SOME QUIT EARLY, DURING A DISASTER
With Gov. Mike Dunleavy taking office at 12:01 pm on Monday, dozens of people were laid off from mainly upper-level management positions with the old administration.
It was “situation normal” for a transition. Some people were kept, such as Janice Mason, the scheduler for the governor, who served under Gov. Sean Parnell and Gov. Bill Walker, handling their scheduling needs. She’s as close to the heat as one can get in politics, but she was retained. Tara Fradley, who manages the Anchorage office, was said to be retained, although she may move into a different capacity.
Others, such as commissioners, were released from service. The old chief of staff is gone, and a new one has taken over.
The mainstream media reacted as if it was a Monday afternoon massacre.
But in fact, just 95 state workers were let go.
When Bill Walker became governor in 2014, that number was 90.
But the mainstream media had little curiosity about the layoffs back then. It was not a story because it is a normal condition. Why it’s a story now? The media has revealed its bias by choosing to focus on the number of people, but not what happened in the last days of the Walker Administration.
What was not normal is that two of the top public safety officers in the state — the heads of Public Safety and Corrections — quit their posts early, in the middle of a declared disaster.
Department of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan and Deputy Commissioner Bill Comer quit their jobs on Friday in the middle of the biggest emergency the state has faced since the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake. The 7.0 earthquake that hit just after the start of business was a major safety concern.
Rather than stay on their jobs through the weekend and until the end of the Walker Administration on Monday, they called it quits on Friday. The earthquake aftermath would not be their problem over the weekend.
They left in charge the acting head of the State Troopers, Andrew Greenstreet, who by all counts is a competent leader. He stayed on the job and no-doubt had his hands full.
Commissioner of Corrections Dean Williams also left early. Williams quit immediately after the earthquake, choosing to not work through the weekend to secure damaged prisons and other corrections facilities.
Williams left Acting Deputy Commissioner Jacob Wyckoff in charge. Wyckoff was then said to leave for Hawaii on a planned vacation.
Meanwhile, several of the corrections facilities in Southcentral sustained significant damage. Some may need to be closed.
And yet, those jobs are not truly vacant. They are filled by acting commissioners who have stepped in after the commissioners quit early.
The former Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth tendered her resignation effective noon on Monday. The person in charge became Ed Sniffen, who was Deputy Attorney General and now serves as acting attorney general until someone new is named. The top position is not empty, as stated by the ADN.
Lindemuth was attorney general for the past 18 months. Before that, Craig Richards was AG for Walker. Gov. Sean Parnell also had two attorneys general — first was Dan Sullivan, followed by Michael Geraghty, who served for two years.
ANNOUNCEMENTS ON WEDNESDAY
Gov. Mike Dunleavy will announce the new commissioners for Public Safety, Corrections and the new Attorney General on Wednesday at about 11 am. Check back with Must Read Alaska for the details. These are the final cabinet appointments to be made.
On Monday, Dunleavy announced that Doug Vincent-Lang is the new commissioner of Fish and Game.
800 “exempt” or “partially exempt” employees were asked to send in their letters of resignation, and to indicate if they wanted to keep serving in the new administration. All but about 30 submitted their letters before the deadline on Friday.