Institutionalized corruption in Alaska

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Corruption in Alaska involves more than just a few bad apples. It's as institutionalized as the Jim Crow laws of the 1940s.

A Feb. 10 Associated Press article described crooked land deals in Seward. What the Sealife story didn't say was that the city manager who refused to spend U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens' earmarks as directed was fired for his integrity.

The Seward city manager's refusal forced Stevens, Trevor McCabe and Brad Gilman to re-route their scheme through the Sealife Center, where they found willing partners in a majority of the board.

That's what I mean by more than just a few bad apples. Seward's City Council fired their manager for having the integrity to say no, while the Sealife Center went along to get along, even though members of both knew that Gilman, McCabe, Ben and Ted Stevens all have a history of close ties.

The Seward scenario provides a snapshot of how the "Good Old Boy" system works. It's an image of favoritism and bribery that dominates Alaska's politics.

Oil industry bribery has cost Alaskans a couple of billion dollars every single year since we began pumping oil from Prudhoe Bay.

Cleaning up corruption in Alaska will require leaders willing to risk retribution and play chicken with some mighty scary people. Fear of a visit from the political equivalent of the KKK causes even the honorable to fear stepping forward.

Ray Metcalfe


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