If politicians don’t already know what makes the general public mad, try wasting money at a time when most of us are looking for change in the couch to pay our electric bill. The $10,000 the Anchorage Assembly voted to spend on investigating the pay out of a life insurance policy to the estate of George Sullivan is a classic example.
Let’s take a look at some facts without using the prism of political game playing.
Sometime back in the early 80s, the city assembly voted to provide the former mayor with a life insurance policy. No one seems to remember why. At this point, it hardly matters. No current Assembly would dare to try to do it again.
The Sullivan family paid an annual premium to the city for the policy with the expectation that it would be honored upon George Sullivan’s death.
The city was eventually told by its insurer that it would not cover the benefits since Sullivan was no longer a city employee. Two previous administrations investigated the matter. Both investigations concluded that the city had to honor this obligation.
Dan Sullivan should have revealed from the outset that he was the administrator of this portion of his father’s estate. Since he was city mayor, and since this was a highly unique arrangement, common sense should have led him to that conclusion. He was wrong not to own up to it the minute the issue arose. In fact for a mayor who seems to be quite politically astute, this looks like a pretty tone deaf political move. Why hand your opponents an opportunity to beat you up when a simple disclaimer would have at least averted the appearance of trying to hide something?
Despite this gaffe, however, the facts show that Sullivan received nothing from the distribution.
This special arrangement for the former mayor reeks of something not nice. But we’ll never know how or why it happened because it was concocted a long time ago by people who are mostly no longer around. The answer as to why George Sullivan was granted this unique arrangement is probably lost forever unless, by some miracle, documents come to light explaining it. Documents, I should add, that no previous investigation or administration has been able to unearth.
There is never a good time to lose your parent. But George Sullivan’s death while Dan Sullivan was city mayor was particularly bad timing. In a climate in which most families are struggling to pay their weekly grocery bill, there is an inevitable resentment of “our” money going to pay the mayor’s family based on what is viewed, at best, as a very cozy deal.
However, having said all this, having all the facts aired at meetings, on TV news shows and newspaper opinion pages, on radio talk shows and around lunch tables all over town, the bottom line is that no wrong doing can be pinned on the Sullivan family. And nothing can be pinned on the mayor except bad judgment in not revealing his role as executor of this policy.
Now the Assembly, in what looks so very much like political gamesmanship, has voted to spend $10,000 to investigate the matter – again. And I can only wonder what the heck they are investigating? Are they saying that the last two administrations didn’t investigate properly? Are they looking for proof that sometime back in the early 1980s, Dan Sullivan and his father hatched a plan where his dad would die while Dan was mayor and create a political mess for him?
I think anyone who reads this column regularly will have already figured out that Dan Sullivan and I probably don’t share the same political philosophy. But fair is fair and right is right and what the Assembly is currently doing to waste $10,000 is wrong. And I’ve yet to hear a really good explanation of what this money is expected to find that isn’t already known.
If the Assembly has $10,000 to throw away, I’d suggest they spend it on fire or police equipment or donate it to Brother Francis or heck, just send it to me so I can pay my property taxes. It will be a much better use of this money than what is currently planned for it.