Hugh Malone, 1944-2001

Posted: Sunday, March 11, 2001

In an era when some partisans arise each morning as motivated to discredit their political opponents as to accomplish good, it is difficult for an office-holder to be respected on both sides of the proverbial aisle.

Hugh Malone was a life-long Democrat whose work on behalf of Alaska's citizens earned admiration and respect that transcended partisan politics.

His sudden death last week while he and his wife were vacationing in Europe came as a shock. Malone was only 57.

Some evidence of his bipartisan respect appears on these newspaper pages today in the form of a tribute from a Republican friend who knew Malone for most of the former Alaska House Speaker's life and who wrote that Malone's understanding of grassroots politics was without peer. Another writer remembered Malone as a fine legislator, a brilliant conceptual thinker, and a statesman of the highest order.

The primary record of Malone's conceptual thinking rests in the creation and success of the Alaska Permanent Fund. The fund did not come into being solely on the basis of Malone's efforts, but he did much of the heavy lifting.

Malone also possessed a sense of fairness. When a Seattle mediator and Juneau city officials insisted last year that the flightseeing noise mediation process was not subject to the state's Open Meetings Act, citizen Malone disagreed and filed suit to open the process to the public and to make it conform to state law.

"Most Americans would agree that our country is founded on freedom. Ultimately, freedom is founded on information," Malone said in a My Turn article published in the Empire. "Getting government officials to recognize the public's right to know has been a long process."

A respected judge ruled in Malone's favor, affirming the

public's hard-fought rights. That skirmish did not endear Malone to all, but it should have endeared him to everyone who respects our laws.

His accomplishments were many, his spirit was exemplary

and his legacy is rich - and enriches us. Hugh Malone will be missed.

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