Among the many emails released by Gov. Parnell over the weekend in response to a court order was this one from Rep. Nancy Dahlstrom quoted in part in the Alaska Dispatch News Monday:
“Your statements are reckless and have the potential to cause irreparable damage to these fine officers,” Dahlstrom said in an email dated Aug. 25, 2009, to Debra Blaylock, a just-retired lieutenant colonel in the guard. “I take great offense to your statement that it is a ‘good old boy’ network with corrupt leadership. I believe the current leaders are outstanding and have made tremendous advancements in improving the overall morale, day-to-day operations, direction, and relevancy of the organization. I have never seen it function better. As a citizen of Alaska, I am truly proud to call them my National Guard.”
Dahlstrom concluded her email with even stronger language: “There is no room for mean spirited, unsubstantiated, and malicious correspondence targeted towards the undermining and destruction of the excellent reputation and character of Alaska’s leadership.”
Laura Pierre and Rules Chair Nancy Dahlstrom (Image Source)
This is pretty harsh. Not the kind of letter that legislators usually write to the public, even if they aren't their constituents.
I have a strong suspicion why this email supported the Guard so strongly and so meanly chastised Debra Blaylock: Laura Pierre.
Who is Laura Pierre?
Laura Pierre is the wife of McHugh Pierre.
McHugh Pierre was, until his recent forced resignation, Civilian Deputy Commissioner for the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. This is the state department that includes:
- US Property and Facilities Office,
- Alaska Aerospace Commission
- Army National Guard
- Air National Guard
- Homeland Security and Emergency Management
- Alaska Youth Academy
- Veterans Affairs
- Alaska State Defense Force
- Alaska Naval Militia,
- Office of Facilities Management.
The ADN, in a long article on McHugh Pierre's forced resignation wrote that investigators found
"Pierre had also inserted himself into the efforts of whistle-blowers who were working to alert Parnell to serious concerns about how sexual assault cases were being managed. "
While McHugh was working in the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, his wife Laura Pierre was on Nancy Dahlstrom's legislative staff.
When I went down to Juneau to be a volunteer staffer for Max Gruenberg in 2010, the Rules Committee was telling Max Gruenberg that he could not have a full time volunteer staffer. I didn't know this until the afternoon of the day of new staff training. At the end of that session - there's a description of the panel with a photo at the bottom of this 2010 post - I asked one of the panelists a question. She asked me which office I was going to be a staffer in. I answered I would be a volunteer for Rep. Gruenberg. At that point Laura Pierre jumped into the discussion and, in a very forceful voice, said something like, "There will be no volunteer staffers." I was taken aback not only by the message, but even more by the vehemence of her tone. And it was the first time that I realized that my volunteer position was in jeopardy.
I had introduced myself to Nancy Dahlstrom during the break that morning and she had been very polite and cordial. Rep. Dahlstrom also treated me warmly when the final decision came down that Rep. Gruenberg could not have a full time volunteer staffer. She welcomed my proposal that I would stay in Juneau as a blogger and told me that if I needed anything to let her know. Later we did have a long, very friendly, and interesting discussion in her office.
Finally, Connecting The Dots
All this background causes me to suspect that Dahlstrom's view of the Guard and Lt. Blaylock was strongly influenced by her staffer, Laura Pierre, who was in turn influenced by her husband who the investigators said, as quoted above, "inserted himself into the efforts of whistle-blowers who were working to alert Parnell to serious concerns about how sexual assault cases were being managed." And since staffers often draft communications for their legislator bosses, I wouldn't be surprised if Pierre drafted the email in question.
If that is the case, then Dahlstrom's response and apology reflects well on her professionalism and leadership. She took full responsibility for the email without a hint that someone else might have written it. And, of course, as the boss whose name was on the email, that's how she should respond. But there are other legislators who would have shifted the blame to a staffer, even if the staffer hadn't written it.