Zulkosky to Public Safety commissioner: 'Manage your tone.' - Must Read Alaska
Connect with:
Thursday, July 29, 2021
HomePoliticsZulkosky to Public Safety commissioner: ‘Manage your tone.’

Zulkosky to Public Safety commissioner: ‘Manage your tone.’

TRIBAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE DRESSES DOWN COMMISSIONER PRICE

At the invitation of the newly created House Special Committee on Tribal Affairs, Public Safety Commissioner Amanda Price was giving data to the committee about rural public safety in Western Alaska. Lots of data.

But from the outset, the hostile reception she received from committee Chairwoman Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky and House Speaker Bryce Edgmon came through loud and clear.

Price is somewhat of a data machine. She delivers numbers like an high-powered rifle — fact after fact after fact. And although passionate about public safety, she is a linear presenter who is tasked with giving appropriators the information they need to make decisions.

Right now those decisions involve whether to cut back the funding for the Village Public Safety Officer program, as Gov. Dunleavy has proposed doing. Most observers feel the program is challenged, if not broken.

DPS Commissioner Amanda Price

Price didn’t know she was walking into a trap, one apparently set by Zulkosky and Edgmon, the latter of whom has let it be known throughout the Capitol that he doesn’t like this particular Public Safety commissioner. The two were loaded for bear.

Price began her presentation on the rural Alaska public safety components. Recruitment, hiring, retention — it’s all an historic challenge for the Village Public Safety Officer program in rural Alaska. The program works through grantees, which are tribal associations that provide the public safety services with state grants. They are not contractors, she noted, but grant recipients, a difference she felt was an important distinction.

But in spite of her skills as a presenter and her command of the facts, she was interrupted repeatedly by Zulkosky and Edgmon, who is vice chair of the committee.

Zulkosky had asked members to hold their questions until the end of the presentation. But the House Speaker couldn’t wait and she gave him a pass. Edgmon started asking Price questions that were posed in the form of accusations — why is the State of Alaska getting in the way of the VPSO program? Why does the department feel it needs to exert such control? Why can’t the tribal associations — the grantees who manage the VPSO program — have their hands untied by the bureaucracy?

Between Zulkosky and Edgmon, there were a dozen of these pointy-edged questions that seemed to come from a pent-up anger.

Why were some VPSO grant applications denied in 2017 and 2018? The two wanted her to give detailed history of what had happened before she became commissioner.

Finally, with his voice shaking, Edgmon said he had viewed the video of her in another committee, and he accused her of saying that the VPSO program is more expensive than the State Trooper program, because Price included indirect costs for the VPSO program but did not for the Trooper program.

He then accused Price of having “an indifference” to the VPSO program and wanted her to explain why she said it was more costly.

[Watch the entire proceedings at this link]

“Rep. Edgmon … Mr. Chairman … Thank you for the question. No, sir, I don’t believe I said that a VPSO is more expensive than an Alaska State Trooper. I believe that I said that they’re a bit comparable in cost…”

Edgmon interrupted again: “Well madam, if I may just jump in, you also sort of insinuated that the indirect rate was as high as 48 percent. When I watched that, you know, that sort of caught my attention because there are some entities like Northwest Arctic Borough that has an indirect of 9 percent and Bristol Bay Native Association, which has an indirect rate of 15 percent and maybe one of the grantees that actually at that 48 percent range,” he said.

“Rep. Edgmon, through the chair, thank you so much,” Price started. “Thank you for putting forward your frank statement. I find myself in an interesting position where providing data is often taken as insinuation. And just for this body and the purpose of everybody who is in the room and who is listening, I am not a person who insinuates. I make statements so never feel like you have to try read behind the lines. I’m trying to make data statements. The VPSO program is one of the arenas I am responsible for. All of the prongs of public safety are of critical importance.

“Indifference? I think certainly not,” she continued. “I think trying to infer what my attitude or perception is based on data presented is just one of the many challenges that comes with sitting at a microphone and trying to provide data. When I was…”

Edgmon interrupted again to scold her: “If I could jump in please, I would recommend that you choose your words a little bit more artfully, because that was the message that was directly left with me. And I’m somebody who’s been around this building for quite a few years. I’ve seen a number of commissioners in your department come and go. I’m not questioning your dedication and integrity, any of that. But I’m just saying, the message I was left with — me and others — was very different from what I’m hearing you’re trying to portray.”

Edgmon indeed has been around the building for many years, beginning his legislative career as an aide to Sen. George Jacko, who served from 1989-1994.

A few minutes later in the hearing, Edgmon was again dressing Price down, telling her that in her half hour presentation she had not offered one bit of a plan to correct the program. He ignored the fact that she had been interrupted a dozen times at this point. Now visibly angry, he called her presentation “rhetoric.”

“Rep. Edgmon, did you not hear me make the statement earlier that on April 25, we are working with the grantees to deliver what our plan is for the Village Public Safety Officer Program, and how to strengthen it?” Price asked.

Rep. Zulkosky had her moment to also exert her authority: “I would ask the commissioner nominee to manage tone in response to the committee.”

Zulkosky, who had not managed the meeting up until that point, but had allowed it to become a verbal shooting gallery, had finally decided someone had better watch her tone.

Donations Welcome

Share

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

  • If Edgmon wants the hands off from the State of Alaska of the Tribal Associations then the Tribal Associations can fund the program. As long as money from the State is funding the program the State will have a hand in the running of the program.

  • Amanda Price handled them extremely well. Made them look like bullies

  • Commissioner Price: hang in there. I sat on city council with Zulkoski. Snooty and uppity is just how she is, in my opinion.
    She doesn’t ever want to hear that they can’t fill VPSO vacancies because Villages seldom treat outsiders with respect. Villages make life a living hell for officers coming from different villages. The second they don’t do the illegal bidding often demanded by tribal courts, which by law they are forbidden to help in any way shape or form, they become outcasts. The second they try to arrest the bootleggers or homebrewers that just happen to be related to the shakers and movers that run the village, they are total outcasts.

    A villages reputation proceeds itself.
    Nobody with a career in mind, goes to one of these villages.

    If you really want to help move the program forward, audit anything a village gets State funding from.

    You’ll see a bunch of respected elders in prison for theft.

    Ask Tiffany and Bryce if they support forensic audits of Native villages, most of which are second-class cities in Alaska.

    • I don’t want to name names and details for obvious reasons, but I have a friend who spent two or three decades living in Southwest Alaska, a white man originally from Outside who married a Yupik woman. His version is “X family runs everything in this village, Y family runs various things in Bethel, Z family runs various things throughout the Calista region”, etc. One of the last names he mentioned is also the last name of a certain well-known legislator, which should probably be a sufficient enough clue.

      • You are correct sir. I am a resident of a SW village and concur.

  • Of course, the wing nuts/dims do not like anyone representing Governor Dunleavy, the people or anyone/anything that is not in line with their agenda. What a shame. For Alaska to descend into the “liberal” abyss is beyond reprehensible. It is outrageous!! These libs/wingnuts/dims don’t care what their “agenda” will foist upon Alaskans. All they care about is “what they want”, no matter the cost or inconvenience to us “commoners”. I am aghast at the direction of Alaskan politics. If the conservatives don’t turn it around, there will be some terrific pain felt by the real Alaskans. The “others” simply do not care if they bring hardship to Alaska, as long as they get what “they” want. It’s no longer “all for one, one for all”. It’s divisiveness, lying, back stabbing, deceit, name calling, you name it. Politicians should be categorized right along with “lawyers”. You know what that means!!!!!!!!!

    • Frosted, I said the same thing. I have seen the actions of the Democrat-Socialist in other legislatures and have always complimented our reps for their civility. Not now!

    • The first commissioner since Statehood with zero law enforcement experience. None. She does have some “data” though, can’t have enough data.

      And telling Legislators to hold their questions until she finished, “Priceless”.

        • What you wrote was perfectly clear,

    • You nailed it! If the native villagers only respect their own than may I suggest that moving the VPSOs to different villages than their own. That way there won’t be a conflict whe metting out justice as they see fit.

  • I called Edgmon’s office and called him out! I am so damn tired of his and others tone and actions against this Governor and his administration! I read the statement from Zulkosky about tone, and told him he needs to watch his!
    The more people call and call him out the better! Folks this is a bare knuckle fight and we need to step up and start landing blows, hard and fast!

  • BTW, I just called Commissioner Price and left a message of encouragement for a job well done and that we are watching and fighting back to the like of the Speaker!

  • This too is brought to you by Rep. Gary Knopp. District 30 constituents, the 120 day clock is ticking…May 14 is the 120th day. Take your pick for the grounds.

    Article 3. Recall.
    Sec. 29.26.240. Recall.
    An official who is elected or appointed to an elective municipal office may be recalled by the voters after the official has served the first 120 days of the term for which elected or appointed.

    Sec. 29.26.250. Grounds for recall.
    Grounds for recall are misconduct in office, incompetence, or failure to perform prescribed duties.

  • Generally these videos are all available on 360 North live or recorded. This Committee only has 6:57 of video available. Is there a link to this exchange anywhere?

  • “Beam me up, Mr. Speaker. The credibility of the VPSO program was shot all to hell last summer starting with Byron Mallott’s girlfriend, whom he made a VPSO official. And it was shot up some more when Byron decided to groom a VPSO official’s young daughter for sexual services. All of this under the Walker Administration. All of these characters have fled, or, are in hiding. Beam me up!

    • Actually, beam the Speaker out to Pluto, where his speakership makes more sense.

    • Actually, Jim Traficant would probably be a better fit in our state legislature than some of the clowns we have there now. And the best hair helmet I’ve seen in politics since Bill Sumner!

      • Amen, Sean. This Alaska legislature is the biggest bore since Mike Gravel read the Pentagon Papers.

  • Commissioner Price … Keep up the great work. Your efforts are seen and appreciated by so many of us Alaskans. Many of those within the Legislature, those who are power-hungry and ego-centric, aren’t interested in solving problems but rather, exacerbating and prolonging them.

  • I um unable to watch the video on 360 North. The committee video is only 6:57 long.

  • “And I’m somebody who’s been around this building for quite a few years. ”

    And therein lies the problem. Plus, you’re just plain rude to boot.

    Must be a misogynist.

  • Commissioner Price, hang in there and don’t let the bullying tactics stop you from doing the right thing. Data is one thing that most legislators want to hear. They only want to hear anecdotes, opinions and innuendoes.

  • The VPSO program and VPO are wonderling programs, one administered by the state and the other by the tribal councils. At the onset it’s doomed for failure when the officers are selected from the local, small communites, where nepotism, cronyism and familial nexus destroys the integrity of the program. Historical collusion between officers and complainants, as well as abuse of power and crimes under the color of authority. Based on their influence, I say let the tribes run it and give them the credit for success or failures.

    • I like this idea. Let the tribes run the program and give them a place to hold those who break the law. A couple of freight trailers with electricity, heat and plumbing if feasible. Without a location to detain their law breakers they are often banished and end up in a city where they don’t know anyone. This would provide legitimate jobs to the people of the communities.

      • If you lived in a village, you would know that certain people are untouched because of who they are related to. Vpso’s can’t touch them or they find a honey bucket dumped on their bed or something else ugly happens until they quit.

        There’s precious little money for guarding holding cells, period.

        Tribal courts just happen for the seven justices to draw a pay check.

        They have no ability to enforce even as much as community service, as there’s no one to watch them put their time in or begin make them show up.

    • Sad but true. I worked at a village number of years back as the Paramedic for HC Price. The Mayor and VPSO were the bootleggers.

  • VPSO program is dead in the water. All of the effort to enable it is like beating a dead fish. The “villages” are just that and will never be able to man up to the task. Troopers are the answer and their capabilities are far more appropriate in handling village problems than the VPSO’s. Dead program before it got started.

  • Disturbing to read that another segment of our population, those in charge, are going at each other with no regard for civility. Z, please don’t start your career growing this reputation. Learn from V.D. and handle yourself with calm demeanor. I have high regard for Edgemon also but please don’t go down that road. All in the room should behave themselves and don’t let your message get lost in the unprofessional tirades. People are watching. You’ve got this girl. Go gently and don’t let your message get lost by allowing disrespect and infighting. People will remember and hold it against you.

%d bloggers like this: