Sunday, July 18, 2010

Parnell's Plight

Governor Sean Parnell has dug himself a hole that is deep and wide. Parnell has enough trouble brewing that would cause any sitting governor to start looking at the Help Wanted ads in the local papers. There are four primary areas of concern.

Parnell’s first problem is AGIA.

AGIA was pronounced as DOA by Parnell himself with respect to any expected success of the Open Season. Parnell’s refusal to answer rival Bill Walker’s FOIA request for disclosure of the Open Season is proof that Parnell is playing a delaying game without any expectation of success.

Against AGIA is the reality of the shale gas developments in Canada and the U.S. The Outside gas reserves are estimated to be enough for a 150 year supply of natural gas. The fact of the lack of any permitting to show in the 3 years since the passage of AGIA belie his current assertions that AGIA is alive and well.

AGIA, like Conoco/BP’s Denali project, takes our gas and gas liquids to Canada, thereby benefitting Canada, not Alaska.

Is Parnell acting in the best interests of Alaska by pushing AGIA?

Parnell’s second problem is his contempt for the law with the growing controversy over his appointments of Nancy Dahlstrom and Gene Therriault as his Military Advisor and Oil and Gas Advisor, respectively.

This situation would not be so remarkable were it not for the fact that both Dahlstrom and Therriault were sitting legislators at the time of the creation of the positions to which they were appointed. As ‘advisors’ their appointments did not have to be approved by the Legislature. The problem for Parnell arises with the fact that both appointments were in violation of Article II of the Constitution of the State of Alaska:

“Section 2.5 - Disqualifications.
No legislator may hold any other office or position of profit under the United States or the State. During the term for which elected and for one year thereafter, no legislator may be nominated, elected, or appointed to any other office or position of profit which has been created, or the salary or emoluments of which have been increased, while he was a member. . . .”

There was little comment about former Sen. Gene Therriault’s appointment, except by yours truly and a few others. With the second appointment of Rep. Nancy Dahlstrom, the pundits and the press finally figured out that our governor was ignoring the law.

Is our Governor above the law?

Another indication of the contempt that his governor and his appointees have for the law is the conduct of Gov. Parnell’s MG Katkus in requiring a subordinate to appear in uniform to testify to the House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee in support of Katkus’ appointment as Commissioner DMVA and Adjutant General. This act was unprecedented, and constituted a blatant act of undue influence. This situation was akin to Gene Therriault filling in for the Governor at a campaign function in Fairbanks earlier this summer. Both situations constitute at the very least undue influence on the part of the Governor and by Katkus as Parnell’s appointee.

Parnell’s third problem is the contradiction to any claim that he is working to resolve the Cook Inlet gas supply crisis.

Parnell’s Oil and Gas Division refuses to timely renew expired Cook Inlet oil and gas leases to exploration and development companies. This failure by Parnell’s Oil and Gas Division is incredible in the face of the alleged purpose of the bullet line.

Is Governor Parnell playing politics with a critical gas supply issue to the detriment of Alaska’s largest population segment?

Parnell’s fourth problem that is indefensible and, perhaps, the least recognized by the media, is Gov. Parnell’s decision to virtually eliminate the Alaska State Defense Force as a viable emergency response asset under DMVA.

In 2006, many of the Army National Guard assets were called to federal active duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, leaving the ASDF to perform disaster response. ASDF was called to State Active Duty three times in 2006.

How is reducing the State’s ability to respond to a disaster a showing of leadership?

Are we voters going to let Governor Sean Parnell’s open contempt for the law and his failure in leadership stand?