A Debate Doesn’t Always Hurt

Governor Parnell has sent a very clear message that he will not debate Anchorage Senator Bill Wielechowski over his oil tax proposal.  He offered his staff to debate the tax in the committees and hallways of the capitol.

I respectfully remind the governor that Alaskans elected him, not his subordinates.  Alaskans deserve to hear from him, not his subordinates.

Frank Murkowski, when he was governor, recognized these points while he was working the Republican-led legislature for a new petroleum tax regime.  At the same time, he was fighting a ballot initiative to tax resources that oil companies were holding underground – unused.  There was a lot of loud,  peripheral debate on both issues.

Murkowski went directly to the people.  Here’s the first story I found when I googled the debate.

It wasn’t immediately clear who won the event itself.  Both sides looked tired when they left the studio.  But in the long run,  the governor won the ballot initiative and got the new tax.

Maybe Senator Wielechowski isn’t the person to face in a debate. There are others. Certainly Anchorage public radio isn’t a good forum for any discussion.

But a controlled environment before industry and business groups is not the best forum either.  Nor is the new, regular statement that he is sending to the people.  They don’t need more advertising.  They need a complete message.

After two years of failure, two years of derision, the Governor needs to go back before the people.  He can’t continue to hide from them.


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