Valdez mayor unhappy with Dunleavy, calls for resignation - Must Read Alaska
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Valdez mayor unhappy with Dunleavy, calls for resignation

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The Mayor of Valdez is distraught with Gov. Michael Dunleavy’s budget proposal, believing the State’s $1.6 billion fiscal gap can be fixed if the governor would simply resign.

In a caustic missive posted on Mayor Jeremy O’Neil’s Facebook page on Saturday, the official from Valdez called the Dunleavy budget a “lesson in fiscal tyranny, malpractice and folly.”

Alaska’s most recent governor was from Valdez, and was popular in the wealthy oil terminal town, where the average household income is more than $90,000.

O’Neil, who was a big Bill Walker supporter over the years, is still nursing a wound from Walker’s devastating loss in 2018, when he only got 2 percent of the vote statewide, and fewer than 50 votes from his hometown in Prince William Sound, which was one of his strongholds.

O’Neil’s letter is a cannon shot from Valdez over Gov. Dunleavy’s bow, yet it’s unclear if he’s speaking in his official capacity on behalf of the whole city, or as an unelected Alaskan.

“Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined a more paternalistic, uninspired or destructive response, from our State’s highest official,” O’Neil wrote.

“My own family has weathered the economic ups and downs in this State over several generations, and it goes without saying that stewardship at the State level has brought us to the crossroads we find ourselves today. I appreciate and sympathize with the difficult fiscal road ahead of us. Nevertheless, your proposal turns Alaskans against each other, picks massive winners and losers, and turns the hard-fought gains of over 50 years of statehood into an ash heap of lost time and opportunities. Yours is a lesson in fiscal tyranny, malpractice and folly.

“You campaigned on a platform of little details and massive promises. A child’s story speaks of a village with a huge rat problem. One day a “savior” came to town with a solution to solve their infestation. We know, as that story goes, when the Pied Piper was dissatisfied with his compensation, he ran off with the village’s most precious asset, their children. I’m struggling to see how your vision of the future is not paralleled by the moral of the Pied Piper’s story. In legal circles we call this fraud in the inducement. Many of my close friends and family chose to, “vote you in, to figure out what you’re all about,” and now that we know, it’s time for you to go.

“The nightmare proposal of SB 57 is a State power grab, wrapped in a malignant cost shift, wrapped in the age old government fallacy of “we know what’s good for you, better than you do.” You would expect such tactics from extremists who ultimately turn their citizens into beggars. Mr. Dunleavy, never in the history of our state has this worked. Creating a structure of massive losers to fill budget gaps, creates division, implants fear, and hurts everyone,” O’Neil wrote.

SB 57 would repeal the authority of Valdez to keep its municipal tax on the pipeline property that goes through the community. It’s doubtful that O’Neil would be so vigorous in his wrath if not for this piece of legislation.

Currently, the town of 3,862 people gets $38.4 million from taxing the Trans Alaska Pipeline, which goes through the community. That’s a tax on oil property that gives the city nearly $10,000 of services per resident.

The Valdez total revenue is $54,551,110, or more than $14,000 per resident. Because it is so rich, it has an enviable quality of life with many good-paying public jobs.

For comparison, the City and Borough of Juneau’s budget is about $10,500 per resident.

No city wants to give up its local oil tax and share it with other communities, so this will be a battle royale for communities such as Valdez and the North Slope Borough, which will fight back against SB 57, as they seek to keep taxes on pipeline properties for local uses.

O’Neil’s letter shows the passion with which communities will fight:

“Mr. Dunleavy, make no mistake, your vision hits the poor & vulnerable the hardest. I am open to change my opinion, but as of right now, I can’t bear to see anymore destruction. Please resign. Good day,” he concluded.

O’Neil is open to changing his opinion.

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Written by

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

  • Shock and Awe!!

  • Reality sets in!!

  • The Valdez mayor is of little consequence and whatever he says on this subject is of no matter. What he says can do hurt the city he supposedly represents. The residents there should be quite concerned by his comments. A more prudent course would be to wait and see.

    • “Wait and see”?? That’s what trump supporters said. What a mess! Dunleavy neglected to tell people he was going to cut programs that support children, seniors, and people with disabilities during his campaign. Instead, he bought people’s votes with his stupid PFD promises. Wait and see what? He’s shown where his loyalties lie, and it’s not with Alaskan people.

      • Jan: turn in your PFD and contribute to your favorite state agency or state program. Tell your Democrat friends to do the same thing. And don’t be a hypocrite

      • Exactly, Jan!

      • Well Jan, it seems that a majority of Alaskans disagree with you. The new governor is doing something that many politicians don’t. He is keeping his promises that he made to those who elected him. What was stupid was Walker’s unilateral taking of the PFD. He did not need to take that action and it served no one. Especially those in rural Alaska who really benefit from the money. What was stupid was his abusive spending on a gas pipeline to nowhere. The nearly half billion in overall spending for his pipe dream cost Alaska dearly. What was stupid was his treatment of people. Example: his appointment of an extremely well qualified woman to the Court in Juneau, only to call her back later and unappoint her because he did not like he argument she made “representing” a client. And what is stupid is a Mayor of a city that depends on State aid making reckless personal attacks against the Governor.

        • It’s not State Aid, it’s property tax that belongs to VALDEZ. Now the state wants it as their aid.

          • BS Mable. The whole concept of property tax is base corruption. The only just method of extraction of funds for government is through “user fee” which is a free will exchange between provider and consumer. I would hope, yet doubt that you could be awakened from the matrix of evil that surrounds you. If you can, then bang the drum and wake some more! Don a yellow vest and proclaim your mind emancipated from usury! Or… go back to sleep….

        • Alaskans First,
          Although I agree with you on the Chinese pipeline boondoggle, I do not see this administration ending spending on future “pipeline planning”…
          Hence Sean Parnell is hired with a six figure salary to lead further “planning” efforts.
          This has gone on for over 12 years without breaking ground or creating ANY new jobs for ANY of the “average” Alaskans.
          As for Governor Dunleavy’s promises…
          You wrote:
          “He is keeping his promises that he made to those who elected him.”
          Not really buying that one as I never believed we would see a $6,700.00 PFD.
          If he (the governor) wishes to bring “trust” in government, then he should focus on ALL of his campaign promises.
          I am all for budget cuts, but we all know that the real “Red Elephant” in the room is Donna Arduin and her GOP super pac agenda.
          Want to “shore up” that budget, well the $1.2 Billion in tax credits to the global Oil producers is a good way to start, not the poorest of Alaskans who already live well below the national poverty level.
          Crippling those most vulnerable will only increase more property crime on homeowners, something our crime ridden communities cannot afford.

  • AND(!!!) … We’re in this fiscal calamity because of a history of insessant inattention to responsibly managing the size of State government, wildly overspending beyond responsible means, and making unrealistic promises. So, Mr. O’Neil is of the opinion that more of that recklessness and disregard for common sense, logic and reason is going to improve State finances. NOW, who exactly is it that is demonstrating … “FISCAL TYRANNY, MALPRACTICE AND FOLLY” (possibly Mr. O’Neil)?
    I ‘highly’ recommend Dunleavy & Arduin to quickly move forward and make the cuts, the Departments will learn to change, adapt and eventually overcome. At least that’s what the private sectors has to do, why not State government?

  • He looks like a dweeb. What do you expect, coming from Valdez, town of Alaska’s most crooked governor and attorney general, ever. Oh, I guess they were law partners in Valdez. Nuff said.

  • Mayor Jeremy O’Neil is Valdez’s AOC!

  • “my close friends & family, ‘chose to vote you in, to figure out what you’re all about’ “, sounds a whole lot like, “we need to pass this bill to see what’s in it !!!”

  • The lack of introspection here is positively phenomenal. Valdez is greedy for taxing the oil companies and benefiting from the APL? So are Delta, FNSB, and NSB? Look in the mirror folks. Many are bitter hateful hypocrites and your fuming is actually counterproductive to accomplishing anything. That will suit you as the wreckage and “betrayal” by cooler heads will confirm your worst angels.

    The resistance mounting against Dunleavey is going to be broad, deep and we’ll earned. Dividing Alaskans in the manner marked out in this piece is mean-spirited and counterproductive.

    You can’t beat everyone. You can’t bully everyone and you’re going to look stupid trying to. You’re a ridiculously vocal minority and your Governor didn’t run on this level of nonsense. You aren’t the only ones counting 120 days.

  • More dribbling idiocy trying to legitimize itself via the Zuckerberg Gazette…
    Either that, or misguided voters who fail to understand the blessings which the Valdezian Economic Theory has wrought in Valdez and Venezuela clearly need to be reeducated in compliance with Peoples Mayor Jeremy O’Neil’s Sacred Facebook Scripture.
    Which is it, Gentle Readers?

  • The “Unorganized Borough” of Delta has been without taxing since the pipeline was built and has been enjoying the oil royalties all these years. Lets look at the unorganized boroughs in this state and spread the responsibility to all. The budget would work better and pay out more evenly.

    • Delta enjoying oil wealth ? If you meen the little pittance of revenue sharing then no big deal. It can go away. Do some research before you toss uninformed words

      • I lived there for a number of years……. Delta gets lots of federal funds…lots of breaks being an unorganized borough, lots of funds from the state on lands and development. It is a tourist pass through, its has a technical school funded by the state and federal funds and grants. It has no taxes due to unorganized status but you have a larger military presence ($) and one that will get bigger when all air hangars are full of the fighting jets. You have the pipeline that has stations and personnel along the way and living in Delta. You have the retired military there. They have an opportunity to have additional grant and loan funds to start businesses. So, where have you been when you look at the panorama in Delta? Get your head out of the Pot Patch and look at reality. The royalties were rolling in since the time of the pipeline being finished (1975) and are still enjoyed there today.

  • Well at least he didn’t call him a Racist. Other than that pretty standard fair for neo-Marxists and other assorted red diaper doper babies.

  • What do you, the author and reader, expect when the state wants to take 80% of Valdez’s revenues? I’m glad Jeremy stuck up for those who will be hurt most. Spread the cuts out, man. And the facts on Walker are just plain ignorant to the fact he dropped out of the race.

    • Walker dropped out of the race because he was intrinsically linked to the (deleted) Byron Mallott, coupled by the fact that he was going to have his (deleted) handed to him by the voters on November 6th. Walker was a crook, a Big Government Man, a liar to his constituency, surrounded by crooked henchmen, a user of state resources, a rogue governor…want more? btw, where are your heros??? Walker, Mallott, Walker’s
      Chief of Staff Jim Whitaker? All ran away hoping the truth never catches up to them.. Go have another drink…..Mabel. Or go smoke some more pot.

  • Whobis this Mr. O’Neal? Oh the mayor of Valdez? Well no he does not speak for all of us here in Valdez. Perhaps Mr. O’Neal has some actual input on what should be done to close the deficit. No most people didn’t vote for Dunleavy for the dividend promise and if they did they probably shouldn’t be voting. But it is so easy to back seat drive instead of actually doing something. Reminds me of Dems in Washington…

  • The budget is like a diet. You know you need to go on it but don’t want to do the sacrifice. Just like your excess weight, it didn’t happen overnight.
    Everyone knows we have to get the budget under control, but no one is willing to let some of the cuts happen to their money.
    Wake up people, if your checking account functioned the government, you would be
    In jail.

  • Governor Dunleavy has made a variety of mistakes in his budget proposal but one he has NOT made is seeking to end the abuse of petroleum property taxes by local governments. The smug Mr. O’Neil makes me sick.

  • I think it would be funny to see the reactions here if the Federal Government proposed a bill like SB57 with an eye towards closing the National debt. Of course they would take away all of the participating money as well. Donald Trump could go out and make fun of Dunleavey and compare him to Maduro and we could all laugh at what a weaselly socialist we have for a governor as we face the abject ruin of our state government as services would necessarily drop to ZERO. It would be the fiscally conservative thing to do and it’s past time that Alaska lives within its means and stop counting on Uncle Sam’s credit card.

    SB57 isn’t the budget and it’s DOA especially since the fishing communities realize that local fisheries taxes will be the next ox to be gored. Has anyone done a head count to find out if the Governor has enough Senators in the Republican Senate to get this passed? Or maybe he’s just planning on getting a bunch of Republican Senators on the record and in hot water when this thing goes down in flames in the House?

  • I won’t be visiting Valdez anytime soon. With such vitriol coming from a Mayor who favors money over fiscal responsibility, it’s no wonder many are looking to expose him for what he is … a butt-kissing, drooling lap-dog of Walker’s crooked regime.
    I’m from the Interior (Tok) and the PFD helps me and my family pay for the high cost of energy (diesel-powered generators). If its about his (O’Neil) precious oil-tax revenues, I’m totally with Dunleavy on restructuring the kitty and fixing our State’s indebtedness.
    In past trips to Valdez during summer months, I’ve spent hundreds of dollars for everything. Not any more. I hope many others will reconsider different places to go in this great State that is now under attack by greedy and treasonous legislators.

  • been here 20 years , i live in Mayberry Alaska ( CORDOVA ) I know where heaven is and i didnt have to die to get here . there is change coming , its not good for this community or any other remote alaskan community served by the State operated, ALASKA MARINE HIGHWAY. There is no way a private operator could represent and promote this GREAT state as the exhisting system does. leave it alone.
    make some small changes but with a 75% reduction, might as well call it 100% . BE REAL , DONT BE STUPID. PLEASE !

  • I suppose we won’t have any more pink sidewalks with halibut pictures anymore… Valdez Alaska is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, the town of my Birth and terribly miss managed… Just take a gander at the city budget… Google Valdez Alaska Municipal Budget…

  • The majority of local and state leaders as well as public sector employees don’t really care about what happens in the future to Alaska because they will be retired living in a no state income tax state like so many others in the country do. They are selfish and just want what they want and couldn’t care less about what happens to Alaska.

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