Juneau to lose another top-level state official

Alaska to transfer director of senior, disabilities services

Posted: Sunday, August 26, 2007

The state is transferring the director of Senior and Disabilities Services from Juneau to Anchorage.

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The move will bring the director, Rod Moline, closer to the bulk of the division's employees, but it continues what some fear is the slow attrition of top-level state employees out of the capital.

Moline is required to travel three to four times a month to Anchorage at a significant cost in time and money, he said, despite the availability of video conferencing and teleconferencing.

"Most of the staff in this division is in Anchorage," he said, and a previous director was based there as well.

The division has 88 employees in Anchorage and eight in Juneau, Moline said. The agency is part of the Department of Health and Social Services, headed by Commissioner Karleen Jackson.

That didn't persuade Win Gruening, chairman of the Alaska Committee, Juneau's capital preservation group.

"I guess the question we need to ask is why most of his employees are up north," Gruening said.

Moline said the decision for him to move was made collectively as a cost-saving measure.

"I don't know that it was any one person's decision," he said.

Gov. Sarah Palin approved the move but did not prompt it, spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said.

"This was a decision the governor's office blessed off on, but it didn't originate here," she said.

Jackson and her spokesperson did not respond to requests Friday for her view on the move.

Moline has lived in Juneau 22 years, he said, and has spent several years with the division. Before that, he served as executive director of REACH, a nonprofit that helps the disabled.

Gruening said the Alaska Committee is concerned about jobs moving out of the capital and wants to be able to better track state employment.

"We've been discussing ways we can possibly get that information," he said.

Moline said he did not consider his move to be part of "capital creep," the slow attrition of jobs from the capital. In his four years with the division, Moline said they've increased the Juneau office from four to eight employees.

"In terms of capital creep, it is going against it, if you want to look at it like that," he said.

Some in Juneau fear that if top-level staff leave, lower-level staff will gradually follow them.

"What's more important is trying to determine what decision-makers are actually moving from the capital," Gruening said.

Moline said the decision was made in May, and the move would take place in the next week.

• Contact Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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