OPINION: Offering my services to stop Dunleavy’s embarrassment factory

After a long fling with reporting, editing and management in the news biz, perhaps it is beyond time to try something new — something like applying for a job in the administration of Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

No, really. His administration needs help. It is a headline magnet. The good news, at least for my job hunt, is apparently anybody can get hired there for mucho dinero to do just about anything in jobs nobody has a clue about. Admittedly, I am not talking about seeking just any position. I’m talking about a brand new post of my own invention, one that would report directly to the governor and make his life less … hectic.

The task? Run interference and fix things, quietly, heading off gaffes and the usual barrage of nasty headlines that follow. I would do that mostly by telling errant administration members, “Nope, that’s dumb.” My office and its ever-growing staff would give Dunleavy a breather from nearly constant bashing and let him fly here and there selling Alaska in peace.

The only job possibly better — and I’m talking way, way better — would be lieutenant governor, but that plum is unavailable. How could anybody not want it? Protect the state seal? Hire somebody to run the Division of Elections? Travel on the state dime — in fishing season? Gimme a break.

You may wonder: Am I qualified? To quote a former Alaska governor, “You betcha.” My bona fides are incontrovertible. Dunleavy and I once were on a University of Alaska Anchorage debate team together. He did great. I stunk up the place, but apparently that still would qualify me for just about any job in the current administration. Oh, and he is my dearest friend. (Not really, but what can it hurt to say that?)

Oh, sure, I may have a past. Who doesn’t? There were those troublesome dustups years ago. They could, I suppose, make a sitting governor itchy about a fixer known in some circles as Pauly No Steps. But, hey, if the past is any guide, Dunleavy’s guys could not dig them up with a steam shovel. Besides, the statutes have run and we are all friends now that I pulled the plug on my podcast and ditched the blog, “Things You Don’t Really Need To Know,” but I digress. Recent events promise my history is safe from this administration.

In reality, when you think about it, we are not just talking about recent events, are we? This administration, from nearly Day One, has been marred by political arrogance, cronyism and playing fast-and-loose with credulity. It has a tin ear and too often its picks for government posts have no business in government. Nowadays, many wonder whether the administration even vets new hires, or who possibly could be advising the governor on contracts that seem so inexplicable or the fat pay raises Dunleavy arranged for himself and lawmakers. It is enough to make a backwater Louisiana politician blush.


The most recent Dunleavy administration pie in the face? Jeremy Cubas.

Alaska Public Media and APM Reports took a hard look at Mr. Cubas, the governor’s $110,000-per-year adviser on “pro-family” policies. Cubas, who called himself a good friend of the governor on earlier podcast recordings, reportedly defended some of Adolf Hitler’s views and bragged about using a racial slur “on a daily basis,” they reported. There was more — isn’t there always? — like his asserting it it is impossible for a man to rape his wife — a “pro-family” stance, I suppose, if you were raised by wolves. For good measure, there was this: “Women want to be taken by a man.” You have to wonder: What family is that?

Cubas, a Dunleavy staff photographer for a year, was hired to cobble together a family-oriented website for the administration, the media reported. Dunleavy reportedly tapped him because of his web development expertise. There may, or may not, have been some family-policy office quietly being put together, too. That part of the story is unclear. The shocking thing is either nobody in the administration knew about this guy’s podcast — or knew and said nothing. Which is it? “Dunleavy and his staff have not said whether they vetted the podcast prior to Cubas’ hiring,” the report noted.

Good grief. If Dunleavy’s people did not vet him, shame on them for yet another in a long, sorry line of screwups. If they vetted him, knew of the earlier podcasts and hired him anyway, the unemployment line should be a little longer.

In essence, somebody should have said early on, “Nope, that’s dumb,” but they did not.

In the long run, all this ineptitude is very, very good for me in my ongoing job quest.

Good for me. Not so good for the state.

Paul Jenkins is a former Associated Press reporter, managing editor of the Anchorage Times, an editor of the Voice of the Times and former editor of the Anchorage Daily Planet.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

Paul Jenkins

Paul Jenkins is a former Associated Press reporter, managing editor of the Anchorage Times, an editor of the Voice of the Times and former editor of the Anchorage Daily Planet.