Empire Editorial: Thumbs up thumbs down

Posted: Sunday, April 25, 2004

Thumbs up to Gov. Frank Murkowski for not shrugging off the ethics complaints against Alaska Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich. Ruedrich is under investigation by the state for allegedly mixing work with party business after he was appointed to an $118,000-a-year state job as a member of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Far too often, politicians on both sides of the aisle will turn a blind eye to wrongdoing by those in their own party. Instead, the governor expressed disappointment for what he called Ruedrich's "poor judgment."

Thumbs down to the governor's chief of staff, Jim Clark, however, for his feeble explanation as to why it wasn't his fault an e-mail by Clark was sent from the governor's office to Ruedrich's concerning Republican fund-raising for Bush - one of the instances of alleged wrongdoing. Clark claimed he doesn't know how to use a computer and gets his secretary to write up and send all of his e-mails. He said he had told her she should send e-mails only to Ruedrich's private e-mail instead of his state account for such business. We are forced to believe that Clark has risen to one of the most powerful positions in the state without even the most basic professional skills. Or we must think Clark is trying to weasel his way out of taking any responsibility for his role in the Ruedrich debacle.

Thumbs up to GCI and ACS for finally dropping their bitter disputes so that Juneau residents can have a choice of providers for local telephone service. Alaska Communications Systems and General Communication Inc. agreed last week to end litigation that has dragged on for eight years and at times interfered with service for Juneau phone users. Under the settlement, ACS agreed to drop its claim that GCI could not compete in the local phone market, and GCI has agreed to pay higher lease rates for ACS's infrastructure. Consumers can only stand to gain from having a choice in local phone companies.

Thumbs down to the Juneau Assembly for wimping out on the smoking issue. Instead of making a decision as to whether to extend the smoking ban to all public places, Assembly members are moving toward sending the issue to voters. This would incur costs in time and money. Assembly members are elected to make tough decisions such as these, not bow out when they think a decision is going to put a dent in their political careers.



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