I first 'met' Laurie Hummel when she was interviewed by the Alaska Redistricting Board to be their executive director. I was so incredibly impressed by how perfectly her background qualified her for the job AND by how well she presented herself and her knowledge. She was both assertive and respectful. In that interview she was asked to describe her managerial experience as it related to the job. It was all impressive and you can see my very rough transcript here.
A part that particularly warmed my blogger heart was when she spoke about confidentiality and public information. She said you have to set up categories:
"what you have to share, should share, can’t. Things that have to be shared with the public [you share] and that’s how it should be. I come from climate that values ethics. I hold the highest ethical standards. I see a big difference where there’s an enemy. Here I see no enemies. Press and people are not enemies."I was blown away by Hummel that day and wrote one of the most enthusiastic posts I've ever written about anybody on this blog.
When the Board decided not to fill the position, I was seriously disappointed and wrote a two part post exploring possible reasons why.
- How Could Redistricting Board NOT Hire Laurel Hummel? Political Neutrality Appears Ripped To Shreds - Part 1
- How Could Redistricting Board NOT Hire Laurel Hummel? Political Neutrality Appears Ripped To Shreds - Part 2
The last post I did that focused on Laurie Hummel was about her announcement to run for State House.
I was (and still am) so impressed with Hummel that I decided I had to help her win. People complain about the lack of good politicians all the time. But there won't be any unless the rest of us work hard to elect those who are willing to run. It was time for me to get directly involved.
After I became involved in her campaign I felt I could no longer report on the race. Sure, I could have declared my involvement and written, but I didn't want this blog to be a billboard for one candidate.
Hummel ran a great campaign and came very close to beating an incumbent in her first race.
Today I learned of her appointment to be Adjutant General of the Alaska National Guard by Governor Walker.
I called Hummel today to congratulate her. She told me she hadn't expected this. Her husband, Chad Parker, is a colonel in the national guard and when the governor asked her to take the position, she decided she'd ask to be deputy. That's a civilian, state position, that wouldn't put her directly over her husband. But Chad told her she couldn't turn this opportunity down. Accepting the position requires her husband's resignation from the Guard.
In October, during the campaign, she'd written an op-ed piece in the ADN on how to reform the national guard. (I'm assuming my readers know about the scandal which played a role in defeating our former governor's reelection bid.) She listed six steps to heal the Guard, which I'm abbreviating here. You can read the whole piece here.
1. Immediately hold legislative hearings -- with witnesses under oath -- to independently investigate malfeasance in the Guard.She was hoping to work on these as a legislator and these focus on what the legislature and governor need to do. But now she gets to work on these from the inside and from the top.
2. Appoint an independent special prosecutor to address criminal actions not currently enforceable by the Guard’s antiquated, ineffective state version of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
3. The Legislature must create a viable UCMJ. The Guard must advise and guide but the state’s Military Code is a state statute. This is the province of our Legislature. The heavy lifting for creating a meaningful and effective code is done in committee. This would appropriately be accomplished by the House Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs. But again, nothing is happening on that front.
4. Separate the adjutant general (TAG) position from the commissioner, DMVA position. Tom Katkus and his predecessors were dual-hatted as the TAG and commissioner.
5. Fill the existing military legislative liaison position to the Alaska Legislature.
6. The commander-in-chief (our governor) must demand, receive and embrace unfettered access to Guard issues and take a personal and active part in restoring a culture of transparency.
Side note: Hummel will become the first female adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard. She told me there had been women heads in Vermont and Ohio, but they have left office. Other states are appointing their heads now as well and she wasn't sure if there would be another woman among them.
As I explore google's offerings on "women adjutant generals national guard" I get
Ohio's Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst and Vermont's Major General, Martha T. Rainville and Alaska's Col Laurel Hummel in the first five hits. Moving down the lists there are a number of male adjutant generals whose page mentions "the fine men and women."
But then up popped up BG Mary Kight who became California's first female, African-American adjutant general in 2010. Are there others? If Hummel pops up already, I'm guessing that if there were other women appointed to be their states' adjutant generals recently, they would show up. But proving there are no black swans is harder than proving there is one.