Wielechowski lawsuit was pure political theater





Sen. Bill Wielechowski’s dog and pony show is over: The Alaska Supreme Court slapped him around a bit in his lawsuit against Gov. Bill Walker for his veto of $666.4 million from Alaskans’ Permanent Fund dividends.

That loss was predictable because the whole thing was just playing for the people in the cheap seats. He never had a real chance.

I started writing this after the decision, and then let it simmer while I absorbed comments in Pravda and social media; it got dumber by the minute leading me to believe that Alaska’s primary problem is not revenue, it is ignorance; most Alaskans simply do not know enough about our civic affairs to participate intelligently in our government.

Wielechowski’s suit was just a play for the poor and the stupid.

I know him, dealt with him as a union rep; I don’t like him, and he’s far from the sharpest stick in the stack, but he isn’t dumb enough to think this lawsuit was anything other than a dog and pony show.

The only thing I can figure is that he thought he could keep this going into the election season; maybe he thought he could be the hero of the poor or maybe he thought he’d just keep the game going.

I don’t really think he was dumb enough to think he could win this case; you’d have to be really dumb to think that.

Somebody can enlighten me, but I can’t think of a single case in Alaska history in which the Alaska Supreme Court held that some statutory enactment was “self-appropriating;” that the existence of a statutory program obligated the State to fund that program even if the Legislature didn’t appropriate funds.

Since Wielechowski is owned, a made man, by the unions, he of all people should understand this.

It has been the union complaint since the Public Employment Relations Act was enacted in 1972 that the Legislature had appropriation authority over the monetary terms of a labor agreement with the State. That meant that the union had to own both the Governor and the Legislature to get a sweetheart deal.

The unions didn’t like that and have fought it ever since.

The essence of this is that no public funds can be disbursed except pursuant to an appropriation by the Legislature.

While the dividend enabling language says how the funds are to be apportioned, they must still be appropriated by the Legislature in order for the Executive Branch to disburse the funds.

Therefore, if there is a legislative appropriation, the Governor has the authority to line item veto some or all of that appropriation. That is all the Alaska Supreme Court said: The dividend is the same as any other appropriation.

Walker’s veto is a political issue, not a legal issue. He had every legal right to do it.

Now he can find out if it was the right political position. As for Wielechowski, he’s just a scammer preying on the “aginners,” the poor and the stupid.

Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon. He only writes for Must Read Alaska when he’s banned from posting on Facebook. Chance coined the phrase “hermaphrodite Administration” to describe a governor who is both a Republican and a Democrat, but neither. This was a grave insult to hermaphrodites but he has not apologized.



  1. From 1994 Hickel vs Cowper:

    ” Under these definitions, it is clear that one of the

    fundamental characteristics of an appropriation, in the public

    law context, is that it authorizes governmental expenditure

    without further legislative action. Therefore, funds established

    by the legislature which may be used to pay state expenditures

    without further legislative action are not available for

    appropriation, to the extent that expenditures are authorized.

    This is true regardless of whether the fund is nominally

    established within the general fund or within a state agency.”


    Because the legislature has made the entire

    balance of this fund available for expenditure, the amounts

    deposited into the fund are validly appropriated and therefore no

    longer available for appropriation.

    Seems like common sense to me that the statutorily designated funds within the Earnings Reserve Account have already “been appropriated “.

    While there is certainly plenty of political theater going on, it is not dumb to expect that the dividend fund be handled lawfully. Until the law is changed the appropriation of income to the dividend fund is as automatic as the appropriations to inflation proof the principal.

  2. Art makes an important point about the Dividend -pandering by Wojo and pretty much every other politician. They preach the Big Lie that “the people own the oil” so you are “entitled” to a piece of it in your “dividend”. This is, of course, a basic and fundamental misunderstanding of the foundation of our constitutional State government. In fact, the people DO own the oil and they receive the benefit of the oil income every year in the services legitimately appropriated by the Legislature – whether it be a dividend (when we can afford it), tax abatement, or Medicaid expansion for example. its time to DividENDit! No Socialist BS wealth re-distribution!

    • Oh they will “spendit” to end it.
      And they will rob us all at gunpoint for “their fair share” of our earnings.
      And the unions will all need raises to have enough to feed their families and the liberals will fork over those raises and bonuses without question and then everyone’s power bills will rise and their phone bills will rise and the coffee shacks will fold because even the minimum wage earners Will be robbed and they won’t afford that 75 bucks a month for that nice cup of coffee and all the workers from the folded coffe shacks and other mall businesses will be forced to unemployment lines and that will cost the state more than they were able to steal in the first place. And on and on and on we go.
      Cut regulations. Cut cut cut regulations.
      And drill. Oh wait- not Exxon. We don’t want Exxon.
      Good god man.

      • Who are the “theys” to which you refer? I am not understanding your point. What does Exxon have to do with the legal status of the Dividend?

  3. This double-speak has been caused by allocating a corporation’s funds to government. Either the statute needs to be changed so that the whole PF hareholder dividend process happens at the PF Corp. Or, the process needs to be constitutonalized. I don’t believe there is one Native or other corporate shareholder who would forego their dividend.

    Mr. Chance, I can appreciate that you don’t like the senator, but you haven’t presented a solution. I believe either of these options are viable.

  4. Wow! This is some mean spirited opinion hit piece! But Art has refined his hit pieces by commenting on just about every ADN.com published online. Literally hundreds and hundreds of times. Interesting that he did not mention the two former presidents of the Alaska Senate, Clem Tillion and Rick Halford in his attack of Bill W. All three of them were pkaintiffs in the law suit. Wonder if he thinks they are dumb, not the sharpest in the drawer, owned by the unions , and are scammers as well. I am glad this hit hit piece was published as it shows Art to be a little man with no relevance to Alaska. But once may be enough time for him to be in the public domain of opinion writers. He has very little to contribute to any healthy debate.

    • Well, I know Tillion and Halford pretty well; they can pander with the best of them too. They didn’t call Halford Captain Chaos when he was in the Leg for nothing, and while Tillion made some significant contributions to the State, it was a long, long time ago. When you’ve actually done something, let us all know.

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