Monday, November 01, 2010

Strange Chemistry in Hillside/ER/Hope/Whittier Senate Race

Image from Giessel website
[Information here is from the candidates' websites, other web information including the Alaska Public Offices Commission.  As part of full disclosure, I have met one of the candidates - Janet Reiser - and was impressed enough that I have contributed to her campaign.  So, this post, like most posts here, is an attempt to present the general facts accurately, though is influenced by my own biases.][Of course that last sentence is true of anything that anyone writes.]

Senate District P

Since this post has a chemical twist, I should remind folks that P is the symbol for phosphorus.  The Jefferson Lab website tells us:
In what is perhaps the most disgusting method of discovering an element, phosphorus was first isolated in 1669 by Hennig Brand, a German physician and alchemist, by boiling, filtering and otherwise processing as many as 60 buckets of urine. Thankfully, phosphorus is now primarily obtained from phosphate rock (Ca3(PO4)2).
Why is chemistry relevant in this race?

Because two of the three candidates in this race have degrees in chemical engineering - undoubtedly a first in Alaska.  The third candidate, a nurse, surely had to take chemistry as well. 

The Unknown Element- Dziubinski

Phil Dziubinski has only been in Alaska for four years and is running as an independent largely with his own money. 

He has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia and an MBA from Loyola University (New Orleans), according to his website

The good news is that he worked as a "compliance and ethics leader".  The bad news is that it was for BP.  It is hard to gauge from his website how well he did his job, or even exactly what it was, but given BP's record here in Alaska, in Texas, and in the Gulf of Mexico, one has to wonder exactly what a BP compliance and ethics leader was paid to do.  

In fact he's worked for BP since 1982 according to his website.
 -Compliance & Ethics Leader, BP Exploration Alaska (2006-2010)
 -Health, Safety & Environmental Director, BP Petrochemical Segment (2004-2006)
 -Health, Safety & Environmental Manager, BP Chemicals (1999-2004)
 -Health, Safety, &Environmental Manager, Coastal Oil Company & BP Oil (1991-1999)
 -European Refining Analyst, BP Oil (1988-1991)
 -Refining Planning & Economics Supervisor, BP Oil (1985-1988)
 -Refining Process Specialist, BP Oil (1982-1985)
Let's see.  It was June of 2006 that BP had a significant spill in Alaska.  We don't know exactly when Dziubinsky took on this role in 2006 and perhaps he was brought in because of the spill.  But he certainly should have had time to prevent the 2010 pipeline corrosion issues.  Here's another report on this problem. 

What exactly did he do for BP?  All he tells us on his blog is that he made them efficient:
Phil has managed business functions with up to 300 employees.  He has established and managed operating budgets of $100 million dollars.  His business success has been accomplished through business simplification and elimination of activities that did not add value.  Phil's management of these business functions significantly reduced business costs and made those functions more efficient.

But wasn't 'efficiency' - saving money - one of the reasons for the pipes getting corroded?

For an MBA, his job description is pretty vague and leaves out any sort of measurable indicators of the quality of his work.  The 300 employees and $100 million describe his responsibility, but not how well he carried it out.  To be fair, most campaign literature stays general like this.  But then if you are the compliance and ethics leader of a company that has significant compliance and ethics issue, thoughtful voters would have questions about his role in all this, questions his website doesn't address.

Looking at his contribution list at the Alaska Public Offices Commission, he looks like the Meg Whitman of Alaska.  Of $155,000 contributions, $152,000 appear to be from the candidate himself.  That means 98 percent of his support comes from his own pocket.  Independents don't have to work with others to get support.  But legislators do. [Note:  I'm not real skilled at using the Alaska Public Offices Commission search techniques.  I almost gave up, but called and got help.  So there well may be other reports that tell other things that I simply missed.  Keep that in mind as you look at my comments on spending.  Here's the APOC page to start searching.]

Dziubinski's website is pretty sketchy on the issues and they all get back to the oil, or at least energy.  For the state budget and taxation, that makes sense, since we are so oil dependent.  But his education is also focused on training people for the oil industry.  I do find his point that so many oil employees are from out of state an important one.  If you fly into Anchorage on a Saturday or Sunday, the plane is full of men coming back to their jobs after a break at home somewhere in the Lower 48.  The other issues he mentions are gas pipeline, natural resources development, and alternative energy.  What does he know about Native issues or health or fishing or other issues facing the state?  He doesn't tell us. 

Cathy Giessel

Cathy Giessel is the Republican candidate whose values we can know most about.  Her platform has a Tea Party flavor to it - very strong anti-abortion, strict constitutional interpretation - and she was appointed to the Board of Nursing by Sarah Palin.  Her website resume tells us:


    * Registered Nurse
    *  Advanced Nurse Practitioner
    *  Business owner - Healthcare consulting business


    * Master of Science in Nursing Science - University of Alaska Anchorage.
    *  Bachelor of Science in Nursing - University of Michigan.
    *  Diploma - Lathrop High School, Fairbanks, Alaska
One way to evaluate a candidate is through the company they keep.  Giessel's endorsement page is replete with who's who of Alaska far right political names - Loren Leman, Fred Dyson (who introduced Joe Miller the day Miller handcuffed reporter Tony Hopfinger), Wayne Anthony Ross (Palin's Attorney General nominee, the only one to be turned down by the legislature).

Rebecca Logan's endorsement says, "We need elected officials who don’t play political games and don’t compromise their principles  - Cathy Giessel is that person."  That works if you agree with her principles.  Alaska nurses got very upset with Giessel when she ignored their imput to follow her own priniciples.  Those Alaska Nurses are supporting one of her opponents - Janet Reiser - in this race.  Mudflats gives us a hint at why this might be the case:
The letter talks about an incident in a public meeting when Giessel divulged information regarding confidential complaints made to the Board, and ends with a statement of no confidence in Giessel’s professionalism or ethics.  Giessel maintained her position, and as far as can be determined, Palin ignored the complaint. 
In his attempt to oust Ruedrich, Miller told reporters at the time that the party’s vice chair, Cathy Giessel, should take over. Giessel, now the Republican candidate for a Senate seat from the Anchorage Hillside, wouldn’t comment.
“I remember nothing about it,” she said. “That’s what I’m going to tell you about it — nothing.”
Her issues page avoids, for the most part, hints of her radical conservatism.  There are hints here and there.  She does want a two year budget cycle which I think makes a lot of sense.

But then there is a section on the Constitution and we have a page right out of the Tea Party platform:

I support strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and Alaska Constitution

Specific Constitutional topics:

U.S. Constitution:

Second Amendment - I support the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear firearms.

Tenth Amendment - I support the authority of the individual States to determine issues not specifically delegated to the Federal government.

Alaska Constitution:

I support the individual's right to keep and bear arms

I support our State's definition of Marriage 
Article I, section 1, Inherent rights, including a natural right to life.  I support the right to life, from conception to natural death.
So, she's strongly anti-gay, strong anti-abortion, etc. which is consistent with her endorsements from the Alaska Right to Life and The Alaska Family Action.  That's the lobbying arm of The Alaska Family Council, the extreme right wing group whose questions for candidates includes a measures to make abortion more difficult and to deny any state recognition of the civil rights of gays.  Giessel marked yes to all of their questions, such as this one:
If a bill is introduced in Juneau to add “gender identity” and/or “sexual orientation” to Alaska’s civil rights statute, will you vote to oppose such legislation?
YES __________ NO __________ UNDECIDED __________
And she voted yes to another question which would take away rights of gay public employees.  You can see the questionnaire and how candidates responded here.

Giessel's fundraising is much broader than Dziubinski's.  However, she has filed paper reports instead of computerized reports which are a little harder to go through.  She has a fair number of contributions from individuals varying from $25 to $500.  She's also contributed about $40,000 of her own money out of about $119,000 collected altogether as listed in Geissel's last 30 day report.

Janet Reiser

Janet Reiser is the other chemical engineer (University of Colorado, Boulder.) She's also a Democrat.  She's on the board of Chugach Electric and owns her own company which according to her website
is the sole licensee for patented Radiant De-icing technology, the only FAA approved alternative to traditional jet de-icing. Currently developing project to install first Radiant de-icing facility at Ted Stevens International Airport for winter 2011-2012.
In fact, her career page gives that kind of detailed descriptions of what she's done in various jobs she's had.  

Like Dziubinski, Reiser's issue page is heavily oriented toward oil and energy.  But she does branch out a little more into education and health and public safety.  I was disappointed that her sexual assault message was so heavily aimed at punishment and didn't mention prevention at all.    But at least she recognized it as an important Alaska issue.

Reiser has raised $140,000 from long lists of individuals.  About $9,000 is from various labor unions - including police and fire fighters.  It is probably significant that BP employees (Dziubinski worked for BP for almost 30 years) and nurses (Geissel is a nurse) are both supporting Reiser.    Reiser has contributed, as best as I can tell, $5000 of her own money.

In a bizarre twist in this race, the ADN reports that a flyer from the Alaska Senate Democrats was sent out to the district supporting Dziubinski.  Geissel's website announces
"ALASKA REPUBLICANS APPLAUD DEMOCRATS FOR WITHDRAWING THEIR ENDORSEMENT OF JANET REISER"  but Democratic Chair Patti Higgins says the Democrats still support Reiser.   Was this an attempt to split conservative voters between Geissel and Dziubinski?  It sounds pretty clumsy.  All part of the strange chemistry in this race.

1 comment:

  1. I would say, yes, probably that the mailer sent by Alaska Dems was a clumsy event to split the conservative vote. There was a major hullabaloo on Facebook Saturday night over the AK GOP claim that the Dems had thrown aside Reiser -- which is hasn't -- but a number of us were pretty darn disappointed when we found out about that mailer. I wrote about the whole thing yesterday morning -- Dirty tricks: Latest from the Alaska GOP… & unfortunately the SDCC too.

    Thanks for looking into all this -- I especially had known very little about Dziubinski before.


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