Status report: Democrat-led lawsuits, ballot initiatives flood Administration - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, December 7, 2019
HomePoliticsStatus report: Democrat-led lawsuits, ballot initiatives flood Administration

Status report: Democrat-led lawsuits, ballot initiatives flood Administration

It’s been a year since Gov. Mike Dunleavy was sworn into office on Dec. 3, 2018. Just five weeks after his taking the oath of office in Kotzebue, the first lawsuit landed.

It was from an angry Juneau lawyer who, as an “at will” state employee, was released from employment from the Department of Law last December. Libby Bakalar, who also runs a tart Twitter account and now represents pro bono anyone who wishes to sue the governor, has since called for a union for state lawyers like she was, to protect them from a governor who might wish to see them gone.

It didn’t take long for a tsunami of lawsuits to flood the Dunleavy administration, along with ballot initiatives that his political adversaries are using to either ensure he is not in office long, or make it impossible for him to downsize state government. Or deliver on his promise to pay a full Permanent Fund dividend to qualified Alaskans.

Here’s a list, to date, of what leftist have filed in the courts to ensure their vision of a big government, no accountability economy remains viable:

01/10/2019: Bakalar, Elizabeth vs. Dunleavy, Michael J. On Feb. 6, the case was moved to U.S. District Court. The presiding Judge is John W Sedwick, who was once a judge in the Bill Allen corruption trial. The last action in the court was Sept. 17, 2019, an answer to the complaint. This former assistant attorney general was one of the first to be released from the Dunleavy Administration and is suing the governor and his former Chief of Staff Tuckerman Babcock. Bakalar is represented by the ACLU.

The administration’s recent legal response to Bakalar’s lawsuit is linked here:

01/10/2019: Blanford, Anthony and Bellville, John et al vs. Dunleavy, Michael J. On Feb. 6, the case was moved to U.S. District Court, case number 3:2019cv00036. Assigned to Presiding Judge John W. Sedwick, moved to Judge H. Russel Holland. Discovery and other filings are not due until August, 2020, expert witness lists due in April, 2020. Blanford and Belleville, who were both psychiatrists at Alaska Psychiatric Institute, were released after they did not provide a letter saying they wanted to stay on with the administration. Blanford and Bellville are represented by the ACLU.

Blanford has since been hired back by the company brought in to manage API, which was on the verge of total chaos when the Dunleavy Administration assumed office.

05/01/2019: Coalition for Education Equity vs. Dunleavy, Michael; assigned to Judge Yvonne Lamoureux. This case involves an attempt by the Dunleavy Administration to cut funding for education. The case is in the discovery phase with cross motions. Attorneys for the coalition, headed up by the wife of Sen. Tom Begich, are Howard Trickey and Matt Singer. The group, which is funded by State funds that are sent to school districts, and are then given to the group as membership dues, also filed to intervene in a separate case involving school funding.

07/15/2019: Kevin McCoy and Mary Geddes vs. Dunleavy, Michael. These two Anchorage attorneys, self-represented, sued after Dunleavy called a special session in Wasilla. They claim only Juneau can be the site of a special session. The case was assigned to Judge Herman Walker, who recused himself. It was reassigned to Judge Josie Garton, who has ruled that the two have standing and the case may proceed.

07/17/2019: American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska on behalf of Bonnie Jack and John Kauffman vs. Dunleavy, Michael. They are suing over “punitive” cuts to the court system that were made by Dunleavy, which represented less than one percent of the court’s budget. Dunleavy’s rationale was that if the Supreme Court insisted on the State paying for elective abortions with Medicaid funds, then it should come from the court’s administrative budget. The case is assigned to Judge Jennifer Henderson.

[Read: Court will hear case involving court cuts and Medicaid abortions]

07/16/2019: The Alaska Legislative Council vs. Dunleavy, Michael, regarding Fiscal Year 2020 forward funding for education and whether the Legislature can tie up state funds in future years without actually having those funds yet in the treasury, essentially check kiting programs. Assigned to Judge Daniel Schally, the attorney for the Legislative Council is Hillary Martin, and individual legislators against Dunleavy are represented by Gov. Walker Chief of Staff Scott Kendall. On Nov. 21, the final judgment went against the governor, and it was appealed to the State Supreme Court.

10/9/2019: Parker, Kelly S vs. Dunleavy, Michael. The case, assigned to Judge Jennifer Henderson, this involves yet another State attorney who feels she was wrongfully fired by the Dunleavy Administration after she refused to submit a resignation letter. Kelly is represented by the ACLU.

11/04/2019: Rider, Marion et al vs. Dunleavy, Michael. This case involves families of those with relatives in the Alaska Pioneer Home who don’t think the State should have increased the fees for those living in the state-funded homes. The case has been assigned to Judge Trevor Stephens. On Nov. 25, Vance Sanders and Elizabeth Bakalar, attorneys for the Riders, made a motion for a class action certification.

11/05/2019: Recall Dunleavy vs. State of Alaska Division of Elections. Initially assigned to Judge Una Gandbhir, it was reassigned to Judge Jennifer Henderson. Henderson recused herself and the case was reassigned to Judge Eric Aarseth. Attorneys for Recall Dunleavy are Scott Kendall, Jahna Lindemuth, Sam Gottstein, Jeffrey Feldman, and Susan Orlansky. Attorney for State of Alaska is Margaret Paton-Walsh. Attorneys for Stand Tall With Mike are Michael Bruce Baylous, Jamieson Brewster, and Craig Richards.

On Nov. 27, the Recall Dunleavy attorneys filed a motion for the court to accept an “over-length brief” regarding a motion for a summary judgment. The recall group cites 15 offenses that they believe show a recall election should proceed. They are likely betting that the judge will approve at least one of them as legally sufficient, enough to get it on a ballot this year. The Department of Law has until Dec. 16 to respond.

11/14/2019: Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share vs. Meyer, Kevin (lieutenant governor) and the Division of Elections. (See ballot initiative below). The case is assigned to Judge William Morse. Although the pro-tax group was given the state Attorney General’s OK on initiative language, and the Division of Elections director’s approval to begin collecting signatures on the petition for a higher oil tax production, the group disputes a characterization by the Attorney General that the petition language is misleading. The lawsuit was filed by Robin Brena, who heads up the Vote Yes group, and who is the primary funder of the ballot initiative. Brena is former Gov. Bill Walker’s law partner and a long-time advocate for higher oil taxes.

11/20/2019: Denali Nicole Smith vs. Dunleavy, Michael J., Kevin Clarkson, Bruce Tangeman, Anne Weske. Smith is married to a woman in the military. She lives out of state with her wife. Smith claims she was denied a Permanent Fund dividend because of her marital status. The governor and Department of Law dispute that claim and say her check was in process, and that she knew it was in process when she filed the lawsuit. This appears to be a political lawsuit meant to teach the governor some kind of lesson. Caitlin Shortell and Heather Gardner are attorneys for Smith.

Ballot initiatives

19OGTXAn act relating to the oil and gas production tax, tax payments, and tax credits. The group calls it the Fair Share Act, and it seeks to unwind Senate Bill 21, the current governing legislation that determines taxes on oil. Petition booklets have been distributed, and signatures are being gathered. Primary sponsors are Robin Brena, Jane R Angvik, and R Merrick Peirce. Brena is former Gov. Bill Walker’s law partner and Peirce is a Bill Walker colleague from the defunct Alaska Gasline Port Authority. Story here. The group is trying to get the signatures by Jan. 21, to make it onto the a ballot in 2020.

19SEBRAlaska Students’ Educational Bill of Rights. Petition booklets have been distributed, signatures are being gathered. Amy Jo Meiners, Alexander Jorgensen and Rabbi Abram Goodstein are the primary sponsors.

[Read: Education Bill of Rights has no measurable standards]

19AKBEAlaska’s Better Elections Initiative. Petition booklets not yet distributed. The group is seeking to upend Alaska’s election system by eliminating the party-specific primary, creating a “jungle primary,” with “instant runoff” and a ranked voting methodology, and eliminating the ability of citizens to create independently run campaign groups to support candidates or initiatives. This initiative is supported entirely by Outside funders from the East Coast targeting Alaskans to make it easier for Democrats to take control the state.

The lieutenant governor said no to the initiative because it violates the single-subject rule. The group sought to be allowed to collect signatures anyway, while the matter goes through the courts. An Alaskan filed a lawsuit against the lieutenant governor to prevent the distribution of the petition booklets for signatures. The petition books are now out and signatures are being collected.

Attorney for the Better Elections Initiative is former Walker Chief of Staff Scott Kendall and former Walker Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth.

[Read: Lieutenant governor says no to radical election initiative]

More information on some of these lawsuits can be found in an earlier status update from last summer:

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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

  • Clogging the courts with useless Lawsuits is the only way the Left can win. The ballot box has consequences and we are seeing the disgust of the vast majority of the public that want the government out of the way. Limited government contributes to greater gains by all Americans.

    • This isn’t really about clogging the courts with useless lawsuits according to some lefty plot. Some of these suits will be resolved in favor of the Governor and/or State of Alaska. A bunch will not.

      The interesting aspect of many of these disparate suits is how they reflect unbelievably lousy administrative technique on the part of the administration headed by Governor Dunleavy. To a degree that is both obvious and painful to observe, the former Chief of Staff for Governor Dunleavy is responsible for a big pile oft he litigation sketched out in this interesting article due to his inability to conduct administrative matters in an adult fashion. Tuckerman Babcock put Governor Dunleavy in an difficulty in various ways on a near daily basis, a phenomenon that resulted in lawsuits that were not necessary and that happened as a direct result of horrible administrative technique. Babcock was also responsible, in large part, for atrocious communications with the Alaska Legislature, although he shares some of the blame for terrible commuications with Mary Pruett, who is still on the payroll.

      Governor Dunleavy made a mistake putting Babcock in a central position for which he had neither the skill or personality to achieve success. Dunleavy was right to give Babcock the heave-ho but it took too long to get rid of Babcock and the negative results that Babcock spawned will continue inhibiting a respectable and sensible reduction in spending, including consolidation of agencies and cuts that are needed and likely will not happen now given the chaos that is rampant in this administration.
      Oh well …………………………………….

  • This is exactly what they are doing to Donald Trump. Trying to wear him down.

  • Who pays the govs legal defense costs for all these suits?

    • We do

    • The State of Alaska, AKA you, me and all Alaskans.

    • Alaska law declares that the losing party must pay attorneys fees. So if these are truly frivolous it’s a non issue.

      • Not really. The prevailing party can ask for costs and fees and the judge can order the losing party to pay, but they don’t always and rarely order full costs and fees. If a fashionably leftist party prevails at the trial court level against the State, and they usually will, it can get costs and fees and use them to finance the appeal to the SC; that’s how this game works.

  • This just a small list of the folks that got us in the governmental mess we are in….self-centered selfish people with no regard for the public at large or those of us who are paying the bills. The bloated government must be cut to an affordable and working size, and thanks to the Governor a small step in that direction was taken….

  • I don’t think grapes could be more sour than Bakalar’s, et.al. Like I said previously, when leftists lose elections and they have no legitimate recourse to overturn those elections, they resort to frivolous and, many times, absolutely false accusations in the courts. Their lawsuit allegations serve no purpose except impairing the State/federal government process and attempts to nullify election results. One of the left’s most common hopes is that the leftist judiciary is still intact and will support the inane allegations and accusations leveled against all things not leftist/liberal. Time for a change, with penalties involved for deliberately distorting the truth, or just outright lying. The more the left succeeds with their false, deliberate attempts, the more and more outrageous the next attempt will be, to impede the legitimate government process.

    • The State can and in the past has asked for and received costs and fees from plaintiffs. There are provisions for both court and bar sanctions against attorneys representing meritless or frivolous cases but I don’t know of their being actually applied, at least not in any cases I was involved with when I was with the State.

      During my time with the State we pretty routinely asked for costs and fees and often got at least a token amount. Judges seem to get caught up in the unions being disadvantaged in dealing with the big, rich State, but any of the larger unions has a bigger budget than the State’s labor relations section or the Governmental Affairs, or whatever they call it these days, section of the Department of Law.

      While I was there, the State stuck to its guns in insisting on loser pays in grievance arbitrations and the unions have to think twice before risking tens of thousands of dollars on advancing a grievance to arbitration. I loved beating them and sending them the bill for the privilege of being beaten. The arbitrators hated the loser pays and we were one of the few governments that did it, but then were among the few unionized states in which in most administrations the government acted like and employer and expected the union to act like a union rather than a political party. We worked hard at presenting the States position in such a way as to not give an arbitrator an excuse to split the baby or split the bill.

      You never hear about it but at least when I was there the State won the vast majority of grievances that went to arbitration. The State almost never talked about it and never talked about it at all if it involved personal conduct. The unions on the other hand all crow loudly about how the noble union beat the evil State when they win one and of course the geniuses in the media just lap that stuff up. When I became a supervisor in late ’99 I made a commitment that there would not be one of those “noble union saves employee from evil State” headlines on my watch and there wasn’t during my time as a supervisor and later director and for almost ten more years after I retired. After I retired I contracted with the Correctional Officers a couple of times to represent an employee for them and even I couldn’t beat the State. I did give them a pretty good thrashing in an interest arbitration with the no right to strike supervisors though, just to remind them why I was once the boss.

    • I wonder how many other states with Republican Governors are suffering the same attacks through the courts as Gov Dunleavy. Perhaps Susan can investigate. As AK-49 pointed out, it seems to be directly out of the DNC play book.

  • They have a campaign of “lawfare” going Nationwide with the intention of making it impossible for Republicans to be elected and, if elected, make it impossible to govern. It started life as “The Colorado Plan” with the intention of turning Colorado into a Blue state. There was a reason that Comrade Obama’s “Immaculation” was held in Denver. They’ve all but flipped North Carolina and have flipped Virginia, though that is probably attributable to the sprawl of DC as much as to leftist machinations. They were at work with many of the same tactics in the recent Georgia Governor’s election and succeeded with lawfare and Alinskyite tactics in the recent Alabama Senate race. Alaska is ripe. I’m working on a piece detailing the strategy and tactics. I highly recommend the book “The Blueprint” by Adam Schrager and Rob Witwer. I’ll have something out in a few days.

    • Thank you Art ! 🙂

  • This is nothing short of sad. The sense of entitlement is unprecedented and representative government is fading in the rear view mirror.

  • When you challenge the establishment, including everyone who is profiting off the status quo, they will fight back. There is a 70 Billion dollar pot of money that developers, industry leaders, and wealthy elitist families, think belongs to them. They have a sincere contempt for the average Alaskan, a cadre of bought and paid for politicians and an army of sympathetic media working for them. The governor has a few stalwarts in his own party, (only a handful who actually stand with him in the fire) this website, and the majority of Alaskans that voted for him. The latter of which would seem to be enough but time will tell whether they can withstand the onslaught and stay with the candidate who set about to do, what he said he would, when they voted for him.

    • Except that doesn’t really apply here does it? Not unless you think seniors and rural villages are “the elite”. The governor is trying to kick elders out of their homes, he’s leaving coastal communities stranded, he tried to shut off electricity to the villages all while granting no bid contracts to the servants of his corporate masters. The governor represents the status quo. He wants us to believe that he’s fighting for a PFD but he’s actually fighting to privatize public services.
      _
      We could have ferries, universities, electricity, pioneer homes *and* a PFD we had a fair income tax — but Dunleavy’s elitist, corporate masters won’t let that happen. They prefer the status quo.

      • I’ll bet you even went to college to become so pig ignorant.

      • I’ll bet you don’t need sunglasses where your head is at.

      • Oh man you do you need some real education… You’re way off buddy.

      • “Fair Income Tax”
        The Department of Revenue for the State of Alaska has the ability to accept voluntary tax donations from citizens who claim an income tax is all we need to solve our financial problems. Please feel free to donate 10% (or more) of your paychecks/dividends/interest earnings to the government.
        Voluntary Income Tax
        Please feel free to donate and donate often, support your opinion with money.

  • It is amazing all these people have the cash laying around to take up lawsuits & ballot initiatives. My only experience in civil court was a divorce where the harder I fought for my rights the larger the debt I was incuring for my ex’s attorney fees, let alone my own legal fees. Court is a real money suck. Meanwhile, these court cases initiated by people who don’t like election results & changes in policy (sounds familiar) bleed the state (taxpayers & state coffers) budget just to try & get their way. Access to the court system is protected by the Constitution but when it’s used to harass and nullify election ramifications, the process begins to create more division than anything else. The court system can be used to wage a form of legal violence on your opponents when this gets carried too far. If you have the money that’s your right, but people watching may begin to sense when it’s being abused and, come election time, vote to reinforce the governor’s base. I hope so.

    • You know Dave, this could have been written by Don Trump about his legal woes. Heheh!

      • That would be PRESIDENT Trump, and the communists, excuse me, Democrats are running the same campaign of lawfare against him that they are running here in Alaska and in several other states to try to prevent Republican elected officials from being able to govern.

        • Don Trump’s legal issues are because of corruption, on his part, and have nothing in common with what is occurring with Dunleavy. Has nothing to do with Democrats.

          • What color is the sky on your planet?

          • And further Art, due to the Justice Dept. policy of not indicting a sitting president you can bet there will be a bunch more legal issues as soon as he is replaced.

      • One can sure tell when there is a liberal in house…. No one listens lol

    • They’re counting on shopping for trial court judges who’ll perform a great service for the Left in anticipation of electing a Democrat Governor who’ll appoint them to the Court of Appeals or the Supremes. That way, they’ll get awarded costs and fees to bankroll their excellent adventure in lawfare.

  • Yep,
    It sure seems like the people are petitioning the courts for grievances.
    All legal and acceptable protections under our National “justice system”.

    • No, a bunch of activist leftists are shopping for judges that think that doing a great service for the communists, excuse me, Democrats might get them appointed to the Court of Appeals or the SC. And if all else fails, they and their deep state allies in the Department of Law can string everything Gov. Dunleavy wants to do out until the election and maybe the Democrats can steal another election and make things right for their friends. Justice has nothing to do with it.

      • Damn Art,
        Your comment reads like you are writing a cover letter for your new job at Breitbart…

        • Good on you Steve. Art used to be out for “lefties” but that wasn’t working so he’s branched out into “communists.” His bathroom is breeding Bolsheviks, it seems.

  • I’m a huge supporter of Libby Bakalar. <3 Thanks for helping spread the news of her work and initiatives! I am so grateful that you are spreading the news that she has a more-than-informed point-of-view to share and that she can be found online.

    As the former Senior Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Law, where she served the state for more than 12 years and through, what was it, FIVE administrations (both democrat and republican) , she is beyond knowledgable and has Alaskan's interests as her top priority. I've experienced her support in all of my realms of work in Alaska throughout the state (education/ arts /etc) which again serve people of every political party.

    Thank you again for sharing that Libby is speaking up. You know what they say – all press is good press!

    • The fact that she survived all those years and through Republican Administrations is graphic evidence that I retired 13 years ago. Her mouth and her fingers would have gotten her fired years ago if anybody in State government still knew what they were doing and the Walker Junta hadn’t protected her. I’d have really enjoyed firing her for cause, watching her pack her crap in a copypaper box and sadly shuffle out of the building – and I’d have made it stick wherever she might have wanted to appeal it to. The only thing that would have saved her butt is electing a Democrat governor, and that’s really what she’s hoping for now. Unless Law tanks the case, and they’ve been known to do that, the State wins this and she becomes a broke footnote.

      • Hi – mentioning Libby’s mouth and her fingers is just off-putting at best. Maybe stick to your retirement and not commenting like a firecracker behind a computer screen to most of the comments on this one little blog. You sound like you’re having a hard time – spending energy on writing imaginary details of firing someone in the past and predicting the future with the caveat that you may be incorrect. I feel for you and hope you can find some peace and energy to add to something to better the community around you. I appreciate that Libby has done that for me and those in my realm of work more times than I can count.

        • Aren’t you the sensitive little snowflake?
          She speaks with her foul mouth and types with her undisciplined fingers; what were you thinking I was referring to?

          Don’t worry about me; I don’t need anything from mind-numbed lefties.

          • Those who know me have never called me sensitive in my life! So thank you. That is a new one. I understood what you were talking about – but the style and approach to your words is simply unproductive … as further exemplified by name-calling & defining me, a person you don’t know one thing about. As a person who isn’t sensitive, it doesn’t bother me. As an observant person , I notice that your commentary starts with valueless descriptions, demeaning words, and unfounded definitions (again – you’ve confirmed this by now including defining me, and I know you know not one thing about me). Don’t worry – I am not worried about you! I merely work to find hope for those who spend time using absolutes towards people and topics they don’t know about. Anyway, happy to take the attention if that means you’re not directing it elsewhere.

        • Yep,
          Everyone that doesn’t agree with “SC” should just shut up and stay home. That’s the typical leftist attitude. If you don’t obey, expect harsher comments/actions against you and your opinion.

          • well ben , your words, not mine. my work is in dialogue and education which never includes telling anyone to shut up or stay home. and you’ve labeled me as a ‘leftist’ without knowing me, which is fine, but uninformed. I’m not sure if your comment is telling me to obey (?) or someone eles… but I dont really see any need to threaten someone that you dont know with ‘actions’. It is this great country that allows us to hold different opinions…surely we could agree on that!

        • Maybe you need a time out. Your a very angry little person passing judgment about those around you don’t even know… Typical liberal

          • karaboo…in all sincerity, i am not sure who you are referring your comment to…? i truly do not.

  • Libby Bakalar for governor. It’s good to know that when bullies like Dunleavy try to kick elders out on the street that someone is wiling to stick up for those who can’t defend themselves. And to do it for free!

    • Wow. That’s about it. Adam is a Bakalar sycophant. Oh well, birds of a feather……..I’ll bet ole Adam wants a “job” in Bakalar’s admin.

      • Living your principles is a way to impress me. Bakalar is working for free when you could be charging thousands. She could be working for the well paying elite but instead she is defending people who can’t afford her services.
        _
        Messing with elders is just wrong. We made them a promise – if you work hard and leave a legacy we will take care of you when you can’t take care of yourself. The governor is breaking that promise.

        • Adam,
          Well said…
          I for one can think of a few more cases that should be evaluated by a non partisan judiciary.
          These right wing trolls are all bought and paid for with oil bucks and Alaska is becoming a “Vassal State” as we allow a single industry to gain a larger voice than all the great residents who call this place home.

          • Steve,
            If what you say is true, me being a “right wing troll”, I sure haven’t received my share of the “Vassal State” reward for my opinion and I don’t expect to. All people aren’t democrats that expect to be paid for everything with someone else’s money. You’re spouting nonsense. That ‘single industry’ you’re badmouthing is the life blood of a state with limited residents and gov’t income from other sources. That “Vassal State” income is irreplaceable for Alaska. As far as a “non-partisan” judiciary, let us know when you find one. They’re pretty rare now days. Leftism seems to have claimed more than their fair share. I’m ‘sure’ you want everyone to have a fair shake, no matter their political leaning. Right?

          • Agreed. I’m glad that our judiciary is still functioning in this state.
            _
            And I also have hope that things are about to turn around. Once the delaying tactics are over the governor will be impeached and sanity will be restored.

  • This is a good reminder of what a crappy governor Dunleavy has been. He is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait until he’s recalled.

    • You need to get some glasses or get educated. Dunleavy is doing what we elected him for. You have to be a state employee or getting a free ride off of the state.

    • Maybe you haven’t seen but nothing is going to recall the Governor… And what elect one of your trolls? Not a chance… GO DUNLEAVY!!!!

  • I agree with Joe Geldof that Big Mike could have done a much better job of public relations or done a better job of administering his vision or mandate. However I dissagree with my esteemed Legal Pal that the lack of tact on Babcock’s part alone was the impetus for this doo-doo storm of litigation. The simple truth is these folks who dash off to court have zero respect for the outcome of an election

    • Every one of these lawsuits have an issue that the plaintiff feels violates a particular law. Has nothing to do with any election, either. You seem to think they are all frivolous-just wait for the decisions. Heheh!

  • You neglected to mention that Robin Brena is also Clarkson’s former law partner. But that doesn’t really fit your agenda does it?

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