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November 1, 2014

Pozonsky-gate. The Plot Thickens.

But wait, there’s more!

Not only did the hiring scandal of former Pennsylvania Judge Paul Pozonsky into the Parnell administration touch strange corners of Alaska politics, it seems that the Judge’s checkered history in Pennsylvania is not just limited to destruction of evidence in 17 drug cases, but it now appears he’s been doing some inappropriate favors for frackers in the name of keeping information from the press and the public by inappropriately sealing records.

Are we shocked? No, we are not.

Alaska politics are such that it takes a lot to consider something scandalous, let alone a soap opera. But Pozonaky has given Alaskan political junkies a holiday season extravaganza. It’s got it all – drugs, cash, sex scandal, religion, nepotism, and corruption at the highest levels.

For those of you needing a quick catch-up, you can follow along with this “Reduced Shakespeare Company” version of events.

The Cliff Notes

Sarah Palin fires Walt Monegan for not firing her ex-brother-in-law Trooper Mike Wooten. Palin gets roundly criticized. Palin hires Monegan’s replacement, Chuck Kopp. Kopp has some sexual harassment skeletons in his closet. Press discovers skeletons. Palin gets thrashed in the press. Palin pays Kopp $10,000 to go away after less than 2 weeks on the job. Kopp takes lousy low-paying job in the middle of nowhere. Kopp’s sister (Sara Pozonsky) sends Palin a scathing email calling her a bad Christian and asking her to “do something” for her brother, pointing out that he’s supported by people like State Senator Fred Dyson and former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman who are not bad Christians in her estimation. (Time passes)  Fred Dyson hires Kopp as his Chief of Staff, and Kopp’s wife Trish as the rest of his staff. Oh, and Sara Pozonsky, partners with Trish Kopp, has been selling Loren Leman’s salmon in Pennsylvania for years. (More time passes)

Paul Pozonsky (Sara’s husband) is in big hot water on the other side of the continent. He’s made some hinky rulings, and ordered evidence destroyed in 17 drug cases, and can’t hear cases any more until they figure out exactly what happened and why nobody knows who exactly destroyed the drugs and cash, and how they were “destroyed.”  The Pozonskys take a sudden two week vacation to Alaska. They come home and Pozonsky quits his job.

A nice job opens up as a hearing officer for workmans comp cases. Many apply. The application window is closed. A hire is imminent. (screechy brake noise) The window is opened. One more application is accepted, and that applicant, Paul Pozonsky, is hired and the Pozonskys move to Alaska.

Shannyn Moore gets wind of this, and breaks the news in her op-ed column in the Anchorage Daily News. Mudlflats follows up.  The Anchorage Daily News follows up. Pennsylvanians read the story and have the usual reaction to anyone who treads into the muck of Alaska politics. It goes something like, “WHAT THE….??!!”

Paul Pozonsky resigns as suddenly and mysteriously as he was hired.

And that’s where we are now.

What the frack?

We learn now that Paul Pozonsky isn’t just a friend to the Xtian cabal in Alaska government (Dyson, Leman, Kopp, Palin, Parnell, et al.), he’s also a friend to something else near and dear to their hearts – Big Oil and Gas, specifically a few outfits known as Range Resources, processor MarkWest Energy Partners and processor Williams Gas/Laurel Mountain Midstream Partners. Range Resources was the first fracker of the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania, and one of the state’s leading gas developers. Range Resources’ CEO John Pinkerton appears regularly on CNBC’s Mad Money and Fox News.

Range Resources, and the other  fracking companies above have all been sued by a Pennsylvania couple, Stephanie and Chris Hallowich who say that the companies are culpable for poisoning their water, and damaging their health by gas extraction near their home.

~Stephanie and Chris Hollowich, and their children

National Geographic featured an article in 2010 about the Hallowich family and their battles with these companies, and the impact of fracking on their lives, their home and their health.

The parties eventually reached a settlement, and a reporter from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wanted to write about the story and find out what had happened. The press, and the people wanted to see the file. The fracking companies wanted the press and the public NOT to see the file. Judge Pozonsky obliged the latter and had the records sealed.

A reporter from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette objected to the closed-door proceeding, and the paper filed a petition a week later to intervene in the case and to unseal the record. The Washington Observer-Reporter filed a similar request, and the judge denied those requests in February.

But when Pozonsky fled the scene to enjoy his brief stint as a hearing officer in Alaska, this is being revisited. (my emphasis below)

A Pennsylvania appeals court has ruled in favor of two newspapers seeking to unseal court records in a fracking contamination case. Hallowich v. Range Resources is one of the most closely watched cases involving claims of health impacts and property damage against a Marcellus Shale gas driller. But when the case was settled, the Court of Common Pleas sealed all the records. Reporters from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had been barred by court employees from observing a hearing that had been held several days before it was listed on the public docket. The paper’s publisher sued, and was later joined by another daily newspaper, the Observer-Reporter.

In a ruling issued Friday, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania says the lower trial court erred in not considering the motion to unseal court records. The trial court had dismissed the newspaper’s motion because it was filed after the case was closed. The Superior Court ordered the Court of Common Pleas to take a look at the newspaper’s requests to unseal the record, and rule based on the merits of the case.

Well, how about that. I think the unsealed records should be very interesting.

Sara Pozonsky, of her move to Pennsylvania just before her husband was elected judge, said this:

“If he lost, he was going to have to move to Alaska, but he didn’t, so I took the plunge,” she said only half joking.

Well, I guess the plunge didn’t work out so well, and he “had” to move to Alaska after all. What’s next, we can only imagine but it sounds like bridges have been burned from one side of the country to the other.

Meanwhile, the weirdness and muck of the Alaska political web has stretched far and wide. We welcome our Pennsylvanian friends to the wonderful world of Alaskan politics. Pull on your boots, PA. Now you know why we call it The Mudflats.

 

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Comments
18 Responses to “Pozonsky-gate. The Plot Thickens.”
  1. Pinwheel says:

    Not enough sex or rock & roll in this story. n

  2. Zyxomma says:

    I wonder if my cold-weather boots (Canadian waterproof shearling lined) are strong enough for the Alaska muck?

  3. Alaska Pi says:

    The order from the Superior Court and the story surrounding the news organizations’ suit made me nervous about how many more cases are out there where information is sealed away by what appears to be sleight of hand.
    Incomplete or false record of court hearings/proceedings used to deny standing for the newspapers based on timely filing ?
    How could they file in a so-called timely manner when the court records were incomplete?
    Shame on Mr Pozonsky’s court management!!
    Thank you, again, Shannyn, Linda, and AKM for exposing this doof so we are rid of him here.
    Shame on whoever hired him here !

    Alaska may be a place where people can reinvent themselves but this one has a long history of personal and professional puke-alaminous behavior which is unlikely to yield to reinvention.
    Go away Mr Pozonsky!

  4. J.A.C. says:

    Boo-yah! to Shannyn & Jeanne for their tenacious investigative reporting on this Pozonsky hiring foolishness — they are the epitome of Fourth Estate watchdogs. Hopefully the person who should have gotten the worker’s compensation hearing officer position will now actually get the job, and Alaskans with worker’s comp claims will benefit from having their cases heard by the best qualified judge.

    As for Paul Pozonsky, I hope he likes working with fish. The only job he’s likely to get now is with his wife Sara’s Wild Alaskan Salmon Company (http://www.seabeef.com/about-us.aspx; http://wildakgirl.blogspot.com) because I’m afraid his career as a judge is over.

    • zyggy says:

      his job as a career will only be over if the States he runs to does background checks. I wonder if Alaska did a background check. Does anyone know?

  5. Moose Pucky says:

    Grounds for recall of a governor in Alaska: “Lack of fitness, incompetence, neglect of duties or corruption (AS §15.45.510)”

    Someone start a petition. I’ll sign.

    Cancellation of the Alaska-class ferry after turning down federal money for it does it for me.

  6. John says:

    He was paid for a month’s worth of work in Ak. I wonder if his daily time records show whether he actually did anything.

  7. wallflower says:

    This is another strange story where I think, “Thank goodness for Shannyn and Jeanne!”

  8. laurainnocal says:

    My, my ….. I never stops in the Great Land! I wonder, as another commenter noted, if this odious behavior in fact goes on in most states or if we have our wonderful watchdogs to thank for exposing it all in AK? Strange how the same names always get regurgitated.

  9. C.F. Miller says:

    I wonder why its taken so long to expose this bum, Pozonsky. And to think the sleazy lawyers all adressed him as “Your Honor.” They kicked his dumb ass out his job in the Court of Common PLeas of Washington Coutny, Pennsylvania, he destroyed evidence (allegeldy illegally), and is currently under investigaton by the Attorney General of Pennsylvania. I say “good riddance” to this bastard!

  10. goI3ig says:

    I’ve always seen judges as a bit of a paradox. In general, people have a distrust for politicians, and lawyers. A judge is really just a combination of the two.

    When politically connected lawyers are elevated to the bench, do we really expect them to change? Then again, can a leopard change its spots?

  11. All I Saw says:

    Abuse of power is a qualification for most jobs within the Corrupt Bastards Club.

    I’m pretty sure the only question they ask in the interview was: “Did-ya screw someone over and make sure they couldn’t do anything about it by abusing your political position?”

    If the answer is yes, they’re hired.

    If they are members of the right church they get a 25% pay raise the first week.

  12. Carol says:

    So how much was his retirement check? If Kopp got $10,000 for less than 2 weeks work(?), how much do you figure a couple days would be worth?

  13. Heartbreaking to be betrayed and deceived by people who are supposed to look after the public interest….

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