Here we go AGAIN. Yet another politician paying lip service to openness and transparency and taking a play straight out of the S. P. v. 1.0 playbook. Yes, our mayor Dan Sullivan has morphed into S. P. v. 2.5 by his response to the ethical dilemma that surrounded a $193,000 payout by him acting as Mayor Dan to himself acting as Trustee Dan, head of the Sullivan Family Trust. How does that work? Do you physically have to change hats? So what play out of her political tricks playbook, do you ask? Why the use of an internal ethics board or panel, to investigate possible ethics violations of course.
Flippy McQuitter would be proud. She practically invented this ruse to whitewash her spotty ethics record! I'm only surprised she hasn't released an important facebook press release weighing in on this matter and giving Mayor Dan her full support. Oh that's right. Meg quit. She would have to actually write something herself.
Now we have the municipal ethics board. In Alaskan terms that means a private 'impartial' local attorney. Appointed by and paid for by Mayor Dan Sullivan, saying 'yes what he did was probably unethical' and narrowly limiting that comment solely to the question of whether or not it was unethical to withhold disclosure of his status as head trustee of the trust that received the $193,000 from the municipal assembly before they were asked to vote for approval of the payout. Yes that is wrong. Now prepare for your meaningless slap on the wrist with some soggy angel hair pasta as the deputy municipal attorney, whose paychecks are signed by the mayor, also weighs in by representing that there was nothing fiscally unethical about the whole situation. Basing the opinion upon an obscure 1982 assembly resolution that because of the way it was written, couldn't be honored and should therefore be invalidated. Really?
Mind you I am not saying that either of them are not telling the truth, but one has to wonder if telling the truth or having a nice high five figure/low six figure job is more important than being 100% truthful? Does anyone actually believe that an attorney is going to risk a cushy municipal job if forced to tell a truth that would not be best to disclose if it reflected negatively on the guy who signs the paychecks? Really? At the possible risk of their job? I am NOT saying there is any wrongdoing here, from either the board or the deputy municipal attorney. What I am saying is that the municipality is handling a potential conflict of interest ethics investigation case by having it reviewed and investigated by those whose positions as municipal employees or hired private contractors paid for by the municipality already imply a built in conflict of interest between the investigators and those being investigated! They're asked to investigate the guy who controls the fate of their future employment. Just like Sarah and her phony rubber stamp kangaroo court Personnel Board.
So if everything is all kosher and on the up and up, why not hire a truly independent investigator? I don't know about you but I for one am going to assume everything WAS NOT kosher and on the up and up. That's why. For instance -- how could three past Republican municipal administrations 'reduce the premium' on a non-existent life insurance policy? How does that work, exactly? Or, how does a $19,633 premium blossom into a $193,000 payout over 28 years time? Or, who was responsible for NOT telling the Sullivan family early on that Aetna rejected the muni's request for a policy on the basis that George M. Sullivan was no longer a municipal employee? I've read the supporting deputy municipal attorney's paperwork and understand the assembly wanting to reward the elder Sullivan for many, many years of good work for this city, but why didn't they, once they knew he wasn't qualified for a policy, move to change or modify the original assembly resolution to an annuity or perhaps even a retirement benefit of a fixed value? Why can't the municipality of Anchorage just give them the original $19,633 back, perhaps with some interest and just call it good, a simple misunderstanding? That would have been more fun! To see the mayor of Anchorage suing the municipality of Anchorage on behalf of his family trust for the municipality breaking an implied contract backed up by an assembly resolution. Oh that's right. Because there was no original policy, thus invalidating any promises made by the assembly in 1982 or by the municipality itself to the Sullivan family. So sorry! Here's your $19,633 back. Perhaps an even more important question is when was the family trust itself established? 1982? Or 2002 at the end of the Republican Wuerch administration after it looked like there might be issues with there being no policy or agreement other than an invalid assembly resolution? Was its establishment premeditated as well as predicated on the idea that someday they would be in a position to get a payout from the municipality even though no policy ever existed?
Yes. Politics in Alaska is the wild west, gentle readers. Not surprising since government jobs are the largest employer in this state. From what I'm seeing in my nearly thirty years of living here it seems most politicians aren't there to serve their constituents but rather to amass their own personal power base and build their personal fortunes. And that, speaking as one of those constituents, is just not right. In fact, it is downright unethical.
While I may write more on this subject in the future, I would say the absolute best source for a comprehensive look at the entire mess is Mel's excellent blog henkimaa -- or to keep updated on it all just search the Dan Sullivan tag. Between her site, the ADN reports and the writings of other progressive bloggers like Shannyn, Gryphen, Jeanne, Phil and myself -- Sullivan's goalie in the assembly, Dan Coffey, is going to be taking a lot of slapshots to the face. At least until we get answers. I hope he's ready.
Lastly to answer Sullivan apologist and former Bill Allen employed writer in his latest sad missive in the ADN by Paul Jenkins about 'lefty bloggers' and anonymous ones at that.... I'm a Republican. Look it up. You can also find my real name here and online. So your presumption on who would be 'attacking' your apparent hero was wrong. All citizens should demand and rightly receive openness and transparency from their elected officials and our government at all levels. That's just common sense. That's not partisan. Though you obviously are, Mr. Jenkins.
***** UPDATED *****
(added the link on Paul Jenkins name above to give background on Mr. Jenkins courtesy of Philip Munger at Progressive Alaska)
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