JUNEAU (AP) -- State Board of Education Chairman Robert Gottstein, under fire for starting an Internet site that pokes fun of the Legislature, was replaced Thursday by Gov. Tony Knowles.
A spokesman for Knowles wouldn't discuss the reasons for not reappointing Gottstein, whose term on the board expired earlier this year.
''This is not about Web sites, its about education and our children and picking board of education members who can best advocate for Alaska's kids,'' said Bob King, Knowles' press secretary.
Gottstein did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press on Thursday.
His Web site, thealaskacircus.com, invites visitors to pay $10 to vote for the biggest clown among members of the Legislature who are up for reelection this year. The money will be used in an attempt to defeat the five top vote-getters.
Rep. Scott Ogan, an outspoken member of the House's dissident Republican faction, was the leader as of Thursday with 95 votes, followed by Sen. Jerry Ward, R-Anchorage, with 71 and Sen. Loren Leman, R-Anchorage, with 59.
Ogan, R-Palmer, said he has no problem with Gottstein exercising his right to free speech, but questions the judgment of a state official who antagonizes the lawmakers who appropriate money to the Department of Education and Early Development, as well as school districts around the state.
''It's probably not too wise to attack the hand that feeds you three-quarters of a billion dollars a year,'' Ogan said.
Knowles appointed Ernie Hall of Anchorage to replace Gottstein on the board. Hall is president of Alaska Furniture Manufacturers. He is chairman of the Anchorage School District's committee on vocational education.
Knowles also appointed former Juneau School Board President Sally Rue to fill Southeast Alaska's seat on the board, filling the seat that had been held by Marilyn Webb. Rue is married to Frank Rue, Knowles' Commissioner of Fish and Game, but King said she was chosen for her long commitment to education.
''This is not a paying position,'' King said. ''Sally Rue has a real long history of work for education in general and the Juneau School District in particular. I don't see that as a conflict whatsoever.''
Rue works as a natural resources assistant to Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer.
Knowles also reappointed Paula Rae Pawlowski of Anchorage to a second term on the board.
All three must be confirmed by the Legislature, a requirement that likely would have doomed Gottstein's reappointment.
On the Net:
The Alaska Circus: http://www.thealaskacircus.com
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