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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Always, always follow the money...

Watching local legislation roll like the wheel of a wringer washer isn’t the only important task at hand.

You should already know that the noise in the room during the 2012 election season will be loud enough to scare Joe Hazelwood sober. It will be a lot less scary for a few potential candidates and their handlers if they paid attention to a full day of “here are the rules of the road” that the APOC (Alaska Public Office Commission) laid out when they brought their educational road show to the valley this week.  Citizen Lobbyist was there for a three part training day covering “Group Campaign Issues”, “Candidate Campaign Issues” and “Public Official Financial Disclosure”.

APOC was the result of the Watergate kybosh that served as a big wake up call to our state to look more closely at the way campaigns are monitored.  A 1973 citizen’s initiative started the ball rolling for the final legislation that created APOC and currently it thrives as part of the state Department of Administration. It’s important to know that the PEOPLE of ALASKA are its boss under Article 1, Section 2 of the State Constitution.  All of the staff decisions (some 31 people statewide) are subject to a commission review and decisions can be appealed all the way to Superior Court.  Who knew, right? 

How people are elected and are supposed to behave in doing so is pretty important stuff. You can learn a lot about how someone will govern by the quality of their campaign. Just who they surround themselves with, depend on for advice, put trust in, plus just how hard they work to get elected are big fat clues. If they are hopelessly lazy on the campaign trail, they won’t be a workaholic diving into your concerns and issues once elected. If the candidate is all “show pony” surrounded by campaign workers that are holding their breath and turning blue on a regular basis hoping they can get the candidate over the finish line without a major gaffe that will derail the campaign and send it hurling down the drain chased by an economy jug of draino…well you get the picture.  If candidates are on the fence with the rules while out trying to get elected, blatantly ignoring them or seemingly just unconcerned with what is lawful, that should indicate how they might govern should you elect them.  Perhaps if better attention had been paid to “how” some got elected we wouldn’t have spent a bundle changing their wardrobe to all stripes or forcibly altering their zip code. 

It was an interesting mix of attendees for the one day APOC training.  The names of the innocent and not so innocent will be kept tucked under the citizen lobbyist clipboard for now.   Suffice it to say  Dems, R’s  and the fastest growing sector of our voters Non Partisans were in full force to get up to speed on the latest and greatest changes in the rules of the game.  Even with the room largely filled with politico’s, more than a few eyebrows were raised as some of the regulations and questions from the attendees were presented.  Regulations discussed that  that have been in place all the time. There are new regulations that are now more fully explained and in some cases thanks to the Citizen United Ruling much murkier.  But one thing is clear, the fines, if ENFORCED, are nothing to sneeze at (from $50.00 to $500.00 a day) and the statue of limitations is “5 years”.

For the first time ever, a sitting MSB School Board President will try to run for re-election to that seat and at the same time attempt to unseat a sitting state Senator for another office and it’s perfectly legal. Wow, how conflicted is that?  Candidates will be running that hardly ever warm a seat at the table in person but spend the bulk of their time in other countries attending skypelike and telephonically and think that’s perfectly fine.  Is it in the best interest of Mat-Su residents and Alaskans?  The voters will have to decide that.  One thing is decided for you, and that is with state redistricting, 59 of the 60 state legislators will be up for re-election in November along with the Presidential seat and one Alaskan Representative House seat in a battle for the old and the new. Starting in April, Anchorage has a city-wide election for Mayor, Assembly and School Board.  In October here in our borough the Mayor, 3 Assembly seats, and 2 School Board seats will be up for grab. Are you starting to feel the noise vibration and your mailbox hinges creaking yet?

Yes, this will be a noisy year and there will be some old tricks and new ones no doubt.  There is no Elizabeth Warren standing with a flashlight on the cockroaches.  In our state we must all have our flashlight ready to wield with a little bit of back up by something everyone should be familiar with, APOC.   Go there, check it out.  You need to know, because those that don’t have our best interest at heart will know, find the loopholes, fine lines or hope no one is watching and will use it to wreak havoc. 

Elections have consequences this year more than ever.


  1. You are incorrect, the present School Board President is running only for the Senate not both School Board and Senate. The instance cited was in the form of a hypoehetical question.

    Please correct your text. I was at the same training session as you and clearly heard the question.

    1. Anonymous. Congratulations on attending the APOC training session. From the session you know then that the filing deadline for office is some time off. The content of his questions and the lack of any evidence that Mr. SB President intends to NOT RUN for both offices would certainly lead one to believe that to be his intent. While he has filed for a Senate seat and has been busy promoting his candidacy by handing out business cards, collecting funds and other means for that office we see no evidence of him for the good of the valley citizenry announcing his intent NOT TO RUN for his school board seat that he is up for re-election for. This would clear the way so that other very capable, concerned citizens might consider the potential vacancy. When and if Mr. School Board President makes his intent to not run for both seats public we will be happy to announce it here.

  2. The fact that it is possible to run for 2 seats of anything at the same time is a problem, now that we know it is legal to do so. If the President of the School Board doesn't intend to run for both then one would wonder about posing the questions about it at all.

  3. I vote for 'Not Running' campaigns, just so we know on which side of the fence each foot is planted.