My turn: Sealaska management not forthright

Posted: Sunday, July 27, 2008

I find it curious that Sealaska CEO Chris E. McNeil Jr. wants to make it clear about misleading statements in his My Turn on July 16.

McNeil misled shareholders in the amount of money they had received in total from Sealaska when he endorsed the adding of new shareholders in 2006. He stated in the December 2006 Sealaska shareholder newspaper that $377 million had been paid to 17,300 shareholders since Sealaska's inception. He only overstated the 35-year total by more than 20 percent, or $77 million.

McNeil claimed Sealaska paid $4,500 to each shareholder more than it did. Sealaska hasn't reached the $377 million figure even now, two years later. The figure is far below the more than $850 million paid to Cook Inlet Region Inc.'s 7,300 shareholders.

In his My Turn on May 6, Al Kookesh, a Sealaska board member and Alaska senator, stated that $323 million had been paid in total to shareholders as of May 2008, or $54 million short of what McNeil claimed in 2006.

McNeil would like everyone to believe that Sealaska's only purpose is to benefit its shareholders and secure their economic futures. Sealaska has increased each shareholder with 100 shares of wealth by an average of $2 per day since 1972 with a lot of help from Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

Sealaska shareholders pay McNeil $1,700 per day and paid 13 board of directors almost half a million dollars for 17 meetings in 2007.

Now, in the effort to secure more land, it is believed that in Sealaska's request some of the lands specified are a few board members' old homesteads that the board member will claim later for free.

The point I would like to make is that you can't take Sealaska's management at face value.

Sealaska's management suppresses opposition in elections by allowing 100-word proxy statements, then buys proxies for 30 days postage-free before candidate statements are mailed.

Sealaska's management refused to supply independent candidates for the board of directors with e-mail addresses of shareholders even though they solicit proxies for endorsed candidates. The addresses were obtained at the expense of all shareholders.

Sealaska's biased election practices have lead to the entrenching and self-enrichment of certain board members , despite the $122 million lost in 2000.

Yes, I want shareholders to receive all they are entitled to, but it should benefit the rank and file shareholder more than the $1.63 per-day average for shareholders with 100 shares, and the 92 cents per day that new shareholders average.

I challenge McNeil or Kookesh to state in the Juneau Empire how much money Sealaska has grossed in total in 36 years. How much money have shareholders paid for management in total? How much money has been paid in total to active board members over and above their salaries? Management has repeatedly refused to answer these questions.

• Dominic Salvato is a Sealaska shareholder who lives in Anchorage. He has run for the Sealaska board of directors for the past three years.

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