(UPDATE) Parnell’s California Dream
Gov. Parnell’s illegal appointment has “withdrawn his own name,” the Anchorage Daily News reports.
“A state law says board and commission nominees must be registered Alaska voters. Mandell told the Daily News he had not lived in Alaska since 1995. Parnell continued to back him, saying the Alaska Constitution required only that nominees be U.S. citizens.”
Apparently the quaint notion that we have to follow state law is beyond the governor’s scope. If only he had some basic legal training. Oh, wait.
$2 billion a year is not enough. Sure they’re the wealthiest entities ever to have existed on earth, but who knows what could happen. We must give them more! They are used to certain standard, and we must support them in the style to which they have become accustomed. For Pete’s sake, we’re not abusers!
You’ve got to hand it to former ConocoPhillips lobbyist, and Exxon Valdez disaster attorney Sean Parnell. He brought all of the scruples and blurred ethical abilities that one might expect he would to his current job as governor of the state of Alaska. It’s gotten him where he is today.
That no-strings $2 billion a year from our state treasury funneled to the multinational behemoths Exxon, Conoco, and BP via Senate Bill 21 was a good start. But Parnell has found a fun new way to grease those eager palms in London and Houston with cool green Alaska cash.
Recently, Parnell appointed a certain Mr. Dennis Mandell to the Trans Alaska Pipeline Services Assessment Board. That board is made up of folks that decide exactly how much the pipeline is worth. The less it’s worth, the less the oil companies have to pay in taxes to the state. The more it’s worth, the more they pay. I see that little lightbulb flickering over your head, and I have a feeling you see where this is going.
So, how does one get a position on this board that sets the valuation which determines what the oil companies have to pay? Well, as long as one understands oil and taxes, is an Alaskan voter, gets appointed by the governor, and approved by the legislature, they’re in. Pretty simple.
But simple is hard. And so is following “rules.”
Sean Parnell did find someone who’s worked for 18 years in the oil industry, and he did appoint him to the commission. Just one teensy little thing. He lives in California. The state. His voter registration and residence are more than 3,000 miles away from Alaska, where the law says he needs to be.
Houston, we have a problem.
And when I say “Houston,” I’m looking at YOU ConocoPhillips headquarters.
And, hold the phone! I’m liking what I see…
“Expanding ConocoPhillips’s corporate campus in Houston required sensitively integrating new facilities into the existing complex, while enhancing the workplace environment and updating the corporate aesthetic. New facilities include a central reception area for the entire campus, multiple conference and meeting facilities, and a fitness and wellness center (offering 60 classes a week), with its indoor swimming pool, gymnasium, four aerobic studios, cardio and strength training rooms, a wellness and medical center, locker rooms, and a snack bar. The courtyard offers trellised dining areas, garden courts, and water features, and a new pedestrian walkway that links West Campus to the rest of the workplaces.”
At least we know the money for our schools, and roads, and bridges, and public safety, is going to good use. Thanks, Sean Parnell! xoxo
This little illegal move to stack the board with oil-frinedly valuators did not go unnoticed. Rich Mauer of the Anchorage Daily News noted last week that Parnell had violated the statute, and went on to say:
Dennis Mandell, 59, of Salinas, Calif., began an indefinite term on the State Assessment Review Board March 1, taking the place of former Anchorage city assessor Marty McGee, who was kicked off the board last month by Parnell. Members of that board are paid only expenses and serve at the pleasure of the governor.
When confronted, Mandell admitted he doesn’t live in Alaska, even though he accepted the position. That’s a heck of a commute just for expenses, and the privilege of pleasuring the governor. He must be very, very dedicated to his work. Very dedicated, indeed.
But back to dollars and cents. The oil companies claim that the pipeline is worth $850 million. The TAPS Assessment Board said that the pipeline was actually worth several billion dollars. But a recent State Supreme Court decision found that the pipeline is actually worth $10 billion. I don’t mean to be the one to shatter your idealistic little heart, but it would appear that the oil companies were attempting to fleece Alaska localities out of 90% of their property tax revenue… even though that’s wrong.
The Supreme Court decision was reported as a “huge victory” for Alaska communities, with good reason. What it means in real terms is that Fairbanks, Valdez, and the North Slope Borough will now collect tens of millions of dollars in back taxes as a result of it – tens of millions of their own dollars that are currently stuffed in a bank account in Texas. Or maybe they went for that new 911,000 square foot corporate headquarters with the soaring multi-story glass atrium, wooded walkways to the wellness center, and relaxing water features. Those things aren’t cheap, ungrateful small Alaska communities!
Since the good people of Alaska found out that Parnell was using statutes as fire starter to keep his oil buddies warm, there have been calls for him to rescind the selection of Mandell, and pick an actual Alaskan for the job.
Yesterday, in a letter, members of the Senate Democratic Caucus also called on Parnell to withdraw the appointment.
“State law is extremely clear on this point. Members of state boards must be state residents. Mr. Mandell is not a state resident, and his appointment must be withdrawn. While some question Mr. Mandell’s professional qualifications as an assessor or his ability to be impartial given his past employment as an oil industry executive, these questions do not disqualify Mr. Mandell from service. Mr. Mandell’s established state of residency precludes him from serving on an Alaskan board or commission,” stated Senator Hollis French (D-Anchorage).
Parnell might want to reconsider this whole “hiring people from out of state illegally” thing. The last time he did it, the whole thing went down in flames when Pennsylvanian Paul Pozonsky, appointee to the position of Worker’s Compensation Board hearing officer, was charged with stealing cocaine trial evidence from the judge’s bench.
But he’s standing firm on his Cali boy. Because, you know, statute – schmatute. Now it’s off to the legislature for approval. Pop the corn.