Asking employees to kiss the ring won't improve Alaska state services

The demand by Gov.-elect Mike Dunelavy and chief of staff Tuckerman Babcock for a loyalty oath from hundreds of state employees who are not part of the political class is a mistake.

It is normal to replace a few hundred political appointees with the change of administration, but Dunleavy and Babcock have gone far beyond that and asked for a direct pledge of allegiance from career workers with specialized skills.

Perhaps Dunleavy and Babcock think that all state employees are political hacks who can be easily replaced. There are some in that category, of course. Babcock held several positions given to political hacks when he worked for legislators and former Gov. Wally HIckel in the 1980s and 1990s.

There are many state jobs that require training, expertise and have little or nothing to do with the political beliefs of the governor.

Dunleavy and Babcock want attorneys, doctors, accountants, investment officers, technology officers, pharmacists, and others to declare support for Dunleavy’s policies, whatever they turn out to be.

They seem to be following bad advice lifted from the Art Chance playbook. He is a former government worker who claims the best step is to fire everyone who can be let go.

“There are some appointees who are relatively apolitical subject matter experts, fire them anyway, let them miss a paycheck or two and re-apply; it will encourage the others,” wrote Chance in a piece promoted by the Republican Party.

Dunleavy and Babcock should realize that insulting and attacking employees is not the way to build loyalty and trust or improve services to Alaskans.

In a letter to the editor of the Anchorage Daily News, Dr. Anthony Blanford, the director of psychiatry at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, probably spoke for hundreds of state workers with specialized skills across Alaska when he said: “The state of Alaska hired me for my expertise, not my political allegiance.”

Dermot Cole2 Comments