Sunday, April 12, 2009

WAR About to be Lost?

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's nomination of Anchorage attorney Wayne Anthony Ross, AKA - "WAR," to be Attorney General is turning out to be the most divisive cabinet nomination in Alaska history. During nomination hearings in the legislature last week, testimony on Ross was provocative and contentious. Then a bomb shell hit the Palin camp.

They won't recover.

On April 7, the daughter of one of Alaska's most dedicated and respected public servants, Dick Burton, submitted a letter to the state Senate Judiciary Committee. Leah Burton has long been an advocate for abused women and family safety. Nominee Ross (hereinafter referred to as "WAR"), has built a career defending men who have lost their children in child custody battles.
In her letter, she claimed:


In 1991, the DADS group held an area wide meeting at a Denny's Restaurant in Anchorage near DeBarr & Bragaw. I chose to go and sit in the main area of the restaurant near the opening of the meeting room where they convened so I was able to hear what they had to say and find out what plans they had for the upcoming legislative session.

and:


At that point they still did not know what I looked like so I was able to sit there unnoticed. The meeting was well attended. Steve Strube was the head of the group at that time and another known member, John Grames (who Strube referred to as his Lt.) was also in attendance along with enough other members to fill the room.They were delighted to have Wayne Anthony Ross in attendance as a guest speaker.

Numerous comments were made that were appalling, not the least of which were remarks by Mr. Ross which included the following; "If a guy can't rape his wife...who's he gonna rape?" and "There wouldn't be an issue with domestic violence if women would learn to keep their mouths shut."

Other members made their own contributions such as, "We have the right to discipline our wives and children without the interference of government in our lives!"

These comments were greeted with laughter and affirmative responses by the group.

WAR responded to Leah Burton's letter, with
a lawyerly non-denial denial, in which he carelessly claimed:


I have never ever stated to anyone “If a guy can’t rape his wife… who’s he gonna rape?”

I don’t talk like that!

I don’t believe in that!

I totally abhor such a thought and I totally reject it!

Leah Burton's father, whose resume of public service is impeccable, then
wrote a response to WAR that may cause longtime legislators and staffers in Juneau to take a step back from this. Here's one of Col. Burton's stronger statements, in his well-measured letter:


You sir, speak and act like the kind of bully I met many times when responding to domestic violence calls, some of the most dangerous situations police officers are often in. Over the years I brought many an abused spouse and/or children to my own home for my wife to care for, because there was no place else to take them.

I've known WAR since the late 1970s, when I was Whittier Harbormaster. His assertion, "I don't talk like that," will cause immense laughter among many of his longtime friends.

They'll keep their mouths shut, though. He's a big guy in their boy's toys clubs.


There are so many guys like WAR in Alaska. Friday, I did some research on him, going back through micro-fiche files of some of the hundreds of op-eds he wrote from the early 1980s through the early 1990s. I couldn't find some of his early tomes against a holiday or street named after Martin Luther King, or his columns in support of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

I did find some fairly damning stuff, though. Here are the titles of some of his articles from around the time of Leah Burton's claim:


Chastity, adultery relegated to Dark Ages
KKK 'art' project gets 'A' for courage
Proponents of abortion are doomed to lose
It seems like it's becoming 'we' vs. 'they' on Alaska issues
It is time we quit crying over the oil spill (September 1989)

Here's an extract from the KKK "art" op-ed,
in which WAR describes his feelings about an African American woman who objected to the "art":


Ms. [name redacted by PA] was obviously letting her inner hostilities rise to the surface.

It might have been more fun to see Ms. [-----] try to remove the display. Then she could have been arrested and her future as a student of the university could have been resolved through the university disciplinary proceedings.

And, an extract from his op-ed about how benign the Exxon Valdez spill was (written during the initial oil spill cleanup in 1989):


We see almost every day, the same films of what appear to be the same oil-soaked duck pulled out of the water. The state claims to have a number of refrigerated vans filled with about 30,000 carcasses of waterfowl killed by oil. No doubt some of these birds were casualties of oil. But had several thousand people combed Prince William Sound for dead waterfowl any prior summer, as they did in the summer of 1988 [sic], there is no doubt that an equal number of dead birds could have been accumulated.

Every important Alaska Native organization has strongly come out against WAR, because of his longstanding vilification of their Federal rights to a subsistence lifestyle. Environmentalists are outraged and enraged. Every important Women's Rights group in Alaska has urged WAR's rejection. The LBGTQ community is livid.


Recently, WAR has twice submitted his name for judicial vacancies, most recently for a seat on the Alaska Supreme Court.
He was solidly rejected, with review scores by the Alaska Judicial Council, of 2.7 and 2.8, respectively, out of a possible score of 5.

According to one of my Juneau Baranof Hotel informants, the vote now stands at 27 against the nominee, three short of rejection.

And several reporters are actively looking for more material in Ross' background. He has left a lot to look for.
Letters from constituents to legislators, Republicans and Democrats alike, are running four or more to one against WAR.

In the fight against the Ross nomination, Alaska progressive bloggers have led the way in getting the word out, both here and nationally. Although we're sharing information with the traditional media when asked and feeding them tips voluntarily, we're involved as a team in helping create the narrative of this man's divisive past in a way no blogging crew has ever been, concerning an Alaska legislative action. Camille Conte (CC), at Anchorage progressive radio KUDO-AM, has worked closely with the bloggers, and has now interviewed Leah Burton twice on-air.

We're putting what we learned going up against the Palin machine, as we spread word about the state's negligence in the Lower Yukon this past Winter to good use.


And this might have a profound impact on rural Alaska too, just as we helped get the word out on the January food-fuel crisis in the Bush. Alaska, with sexual assault statistics by far the worst in the United States, was about to nominate a poster boy for neglect of that issue to the top lawyers job in the state.


To paraphrase Palin's statement Thursday about Levi Johnston, WAR will be AG:


"Over our dead bodies!"


Between beginning this article and concluding it, the word is beginning to get back to me that
Palin is contemplating the withdrawal of WAR's name.

Update - 7:50 p.m: The Alaska Report is now running a breaker:


Wayne Anthony Ross goes down the drain
Palin's pick for Alaska's Attorney General doesn't have the votes.

Update - 8:30 p.m: According to one Juneau source, just reporting in, the vote count, according to one legislator, was at 30- 30 29 at 6:30 p.m. Keep those emails from constituents going! Here's mine:

Dear Sen. Huggins, Sen. Menard and Rep. Gatto,

I have known Wayne Anthony Ross for over 30 years. He is clearly unfit to be Alaska Attorney General.

1. To vote for him would be a slap in the face of EVERY major Alaska Native group in our state.

2. Alaska has the highest sexual assault rate in the United States, yet, WAR has been quoted by a very credible source, Ms. Leah Burton as having made highly offensive remarks on that subject at a meeting of DADS in 1991.

I know Leah's dad, Col Richard Burton. He gave the commencement address at my graduation from a course at the Alaska State Troopers Academy in Sitka, in May, 1978. He is one our most distinguished public servants.

If Burton is backing his daughter's contention about Ross, that's enough for me. How about you?

3. His dismal ratings of 2.7 and 2.8 by the Alaska Judicial Council, for two times he applied for a judge vacancy should be enough on their own to give you pause.

4. But the combination of that, and his longstanding and accessible record of opposition to Alaska Natives, African-Americans (he wrote columns in the early 1980s against a Martin Luther King holiday, and in support of South Africa's Apartheid government!), and women's programs should help you determine he is truly unfit for this important post.

Thank You for considering my views.

Regards,

Philip Munger
House District 13



image provided by Celtic Diva

35 comments:

Lori Ann Gimmer said...

Excellent, excellent post!!! Thank you so much!

Philip Munger said...

Lori,

Thank you.

ps - my wife is a retired grade school teacher and reading specialist.

ella said...

GINO would be well-advised to withdraw WAR's name - if she has illusions (delusions?) about higher office, she will need women on board. This would absolutely wreck that support IMO.

Writing Raven said...

Excellent post Phil - great research (though more and more disturbing to ponder why this man was chosen in the first place.)

Maeve said...

Thanks for your research and writing; and for your cooperation with the sometimes uncooperative MSM!

I always appreciate your level-headed take on the issues facing us.

Anonymous said...

Bravo Phil! Bloggers ROCK! Thanks so much for all you do!

Kat

Anonymous said...

Phil,

I agree with you 100% that WAR should not be AG. However, what I'm wondering is whether there's some deal-making going on between Palin and the legislature: approve WAR and I won't cut your district's requests.

With the comments made by Ramras "looking forward" to WAR's acceptance, I'm not sure what the whole point was of the hearings. Kinda like the judge telling the defendant "not guilty" even before the jurors have been seated.

I contacted my senator, hope he votes his constituents' wishes and not his own to appease Palin. Dems are showing some growth of backbones, the Repubs, well....they're still cartilage around Palin. And since our "Femme Fetale" governor knows how to kill, surely she can break someone's back.

SLT

Anonymous said...

Make Love, not W.A.R.!!

Anonymous said...

I was in a costody battle and Ross was my ex's lawer. I fought longg and hard just for a fair decition. For two years and ten thousand dollars, never going to court once. My lawyer said Ross would fabricate evidance were ever he could, and he did. I will not go into the long and dirty details. But this guy is just plain wrong and needs to not be our A.G

Anonymous said...

Burton is a nut case.

Most of those opposed to Ross are Wacko or sore losers in the court room.

IF you lost to Ross in the court then either the judge was biased towards Males or you had a lousy case.

Ross is a fine attorney and all those opposed will just have to scream.

Anonymous said...

What we will have to do really is what Alaskas have done for many years, vote, close our eyes till it is time to vote aggain and try and get someone we want in there.

Wait.... now our eyes are open and mabe Alaskans will never go back to the same old ways of doing things here.

I think there are ways more stories about WAR we haven't heard yet.

SillyGit said...

Thank you for this news Phil.

If this is true, this is indeed wonderful news. Mr. Ross is not who I would want as my AG at all.

onejrkitty said...

Philip:

Here is a comment I just posted to Fagan's article in the Sunday ADN.

Feel guilty it took me so long to have this idea flash into my head, as it is soooooo obvious !

My Posted Comment:

W.A.R. spoke at the Denny's meeting to Dads Against Discrimination.

W.A.R. thinks Children's Services take kids out of the homes too often, even when abuse.

W.A.R. thinks men have the right to "discipline" their wives sand children.

WONDER IF W.A.R. IS GOING TO PROTECT LEVI'S RIGHTS TO SEE HIS CHILD NOW THAT PALIN IS TRASHING THE KID IN PUBLIC AND ON THE STATE'S OFFICIAL WEB SITE.

HEY W.A.R., ISN'T THAT ILLEGAL OF PALIN TO USE STATE RESOURCES FOR PERSONAL GAIN?

If W.A.R. is not a hypocrit, he should publically come out and defend Levi and LEVI'S LEGAL RIGHTS TO SEE HIS CHILD !

How about it Wayne???

mlaiuppa said...

Three short of rejection?

You guys have your work cut out for you. To be safe, you better get 5 to flip their votes to no.

In the meantime, better keep searching fast and furious for those "golden" quotes that will sink WAR's battleship.

ella said...

don't you think the alaska report has jumped the gun? nail biting here.

Philip Munger said...

ella,

this is a very fluid situation. Easter has never been a normal workday for the alaska legislature. the numbers are coming from legislators from both parties.

there is no indication anything will be sure regarding the final votes until the scheduled voting day.

but WAR's confirmation is nowhere close to certain, and people are mobilized to object to their legislators. Palin may be incapable of making the deals the fence sitters will demand.

and then she'd be saddled with a guy the whole left blogosphere is eager to uncover and discover, a borderline nutcase figure with a 30-year history of published writings demeaning minorities, women and environmentalists.

the real story is probably Sarah and Todd meeting with Meg and shadow figures, trying to figure out how to blame this whole episode on WAR, so they can nominate somebody even more wacky, but who has left no tracks.

Anonymous said...

The 'acting' Attorney General, Wayne Ross's personal anecdote on unlawful activity that presumably went uncharged.
He starts by calling Becharoff Lake, "Betyourassoff Lake". He recounts a remote hunting
trip which included a German hunter that he threatened with a gun:
"I had to place the barrel of my revolver alongside the German's ear before he calmed down..."

That's armed assault.

http://rossandminer.com/articles/90-06-17.html

Anonymous said...

Can't improve upon everyone else's comments -- just want to say thanks to you, Phil, for stickin' to it! And also big thanks to Shannyn, Leah and Richard! May the Truth win out.

...Maybe Richard can provide written documentation to the Legislature before the final vote ... ??? Or has this already been done?

Jean
rural AK

Nancy said...

I really hate posting anything in defense of Ross, but after reading the article at the link given above - about a hunting trip at Becharoff Lake - well, go read the article.

Apparently, the "German" was not just verbally, but physically attacking the pilot. Pulling a gun on the guy seems a little drastic to me, but so is beating on the pilot who has your life in his hands.

Anyway. Just sayin'

tewise said...

Mr. Munger

Thank you for your post on the latest news you have received. I also wanted to thank you for doing all that research on Warthogs "stories".

I couldn't get very far finding things way down here in Ga. but I was able to find a few. Actually I told my Dad that I know more about Alaska than my own state. I was kind of blocked when I learned that newspaper had folded.

Your letter to your representatives was spot on and hopefully they will pay heed to what is being said. To me all I would have to know was the ratings of 2.7 and 2.8 by the Alaska Judicial Council, enough said? How would he try to spin this.

Mr. Burton you are a very professional man and thank you for calling a snake a snake.

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

Phil,
I know I'm out of state, but I figured since c4p and ts will write...anyway, here is what I wrote using Shannyn moores blog post yesterday morning.
Dear Legislature's & Senate,
I have been following WAR proceedings very carefully, Leah Burton called in and submitted her letter Re: WAR for your consideration. Well here is a follow up to that letter posted on Shannyn Moores Blog from her (Leah's) Father to WAR and his flippant answer. It is of my opinion if WAR is confirmed you of Alaska will be opening yourselves up to major problems between Palin's Ethics complaints and WAR's arrogance.

I also have a woman who is a top notch handwriting analysis, profilier for the Secret Service, and her preliminary finding is this man has issues. Sexual issues/hang ups. I have told her that any sensitive findings. should be turned over to the FBI, US AG Eric Holder as WAR is possibility about to be confirmed as Alaska's AG. If you care, to hear more I will give you her name. This is strictly unofficial on her part, but I have told her the importance of what her findings are MUST be turned over to appropriate Agencies.
The Legislature and Senate should enact a emergency bill to elect a Attorney General and take this out of the hands of a insane Governor.
Sincerely,

the problem child said...

A fine e-mail, Mr. Munger. Pointing up the WARthog's lack of support from the local legal community is a good step. I hope those lawyers are writing, also, too, although it could make life sticky for them whether he is confirmed or not...

Anonymous said...

as my husband pointed out -- the vote on WAR can't be 30-30. There are only 59 legislators right now.

Casey said...

Phil...as the daughter of an abused woman, and as an abused child....and even as a Canadian, I write to thank you.

The acceptance of WAR would not hurt me directly...except to leave a pain in my heart for all Alaskans who would NEVER be given fairness by him.

Thankyou dear man.

Laurie

Philip Munger said...

Anon @ 7:33 am - He's right! Fixed as best I could....

Anonymous said...

Nancy @ 3:15 AM - "Pulling a gun on the guy seems a little drastic to me, but so is beating on the pilot who has your life in his hands."

I see your point. I had the same exact thought at first. Then I backed up. Given the same circumstances, would I do the same? No. For many reasons, but one main one - it's against the law for one citizen to pull a gun on another. It's restraining a person with deadly force. Most of us would be afraid of getting in trouble, at the very least. It makes no sense. Even police officers don't manage a situation that way. Only in the movies.
Notwithstanding mitigating circumstances that might be justifiable in a courtroom, the ACT is still a "deadly weapons" charge.
Any person experienced in arms knows the code - never point a gun unless you intend to shoot.
Keeping in mind that this is a skilled courtroom lawyer, he couldn't talk the situation down?

Then I considered the source. The person who said, on record in a very important Legislative committee hearing committee,“She was provocative. She looked very good in it, didn’t she?”
A man who called a respected attorney a "degenerate". A guy who is casually and publicly disrespectful to a man who honorably served in law enforcement and the Justice Department since before Alaska was a state. And ugly to the man's daughter. Boy, that's just not someone I can put any faith in.

And there's always another perspective, even if an account is absolutely truthful without 'spin'. I wonder what's been left out? You really think the German hunter was that desperate for a shower? To disregard and compromise his own safety in a small aircraft in a storm in the Alaska wilderness? Naw.

And then there's the language: "I HAD to place the barrel of my revolver alongside the German's ear..."
Typical 'he/she made me do it' language. Judge, I wasn't going to hurt him; he was acting all crazy and I had to calm him down.

I have to say, in my bush Alaska/Last Frontier/commercial fishing fleet/been in the Rural Advisor's bar/mavericky-hunting adventures-life, I've never known of anyone to pull a gun on someone else without going to jail. Undoubtedly it's probably happened and been kept a secret; certainly not published and proudly on a law firm's website.

My last thought - this person who threatened a German tourist with a gun is not just Joe Hunter - he's an officer of the court! That doesn't look good.

Communication skills, style, misogynistic viewpoints, whatever. All else aside, I don't want an Attorney General who openly, and without fear of prosecution, brags about engaging in criminal behaviour.
Alaska is not a Louis L'Amour novel. His rudeness is not charming.
If he's confirmed, they can predict that this guy will distract from the business of State administration, sucking up time and resources and creating chaos. On a GOOD day!

Blue_in_AK said...

Bottom line -- it's time for Alaska to move past this "wild West" mentality. Wayne Ross is 10 giant steps backwards. It's hard enough being a progressive in this state without the chief interpreter of state law being opposed to everything we stand for.

Anonymous said...

This just can't be that hard. There's just so much excellence to choose from.
Alison Mendel for Attorney General!

How about:
Bob Wagstaff
Judge Frederick Torrisi
Heather Kendall-Miller
Judge John R. Lohff
Judge Beverly W. Cutler
Judge Joel Bolger
Phil Weidner
Doug Pope
Sidney K. Billingslea

Legislators, heellloo? ELECTED representatives down there in Juneau...anyone?

clark said...

45 of the 50 states elect their AG. i assume this will be the subject of an upcoming ballot initiative.

Anonymous said...

Sorry if this shows up twice -- it didn't appear as though my last post made it:

There is legislation pending for election of AG -- let's hope that his kerfuffle has pushed it over the edge and that it gets the votes to pass. I've long since written supporting it -- long before the WAR issue, back in the Colberg days.

Anyway, have written my SECOND letter to the reps & sens asking that they deny WAR the AG position, and have forwarded it to Alaskan family asking that they make their voices heard as this balances on knife-edge.

Re: Phil's comment above regarding new name thrown in the hat when WAR is not confirmed --

here's the closing line from my letter: "I am hopeful that the legislators of the State of Alaska will not only deny the confirmation of Mr. Ross as Attorney General of the State of Alaska, but will also ensure that the Governor understands that nominating an attorney for that position that meets her own personal & ideological criteria while undermining those of the best interests of the State is unacceptable."

AND

There is no way that any name that she submits will not be subjected to utterly exhaustive research by anyone & everyone. And everyone leaves a trail.

sauerkraut said...

Funny that a supporter of Mad Anthony Wayne would come on here to call Burton a nut and opponents of W.A.R. "losers." It's all a game to him instead of the substance required of a state Attorney General.

If Mad Anthony had an iota of self-respect and integrity, he'd withdraw his name. But we all know how that goes. Why are the idiots always trying to force their mediocrity down our collective throats?

Let's hope you are correct about his lack of votes, Phil

Philip Munger said...

Not so sure about the votes, according to one of my Juneau supporters.

Anonymous said...

Phillip, I think you have a foe, whom has posted on here before, whom has had some very negative contact with WAR. I think she provides housing for teen parents at a discounted rate. I can not find the post on here to confirm.

With this AG choice by Palin, it popped into my head about that "anonymous mouse" and her deeds towards other teen families. Gosh I wish we can contact her. I know she has had terrible times with WAR.

If this is the same person, WAR tried to harass that family for providing low cost housing to teen parents. Didn't someone like this post here before? I can't find it. That is a must have interview!

Let me try and ask Diane B. out it.

labman57 said...

Palin's choice of Ross has nothing whatsoever to do with the best interests of Alaska and everything to do with winning favor with the conservative base of the GOP at the national level. This has been the case with just about every political policy decision coming out of her office since she was thrust onto the national scene during the 2008 presidential election.

Helen M. Bascom said...

Outstanding article. Sorry I missed it back in April. I will be following your blog. Keep up the great work.