The Parnell administration is deliberate and consistent in its betrayal of the public trust. Across state government in nearly every department, cronyism and special interest have taken the place of science-based management and working for the good of the public.
Parnell himself hammers a constant drumbeat of giving immense tax breaks to the oil companies for nothing in return but empty promises. The same oil companies, who year after year report record profits, hide those profits overseas and in tax loopholes and generally pay next to nothing in income tax. Alaska already receives less tax revenue per barrel of oil than many other large oil producing nations, including Norway, Russia, Libya, Kazakhstan, Angola, China and Venezuela.
The Department of Fish and Game has made the headline news frequently with glaring examples of ballot-box biology and cronyism. We now have a Commissioner of Fish and Game with only a degree in education. We had, until recently, Corey Rossi (a Palin crony) as the Director of Wildlife Conservation, with no credentials at all. The Board of Game just authorized aerial wolf hunting on the Kenai Peninsula to fix a problem that was clearly identified as a habitat issue. Killing wolves to increase moose browse has a logical disconnect as wide as the Gulf of Alaska.
The Board of Fisheries has similar ethical issues. This board sets policy for the second largest industry in the State. The chairman (a Palin crony) and several other equally unqualified board members repeatedly and willfully ignore the best available science in their decision-making process. The negative consequences of these bad management decisions will be felt long into the future.
The Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources just changed the department's mission statement and removed the words "conserve and enhance natural resources for present and future Alaskans." This action subverts the public trust by placing short-term gain over sustainability.
Elected officials bear both a moral and a fiduciary responsibility to the people they represent. The Parnell administration fails in both. Betrayal of the public trust should be more than a moral issue; it should be a criminal violation. Alaska state legislators would do well to craft a law that protects the public from this type of corruption before more damage is done.
Our future will depend on it.