Saturday, August 24, 2013

Short Takes| "Naming names ..."

In a post earlier today on state fiscal policy ("Short Takes| Some Interesting Facts ...") I close by saying that "[s]omeone suggested recently that I should 'sharpen my point, call a spade a spade, get down in the trenches, name names so Alaskans know who is responsible [for excessive state spending] ....'"

In a subsequent response a reader suggested that "[i]f you name names.....top of the list is Alaskan citizens who ask state government to pay for everything."

That is a fair point and reminded me of a call I received earlier this week from Mayor Sullivan over a column I wrote last week on these pages complaining, among other things, about "Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan's ... efforts to appropropriate state money to build municipally owned tennis courts."

During the call -- which was not intended to compliment the piece -- the Mayor suggested that I should keep in mind going forward that the appropriation request was not made by him, but rather by the Alaska Tennis Association.

Fair enough, but that in turn made me curious about who then is the "Alaska Tennis Association."  The Alaska Tennis Association is run by a Board of Directors, the members of which are available online.

Now that is where things get interesting.  The President of the Alaska Tennis Association during the period when the request was made was none other than Scott Kohlhaas, the Chairman of the Alaska Libertarian Party from 2002 - 2006 and the Libertarian candidate for the Alaska state house in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

The platform of the Alaska Libertarian Party includes the following:  "The only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. All efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, are improper in a free society."

It might be interesting to debate with Mr. Kohlhaas whether using government to redistribute wealth from the state General Fund to the limited population that plays tennis in Anchorage is consistent with that platform.

And the Vice President of ATA during the same period was Ed Hendrickson, who during the day is currently the Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, "seconded" to Alyeska from ConocoPhillips where he previously served as Vice President of ConocoPhillips Denali.

ConocoPhillips, of course, is one of the largest beneficiaries of SB 21, the oil tax bill that will significantly reduce state revenues over the next few years.  It is surprising that one of their officers was part of the effort to ask the legislature to spend over $7 million in state funds on new indoor tennis courts at the same time as the corporation was asking the state for significant reductions elsewhere in state revenue.

No wonder Alaska's state finances are headed for a train wreck.  The very people who should know better and be working hard on avoiding it -- indeed, in some instances say they are working hard on avoiding it -- are among the ones stepping on the accelerator as it nears the cliff.

What possibly will the next generation -- as they face income, sales and property taxes, and even then, significantly reduced levels of state services from those that this generation has provided for itself -- think of this one.