Michael Tavoliero: Alaska needs a constitutional convention

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By MICHAEL TAVOLIERO

Are you voting for the Constitution Convention?

Or have you been swayed by the fear-mongering of the so-called “Defend our Constitution” group?  

Have you been exposed to their arguments that a constitutional convention will be “dangerous and expensive?”

Let’s address their point of view, shall we?

They are telling us that a constitutional convention would draw in “an unprecedented amount of outside special interest groups and dark money to change Alaska’s laws to promote their own agendas, and make Alaska a guinea pig for national political agendas”. It is plainly displayed on their “Defend Our Constitution” website, www.defendakconstitution.com.

They also tell us it’s expensive, in fact, an unnecessary expense, of possibly $17 million.

I can’t help but wonder if Alaska voters will fall for this and other fear mongering exaggerations as we did with Ballot Measure 2 and the Bill Walker gubernatorial election. The consequences of the former have yet to be fully realized and the latter gave us Senate Bill 91, a total Alaska criminal law revision, through former state Senator John Coghill, who had to pass it before he read it, and Senate Bill 26 a percent of market value, or POMV, draw from the Earnings Reserve Account, which butchered the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend Program.

But my argument is that our own Legislature cost us almost a quarter of a billion dollars in four years, and they have been relatively useless. A constitutional convention will be an opportunity for the citizens of Alaska to participate in an historic process to fix the things that are really wrong with our constitution, right the ship, and send a message to all political elite that we won’t stand for the status quo when it benefits so few.

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, Alaskan voters will have the incredible opportunity to decide whether to approve a constitutional convention. Alaska’s political elite currently enjoy the benefits of government the way it is. The fear-mongering is just a smoke screen to hide this fact, create an artificial crisis and use their special interests and dark money to perpetuate it. Don’t buy it.

Here’s an example of how things can go wrong with our current constitution in place:

A day before the U.S. House of Representative special election voting ended, the Alaska Human Rights Commission (AHRC) got an Alaskan Superior Court judge to rule that the State of Alaska cannot certify this mail-in election because the Division of Elections did not provide an adequate way for blind people to vote privately in all areas of the state.

Fortunately, the Alaska Supreme Court overruled this opinion on the day voting ended, but still, I can’t help but wonder why a state agency couldn’t have gotten things settled prior to the cost of litigation and, more importantly, was the intention of this litigation aimed at adversely impacting the special election?  Just another smoke screen hiding their real intentions?

For me, it marked another instance of state bureaucracy weaponization using a government agency to restrict its constituency. This was an action designed to upset our constitutional process as well as potentially deprive the Alaska voters of equal protection under the law.

Personally, I see the constitutional convention as an exciting opportunity for the constituency to come together as a state to decide what changes to the constitution are needed. I also think the attempt by a state agency, AHRC, to subvert the special election is another reason why a constitutional convention is timely and necessary.

When considering an Alaska constitutional convention, here are some things to think about:

One important distinction is its delegate membership composition. A constituent assembly, another name for a constitutional convention, signifies that the delegate composition is chosen from our Alaskan constituency and not necessarily from our legislature. 

Our state constitution is the foundation of Alaska’s public policy. But what is public policy?

Because “public policy” is such a general term, both the Alaska Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court have avoided giving it any specific definition.

From my perspective, public policy is either top-down or bottom-up government.

In other words, does Alaska’s constitution promote public policy as government restricting its people? Or the people restricting their government? 

When you think of a constituent assembly, do you agree that its main goal must be a thorough discussion on the strong constitutional protection of the principles of limited government and that these principles include the preservation of individual rights and the maintenance of strong legal constraints on our state government’s size and scope?

Given the past decades of state government operations, do you have faith in the people operating our government institutions?

Do you think Alaskans have lost faith in the constitutional mechanisms which maintain our government’s operations? 

Does our state constitution conflict with our U.S. Constitution?

Does Alaska’s public policy encourage or restrict growth?

Did you know our state constitution was fashioned by a majority of FDR New Deal Democrats who wanted to construct a model utopian state during a time when the expansion of government control and power was the goal of the federal government?

How’d they do?

I can’t for the life of me understand why a constituent assembly is so dangerous, unnecessary, and expensive outside of disturbing the political elite’s self-interest and selfishness to maintain power and control over the wealth of our state, one of the greatest undeveloped natural resource development communities in the world.

If we as a state had from statehood educated our children in civics, our state constitution, and our US Constitution, would we be having these fears and doubts now? Unfortunately, having already deprived our children of a sound civics education, we find Alaska’s political elite now condescend and patronize Alaskans with yet another crisis.

It seems to me that a repetitive 10-year event with our citizenry educated in this manner would be something to look forward to. 

Their sole intent is to continue to control the money and the power in this state through fear and artificially created crises.

Crisis is the rallying cry of the tyrant.” James Madison

A constitutional convention is necessary.

Michael Tavoliero is a realtor in Eagle River, is active in the Alaska Republican Party and chaired Eaglexit.

Jodi Taylor: Private school, state reimbursement, and family choice is available to parents in Alaska

Michael Tavoliero: Education and the public purpose

21 COMMENTS

  1. A constitutional convention is necessary and being demanded by voters.

    I agree 1,000%.
    IF we fail in this effort — we give up our future

  2. Who will be the delegates to this convention??? Tom Begich or his establishment loved nephew Nick (supported by the liberal Koch brothers)? How about Revak or Stutes?
    Do you think the same population that continuously votes for politicians that spend our PFD will suddenly wise up and vote for someone different for a convention delegate?
    How did the change in election system vote go?????
    Are you that oblivious or just obtuse?

    If you want to change the constitution, amend it.

    • Study the US Constitution. It will answer your Questions. Age 35, of sound mind, of good character from the district being presented. Same type guy you would trust to be President this country. How did you do with that last time?

  3. You can tell quickly that an individual is being dishonest.

    They leave out the steps of the process.
    They skip over the parts where it can go wrong.
    They sugar coat the bad parts.

    A constitutional convention gives the legislature an eraser and pen to make changes and leaves the people no way to keep them in check.

    The people may get to vote to initiate the process, but then they are left out.

  4. If a constitutional convention were to be held, no then current or former legislator should be allowed as a delegate….IMO

  5. It’s apparent to me that the ONLY way to reel in rampant overreach of government at both the state and federal level is via constitutional convention. Leaving these needed restrictions to government power will never ever be implemented by “well intentioned elected officials”.

  6. Ask Scott Kendall & Bill Walker about outside money and they fear it for the Constitutional Convention but loved it for BM2. Complete hypocrisy. Let the people regain ownership of our Constitution. Vote yes for convention!

  7. Imagine the current leftist majority legislature let loose on our constitution. I know the delegates will be different people but it’s a good reflection of the type that Alaska would elect. The PFD will be removed and socialism will be ordered. It is absurd to assume that a convention will have a good outcome

  8. All good arguments, Michael!
    .
    And as you say, it is noteworthy that all the shrieking and hysteria against a constitutional convention is coming from those most beholden to the power of the state (and federal) government, and most threatened by any alteration or diminution of that power, and therefore their power.
    .
    The more they rant and wail against a CC, the more I am inclined to think it a good idea.

  9. Excellent, Michael. The Alaska Constitutional Convention is an opportunity for us to return control back to Alaskans. The big Outside money is fighting the Convention to retain their control. Passing a new Constitution that puts the people back in charge is needed.

  10. A Constitutional Convention would be overrun the party of grievance. All the rude, loud and disrespectful conservative citizens would bitch about vaccine mandates but would support a pregnancy mandate; they’d want to burn books; they’d try to wedge Jesus or God into the document somehow; it would certainly be an anti-gay and probably covertly racist spectacle. No thanks. There is already a process to amend the constitution that’s good enough.

  11. I’m all for a constitutional convention. BUT and you’ll notice it’s a big but, if we are to have any real hope of actually having one we need to get a very coherent and sellable message out right now.

    Nay-saying the other side is not going to be enough to get us there. We have to offer the other side a good reason for them to want one as well ….

    • Bob, they will scream for a clause that enshrines a right to murder babies in the womb – and the “compromise” that will result will be something like defining “life” as beginning with the heartbeat, or the presence of the babies blood, or even with the first breath. They will not settle for defining life as beginning at conception. That issue is enough to get the left on board with a Constitutional Convention, but they won’t stop with enshrining abortion.

  12. Well said Michael. I have some trepidations regarding such a convention, because I do not have so much faith that most people will do the right thing – human nature is to be self-centered, not community centered. However, things have gotten so bad in both our politics and public policy – admittedly reflecting the increasing depravity of our cultures – bearing appearance of unfathomable corruption – that something must be done, or we lose the State of Alaska and our Nation. Truth needs to be held in high esteem once again. At this point, I believe the Constitutional Convention is worth the risk.

  13. Cathy Giessel and John Coghill both opposed a ConCon. And look where it got them. The voters will APPROVE! Good piece, Michael.

  14. A Constitution convention will not eliminate the hunger for power, the greed for money, or the corruption of justice. NAY on a Constitution convention.

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