Yakutat mayor objects to Ogan job offer

Former lawmaker being considered as borough manager

Posted: Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The mayor of Yakutat plans to veto a local assembly decision to hire as borough manager Scott Ogan, a former Republican senator who left office in 2004 facing recall amid accusations of corruption.

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"I was surprised when I saw his name applying because I have followed the case since 2003," said Dave Stone, mayor of the largely subsistence community about 210 miles northwest of Juneau.

In a letter announcing his intention to veto the Yakutat Assembly's May 17 selection, Stone wrote "Mr. Ogan's fitness to hold a position of public trust is questionable."

Ogan said he was troubled about Stone's letter being made public, calling it "potentially libelous."

He said it should have been considered a "personnel matter" and kept confidential.

"Personnel matters in every other borough are always a confidential matter," he said.

He plans to submit a letter in response this week.

Some Yakutat Assembly members thought Ogan's ties to the capital might help in his new job as borough manager, the mayor said.

"But I don't feel the same way," he said.

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Ogan faced accusations of impropriety because he held a consulting job with Evergreen Resources, a company that proposed to explore for coal-bed methane in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, while he was serving as the area's elected official.

Stone said the fact that a recall petition was certified by the Division of Elections in April 2004 was enough to make him question whether Ogan would be a good fit for Yakutat.

"That just doesn't send a good message" he said. "I would be fighting tooth and nail to prove that I didn't do it."

Ogan resigned from his legislative post in August 2004, saying the effort to recall him distracted him from his job as senator.

He now lives in Palmer and works as a resource manager for the Department of Natural Resources.

"It's a lot of what I did in the Legislature," Ogan said.

Since his resignation, he said, he has been busy "having a life."

Ogan did not explain why he was looking for a new job or why he chose to apply for the position in Yakutat. The former manager received an annual salary of $65,000.

"I wouldn't have applied somewhere else if I wasn't interested in leaving," he said.

He said the years he spent in Juneau caused him to fall in love with Southeast Alaska.

"Southeast Alaska has got into my blood. I love it," he said. "I think I have webbed feet."

Ogan was one of seven applicants from around the country who applied for the job and one of two finalists interviewed for the position. The other finalist was Yvonne Kopy, a planner for the Bristol Bay Borough.

Accusations of a conflict of interest aside, Ogan is just not a suitable candidate, Stone said.

Stone said Ogan's past stances on subsistence rights issues clash with lifestyles in Yakutat, where many people depend on hunting and fishing.

He also noted in the letter that a decision to hire Ogan was made before his 25 references could be reached to comment.

The mayor's veto is expected to become formal during the assembly's Thursday meeting. At that time an assembly member may make a motion to override the veto, which would require a two-thirds majority.

To view Mayor Dave Stone's Veto statement go to: http://juneauempire.com/stories/060507/Stone_Veto_Statement.doc.

Please note this is a MS Word document.

• Brittany Retherford can be reached at brittany.retherford@juneauempire.com or 523-2276.

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