Chris McNeil, president of Sealaska Corp., had a classic response to the criticism of Sen. Albert Kookesh for his threats to the Craig City Council if it opposed a Sealaska land claim before Congress. Weak but classic.
Minimize the offense, blame the media for reporting it and stress the far greater importance of the issue that has Sen. Kookesh so passionate that he's threatening to use his power as a state senator to bring the Craig council to his way of thinking.
According to McNeil, Kookesh's remarks were "incongruous" and made in an "unguarded moment."
Incongruous? Maybe, if the dictionary definition you use is "inappropriate" or "unsuitable," although those are tepid descriptions for a raw power play.
Unguarded? Sure, and we're glad Kookesh didn't have his guard up because he made plain the nature of his game.
McNeil then wrote in the news release that it was unfortunate the media choose to focus on Kookesh's remarks when the real issue is Sealaska's land claim, with its broad economic ramifications for Southeast Alaska.
No question Sealaska's claim is an important issue.
But when a state senator uses his position and the threat of withholding state dollars if he doesn't get his way as a board member of a private corporation, he creates an important issue.
The media didn't make the issue. Sen. Kookesh did.
McNeil should have let Sealaska's guard down long enough to say the senator was out of line, period.
BOTTOM LINE: Sealaska doesn't seem to see the problem with Sen. Kookesh's remarks.