Skip to comments.Walker brings back several Palin officials
Posted on 12/06/2014 1:23:52 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
New Gov. Bill Walker took office Dec. 1 and ordered immediate changes in top echelons of state government. Walker brought back several top officials from Gov. Sarah Palins administration for senior positions in the natural resources and revenue departments.
Walker defeated former Gov. Sean Parnell by about 6,200 votes in the Nov. 4 Alaska elections. Parnell first took office in July 2009 when Palin resigned before the end of her term.
Out were several state commissioners and deputy commissioners including Joe Balash at the Department of Natural Resources, Susan Bell at Commerce and Economic Development, Bill Streur at the Department of Health and Social Services, Cora Campbell at the Department of Fish and Game, and Diane Blumer at the Department of Labor.
Deputy Revenue Commissioner Mike Pawlowskis resignation was also accepted Dec. 1. On Dec. 3, he joined U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowskis staff on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Murkowski will chair the committee in the new Republican-held Congress when it convenes in January.
In agencies engaged in oil and gas issues and the huge natural gas export project, Walker brought back several of Palins officials.
These include Marty Rutherford, who was deputy Natural Resources commissioner under Palin and one of the architects of the ultimately failed Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, or AGIA, project.
Walker named Rutherford as acting resources commissioner and as permanent deputy commissioner, a position she held before.
Marty is a natural fit for this position, Walker said. I know and trust Marty. She will hit the ground running and do an outstanding job.
Rutherford was working with Linc Energy until being tapped by Walker.
Another former Palin official, Marcia Davis, was named acting commissioner of Revenue. She was deputy Revenue commissioner for tax under Palin.
Davis was a strong critic of state oil tax changes made by former Gov. Sean Parnell. Prior to rejoining state government, Davis was general counsel for Calista Corp.
Rutherford will be acting commissioner until Mark Myers, who Walker earlier appointed as DNR commissioner, can wrap up affairs at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he is vice chancellor for research. Myers was also a strong critic of Parnells oil tax change.
Davis will likewise be in charge at the Revenue Department until Randy Hoffbeck, Walkers appointee for revenue commissioner, arrives back in Alaska from an extended overseas commitment.
There are reports that Davis is being considered for another senior position in the Walker administration.
In other revenue department changes, Ken Alper, a former legislative assistant to State Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, was named as state tax director. Alper has a background in economic modeling and became the House Democrats expert on oil and gas tax issues.
Alper will be based in Juneau. Matt Fonder, the previous tax director, was based in Anchorage.
In another appointment, Jerry Burnett, a former deputy Revenue commissioner for treasury, has been appointed again as a deputy Revenue commissioner.
In other areas, Walker also named Valerie Davidson, a widely-respected advocate of rural health care, to be commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services, replacing Bill Streur.
Davidson is currently head of government relations for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. She is a strong advocate of expanding Medicaid under provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act, which Parnell, the former governor, opposed.
At Fish and Game, Sam Cotten, a former legislator and Speaker of the House, was named to be acting commissioner. Walker also said Cotten is being considered for the permanent position.
Cotten is a commercial fisherman with wide experience in regulatory issues affecting fishing, and was formerly a member of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. He will replace Campbell at the upcoming council meeting in Anchorage Dec. 10-15.
Under state law, the ADFG commissioner is appointed by the governor from a list of qualified persons nominated by the Board of Fisheries and the Board of Game meeting in joint session, subject to the right of the governor to request additional nominations.
At the Department of Education, Walker accepted the resignation of Mike Hanley, the commissioner, but then named Hanley as acting commissioner. The state education board appoints a commissioner of education, but where there is a resignation the governor makes an interim appointment.
Myers, the incoming resources commissioner, and Rutherford, the new deputy, were part of a group of state resources department officials who protested, and resigned, in 2006 when former Gov. Frank Murkowski attempted to negotiate a partnership with industry on an Alaska natural gas pipeline.
In many respects Murkowskis proposal, which failed, is similar to a state-industry partnership on a large gas pipeline and liquefied natural gas project agreed on by Parnell and approved by the legislature earlier this year.
After resigning his DNR position, Myers was named as head of the U.S. Geological Survey but later returned to Alaska and became the coordinator in the DNR on the AGIA gas pipeline project.
In other interim appointments, Walker made Grey Mitchell acting commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Mitchell was previously director of the departments division of labor standards and safety.
Fred Parady was named acting commissioner of the Department of Commerce. Parady is now a deputy commissioner.
Previously he held a senior administrative position at the North Slope Borough, working for Mayor Charlotte Brower.
As of Dec. 3 there have been no further changes at the Department of Natural Resources other than at the commissioner and acting commissioner appointments. Deputy Commissioners Bob Swenson and Ed Fogels are still on the job, as is Oil and Gas Director Bill Barron.
What think you about these changes for Alaska?
I’d like to see Gov. Walker designate a “National Sarah Palin Day” just to watch Lib heads explode...
It gives me "Hope".
Id like to see Gov. Walker designate a National Sarah Palin Day just to watch Lib heads explode...
He should bring back Sarah Palin as Atty General so she could take care of some unfinished business. (and really make some heads explode)
At first, when I saw the title, I thought they were talking about Gov. SCOTT Walker.
TWO Gov. Walkers?
I love seeing Liberals chew off their own legs!
I would also like to see statues of Gov Palin all over Alaska
Hey, great! We only lost $500 million on AGIA, let's do it again!
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