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.
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.
House District 13
image provided by Celtic Diva