Attorney general designate Wayne Anthony Ross is controversial for a lot of reasons, but his position on questions like rural Alaskans' subsistence hunting and fishing rights should be a non-issue . His position on subsistence is the same as Gov. Sarah Palin's. On subsistence, we at the Daily News have long taken the opposite stand from the governor and Mr. Ross, but we recognize she is entitled to pick an attorney general who agrees with her on such a high-profile issue.
Her position on subsistence was well-known when she ran for governor. She easily won election. Voters knew what they were getting.
Those who are complaining about Ross' stand on subsistence are really complaining that the governor doesn't agree with them on the issue. Likewise for Ross's opposition to many gun regulations and to abortion. His boss is pro-gun and anti-abortion. They agree on those issues. So the problem is ... ?
Focusing on Ross' views of subsistence or these other issues distracts from the questions legislators should be asking. Does he have the qualifications, ethical standards and temperament to be the state's top law enforcement official and run such an important, politically sensitive department?
There should be no litmus test for an attorney general appointment on subsistence or any other policy issue. To the extent Alaska's attorney general has to make controversial decisions about policy, he or she will be taking direction from the governor. An attorney general who does not support the governor's direction needs to be ready to resign.
And that area might be a fruitful line of inquiry for legislators. They might ask Ross at what point he would draw a line with the governor and say, no, I can't be part of what you plan to do and I'll have to resign.
Lawmakers might also ask if Ross intends to use a litmus test for retaining attorneys whose personal political views might differ from his own or his boss's. When Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski took over, his administration forced out two state attorneys who had previously run for office as Democrats.
As attorney general, Wayne Anthony Ross' first obligation will be to the law and the people of Alaska, not to the politician who appoints him. Whether he'll uphold that standard is a far more important matter than his views on subsistence, abortion or guns.
BOTTOM LINE: Critics may not like Wayne Anthony Ross' stand on controversial issues, but the question is whether he is qualified to be attorney general.
Keep it simple, senators
The cruise ship discharge bill passed by the House last week has a major flaw.
There's no deadline.
House Bill 134S gives the cruise industry more time to meet the strict standards voters demanded in approving a 2006 ballot initiative, but the measure has no guarantee cruise ships will ever have to meet those standards.
The bill requires interim and final reports (2012 and 2014) on the ability of the cruise lines to meet the pollution standards that voters approved. It creates an 11-member science advisory panel to help make those reports.
Members won't just look at technical and scientific questions; they'll also consider economic feasibility of tighter pollution controls.
Instead of directly killing the tougher standards voters demanded, the bill calls for more study. That's a classic a diversionary tactic, which in this case could spare the cruise industry from having to meet the new rules.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has concluded in a draft report that technology exists to allow cruise ships to meet strict, point-of-discharge pollution standards at reasonable costs.
Applying that technology will take time. The cruise lines should have that time. But not more than that time.
The Senate should amend the House bill to impose a deadline.
BOTTOM LINE: Cruise wastewater bill needs a deadline -- for compliance, not just reports.