, and your Alaska statute

WALKER CHIEF OF STAFF GALLOPS INTO LEGAL JEOPARDY

By ART CHANCE
SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR

Hopefully, one day the Dunleavy Administration will figure out what kind of people leftists and Democrats really are. The appointee and apparatchik cohort of activist Leftists are vile, nihilistic people for whom truth is meaningless and the only thing that matters is advancing their position. The revolution is its own morality.

The Leftists/Democrats have mounted a frontal assault on all Dunleavy hires and appointments. The Administration has not lifted a finger to defend any of their people; the lefties mau-mau them and the Dunleavy Administration fires them or withdraws their appointment.

So, what do the Dunleavy people want, a Democrat administration? If they’re going to try to placate the Left with their Bruce Botelho-approved appointments, the people of Alaska might as well have elected Mark Begich or reelected Bill Walker.

So far, the Administration hasn’t kicked Public Safety Commissioner designee Amanda Price to the curb, but that is probably because she has the backing of the Public Safety Employees Association, which backed Michael Dunleavy for governor.

[Read: Public Safety employees say yes to Amanda Price]

Alaska witnessed a most unseemly spectacle late last week, as former Walker Chief of Staff Scott Kendall trashed Commissioner Price with a smorgasbord of rumor, innuendo, and hearsay. All in front of a House committee run by Democrats.

Government is so insinuated into life in Alaska that a public official can’t do anything without doing something for somebody — or doing something to somebody. The people who feel they’ve been “done to” tend to remember.

If you’ve actually done something in government, then you’ll have enemies and they’re going to line up to tell the Legislature what they don’t like about you.

It’s not just that Kendall badmouthed Price. That sort of thing happens often enough. What made it so unseemly is that he did it as her former boss.

An interested party testifying for or against a nominee is just the public process in action. The former governor’s chief of staff testifying about a former State employee is essentially a job reference, and there are laws about that.

Specifically, there is Alaska Statute 09.65.160, which grants immunity to a person based on their own observation and given in good faith.

Kendall was not Price’s direct supervisor for very long; just long enough to collect some petty complaints about her and fire her. He had little if any direct observation of her work, but he was in her chain of command, just as he is in the chain of command of all executive branch employees except those employed by the boards or commissions, which have their own hiring authority.

Kendall has no personal impression of her work; everything he said was either made up or rumor, innuendo, and hearsay, and the reference was not made in good faith but rather to achieve a political objective. That could be a problem for him, with the aforementioned AS 09.65.160.

Then there is the fact that whatever Kendall knows about Price’s performance as a State employee he learned as a State employee.

As a State employee, Kendall is bound by AS 39.25.080, which statute explicitly sets out what aspects of a State employee’s employment are public record, and those aspects are little more than name, rank, and serial number, to include date of hire and separation and rate of pay.

In my time, the State discouraged supervisors and managers, when asked for a job reference, from giving any information beyond that allowed by AS 39.25.080 and answering whether the person was eligible for being rehired. (A State employee dismissed for cause or who failed a probationary period is not eligible for rehire for a period of time, and in some cases permanently.)

I’ve been gone from State service too long to know more than the most general contours of the Executive Branch Ethics Act in its current incarnation, but if Kendall derived any personal benefit from the mau-mau operation last week, he may well be afoul of it.

As a general matter the Ethics Act does not apply to Democrats. And that is the root of the problem; the hubris of leftists. Whether in DC or Juneau, it is evident that the Left believes that laws do not apply to them.

Kendall is a lawyer. Although I’m told he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, he should have known he was treading close to if not over the edge of illegality with his little show for the Democrats on the State Affairs Committee. The essential fact is that in his arrogance, he thought that for somebody special like him, it was OK to flout the law and throw all sense of courtesy and respect for a nominee out the window.

Courtesy and respect? That’s for the little people.

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. 

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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

  • I for one am going to have difficulty voting for the erstwhile Republicans that enabled this debacle. I look forward to competing candidates.

    • It can easily be traced back to Rep. Knopp in the early days of this legislative session. He set the agenda for the Democrats to take control of the House, even though there are more Republicans in that body. So why do the Republicans like to relinquish control to the Democrats? Maybe a psychiatrist would be best suited to answer that question. At any rate, with Democrats clearly in control, the Democrats will create as much grief and mischief as they can in the legislature. It’s what they do when they dont have full power. And this: where the heck is Tammie Wilson? Elected from North Pole as a Conservative Republican, but playing footsie with the troublemaking Democrats. She seems to have fallen by the wayside and won’t respond to questions. Obviously, she likes her position as Co-Chair of Finance, but she no longer will support the Conservatives. She’s starting to act like Lisa Murkowski.

      • Exactly my thoughts also. What seems to have happened is that we have elected Democrats in Republican clothing. This is a “best practice” of Democrats in a conservative State and we Conservatives need to wake up and and continue to fight for our values.

      • You Sir, are Correct!

        This entire debacle rests on the shoulders of Rep. Gary Knopp, who, like a foolish coward, kept voting against the Republicans in the House.

  • I think the state has an ethics problem. Check out Tom Lamb’s Twitter post. Why is the Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct so compromised? How many bad judges have they covered up for?
    Cayman island bank accounts for those that sit on the commission? Director Marla Greenstein shown to have perjured herself under oath in David Haeg’s case in Judge Morse’s court in January but NOTHING was done about it? What does Greenstein have on Morse?

    A state without an honest judiciary is in trouble. Judges and those that judge the judges should be above reproach.

    https://twitter.com/tlamb775/status/1116904209620750336

  • Art, some of the comments from related articles provide a bit of background. Suggest you read them. In politics, one should also look beyond party. Look at the professional and familial interconnections. Bill Walker ran unsuccessfully for governor as a Republican back in 2010. He claimed residences in Valdez, Fairbanks, and other locations, as well as being a former pipeline worker out of Laborers Local 942. He was mayor of Valdez and an attorney. He was also forging a unique relationship with Fairbanks Democrats, Jim Whitaker and Luke Hopkins both former FNSB mayors. The relationships were all about money and control of a prospective gasline (which was never built). Walker suddenly became an Independent and soon thereafter, a Democrat, a transformation by design. He became governor in 2014 and hand-picked Byron Mallott for the Native vote. Whitaker became COS and Hopkins was appointed to the Gasline Board. Walker’s younger law partner became AG. A governor wants to be surrounded by people he trusts and knows. Apparently it didn’t work so well with Mallott.
    With Scott Kendall, Hopkin’s son-in-law, providing the hatchet on Amanda Price’s confirmation, maybe you can shed some light on the inner dynamics of the hell and brimfire being spewed by Walker Leftovers. What makes these Democrats think they can salvage themselves by continuing the hate?

    • I didn’t fall off the turnip truck this morning and am well aware of the connections. I think Walker and his close associates are nothing but a band of grifters whose primary intent was to get their hands as far in the till as possible. Nobody could be so stupid as to think we were going to bring Alaska gas to market at $10/therm when they’re giving gas away in Texas. Walker and his buddies worked on looting the Treasury for themselves and let the Democrats run amok with the rest of the government.

      • Hindsight is a leg up sometimes, Art. And nobody then (or now) was thinking our gas would be marketed in Texas. And only recently did EXXON give up on its LNG project in BC because of Shell Oil’s beating them to the punch, also in BC.

        • Alaska NG has never been competitive; it has always been vaporware peddled by avaricious politicians.

          For that matter Alaska oil has never been competitive; Alaska oil development is strictly a creature of The Cold War, and were not the infrastructure in place and long ago paid for the North Slope would not be a viable oil province.

          • What a crock, Art. That’s why Alaska Oil Cos. are worth what they are and Alaska has a $70 billion PF and we have been able to live like we do without paying any taxes for the last over 30 years. And that Oil line was overpriced to boot because those Oil Cos. were able to earn a rate of return on their equity plus all the money they borrowed. State got some of that back after suing TAPS but still it shouldn’t have cost that much.

      • Excellent article as always. You and Suzanne sure know where to place the lightening rod. Alaska is in a fight, and much of it is being played-out in editorial sites like MRAK. Thank you, Suzanne.

        btw, when is House Co-Chair of Finance Tammie Wilson going to address the PFD crisis? Is she afraid to discuss this topic openly? She weighs in on trivial issues in her district……but all we hear on the PFD are…….crickets.

  • It is so refreshing to have a writer who can document chapter and verse of violations of Alaska law as opponents of Gov. Dunleavy force this administration to cower in theater of the absurd.

    Chance himself was mau-maued out of joining the Dunleavy slow-roll, you know. Fortunate for readers of mustreadAlaska.com.

    Keep creating a record for voters’ reference when excuses from Juneau are proffered in the next campaign, Art. If this administration has no balls let’s find out now…

  • I wish nothing bu the best for our new governor, BUT…….

    If Mike Dunleavy continues to cave to the radical left in our state, he is going to end up just like Trump, whose bloated ego is always yearning for the approval and acceptance of the Democrats.

    Dunleavy needs to come out swinging with both fists for his appointees, like Amanda Price, who is literately being eaten alive by the Juneau Dems and the Alaska liberal media machine.

    Couple this with an about face on his PFD campaign promise, and he will not be re-elected for a second term.

    The tell will be how he handles the PFD.

  • …. “As a general matter the Ethics Act does not apply to Democrats. And that is the root of the problem; the hubris of leftists. Whether in DC or Juneau, it is evident that the Left believes that laws do not apply to them.”

    That’s the absolute truth! I see / hear that very concept play out everyday. It’s almost a Badge of Honor the Left (Democrats) wears with proud distinction. Yet, there’s no honor in the lack of civility, lack of decorum, lack of courtesy, and/or lack of respect. At best, it clearly demonstrates the Left (Democrats) has a severe lack of character.

    The only way to change this will be to vote them and their kind “out of office.” But, that will require folks to actually show up to vote.

    • Problem is that the elected officials are nothing more than a mirror of their supporters. Thieves elect thieves. Liars elect liars. Stupid elects stupid.

  • I see a lot of complaints about the ethic laws not applying to democrats. Would it not be better to point out where they violated these rules.

    • I can give you a litany of them, but let’s start with Knowles’ Commissioner of Administration Mark Boyer who oversaw connecting the State to the internet. He and people under his direction gave millions of dollars worth of business to Cisco as a part of wiring the State. Then when the crooked SOB got forced out as Commissioner, he went straight to work for Cisco as their governmental lobbyist and took his IT Director at the State with him. I can go on and on, but there is no point in it as you lefties just post things like this stupidly thinking you have some sort of “gotcha.” Democrats lie, the media swear to it, idiots believe it, and that makes it true.

      • You nailed it on Mark Boyer. One of the biggest — I’ve had the displeasure meeting. He misled about his academic credentials and his work experience, yet he finagled his way into the State House and city manager of Fairbanks. He got shoved out of CISCO. His latest gig is selling marijuana in WA state. A trail of girlfriends in Juneau. What a creep!

  • Bravo Art, bravo!

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