While addressing supporters in Fairbanks last month, Governor Mike Dunleavy described people who do not blindly support him in sharp, inaccurate terms: “These guys — they go out and protest. They burn, they wreck restaurants, they attack people on the streets. They throw themselves on the ground. They start doing temper tantrums.”
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t attacked anyone, nor have I burnt down any restaurants. Nor have I had a temper tantrum in at least 50 years of my life.
I am not a Democrat. Nor am I a Republican. I’ve always been fiscally conservative, however I believe that we should invest in and support social services because people need access to the basics of life in order to lift themselves out of unfortunate situations.
Since taking office, we’ve seen Governor Dunleavy slash the University of Alaska budget, cut Medicaid--even though the Federal money pays the biggest portion--and outrageously hike rates at the Pioneer homes to extremes with little warning, forcing many of our pioneers to panic and wonder where they would go next. He cut the Alaska Marine Highway system to the point where some communities will have zero service for the whole of the winter. Dunleavy has not yet even tapped into the education budget. If he survives through the next legislative session, you can guarantee that education will be his number one target. After all, he claims he is the “education Governor!”
Dunleavy brought on a budget director whose reputation for slash and burn budgeting is known throughout the United States. She has gone from state to state doing the same thing that she has done here. A well-documented history of her attempts to balance budgets is well established in states like Kansas, where it has taken years for residents to recover from the lasting economic and social damage she caused. Feeling pressure from the recall, Governor Dunleavy buckled, and reacted by removing this budget director from her official position, moving her into an overpaid advisory contract. This move was one part of a weak strategy to demonstrate to concerned Alaskans that he will moderate his approach. Frankly, this staffing change is too little, and too late.
From attacks on state employees, to trying to get the government to provide him with free legal defense against all lawsuits brought on by his ill-conceived and short-sighted actions, to hiring an Attorney General who flat out refuses to defend the Alaska Constitution concerning local hire, Alaska is being torn apart by a person who doesn’t understand our way of life, and despite major pushback, he continues to do his best to avoid talking to all constituents. Dunleavy’s idea of a round table discussion is one that only allows discussion among people who back him, and support his irresponsible policies.
In Alaska, we talk to our neighbors, regardless of their party registration. We are Alaskans before we are Republicans, Libertarians, or Democrats.
To me, the bottom line is this: this Governor has gone to great strides to divide Alaska. We cannot afford that kind of strife. When the recall petition is out on the streets after the court battle, do this State and yourself a favor. Sign it. Encourage others to sign again. No fit throwing, no restaurant burning. Just common sense.
Mike Garner is a lifelong Alaskan and retired 8 years ago. He has lived in Wasilla, Alaska, for 38 years.