Friday, July 8, 2011

Is Bill Sheffield Capable of Kabuki?

According to articles published in the Alaska Dispatch and the Anchorage Daily News, the Knik Arm Bridge Toll Authority chief apparatchiks are stunned by Thursday's announcement that the Municipality of Anchorage, on behalf of the Port of Anchorage, is suing the Federal government over its decision to allow KABATA to proceed with the bridge project, which would end up, in the city's view, impinging on port operations:
The Sullivan administration lawsuit says the road connection to the Anchorage side of the bridge would be a big problem for the expanding port.

"Adverse impacts on the Port of Anchorage can indirectly impact all Alaskans who rely on that Port for the transshipment of goods. Connector road construction under the Selected Alternative will irreparably injure the Port's vital role in the regional economy," said the city's lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed this week in U.S. District Court. It says the court should require the Federal Highway Administration to set aside the Record of Decision it issued last December giving the Knik Arm Bridge project an OK to go ahead.

The suit says the Federal Highway Administration ignored the city's concerns about the impact on the port and failed to explore alternatives to make it work. It asks the court to vacate the Record of Decision and send it back to the agency and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood "for additional investigation and explanation."
KABATA chief executive Michael Foster claims the lawsuit took him by surprise:

"I was a little disappointed," Foster said Thursday. "We weren't aware that the muni was going to file."

From what I know, Foster was not invited to the closed-door pork port project summit back on June 14th. Perhaps this lawsuit was discussed at the secret meeting, but most likely not, as the chances of a leak would have been very high.

This lawsuit, directed against the Federal government by the MOA, will not be supported by the state. According to the ADN:
The project is being planned by the Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority, created by the Legislature in 2003. The bridge authority's chairman, Michael Foster, said Thursday that the state attorney general's office is evaluating the municipal lawsuit.
There is some speculation that the lawsuit is a kabuki-like move on the part of the Port and the MOA to wring more Federal funds for the beleaguered port expansion debacle, which will probably end up costing something close to $1.5 billion. Here's an excerpt from a comment by electrolass at the ADN article on the lawsuit that reinforces that notion:
[The] Federal government has placed some very key restraints on where and how the bridge will be built. These are security issues. Mayor Sullivan and supporters of the bridge know this, and they know the military will most likely not budge. I believe the military wants this bridge very much. If the Mayor can marry the need for the bridge with the Federal requirement for a more secure route north of the port, the project stands a good chance of snagging more money for the Port Authority project.
It is hard to imagine Bill Sheffield coming up with an idea that actually makes sense, let alone one that has elegance in its finesse, so if this is the case, the inspiration came from somebody else. On the other hand, Sheffield has always seemed to be a bit inspired when looking for ways to spend other peoples' money.

No doubt a few attorneys eyes lit up when they heard that the Feds, the state, the MOA and the Port are going to be tangled up in more litigation. It could only be better for them if the MOA and Port were also suing each other, with the Mat-Su Borough tossed into the mix too. Here's from another comment at the ADN article on the court action:
This is crazy. This is nuts.

Yesterday, while Gov. Parnell was signing a “Federal Debt Limit Pledge,” the Alaska Railroad announced it would buy “foreign” steel with the $104.2 million of federal TAXPAYER money it received for the Tanana Bridge project.

Then, Mayor Sullivan announces he’s suing the federal government to stop the Kabata Bridge project from interfering with the Port of Anchorage, even though he recently did commercials for KABATA to promote the bridge, AND he’s begging for more federal money to correct a huge Port boondoggle.

Both KABATA and the Port of Anchorage rely on hundreds of millions of federal money for funding.

These two politicians have taken hypocrisy to a whole new level.
Here are Alice Welling and Mark Muro, helping explain why this stuff costs so much and gets nowhere:

1 comment:

Jamie Kenworthy said...

Of course, all numbers in the video should be multiplied by 1000 to get the exact numbers the Kink Arm Bridge and Toll Authority used in their pro forma spreadsheet they submitted to the federal government last March when they sought a $300 million federal loan, see