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Attacks on Parnell appointees disrespectful of their service to Alaska

Jeff Landfield
OPINION: Despite what Shannyn Moore thinks, Ben Mohr and Tom Maloney are people who deeply believe in helping Alaska, and they deserve more than cheap shots. Chris Engelsma photo

After a nice weekend at the lake with friends, I pulled up the new Alaska Dispatch News site and stumbled across a piece by Shannyn Moore titled “Governor’s appointments are a joke, but he’s not kidding.” I read the article, initially not knowing much about the topic, and ended up being very surprised that the piece was even printed. The piece was basically a character assassination of two people I know well, both of whom are very active in the community and care deeply about Alaska. I understand people, especially columnists, have strong opinions on issues facing our state. People should be allowed, and encouraged, to express their opinions on tough issues so there can be a healthy debate within the community. They should not, however, be allowed to make unfounded accusations about people in the community who spend their time trying to make this a better place for all of us, regardless of their views on controversial issues. 

The piece criticizes the recent appointments by Gov. Parnell, whom I am no fan of, of Ben Mohr and Tom Maloney. Mohr was appointed as a fisheries adviser, and Maloney to the newly created Oil and Gas Competitiveness Review Board. I doubt Moore knows or has even spoken to either of them, but she sure seems to think she knows a lot about them.

Moore wrote, “Yes, the guy who pimped Pebble and then worked as campaign manager for Ohio’s golden boy, Dan Sullivan, is now advising the governor on fisheries policy. Good thing we care so little about our fish that we’re comfortable letting political hacks manage them.” Using her logic, I guess anyone who has worked or works for Pebble Partnership is a hack and disqualified to have any involvement in how are fisheries are managed. While that is not only ridiculous, it completely ignores how much money and how many jobs the Pebble prospect has brought to the state. I understand Pebble is a very controversial issue and an emotional one to many people, but it is utter nonsense to assume that all the people who have been employed there are on a mission to destroy our fisheries. Calling Ben a “hack” and saying that because he's advising the Parnell administration on fisheries we will “end up with a giant uranium mine in Cooper Landing” is not only ridiculous, it is mean.

Unlike Moore, I am not a paid columnist for the largest paper in the state, but I did manage to call Ben and talk to him about how and why he got involved with the Pebble Partnership. Ben said he was hired as a temp by Pebble as a receptionist in 2008. Prior to that he worked as a kayak guide and a substitute teacher. When he decided he wanted to get married, he figured it would be wise to get a more stable job. Ben worked hard and ended up working in public affairs for Pebble. I was always taught to admire people who work hard and as a result get promoted. Ben now has a 6-month-old kid. I guess Shannyn forgot or did not have time to include that in her piece.

She then decides to attack and imply that Tom Maloney was part of the corruption that took place while Bill Allen was in charge of VECO. Using that same logic, I guess the 3,000 people who worked at VECO are all guilty of public corruption. Most of these people still work in Alaska doing all sorts of jobs, many in the oil and gas industry. Should we hold the other 56 legislators responsible for the actions of four bad ones? Comparing Tom’s appointment to Governor Parnell putting a mass murderer, Robert Hansen, in charge of an effort to reduce domestic violence is so absurd and crazy it is beyond my understanding of how it was even published.

Tom is an extremely active member of the community. He is very active in the Resource Development Council and other organizations whose goal is to see we all live in a prosperous state. He is, and has been, very dedicated to seeing the people living in Alaska can enjoy the kind of economic opportunities that allow them to live happy and prosperous lives. Tom is exactly the kind of person we need on the Oil and Gas Competitiveness Review Board. Shame on Shannyn for writing what she did about him.

There has been a lot of discussion and outrage by many in the community about the piece she wrote. Hopefully, Moore got the message and will take more responsibility in her future columns. She should apologize for what she wrote about Ben and Tom.

Jeff Landfield has lived in Anchorage since 2004. He is active in local and statewide politics and spends time advocating for limited government and market-based reforms.

The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, e-mail commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.