The Parnell administration, in an unprecedented move, has ruled that Alaska hire requirements for state and local public works contracts won't apply to the entire state but only to limited, mainly rural areas.The Juneau Empire reported a Parnell speech in June where he defended HB 21 which cut oil taxes drastically:
No longer covered as of Friday: Anchorage, Fairbanks, the Mat-Su, Juneau and the Kenai Peninsula.
“If we can garner more investment from the tax changes we made with the More Alaska Production Act,” Parnell said, “Alaskans will benefit immensely from the jobs and opportunities that are created.”
But with this new policy change it's clear that the Governor doesn't care all that much if those jobs go to Alaskans. And anyone who has flown to Anchorage regularly notices the planes have a lot of folks flying in from Outside for their shift on the North Slope.
Parnell talks about jobs and benefits to Alaskans, but the record seems to indicate that his true purpose is benefit to large corporations such as the oil company he lobbied for before becoming Lt. Governor and then Governor when Palin resigned.
While his administration argues that DC doesn't understand Alaska's problems and thus shouldn't have power over the state, they see no reason why local governments and communities or the general Alaska public should have any say over what the State does. They overturned the guts of the people's initiative to regulate the cruise industry and they destroyed the state's Coastal Zone Management structure making Alaska the only coastal state in the country without a Coastal Zone Management program. Despite the fact that our coast is larger than all the others.
The purpose of all this? The pattern we see would appear to give large corporations (as well as smaller businesses) free run in the state of Alaska with little or no interference from the Federal government, from the State government, from local governments, or from Alaskan people in general. People's rights to protect their own communities have been cut drastically by Parnell's administration in moves like the gutting of the Coastal Zone Management program.
Federal Overreach is a buzz ward in the Parnell Administration. But not State Overreach.
The language may be about "Alaska's economy" and "jobs" but behind the facade is the real purpose: making life easier for large corporations and business in general. No one should hold up their projects for any reason, whether it destroys local neighborhoods and communities, pollutes, or threatens endangered species, or salmon streams. Business gets an automatic green light at all intersections between their interests and the people's interests.
I'm sure people like the governor and his supporters also believe that making life easier for large corporations makes life better for everyone. Fundamentalist capitalism is just as blind and intolerant as fundamentalism in any other religion. They forget that the reasons they dislike government - its potential power over others - is the same reason that many people dislike multinational corporations. And as those corporations have gained increased power over government through election contributions and lobbyists, they have gotten larger and larger. In most industries - media, airlines, food, mining, oil, defense, fishing, cruise lines, etc. - consolidation has decreased the number of competing companies, giving fewer companies more control over people's lives. Many corporations have larger budgets than many countries. Government is the only viable counterbalance to their power.
Of course the governor's new policy raises the question about whether local hire is even legal in the first place. Back in the late 70s or early 80s Alaska local hire laws were ruled unconstitutional, so I did some checking to see if things had changed. There are localities - like San Francisco - that have local hire laws. For now, I'm just raising the point, and saying it appears that there are circumstances when local hire appears to be legal. Here's a place to start reading about the law on this.