People news: Human Rights vice-chairman resigns - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, October 15, 2019
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People news: Human Rights vice-chairman resigns

Marcus Sanders, a commission member of the Alaska Commission for Human Rights, has resigned from the commission, Must Read Alaska learned today.

Sanders has accepted a position with the Department of Labor that will have him advocating for employment of  disabled Alaskans. It creates a conflict of interest, he said.

“I will be working with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation staff to coordinate our efforts to help Alaskans with disabilities find competitive and gainful employment,” Sanders said.

The Alaska State Commission for Human Rights enforces the Alaska Human Rights law, and has seven commissioners who are appointed by the governor, and a staff that carries out the investigations that are brought to it. Sanders served in the capacity of vice chairman, after being appointed by Gov. Michael Dunleavy earlier this year.

The commission has had a tumultuous year, after its former executive director was accused of violating the free speech rights of a contractor who had parked his truck in the parking lot of the building where the Human Rights Commission offices are located in Anchorage.

The truck had a “Black Rifles Matter” sticker on it, and former Executive Director Marti Buscaglia through a colleague had a note placed on the truck telling the owner to remove it from the parking lot, due to what she said was an “offensive” sticker. The owner of the truck took the matter to social media, and the event became a national story.

[Read through the Black Rifles Matter archive at Must Read Alaska]

After Buscaglia was disciplined, she quit and most of the commission also resigned, allowing Dunleavy to replace most of the governing board. The commission then hired Marilyn Stewart as executive director but then released her after less than a month.

The commission is currently without an executive director and has six of seven commissioners, now that Sanders has resigned.

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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

  • Wind down this commission and transfer authority to investigate and prosecute discrimination claims to the Attorney General’s Office.

  • Joe, I agree. I’ve noticed that these types of Boards are a cupboard where various political supporters can be placed for pay-off and or support of one’s agenda.

    Reduce the size and scope of Government and you just might save some $ along the way. Perhaps if the $ from this and other silly commissions were delegated to the AG’s office, the State might be able to prosecute REAL human rights abuses, like child molestation and Rape!

  • The scope of this commissions work is investigating discrimination in context of housing and employment.
    Transfer those duties to the the AG’s office with some funding and save the rest that supports a bloated bureaucracy.

    • Joe, I appreciate your sentiment, but commissioners are cheaper than attorneys…

      • Rich, are commission members really cheaper than attorneys?
        One is a political appointment the other an officer of the court with a delegation of authority to enforce law. Beyond the obvious logistical and clerical support budgeting of one more commission, is the damage that can occur to one’s liberties.

      • A lawyer or two, an investigator and a clerk are all that is needed to enforce the law. The commission budget is way beyond the costs of these posit.

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