Setting record straight about longevity bonus, special session

Posted: Friday, October 03, 2003

It has always been a good idea not to argue with people who buy ink by the barrel, but there are times when I am misquoted or someone plainly misleads the public. It doesn't happen very often, but I don't like it when it does happen. This issue came up with a group of constituents again this week, and I feel the need to respond.

Several weeks ago the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner editor attempted to call me for my position on a special session regarding the longevity bonus. It was a Saturday afternoon and I was at the hospital with a family member. I did not answer my cell as it is against hospital policy. The editor later reached my staff and he did not accept the answer she gave him regarding my position.

The quote in the Fairbanks paper (later picked up by other papers in the state) was misleading because he did not talk to me and my staff did give him an answer. Anyone who knows me realizes I don't waffle when I am asked a direct question. The problem in this situation is I never got asked.

While I am strongly in favor of the Longevity Bonus Program, I do not believe the Legislature would have accomplished a single thing but to spend several hundred thousand dollars going to Juneau for a special session. The public outcry for a special session by the Democrats was part of a dog and pony show we simply cannot afford.

As always, if anyone has the slightest question or problem with my position on an issue, a decision I have made or the most minuscule rumor, pick up the phone and call my office. I answer my calls and my staff addresses scores of problems every week. It's the job we get paid to do. I work for you, and I answer to you and the people of the state of Alaska. My office is always available to assist everyone.

Rep. Mike Chenault, House District 34, Kenai

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