Wolf should attend special session or resign immediately Editorial

Posted: Friday, June 18, 2004

House District 33 Rep. Kelly Wolf, R-Kenai, should reconsider his decision to skip the special legislative session scheduled for next week or resign from office now.

Wolf can't represent his constituents on what is arguably the most important issue facing Alaska its economic situation if he is not in Juneau. That said, his constituents are probably better off with no representation than with his attendance at the session.

Wolf has shown no comprehension of the seriousness of the state's financial situation. His take is that it's not nearly as dire as the governor would have people believe. A lot of his constituents would disagree. The day before Wolf talked at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce, Gov. Frank Murkowski asked a crowd at the Soldotna Sports Center if they believed the state should get its financial house in order now, and nearly everyone in the room raised a hand. Most of the members of that audience live in Wolf's district.

Rather than have him derail the whole session, his fellow legislators and the governor should just ignore his childish temper tantrum and go about the serious business of finding a financial fix for state government. If ignoring him is not an option, the House should excuse his absence and move on.

Wolf accomplishes nothing for his constituents by issuing what could be interpreted as a threat: "They better send more than one state trooper," he told the Kenai chamber crowd Wednesday in explaining his decision to skip the session.

Wolf says the special session will be a waste of time and money. What about the cost of sending Alaska State Troopers after him? Troopers, who already are stretched way too thin because of the state's financial situation, have far more important things to do than try to track down a wayward politician who seems proud of his defiance. Then, there's the wasted time of his fellow legislators as business comes to a halt while Wolf is brought to the session unwillingly.

Elected officials are asked to look after the state's best interests. By refusing to be part of the solution to what most Alaskans consider to be the state's biggest problem, Wolf is looking after no one's interests but his own. He's basically thrown in the towel before his term is up.

What kind of message does that send to the young people Wolf says he is so committed to? It's plain and simple: When things aren't going your way, refuse to cooperate.

Wolf doesn't have to like the governor's proposals. Other legislators also don't agree with them, but you don't hear them challenging the governor to send the troopers after them. That's because they know how the system works. There's a set of rules to be followed, and Wolf has made it clear he doesn't want to play by the rules. If he doesn't like the rules, he should work to change them.

Wolf's behavior shows nothing but disrespect for the Constitution he swore to uphold, the political system, the governor, his fellow legislators and, most importantly, the people who elected him to office.

Wolf loses his voice and, consequently, those he represents cannot be heard by not participating in the special session. Wolf's behavior indicates he thinks he's the only one with the right answer which apparently is do nothing about the state's financial situation.

He seems to forget key elements of the financial fix proposed by the governor require Alaskans' approval. Who cares what Wolf thinks let Alaskans have a say on capping government spending, guaranteeing a dividend and using 5 percent of the Alaska Permanent Fund to pay for dividends, education and a new community dividend program.

Wolf has some options: admit his decision to not attend the special session is a disservice to his constituents, go to Juneau and participate fully in the session or resign now and let the special session go forward without interruption.

Barring either of those happening, his fellow legislators should excuse his absence, ignore his antics and not require his presence at the special session.

Wolf's constituents also should get involved: They should call for his resignation or let him know in no uncertain terms they expect him to be in Juneau when the special session convenes.

There may be a few who applaud Wolf's show of bravado, but many more are applauding his decision not to seek re-election.

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