Dermot Cole

The Dunleavy administration has distorted the summary of public comments received about proposed regulation changes dealing with construction apprenticeships, claiming that about 175 comments submitted in opposition are “unclear.”

No one reading this sentence, “Why would you want to turn this state into another Alabama?” and the rest of the message in which it was included, could possibly classify that as “unclear,” unless the goal is to mislead Alaskans.

The opposition email from Charmalee Howard makes it clear that she supports apprenticeships and opposes regulation changes that would “create unsafe working conditions for trainees and undermine the extensive training needed to be proficient, productive and safe.”

Her letter has been classified by the state as “unclear,” part of an effort to make it appear that comments on the proposed regulations were nearly evenly divided pro and con. In reality, they were nearly all “con.”

The state has proposed regulations that would make training requirements for electrical workers, plumbers, and pipefitters less rigorous.

Somebody in Commissioner Tamika Ledbetter’s labor department needs to be held accountable for this deception. The Dunleavy administration should not be permitted to fabricate a public response to support its ideological goals.

With this deception in place, the state summary claims that there were 176 comments submitted in opposition to the plan and 172 “unclear” comments.

In fact, nearly all of the 172 “unclear” comments should be in the against category, meaning that there were about 350 comments opposed to the state plan and 2 comments supporting one minor detail about testing valves.

Here is the first summary, an accurate document that shows blanket opposition.

Here is the revised and inaccurate summary that makes it appear as if public comments were evenly divided.

We only know about this because of a public records request made by Deborah Kelly, the statewide director of the Alaska Joint Electrical Apprenticeship and Training Trust, for a copy of all comments received by the state.

I read about this on The Alaska Landmine and followed it up.

The first summary showed nearly unanimous opposition to the plan, including a letter from Kelly in which she said, “The current proposal should be withdrawn, and the department should actively engage stakeholders to build effective regulations, and to enhance work opportunities in these industries.”

She said that last week she received a revised version of the public comment document. In this one, her comments and those of many other people have been reclassified as “unclear.”

For instance, Howard’s letter and her question about turning Alaska into Alabama was correctly listed as “against” in the first summary and changed to “unclear” for the second.

The same thing was done to the comment of Seanna Hines, “Do we need a first death/lawsuit to support out any perceived cost reductions???” And to the comment of Michael Rodgers, who used a subject line of “Say No to proposed regulations” in his email.

“I just don’t understand what the department’s point is,” Kelly wrote in an email to those tracking the issue. “A good faith reading of the comments could not lead them to this conclusion. Who is this message for?”

“One marked unclear, from Daniella Vasquez (p. 157) states ‘the changes to regulations are unacceptable.’ Another from Brandon McGuire (p.117) says ‘I’m writing today to express my staunch opposition to the proposed regulation changes affecting the plumbing and electrical skilled trades.’ These are just random examples – I have yet to find a comment that is actually unclear in its intent.”

The only unclear aspect of this is why anyone in the Dunleavy administration igured that this brilliant plan would go unnoticed.

Load comments