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Mike Dingman: Parnell does an Obama on review board pick

Sometimes our elected officials begin to believe the hype surrounding their power just a little too much.

The President of the United States is often referred to as "The most powerful man in the world". In similar fashion the Governor of the State of Alaska emanates power as he walks into a room.

However, unfortunately, sometimes the men in these positions handle this power poorly.

"I'm not concerned about their opinions - very few of them, by the way, are lawyers, much less constitutional lawyers."

This is what President Obama had to say about lawmakers that had a problem with the changes he has made to the Affordable Care Act - often referred to as "Obamacare."

This legislation was a hallmark of President Obama's campaign for President and is his administrations answer to the health care problems that plague our nation. It purports to be a conduit to provide health insurance for the millions of Americans that now are either uninsured or underinsured.

It had its share of problems since implementation. The web site was immediately crashed and failed to allow customers to sign up for coverage.

Insurance companies started cancelling policies of many Americans even though the President repeatedly said, "If Americans like their doctor, they will keep their doctor. And if you like your insurance plan, you will keep it."

President Obama acknowledged these problems and apologized in an interview with NBC News, ""I am sorry that they, you know, are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me."

The Affordable Care Act was a unique piece of legislation in many ways. One of the things it did was implement the new health care legislation in stages with the starting dates of these different stages set out in the law itself.

Amidst a rash of criticism President Obama has delayed implementation of multiple parts of The Affordable Care Act, even though those dates are clearly outlined in the law.

Republicans, including our own Gov. Sean Parnell, have been critical of President Obama for those delays in implementation.

In a November 2013 Press release Gov. Parnell said "Since 2010, the federal government has tried to make The Affordable Care Act work. Each time one interdependent piece of Obamacare did not work, the president went about changing 'the law.' Unilaterally."

Recently, Gov. Parnell appointed former oil executive Dennis Mandell from California to the State Assessment Review Board.

A March 14, 2014 ADN article by Richard Mauer, "Governor says appointment restrictions are unconstitutional," explains the board's duties:

Parnell said the board is a special "quasi-judicial" panel. It weighs evidence and handles appeals from the pipeline owners who claim the value of the line is too high and municipalities that claim it's too low, much like a local board of equalization handles appeals from homeowners who believe their real estate was assessed too high -- and subject to a higher tax.

The problem with this appointment is that Alaska state law says that Alaska's board and commission appointees much be Alaska voters.

Gov. Parnell claims that based on a 1976 Supreme Court ruling and minutes from the Constitutional Convention in 1956, he has decided that the requirement that board and commission appointees be Alaska voters is unconstitutional.

Mr. Mandell has since withdrawn his name from consideration for the review board.

In both cases the heads of the executive branch of their respective levels of government decided, unilaterally, that they could ignore laws passed by their legislative bodies.

It's ironic, given that Gov. Parnell has consistently criticized President Obama's delays in implementation of The Affordable Care Act. After making these strong criticisms about the President ignoring the law that Congress had passed, he turned around and ignored the law that the state Legislature had passed.

Our government on both the state and national level is based on the concept of a separation of powers. This is a basic staple of government that we all learned in grammar school. These separations were created to avoid the monarchist system that our founding fathers came here to escape and to provide that no branch of government in the republic would have unchecked power. Here in America, we don't want a king running the show and we certainly don't want that system in our state governments.

It shouldn't be a difficult concept to understand that members of the executive branch cannot, unilaterally, pick and choose which laws they follow and which they just plain ignore.

Gov. Parnell should know better than this, particularly because he has criticized the President of the United States for doing exactly what he just did. We need neither King Obama nor King Parnell; our government works just fine the way it is designed.

Mike Dingman is a fifth-generation Alaskan born and raised in Anchorage. A former UAA student body president, he has worked, studied and volunteered in Alaska politics since the late 90s. Email, michaeldingman@gmail.com.

 



By MIKE DINGMAN