Archive for August 17th, 2010
In the primary election on August 24, voters will face two ballot measures. WC takes a look at Proposition #1 in this blog entry. And it is as lame an attempt to muzzle voters and as cynical and sarcastic a piece of work as WC has seen in 50 years of Alaska politics. The official summary of the measure is
This bill would ban the use of public funds for political campaigns and lobbying by state and local government agencies, and school districts. Public funds could not be used to support or oppose ballot measures, lobby to pass a law, or ask for public funding. Any entity that lobbies or campaigns would be barred from receiving public funds. It would ban political contributions by government contract holders and members of their families. It would ban legislators and their staff from being employed by government contract holders for two years after leaving state service. The bill has criminal and civil penalties.
The proponents of this chunk of monkey make the following arguments in support of their idea in their Official Statement:
The truth of the matter is this; government at all levels must be reduced if we are to have a sustainable and healthy economic future. There is not a person, policy or politician in this state that can do more to curb the growth of government than a yes vote on proposition 1. We the people are the only ones who don’t have to worry about being elected next year; therefore, it is up to us to make the collective decision to impose discipline on the process.
The first sentence is a non sequitur, generated by Tea Baggers as a substitute for looking at Alaska’s economics. If “government at all levels” was significantly reduced, Alaska’s government dependent economy would immediately enter a severe depression. In the Fairbanks North Star Borough, as much as 45% of the economy is based upon federal spending.
More importantly, this is Tea Bagger talk. A lot of countries with far higher levels of government spending have far economies that are in far better shape. Germany, to name one. So the first statement is a false premise.
Working from this false premise, the Measure’s supporters leap to the next unsupported premies, that voting for Measure #1 will “curb the growth of government.” Lobbying, and specifically lobbying by municipalities, hasn’t been shown to increase total spending. It’s fighting over how to divide the pie, not how to, in the words of a former President, “make the pie higher.” Nor is there any data showing that local governments have significantly increased spending on lobbying. Based upon recent APOC Reports, total expenditures on lobbying haven’t increased significantly in recent years, and most of the $14.3 million spent comes from non-governmental entities, or affiliations of governments, like the Alaska Municipal League.
After two false premises and two non-sequiturs in the first paragraph, the supporters of Measure #1 don’t do much better in subsequent paragraphs. The next sentence,
A Yes vote on Proposition will do three things. First, passing proposition 1 will promote transparency by requiring an online searchable database of government contracts.
describes something that pretty much already exists, except the collective bargaining agreements are not included.
The third paragraph attacks “sole source contracts,” and includes among them collective bargaining agreement – contracts between labor unions and the State – and would ban entities with sole source contracts from contributing to political campaigns. The premises is highly dubious constitutionally; recall the SCOTUS recently struck down a limitation on corporations making political contributions. The paragraph also displays one of the true aims of Measure #1: to limit the power of the two main state labor organizations. Rather than do it honestly by amending the statutes that govern state labor relations, the supporters of this measure have chosen this back door route.
The third paragraph also contains one of the more amazingly blatant attempts at guilt by association that WC has seen recently.
Most seated legislators have received more campaign contributions tied to sole source government contracts than the legislators convicted in the VECO scandals received from Bill Allen.
The proponents of Measure #1 are implying that legislators who accept lawful, properly disclosed campaign contributions are the equivalent of Bill Allen’s attempts to secretly and explicitly buy votes. Excuse me? The sponsors of this organization support transparency? And equate back room bribes with disclosed political contributions? Memo to proponents: They are not.
For WC, the nail in the coffin for Measure #1 is the recent disclosure that the champions of public virtue who support Measure #1 failed to file the reports that are required from anyone sponsoring an initiative, and face a record $339,000 fine from the Alaska Public Office Commission. If true – and WC recognizes it is a proposed fine at this point, although the evidence is overwhelming – but if true, then Measure #1 is sponsored by a bunch of hypocrites who don’t follow the rules they want to change. Let alone that the whole thing is financed by special interests from Washington, D.C. and funded by rich developers in New York.
To WC, Ballot Measure #1 is one part false premises mixed with three parts hypocrisy, agitated by outsiders and presented to the voters as something useful. Cow manure is useful, but you wouldn’t vote for it. And cow manure stinks less than Ballot Measure #1. WC will vote “No.”