I wrote a letter to Governor Parnell and others. Not only did I email it to many government officials but also to the media and posted it HERE on Anonymous Bloggers.
We were putting up the responses that we received and here is another one that I received from Mr. John Moller, Governor Parnell’s Rural Advisor:
Ms. Ann Strongheart:
First let me say how sorry I am to hear about your recent loss of your husband. My thoughts and prayers go to you and your family.
If the below responses (from the Dept of Commerce) don’t fully answer your questions or you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to call me. If I don’t have the answer, I will get it. You’ve called me in the past on my cell phone so please feel free to continue. Direct email is also another preferred means of communication for me. If it takes awhile for me to respond, it is probably because I am in one of our rural communities.
With respect to your August 14, email I have attached responses from Mr. Black and Ms. Jollie that hopefully answers your questions. These emails were in response to another Alaskan with similar questions as you.
Deputy Commissioner Black is the Chairman of the Rural Subcabinet Advisory Panel. Directly below is an August 13, email response from Mr. Black to questions about the rural advisory panel:
1. When has the advisory panel met? Are meeting minutes available? We meet once a quarter beginning in March of this year. Notes are taken and available if requested through Angelina Burney at the Commissioners Office
2. Has the advisory panel held any public meetings? The meeting is open to the public but no public announcements have been posted except at the day of the meeting in the Atwood building.
3. How was the advisory panel selected? Did the State publish any announcements inviting Alaskans to apply to serve on this panel? The advisory panel was selected from a list of names suggested by vario us rural organizations and vetted through the Commissioner’s Office and Governor’s Office. There were no published announcements for candidates but each member was approached to ensure they wanted to participate and that they represented a diversity of backgrounds that the Commissioner thought was appropriate.
4. Will the advisory panel be meeting with NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco? Also, do you know if the subcabinet will be meeting with Ms. Lubchenco? (Jon Katchen in the Department of Law might be able to answer the subcabinet portion of this question but he is currently on leave). I do not believe that either the subcabinet or advisory group will be meeting with Ms. Lubchenco as a group. I am not sure if individual members plan to meet with her.
5. Are any of your advisory panel members involved with NOAA’s Community Development Quota program, or do any of your panel members have any other interests with NOAA? Yes we have members that represent CDQ programs. Billie Charles of Emmonak is the Chair of the Yukon Delta Economic Development Corporation and Robin Samuelson is CEO of the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation. “
I have one correction to #5 of Mr. Blacks above response: Billy Charles is no longer the Chairman of the Yukon Delta CDQ.
Tara Jollie is the Director of Department of Community and Regional Affairs. I have attached two separate email responses from Ms. Jollie that hopefully answers your questions regarding fuel in communities.
Providing fuel is a private section function. DCRA is not a fuel provider. In many communities, for-profit businesses run the fuel service and do not want state government intervention in their private business. In other communities fuel supplies are the responsibility of City or Tribal government.
DCRA helps these local entities develop their capacity to manage their businesses and/or government. That is the role DCRA plays.
When requested, local capacity is developed through offering technical assistance to communities on accounting, rate setting, or management of utility facilities. Financial technical assistance is offered via municipal budgeting, applying for state and federal shared revenue programs, applying for loans for purchasing bulk fuel, or to residents to apply for individual fuel assistance programs. DCRA collects and publishes information on rural fuel challenges to inform communities, agencies, legislatures, and the public of fuel supply issues. We also work with other state agencies, the Governor’s office, and Legislature on ways to address problems.
DCRA continues to work with rural communities as they request assistance. The resources we have are limited, both in staffing and programs. Fuel in rural Alaska is one of many programs that DCRA is charged with. Others include Flood Assistance, Climate Change, Local Boundary Decisions, ANCSA Land Trust and land conveyances, and the administration of approximately $750 million in more than 2000 grants to individual rural entities, $100 million in shared revenue programs, and assistance to communities in preparing for managing piped water/sewer projects. DCRA has 60 staff in 7 regional offices to do this work.
We deal with more than 466 entities. If you have specific communities that you are concerned about, please let me know so I can provide more specific information.
Tara Jollie, Director
Division of Community and Regional Affairs
Department of Commerce
On Aug 13, 2009, at 3:54 PM, Jollie, Tara L (CED) wrote:
The Division of Community and Regional Affairs implemented the Fuel Watch initiative last spring. Fuel Watch consists of three DCRA staff that coordinates the information between fuel providers, fuel buyers, loan programs, regional non profits, and communities that get their fuel via barge delivery. We will use the information gathered via Fuel Watch to identify critical needs in remote communities. It is our goal to mitigate fuel supply emergencies in remote Alaska this winter.
Tara Jollie, Director
Division of Community and Regional Affairs
Department of Commerce,
Community, and Economic Development
I am following up on getting minutes from the meetings. Some other things that really bug me about these answers are:
1. The meeting is open to the public but no public announcements have been posted except at the day of the meeting in the Atwood building.
Unless I live in Anchorage or have someone who lives there and is willing to go to the Atwood building every single day to see if there is a notice posted for a meeting that same day, there is no way for me to know that they are meeting. Plus lets not even mention the fact that if I did have someone tell me the meeting was today I’d need to have several hundred dollars and pray that I could get a commercial flight to Anchorage that would actually make it there in time. Well we know that wouldn’t happen so I’d have to spend thousands of dollars to charter a plane and again pray that I could make it to the meeting.
How is this going to work? How do they justify that this some how makes it open to the public? Don’t worry I have someone doing research on the laws and requirements of making this information open to the public and how they aren’t meeting the minimum notice requirements.
2. The advisory panel was selected from a list of names suggested by various rural organizations and vetted through the Commissioner’s Office and Governor’s Office. There were no published announcements for candidates but each member was approached to ensure they wanted to participate and that they represented a diversity of backgrounds that the Commissioner thought was appropriate.
I have seen the list of the rural sub-cabinet and if I remember correctly out of the 13 members only 6 were in fact rural Alaskans. It seems like to me they picked people who they already liked or maybe who they knew wouldn’t put up much of a fight? Not that I know many of the sub-cabinet members but I find it a little worrisome that neither Nick Tucker or I were approached.
3. I am not even going to go into my thoughts on Ms. Jollies email and the DCRA information b/c I think if I had time I could go on and on for pages and pages about just what a run around I think that sounds like.
4. Did anyone else besides me notice that Mr. Black and Ms. Jollie didn’t personally respond to me?? Obviously they must have discussed the letter if the emails were provided to Mr. Moller to give to me..right? So is this still considered a response? or a run around blow off? It’s not like they didn’t know how to reach me. Maybe that is part of Mr. Mollers job to answer for them? Seems like that would sure pull him away from rural issues if he is responsible for answering for them too?
Before this post gets any longer I am going to wrap it up. Here is a response I got about the request I put in for the minutes of the meetings:
Thank you for contacting the Department of Commerce Commissioner’s office. At your request, we will mail copies of the notes taken from the quarterly advisory group meetings by the end of this week.
Thank you for your interest. Have a good day.
Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development