Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sarah Stamps Her Feet and Holds Her Breath Until She Turns Blue in the Face (over Tim Grussendorf, no less)!

Like a spoiled 7-year old, this woman simply must have her way on everything. Legality, decorum, and dignity be damned.
I've seen news articles saying that "State law isn't specific about how a governor's appointee should be confirmed."
That is completely false.
Filling a vacancy in the Alaska Legislature is actually pretty straightforward.
Here are the applicable statutes, with the pertinent text marked in blue, and emboldened or italicized for clarity:
15.40.320. Condition and Time For Filling Vacancy By Appointment.

When a vacancy occurs in the state legislature, the governor, within 30 days, shall appoint a qualified person to fill the vacancy. However, if the remainder of the term of the predecessor in office will expire or if a vacancy in the state senate will be filled by a special election before the legislature will next meet, convene, or reconvene, the governor may not fill the vacancy.

AS 15.40.330. Qualification and Confirmation of Appointee.

(a) The appointee shall meet the qualifications of a member of the legislature as prescribed in Sec. 2, art. II of the state constitution, shall be a member of the same political party as that which nominated the predecessor in office, and shall be subject to confirmation by a majority of the members of the legislature who are members of the same political party which nominated the predecessor in office and of the same house as was the predecessor in office. If the predecessor in office was not nominated by a political party or if no other member of the predecessor's political party is a member of the predecessor's house of the legislature, the governor may appoint any qualified person. If the appointee is not a member of a political party, the appointment is not subject to confirmation. If the appointee is a member of a political party, the appointment is subject to confirmation as provided by this section for the confirmation of political party appointees.

(b) A member of a political party is a person who supports the political program of a party. The filing for office of a candidate as an independent or no-party candidate does not preclude a candidate from being a member of a political party. Recognition of an independent or no-party candidate as a member of a party caucus of members of the legislature at the legislative session following the election of the independent or no-party candidate is recognition of that person's party membership at the time filings were made by party candidates for the preceding general election.

AS 15.40.350. Procedure Upon Rejection.

If an appointment is rejected, the governor, within 10 days, shall appoint another qualified person as provided in AS 15.40.330 , who shall also be subject to confirmation, as provided in that section.

So... translated, here it is:

Sarah had to appoint a Democrat to fill the vacated Senate seat. That appointment is subject to confirmation by the Democratic Senators. The Senate Democrats chose to invoke the confirmation process outlined in AS 15.40.330, and failed to confirm Tim Grussendorf. Frankly, when Tim re-registered as a Democrat, or if he really is a Democrat, is immaterial. The fact of the matter is, he was NOT confirmed.

What the Senate Democrats did followed both the letter and intent of the law. There is NO statutory authority allowing Sarah to require a vote of the full Senate.

Now, according to that law, Sarah has 10 days from the rejection of Grussendorf to appoint another person.

Except she doesn't want to, and is throwing a tantrum. Citing a 1987 legal opinion, Caribou Barbie said the decision wasn't valid "because it happened behind closed doors and only among the Senate Democrats."

Sarah, I refer you to AS 15.40.330.

Additionally, Sarah, whatever opinion espoused by Wayne Anthony Ross (WAR) carries no more weight than any other attorney... perhaps not even as much. WAR is a flamboyant figure, but it's apparent he hasn't done any real research on this matter, just opted to hand a sound bite to the press.

After this episode of attempting to usurp the Senate's authority, good luck with WAR's confirmation, too.

My guess is that if you do not make a new appointment in ten days, you probably will find yourself embroiled in a lawsuit, filed by the Juneau Democratic Party, and joined by the Senate Democratic Senators, and perhaps even the entire Senate.

If you were my child, Sarah, I would send you to your room until you learned how to behave.

Keep this silliness up, and the Alaskan electorate may just do that, with a recall petition.

Friday, April 3, 2009

April Fool's Day is Over With, People! Move On Already!

Local radio personality (and Rush Limbaugh wannabee) Dan Fagan wrote an April Fool's Day web column suggesting that formerly convicted, former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens run for Alaska Governor in 2010.

Now, according to a number of people, this whimsical idea has taken on a life of its own.
At least with Alaska's zany Congressman Don Young.
Said the ever-colorful Mr. Young:
"Personally I'd like to see him run for governor, and that's my personal feeling," Young said yesterday. "So, we'll see what happens down the line. He probably won't, but I think that would be a great way to cap off a great career as being the governor of the state of Alaska."
Now, I understand that this was Fagan's idea of a funny ha-ha. And, I'm sharp enough to realize that even though Don Young isn't the brightest porch light on the block, he's probably just having fun tweaking Governor Sarah Palin's nose a little.

You see, Light Gov. Sean Parnell, with Sarah's blessing and glowing endorsement, coupled with Don's own ethics problems (the other shoe hasn't dropped on that issue yet), damn near beat Don in the primary election last time around. Young only won by 304 votes out of over 100,000 cast.

So, that wound, while not fresh, probably still hasn't scabbed over completely.
But Dan and Don, and everyone else out there picking this thing up and running with it - enough is enough.


It isn't funny anymore.

If you clowns keep it up, the old fart may just actually run.

Doesn't Alaska have enough problems already?

Sarah Palin Needs a Linguist, and her Sister-In-Law Needs An Attorney

In a follow-up interview with the Anchorage Daily News yesterday, Governor Sarah Palin stated that
...she does not want to "split hairs" on whether Begich should resign or not but agrees with the Republican Party's call for a special election.
Huh. That's a pretty big "hair" to split, Governor.
I'm thinking that maybe you don't know what the idiom actually means.
For your enlightenment, Here's the actual meaning of the term:
SPLIT HAIRS: to argue about very small differences or unimportant details.
Source -Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms, Copyright © Cambridge University Press, 2006.
Sarah, I will explain this in as simple terms as I know how, and will try not to use any big words that may confuse you:

Calling for the resignation of a sitting United States Senator so that Ted Stevens can have a mulligan on the last election is NOT an "unimportant detail."
It's a Big Deal, you betcha!

My suggestion is that you refrain from any more off-the-cuff remarks during the balance of your tenure in office, and engage the services of a professional linguist for any prepared remarks.

If you take that action and adhere to it, you might not sound quite so stupid, and such as.


This has just Not Been A Good Week for Governor Palin.
Yeah, I know it's not Sarah's fault, but it could sure be her problem... now it seems that First Dude Todd Palin's sister has been busted for burglary.
This is one strange family.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sarah Palin: Governor Bizarro

This just gets weirder and weirder.

According to Gryphen over at Immoral Minority, also now an item in the The Anchorage Daily News, Governor Sarah Palin has jumped on the Randy Ruedrich crazy train, calling for the resignation of U.S. Senator Mark Begich, so Ted Stevens can have a "do-over."

Yeah, you read it right.

It's April 2, so this is not an April Fool's prank.

As further verification of this insanity, Palin's attack dog Meg Stapleton confirmed the governor’s position in an email to Politico: “She absolutely agrees that there should be a special election,” Stapleton wrote. “(Begich) Stepping down to hold the special election would be the right thing to do.”

This is the point in the show where Rod Serling is supposed to step out, cigarette in hand, and explain that we are now in the Twilight Zone.

I'm beginning to truly believe that whatever mental illness that Glenn Beck is afflicted with is contagious:

I used to think Sarah Palin was just not very bright.
Now I'm certain that she's unhinged as well.

Update: Last night, Sarah also challenged the Senate Democrat's rejection of her appointment of Republican-turned-Democrat Tim Grussendorf to former Senator Kim Elton's seat, citing a 1987 AG opinion that a caucus of said Democrats was Constitutionally insufficient to make the rejection (see my earlier post about this brouhaha).
That's odd: When Sarah appointed church mate Wes Keller to fill convicted and jailed (and one of her mentors) State Representative Vic Kohring's House seat, a caucus of the House Republicans was just fine to approve it... no Constitutional problems there.

You can't make this stuff up.

Alaska Republican Party Wants A "Do-Over" for Ted Stevens

From KTUU television: ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A day after the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would seek to drop all charges against former Sen. Ted Stevens, the Alaska Republican Party is calling on Democratic Sen. Mark Begich to resign to allow for a special election.

A special election would allow Alaskans "the chance to vote for a Senator without the improper influence of the corrupt Department of Justice," said Alaska GOP Chairman Randy Ruedrich in a letter sent early Thursday morning.

Ruedrich went on to say "The only reason Begich won the November election is because a few thousand Alaskans thought Stevens was guilty of seven felonies."

Well, Randy... good luck with that.

Even though I think it was time for him to step aside anyway, I have no intention of denigrating Ted Stevens in this post. Senator Steven's arrogance and sense of entitlement was not entirely unearned. He was a powerful Senator, and did a lot for Alaska in his long career. I am also not saying I think he was actually innocent of any wrongdoing.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder did the right thing. By his action, he demonstrated that his department will adhere to the rule of law. Under Barack Obama's leadership, the U.S. Department of Justice will be a far different animal than it has been for the eight years of G.W. Bush.

But because Eric Holder has a conscience doesn't give you cart blanche, Randy. With your own history of ethics violations, you should probably just keep quiet.

Just one question springs to mind, Mr. Ruedrich:

For a moment, let's pretend the roles were reversed. Let's imagine Mr. Begich was the one questionably convicted of seven felonies, and because of that, Stevens was the one who managed to squeak through and win.

Would you be calling for a re-do?

Nah. I thought not.

Update: An informal poll conducted by KTUU shows that a "do-over" for "Uncle Ted" may not turn out the way Mr. Reudrich thinks.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

This Just In (well, not really) - Tim Grussendorf Given A Thumbs Down By Senate Democrats

Alaska's Democratic Senators have rejected the nomination of "Republican Reborn As A Democrat" Tim Grussendorf, Gov. Palin's choice to replace ex-Senator Kim Elton.

This doesn't really come as a huge surprise.

Though "can't we all just get along" is a noble sentiment, sometimes political gamesmanship is required.

My suggestion for the Juneau Democratic Party is that they now resubmit a list of names to the Governor.
Put Beth Kerttula at the top of that list.
Offer two other Juneau Democrats whose Left leanings make Beth look like a conservative. I can come up with a few names for them if they can't think of any.
Include a hand-written note, "The ball's back in your court, Governor."

Game On.

Update: They didn't take my suggestion, but according to the Fairbanks Newsminer, today the Juneau Democrats have offered up a list of names for Governor Palin's consideration as Kim Elton's replacement.

In addition to Beth Kerttula, the nominees are (drumroll... the envelope please) Sally Smith, Mike Miller, and Jeff Bush.
How about that!
I know all of these people, and I can say without qualification that Sarah now has four very qualified persons from which to choose (and because they are qualified, I'll bet she doesn't like any of 'em)!
Details as they happen.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Further Thoughts on the Curious Case of Mr. Doogan

Representative Mike Doogan continues to fascinate me.
His Amazing Ego™ aside, Mike seems to be completely unsuited for the position he currently holds.

When a friend of mine was in Juneau over the last few days, he happened to be standing in the hall of the Capitol within earshot when Doogan was chatting with a reporter from the Anchorage Daily News. Asked by said reporter (off the record, of course) about emails he'd received concerning the Mudflats "outing," Doogan responded,

--"I’ve read about 200 of the 600 emails I’ve received and they’re all women and people from out of state. That’s the Mudflats audience."


Now, I can understand Doogan's lack of concern about people who are not Alaskans heaping their outrage on him.

But even if you ARE an Alaskan, if you're not from East Spenard, Mike doesn't give a damn WHAT you think!

This was underscored by the message he sent out to a number of people on Christmas eve, 2008 (though he only meant to send it to one recipient):

"Well, [name redacted], here's how representative democracy in Alaska works. There are five offices that answer to all Alaska voters: governor, lieutenant governor, U.S. Senator 1 and 2 and U.S. representative. Every other elected official in Alaska represents a smaller group. The mayor of Fairbanks represents Fairbanks, the representative from District 25 -- that's me -- represents District 25, and so on. I don't know what district you vote in -- since the voter registration records don't show you registered and voting anywhere in Alaska under any version of the name you claim -- but I assume its got a representative and senator and those are the people who represent you. I don't. So, aside from pestering me on the Internet, I don't really see what business you have with me."

Never mind the grammatical errors from one so proud of his MFA degree (and he's a Published Author! to boot). The arrogance in that response is breathtakingly stunning.

Judging by the recent hallway statement, Doogan also cares little about the opinions of women, even if they are from his district.

That's Doogan's attitude. I find it very disturbing, and here's why:

I know for a fact, that long ago, Mike Doogan worked as a legislative aide to the late State Representative Hugh Malone.

Yeah.... THAT Hugh Malone.

The guy who was one of the visionaries, one of the creators of the Permanent Fund.
The guy who was referred to as "the conscience of the Legislature."
The guy who was a tireless advocate of not only women's rights, but of basic human dignity.
The guy who was a firm believer in the right of everyone to be heard.
The guy who understood what striving for good public policy was all about.
The guy who fought tirelessly for ALL Alaskans, not just half-heartedly for the people from the district he represented.

Mike, I know that at one time, Hugh considered you a friend. I know that because of Hugh's selfless dedication to the public good, you were one of his admirers.
I also knew Hugh very well. He was a very close friend of mine.
Because of my friendship with him, I can say this without hesitation, Mike:

Hugh would be ashamed by your behavior lately.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Weighing in on Sarah's Pick of Tim Grussendorf to replace Kim Elton

Once again, the hubris demonstrated by our Governor prompts me to venture forth and add my commentary to the din.
First, a brief history of the situation:

State Senator Kim Elton, D-Juneau, this month accepted an appointment by President Barack Obama as Director of Alaska Affairs in the U.S. Department of Interior. Kim is an acquaintance of mine. I think that this is a good career move for Kim, and it's very good for Alaska. It will be refreshing to have a sane voice in that capacity.

On to the problem created by that appointment: Governor Palin, Republican (Evangelical), was left has the task of appointing a replacement for Elton's vacant State Senate seat. It must be a Democrat (man, you know THAT sticks in her craw).

As is the custom, Senate Democrats are expected to offer potential replacement Democrats to fill the seat. Often, in a case like this, the Governor gets a list to choose from. She may have anticipated such, I don't know.

But - to Palin's chagrin, the Dems offered but ONE name: State Representative Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau. That got Sarah's panties in a bunch.

Whether or not several names should have been offered is a moot point. I know Beth. Frankly, she is the only logical choice. A progressive Democrat, Beth is a tough but fair, disciplined legislator. The daughter of Jay Kerttula, one of the longest serving and most savvy members ever of the Alaska State Senate, her political acumen is no accident.

"Beth's a Progressive Democrat and such as! You betcha we can't have that," muses the Governor, "and also."

So, Sarah spends a little time on searching (almost the entire 30 days allowed for her to make the appointment) and comes up with a name: Tim Grussendorf.

Tim is the son of Ben Grussendorf, a former Democratic Legislator from Sitka, former (several times) Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives. I knew Ben back in the day. I know Tim slightly, too. He worked as a House Page during one of the times his dad was speaker. He was just a kid at the time, so any impressions I may have of him from that time are certainly no longer valid.

Grussendorf currently works for Senator Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel (who will be one of the votes on whether to accept or reject Mr. Grussendorf's appointment - funny how that works.. Alaska's a small place, politically speaking).

But hey - he's a Democrat, right (albeit a "conservative" one by his own admission)? Well.....there's an interesting twist to this scenario:

Until recently, Tim Grussendorf was a registered Republican!

When Senator Kim Elton revealed he was under consideration for an appointment to a position with the Obama administration, and the Senate seat looked like it might be up for grabs, Mr. Grussendorf dashed down to the Division of Elections office, and changed his party affiliation.

Now, Tim's story is that the "R" behind his name was all a mistake by the Elections people. In 2006, he wanted to vote in the closed Republican primary, so changed his affiliation to "undeclared." Had to be that those doggone elections officials screwed it up! Funny. I have a number of friends who did the same thing... and it says "undeclared" on their voter's cards. I'm pretty sure you have to indicate on the form which party you are in to be sure that you are listed as a Republican.

Tim's carried around that Voter ID card since 2006. Apparently, he never pulled it out of his wallet until he saw an opportunity to be handed a plum. He apparently "just never noticed he was a Republican" when he was voting in the last general election, either.

Blaming someone else for your ineptness? Huh. No wonder Sarah likes Tim. They share that trait.

In any event, the Senate Democrats should soundly reject this appointment.

Lyman - even you don't get a pass. Here's the worst case scenario for you if vote "no" on Mr. Grussendorf: He either

a.) Accepts that you prefer Kerttula in the seat, and continues to work as a valued staff member, or

b.) Quits in a fit of pique, allowing you to hire an actual Democrat to replace him.

The rest of the Alaska State Senate Democrats - Hollis French, Bettye Davis, Donny Olson, Joe Thomas, Johnny Ellis, Albert Kookesh, Joe Paskvan, and Bill Wielechowski - it should be a no-brainer for you guys.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Reflecting on Alaska State Representative Mike Doogan and Related Things

It was never my intent to become a blogger.

I was perfectly content to read the blogs of others, be they from Alaska, or anywhere. Merely offering what I'd hoped were insightful comments, and perhaps trying, in my own way, to inject a bit of my odd brand of humor into the mix was plenty for me.

I figured the last thing the world needs is another blogger.

But a few days ago, thanks to Alaska State Representative Mike Doogan (State House District 25), I became inspired.

Though not one of Mr. Doogan's constituents, I'm an Alaskan. Since the actions he takes as a State Legislator affect me too, I believe I have a right to comment on those actions.

I also believe I have the right to remain anonymous if I so choose.

A few days ago, because he was the subject of her blog, Rep. Doogan took it upon himself to "out" the identity of an internationally known Alaskan blogger, the Alaska Muckraker, who publishes at Mudflats. The Muckraker became known during the last Presidential Campaign, offering insight and information about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Senator McCain's chosen VP running mate. Mudflats now has literally thousands of readers, and the Muckraker is a regular contributor to what is undoubtedly America's best-known blog site, The Huffington Post.

The Muckraker's sin against Mr. Doogan?

Publishing actual, verbatim copies of "official" emails Doogan sent to persons who happened to disagree with him! His responses to those people was arrogant, snarky, condescending, and for lack of any better adjective coming to mind, downright rude. I guess he thought no one else besides the intended recipient would ever see them.

Mike, if you didn't want those emails finding their way onto the internet, and into the hands of a blog-reading constituency, you should have never sent them. Being a trifle more polite might have served you well.

The reasons for AK Muckraker's desire to remain anonymous are her own. I need not elaborate further on what has already been so eloquently explained in the above link.

If you, gentle reader, have any superficial knowledge about Mr. Doogan's history, his actions might come as a bit of a surprise to you. After all, Mike spent many years as a journalist and columnist, working for the Anchorage Daily News, right? Don't journalists usually try to protect anonymous sources?

Well, apparently, in his time there (although he makes damned sure to credit himself with a piece of the Pulitzer that the ADN won in 1989), one must assume that Mike never actually did any real investigative journalism. If he had, he'd realize that (as any person practicing that profession knows) sometimes, just sometimes, for their own protection, sources need to remain anonymous.

Many journalists have proudly served jail time for refusing to reveal sources... a fact apparently lost on "hey everybody, look at me - I'm a journalist" Doogan.

Mike really isn't a journalist in the conventional sense of the word. No, Mike is famous (a term used loosely) for attempting to make like Dave Barry, writing a sometimes humorous, sometimes op/ed piece for the ADN. To his credit, his column was topical, and often very funny.

But if you actually know Mike Doogan, even superficially (especially since he got elected), this comes as little surprise at all.

Mike Doogan is his own biggest fan. To offer any criticism of him, even in a constructive way, is to invite his petulant wrath.

Never burdened with a small ego, the fact that he managed to get elected twice has apparently puffed him up to the point that it is obvious, to him anyway, that he is Far Smarter and Much More Clever Than You. If you don't believe that, just ask him. I am quite positive he'll inform you of his belief in no uncertain terms (pointing to his MFA degree and his several published detective novels as proof of his intellectual superiority).

As justification for revealing the heretofore unknown identity of AK Muckraker, Doogan espouses his ardent belief that (to paraphrase the ADN's Alaskan Ear columnist Sheila Toomey) "if you're going to mouth off publicly in an effort to influence the politics of thousands of people, you need to let people know who you are -- identity being an element in evaluating the worth of opinion."

That's all fine and good, Mr. Doogan. You're entitled to your belief.

I'm just happy that you weren't around when 16-year old Benjamin Franklin "blogged" under the name of "Silence Dogood." You would have made damned sure the boy never was around to help bring about the United States of America, instead relegating him to a colonial British prison for daring to anonymously mock numerous aspects of life in colonial America.

I'm extremely happy that you weren't around when Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison penned the Federalist Papers using the "blog" name Publius. The U.S. Constitution (which incidentally protects Muckraker's right to privacy) might have never been ratified, and our fledgling republic turned into a shambles. But hey - you'd have protected the American people from an anonymous "effort to influence the politics of thousands of people." I'm sure you'd have taken great pride in that accomplishment.

So you don't like it when anonymous persons say "bad things" (like maybe... the truth?) about politicians, Mike? Heck, let's go one step further. Let's junk all those "whistleblower" laws. If someone doesn't want to bear the consequences of blowing the whistle on political corruption or crime, they should just shut the hell up, right?

Oh - I know! Let's also get rid of that pesky Federal Witness Protection program while we're at it! If a witness doesn't have the cojones to testify against people like John Gotti - being fitted with "concrete shoes" or the taking"a dirt nap" in a New Jersey landfill be damned - then they can just screw off. Gotti and people like him should be allowed to walk.

Frankly, Mr. Doogan, I believe you've stepped in it this time.

You got elected, and reelected, simply because you are a Democrat (and I say that tongue-in cheek), running in what is a solidly Democratic House District. You aren't a champion of the Alaskan people. You aren't even a champion of your constituents. You're a champion of little other than your own ego.

Here's hoping that a reasonable alternative opposes you in the primary election in 2010.
I can't vote for them, but I will certainly send them some money so that you can concentrate full-time on that budding novelist career. The people of House District 25 will be better served, and my State will be better served.

In fact, you yourself may be better served, since you have neither the personality nor the temperament to serve as a State Representative.