Shannyn Moore for the Anchorage Daily News
October 19th, 2013
Obama is a socialist. Health care is communism. Closed parks are fascism. It’s weird the way words and labels get thrown around these days. Apparently dictionaries are one of the things some people no longer believe in.
Here’s a word that doesn’t get thrown around but should: corporatocracy. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “a society or system that is governed or controlled by corporations.”
I joke about living in a resource colony but it isn’t actually funny. When the Corrupt Bastards Club was running the Legislature, then-Gov. Frank Murkowski asked them to effectively strip Alaskans of the right to pursue “public interest” lawsuits against state government.
The Corrupt Bastards were only too happy to comply. They changed the law so that if a citizen, or group of citizens, dared sue the state, with its bottomless pockets and legions of lawyers, and lost, those citizens would be liable for reimbursing the state for its legal expenses.
Let’s put that another way: If you sue the state over a matter of broad public interest, the state will fight you with public money, and if you lose, you pay for their lawyers with your money.
And why is this the law? Exactly one reason: So the Alaskans who are adversely affected by development projects supported by politicians in office will be afraid to challenge them.
The Parnell administration, handmaiden to every multinational with a scheme to make money off Alaska, is using the attorney general’s office as a hammer to intimidate Alaskans. It’s simple bullying aimed primarily at those Alaskans who aren’t willing to sell our environment at the first whiff of a dollar bill.
People like former First Lady Bella Hammond and Alaska constitutional author Vic Fischer. Fischer, Hammond, Trustees for Alaska and Alaska Native groups sued the state Department of Natural Resources for ignoring the Constitution in granting permits to Pebble mine promoters without considering the public’s interest in salmon and other subsistence resources.
The permits were issued by natural resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan, a gung-ho developer who was Alaska’s attorney general and now wants to be your next U.S. senator.
Frank Murkowski succeeded in denying citizens the right to challenge politicians and bureaucrats without having to risk their life savings. Now comes Gov. Sean Parnell to double down.
Parnell introduced HB77 last year. It will be on legislative desks in January. If it passes, DNR will be able to hand out permits like Halloween candy, and with just about as much thought.
Of course, you won’t have to worry about that because you won’t know it’s happening. No more public notice of such things. They won’t have to tell you anything, or answer your nosey questions, before shoving some developer’s dream down your throat. In-stream water rights? No longer available to Alaskans.
The case that Fischer, Hammond and others lost has been appealed. It will be back in court, before the state Supreme Court, in December.
While all this has been swirling about, our attorney general’s office has sued the feds over polar bears and belugas and voting rights, sued the Lake and Penn Borough over a ballot initiative (again on behalf of Pebble), defended a wife beater’s parental rights and more. All part of the Parnell re-election campaign.
Alaska should be trying to repay folks like Vic Fischer and Bella Hammond for their contributions to the state. When Jay Hammond was scratching out the math for the Permanent Fund, do you think he had any idea that a later governor would go after his wife’s savings for trying to protect her home from cyanide?
I’m embarrassed. I wish Sean Parnell could be.
This is bigger than the administration’s lack of respect for the plaintiffs in this one case. It’s about all of us — the little people who need a way to stand up to government when it refuses to do the right thing.
This was a systematic effort, begun under Murkowski, to use state resources to silence any resistance to questionable development.
Our current governor likes to tell the federal government, “We will not sit down and shut up.” Then he turns to Alaskans and says, “Sit down and shut up — or we’ll bankrupt you.”