Juneau residents line up outside of the Planet Alaska Gallery to sign an application petition to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Juneau residents line up outside of the Planet Alaska Gallery to sign an application petition to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Opinion: Policy decisions are not cause for recall

  • Tuesday, March 17, 2020 1:27pm
  • Opinion

How about an honest assessment of the reasons behind the effort for the recall of Governor Dunleavy?

The recall folks tell us that the reasons are incompetence, lack of fitness or neglect of duties, but the real reason behind the recall effort can be summed up in one word: Vetoes.

Policy decisions are not cause for recall.

The lower court judges did not have the courage to make a ruling based on the petitioners’ claims. Instead, they have chosen to let things play out in the court of public opinion. Should the Alaska Supreme Court follow a similar path, we are destined for chaos.

The judiciary’s weak interpretation of our nebulous recall laws will encourage large organizations to blackmail officials into doing their bidding under threat of recall. Every decision will be predicated on avoiding the wrath of recall happy special interests. What a way to govern!

You and I know that the most of the petitioners did not vote for Dunleavy in the first place. Do they understand the old adage that what goes around, comes around? Wait until a member of the Democratic Party wins an important office and vetoes a bill dear to the heart of conservatives. Mayhem will once again ensue.

As of now, recall is a novelty. It gives disgruntled people a feeling of power. If this effort is successful, we can look forward to a never-ending mess at all levels of Alaskan politics. No one with any sense will run for office and large factions will dominate the political scene even more so than today.

Alaska is already Balkanized in a similar fashion to the United States. Instead of working together for a better future, each faction promotes their self-serving goals. This includes members of the legislature who relish their power, but shrink from the tough moves necessary to fix our budget. Even now they refuse to make a decision regarding the almighty PFD.

This leaves us with the upcoming decision of the Alaska Supreme Court. The recusal of Chief Justice Bolger improves public perception of the court no matter their final decision. As a citizen, who is by no means naive, I have faith that this court will have the integrity to do the right thing and throw this bogus recall effort out.

Find me an Alaskan who is hysterical about an appointment of a judge a few days late. No, people are talking about vetoes. The truth is the governor is attempting to get Alaska’s fiscal situation under control and there is no easy or pleasant way to do it.

So now we wait.

The decision by the court will determine Alaska’s political future. Will it be filled with policy-driven recall disputes? Will powerful special interests be granted the means to legally blackmail our elected leaders? I trust that the court will make the right decision. March 25, 2020 is an important day for the present and a bellwether for the future.

• John Bania is a resident of Wrangell. He was appointed in 2019 to the University of Alaska Board of Regents by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. Bania is the owner of Finish Carpentry in Wrangell. He is a former principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent in rural schools in Alaska. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the eauthor, not the view of the Juneau Empire.

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