Sunday, January 31, 2010

Senator Al Kookesh: The Luca Brasi of Sealaska, Inc.?

Well, State Senator Al Kookesh's heavy-handed threats against the community of Craig are not an isolated incident, despite Sealaska CEO Chris McNeil's efforts to smooth them over by saying Kookesh's remarks were "incongruous" and made in an "unguarded moment."

Kookesh seems to have a history of making Mafia-like threats to Southeast Alaska communities that might step out of line and oppose Sealaska.

According to Jack Ozment, Assembly Member of the City and Borough of Sitka, Senator Kookesh made very, very similar comments in a 2008 meeting in Sitka.  The Assembly was considering a resolution opposing the Sealaska lands bill.

Kookesh "reminded" the Assembly that
"... as a state senator I’ve done a number of things that benefit Sitka. And I just want to remind you of it because I’m an Alaska Native and I’m doing good things for Sitka."
Senator Kookesh also reminded the Assembly that every year, he votes on the budget for Mt. Edgecumbe School (a state-supported boarding school in Sitka for rural Alaskan students)... and that it would be devastating for Sitka if Mt. Edgcumbe were to close again. (emphasis mine)

Pretty subtle, Albert.

Unlike his comments to the Craig City Council, Kookesh DID try to cover his ass a little with a "clarification":
“I’m a state legislator. I’m a member of the state Senate. Those comments I made about helping Sitka are the same comments I would make to any community in Southeast Alaska. I would not, no matter what you do on this resolution, do anything to hurt Sitka. I’ve got family members and a lot of cousins and relatives who live here. So my commitment of course is to Southeast Alaska.”
(As an "enforcer" for Sealaska, I'm pretty sure Southeast Alaska = Sealaska in Albert's mind.)

Here's the problem with that, Senator:

The damage has been done, and it's obvious that you've run around making Southeast Alaska communities an "offer they can't refuse."

With these sort of tactics, your political career, like the fictional Luca Brasi, could wind up "sleeping with the fishes."

Just sayin'.