Steve Aufrecht at What Do I Know? has posted a long, detailed look at Anchorage Daily News investigative reporter Richard Mauer's detailed article published last Sunday, on a highly questionable land deal associated with the Alaska Sea Life Center in Seward. Mauer wrote the story with Tom Kizzia, but Aufrecht analyzes background on the ADN article from his knowledge of what Mauer was doing while investigating last year. Aufrecht, a semi-retired University of Alaska professor, also was a teacher at the college of Tylan Schrock, the center's administrator when the land deal went down. Aufrecht offers insight into Schrock's personality in his post.
I got to know Steve when we were both blogging the Vic Kohring Alaska legislative corruption trial last year. Near the conclusion of that trial, Aufrecht's humanity toward Kohring and others convicted in the same investigation was questioned by some, who thought him too kind and forgiving toward the convicted. My defense of Aufrecht's viewpoint was the first Progressive Alaska essay. Since then, Steve's valuable help with my writing and viewpoints at this site has been stimulating, helping me to understand aspects of my public responsibilities as a blogger.
Last Sunday, writing about Kizzia and Mauer's article, I observed:
One of the things that Mauer's narrative clearly shows is how, when Sen. Stevens insinuates himself into a public process, people caught in the crossfire feel uncomfortable. People who feel like they might have to become unwilling accessories to the way the Federal earmarks get processed into projects favorable to one friend of Ted or another, often are put into a position of believing that if they don't enable Ted or Friends of Ted, their career, their business or their position in their community will be slimed.
Steve's post goes beyond that in its nuanced considerations of how peoples' lives were adversely effected by this remarkably questionable earmark fund use. And, even more of interest, is the growing intersection in how Kizzia and Mauer's article plays out in the public sphere, with the writings of various local bloggers, and in the information that can be gleaned by comments attached to those articles. The effect is mostly cumulative, or additive as a process. This is far better than the old-school approach, where the ADN, for instance, publishes an article, and a week or two later, a couple of letters to the editor surface.
But the attention drawn to earmark acceptance syndrome by the combination of news articles, TV reports, blog entries and written comments may be multiple rather than additive in its effect on Alaskans' growing awareness that there is a price to accepting our Federal legislators' funds for giant projects. Alaskans, even though the Feds are keeping very tight-lipped about what they might do next, are increasingly becoming aware of the seriousness of the untidy, unethical and unhealthy state of the political environment here.