Tuesday, November 04, 2014

An Explanation for Nancy Dahlstrom's Harsh Response To National Guard Complaints

Let's connect some dots.

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.”

 Laura Pierre and Rules Chair Nancy Dahlstrom (Image Source)
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.”

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.

Some Background

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. 


  1. Very interesting personal perspective on this.

    However, I think you are just part of the way there. Laura Pierre is McHugh's wife; so that means ___ is McHugh's father in law.

    Fill that blank in and have a think about the stink.

    1. And, where is fil employed? Go up the 'chain'.

    2. Since you're posting anonymously why don't you fill in the blank for us?

    3. The ADN article cited above comments include some from Deb Blaylock who says "His father in-law was his predecessor.
      Craig Campell (TAG) left to become the Lt Gov and took John Cramer with him. Katkus was named acting TAG and Cramer's son-in-law . . .was named acting Deputy Commissioner for the DMVA. And there they have stayed since 2009."

    4. Campbell also got John Cramer hired at the Aero-Space. Maybe McHugh Pierre will end up there next. http://www.akaerospace.com/docs/AAC%20Board%20Minutes%20092012.pdf

  2. https://www.linkedin.com/pub/mchugh-pierre/42/310/248

  3. Thanks for adding that 1:52. That is exactly what I meant, but I didn't say it.

    Once you fill in that blank, then next thing is to explore the employment history. You may be surprised at what you find.

  4. 2:22 who would be in the market for that service?

  5. Another interesting thing is to compare the backgrounds of people that fill similar positions.

    Murkowski also announced three other appointments to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs:

    Mr. Roger Schnell will be the new deputy commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. A retired colonel in the Alaska Army National Guard, Schnell served as former chief of staff of Alaska Army National Guard. He also served as deputy commissioner of DMVA under Govs. Hickel and Knowles, and has 37 years of experience with DMVA.


  6. Mr. John Cramer
    Deputy Commissioner


    Mr. John Cramer was appointed 1 April, 2008 as the Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs after serving in acting status since January of 2007. He has served as the Departments Director of Administrative Services since January of 2003.

    Prior to his appointments with DMVA, Mr. Cramer was the Deputy Administrator for the City of Wasilla, Alaska from 1996-2002. His duties at the city were Assistant to the Mayor, Chief of Staff, Administrator of Personnel, Legislative Liaison, and Programs Manager.

    Mr. Cramer started his career with the State of Alaska in July of 1981, when he and his wife Debbie moved to Palmer, Alaska from Oregon. John was first employed by the Department of Natural Resources as an Agriculture Inspector II. In 1985 he was promoted to Program Manager where he served for the next 6 years. In 1991, he was again promoted and appointed by Governor Walter Hickel, as the Director of the Division of Agriculture. He served in that capacity until August of 1995. John has also worked for brief periods for both a State Senator and Representative.


  7. Pierre tapped as deputy commissioner
    Rena Delbridge
    January 26, 2010

    McHugh Pierre was tapped Nov. 10 as deputy commissioner of the state's Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

    The position was vacated as former Commissioner Craig Campbell answered Sarah Palin's parting call to serve as lieutenant governor, and Brigadier General Thomas Katkus became commissioner.

    Pierre's appointment came to our attention only this week, as someone pointed out the title on the state's employee list. He was promoted with little fanfare, which he said is appropriate.

    "It's not a big deal," Pierre said. "I think the bigger deal is taking care of business, and making sure the governor's ideology is carried out."

    Here's Pierre's official bio, via the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Web site. It leaves out one of his most recent positions, that of communications guru for the Alaska Republican Party during the 2008 elections:

    McHugh Pierre was born in Anchorage and raised in Wasilla....



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