From Suzanne Downing of MustReadAlaska

How does one explain Judge Jack McKenna’s outlandish decision against Rep. David Eastman?  How can Gov. Mike Dunleavy justify his appointment of McKenna to the Superior Court?  How can such appointments be prevented in the future?

McKenna is not stupid.  He knows that, regardless of what one thinks of David Eastman, the Oath Keepers or their role in January 6th, Eastman is an American citizen, entitled to the protections of the United States Constitution, including the rights of free speech and association.  McKenna also knows that if the Alaska Court System attempts to prevent Eastman from taking office that decision will be reversed in federal court.

McKenna is not attempting to damage Eastman politically.  He knows he’ll be reelected on Nov. 8th.  If this ruling has any effect on that election, it will help him.  So what’s the point?

By this ruling, which has made national headlines, McKenna has inserted himself into the ongoing political campaign to discredit the Republican Party by associating it with the events of January 6th, and, by implication, with Donald Trump. 

McKenna is not acting as a judge.  He is assuming the role of a calculating political operative.  He knows that if the election of 2022 is about Joe Biden, and his record, the Democrats will lose.  But if, instead, it’s about Donald Trump, and Jan. 6th, they can win.  Legally, McKenna’s ruling is inexplicable.  Politically, it makes perfect sense.

So how can Gov. Dunleavy justify his elevation of McKenna to the Superior Court bench?  Alaska’s Constitution vests in him, as Governor of Alaska, the power of judicial appointments.  But as he has painfully learned in the past four years, this power is illusory.  Judicial appointments can only be made of candidates who have been approved by the Alaska Judicial Council, which is controlled by the three members appointed by the Alaska Bar Association.  They, along with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, have a majority on the Council.  They refuse to approve any judicial candidate who does not share their judicial activist philosophy.  As a result, Alaska’s judiciary is entirely dominated by ideological soul mates.  The Alaska Supreme Court and Superior Courts are partisan, imperial, and unaccountable.  And such they have been for over 40 years.  It doesn’t matter who the people elect as their Governor.  It’s out of his hands.

In the case of Jack McKenna, he was the least objectionable of the candidates Dunleavy was forced to choose from.  One can only  imagine how bad the other choices were.  Until this system is changed, Alaskans can expect more Jack McKennas, and there’s nothing they can do about it.

Unless, of course, Alaska’s Constitution is amended, and the Alaska Bar Association’s control of the Judicial Council is eliminated.  In the Alaska legislature, numerous efforts have been made over the years to propose such an amendment.  But it’s been proven politically impossible to achieve the needed 2/3 supermajority required.  The politicians in black robes who populate our judiciary have enough political allies in the legislature to prevent passage of such an amendment.

So what can be done?  Fortunately, there is a solution in Article XIII, Section 3 of Alaska’s Constitution.  It calls for a referendum, every ten years, on the question of calling a constitutional convention.  This year, on November 8th, Alaskans can vote for Prop 1, calling a convention.  If it passes, delegates to the Convention may, by majority vote, propose an amendment which would put an end to this judicial tyranny.  If subsequently approved by the people, Alaska’s lawyers will no longer control the judiciary.

A grass roots campaign is being conducted on behalf of Prop 1 by ConventionYES.  They are focused on putting the Permanent Fund Dividend in the Constitution, taking that power away from the legislature.  Such an amendment can only be proposed by a convention.  The legislature will never pass an amendment which strips it of power.  Prop 1 will rise or fall on the question of the dividend, and its future.

But an unavoidable subsidiary issue is judicial reform, which likewise will only be proposed by a convention.  If you are outraged by the political  antics of Judge McKenna, you should not only vote yes on Prop 1, you should join the effort of ConventionYES.  It will succeed if it can get its message heard.  It’s hope vs. fear, reform vs. the status quo, the legal and political elites vs. the people. 

[As you can tell from this article, Suzanne is a pistol.]

Rally for the PFD

“PFD Rallies Across the State” by Fritz Pettyjohn

Your $3268 dividend, the largest in history, was a close run thing.  Since 2016  the size of the PFD has been an annual battle in the legislature, the most divisive issue it faces.  The key vote this year was in the State Senate, where it squeaked through on a  10-9 vote.  This is no way to run a railroad.  But legislative opponents of the PFD aren’t going away.  They think they can spend  money more wisely, and for the greater good, than the people can.  We simply can’t trust any legislature with this responsibility.  The dividend needs to go in to the Constitution.

The group seeking to do that, by campaigning for Prop  1, ConventionYES, is holding rallies across Alaska on Tuesday, when the distribution begins.  Rallies will be held at 6:00 in Fairbanks, MatSu, Ancbhoargae and Kenai.  For more info go to the ConventionYes website, here.

These rallies are to thank and acknowledge those legislators who fought for the dividend.  They’re also to recognize the legislative candidates who support Prop 1, which would allow the people to vote on preserving the dividend by putting it in the Constitution.  Only then will Alaskans be assured of future dividends.  The legislature has demonstrated, repeatedly, that it can’t be trusted with this job.

Many thanks are also due to Governor Mike Dunleavy, who has fought for the dividend throughout his term.  He’s indicated support for Prop 1, and is expected to attend the rally in Fairbanks.  He understands that the PFD needs to go into the Constitution.  And he knows that can only happen at a Convention.  That’s the political reality.

Based on reporting in MRAK, Dunleavy appears poised for reelection, based largely on his unstinting advocacy on behalf of the PFD.  The people, more than ever, want their share of Alaska’s oil wealth.  Candidates supporting it have an edge all over the state.  If you support the dividend, you should support, and advocate for, Prop 1.  This is especially true for Mike Dunleavy.  The dividend is Jay Hammond’s legacy.  Its protection, and perpetuation, in the Constitution, can be Dunleavy’s.

The opponents of Prop 1, lavishly funded by the outside dark money group the 1630 Fund, claim to be defending the Constitution.  This 1630 Fund is a front for George Soros and his fellow foreign billionaires, who oppose Prop 1 because it’s a mini-version, at the state level, of Article V of the United States Constitution.  Soros wants nothing less than the downfall of the United States, and he doesn’t want the reforms possible under Article V.  He’s afraid they’ll work, and strengthen this country.  He’s afraid of an Alaskan Convention, because it would succeed, and me a model for the whole country.

But Prop 1 is all about Alaska, the PFD, and its future.  What the opposition is really afraid of is the voice of the people  –  expressed in the vote for the Convention, the selection of delegates, and their final verdict on any amendment the Convention proposes.

There are other issues that may be addressed at a Convention, if it is called.  The delegates, prominent and trusted citizens from across the state, will decide.  They will debate, deliberate, and attempt to reach a consensus which can be ratified by a vote of the people.  Those who are afraid of a Convention are afraid they are in a political minority, and don’t want the voice of the people heard.  If the people of this state are afraid of a Convention, they’re afraid of themselves.

For 40 years Alaskans have been receiving annual dividends.  Gov. Jay Hammond started the program when Alaska was in an economic boom.  Money was flowing from Prudhoe Bay, and the entire railbelt was prospering as never before.  But the rural areas, the bush, the people in the villages were largely left out.  These were the people Hammond cared most deeply about, and he was determined that they get some small share of the bounty.  They, and all Alaskans, deserve to continue to receive this benefit.  Right now, it’s needed more than ever. 

This is not a Republican or Democrat issue, or conservative and liberal, or urban and rural.  It’s about Alaskans and their families, struggling to get by in these difficult times.  The $3268 that every man, woman and child will receive transcends all political boundaries.  It’s money that they want, and need.  And it’s money a lot of special interests would rather have for themselves.

Proposition One is a referendum on a constitutional convention.  The framers of Alaska’s Constitution were political progressives, heirs to the great political reformers who transformed American politics in the early 20th century.  They weren’t afraid of the people.  They believed in empowering the people, because they trusted them.  They wanted the people to have the chance, every ten years, of proposing needed constitutional amendments that the legislature refused to propose.  Amendments which would curtail the power of the legislature, or control its behavior. 

On November 8th the question for Alaskans is, do they trust themselves?  If they do, Prop 1 will pass, a Convention will be held, and the people of this state will then vote on whether they want the PFD to be there for generations yet unborn.

Fritz Pettyjohn is on the steering committee of ConventionYES, and served in the Alaska legislature in the 1980’s.