Columns 2007

Alaska – We’re still number two but trying harder

Once again, despite our best efforts, Alaska must take second place to New Jersey in the world of political scandals. And really, if we don’t beat them this time with all we have to ante with, I fear we never will.

I headed East for a family wedding last week, secure in the knowledge that finally I could face friends and relatives with my head held high.  We had two convictions and two pleas with multiple indictments still to come at what is only the start of mucking out the smelly stuff in Alaska’s political attic.  Nothing happening in New Jersey could match us. My adopted state had won.

But New Jersey doesn’t go down that easily. Where we have convictions, they have political mysteries that only get more bizarre with each passing day. When I arrived in Atlantic City, all the talk was about its missing mayor. He, and a city owned vehicle, were apparently last seen sometime at the end of September.  The only official word on his whereabouts came from a statement claiming he was in an undisclosed facility for an undisclosed ailment.

The vultures had already gathered about his empty seat. City councilmen were going to court saying the mayor had abandoned his position and the head of the city council should be acting mayor until an election was held. The city manager swore that the mayor had verbally transferred power to him until his return.  The mayor, being in that undisclosed location that apparently didn’t have e-mail or a telephone, was not able to confirm or deny this.  And so the fun continued.

I thought that Alaska could meet or match that debacle based solely on the recordings from the Baranof that played at our latest trial.  But no, Atlantic City wasn’t done unloading all its ammo.  According to an AP story, four of the last eight mayors of the city were busted on graft charges and one third of last year’s nine-member City Council is in prison or under house arrest.  One of those councilmen, the former city council president, is serving a 3 � year federal prison term for bribery.  Are you starting to see why Alaska is going to lose this contest?

The AP report goes on to state, “As for other Atlantic City politicians, one councilman is under indictment on charges of helping to set up another councilman who was lured to a motel room and filmed having sex with a prostitute… Still another councilman is facing charges he drunkenly drove his city-owned car across the Boardwalk and onto the beach in the wee hours. He was on his way home from a party celebrating the arrests in the sex-and-video case.” You couldn’t make that stuff up and sell it.

Of course, this is the state in which then Governor Jim McGreavy made his male lover head of homeland security for the state despite that gentleman having no qualifications whatsoever for the position. On the other hand, if you think about it, would even jihadists be foolish enough to want to take on New Jersey. Talk about a rogue state where the Geneva Convention would more often than not be honored in the breech! 

McGreavy was followed into office by Governor Jon “I don’t need no flippin’ seat belt” Corzine who now apparently is willing to admit that maybe, just maybe, New Jersey’s seat belt laws have a purpose. Not that this actually impresses most New Jerseyites.  I have never seen so many drivers who grab the seat belt and hold it across their chest in a pretend compliance with the law. If you are tough enough to live in New Jersey, I guess the feeling is you don’t need something as wimpy as a seat belt.

And so I must report that no matter how much Alaskans may strive to reach the top of the political dung heap of trials, indictments, and scandals, up against an old pro like New Jersey, even the CBC boldly embroidered on hats is but an amateurish attempt to play in the big leagues.  But I would caution that we not give up the fight.  We have too many potentially corrupt politicians still waiting their day in court. We can only cross our fingers and hope that they come up with some bombshell that will put New Jersey to shame.

Alaska…the Avis of political scandals. We’re number two and trying harder.