Choose Respect, again.

Or, should we call it the “Do as I say, not as I do” initiative?  The glow is off Governor Parnell’s “Choose Respect” initiative.

A recent article in the Anchorage Daily News reports Governor Parnell’s office did not take timely nor appropriate actions to investigate reports of sexual assault in the Alaska National Guard.  The article “After 4 years, Parnell finally lifts a finger to help sexually assaulted Guard members” written by Shannyn Moore and published April 26, 2014, was very well documented.

It is followed on with reports and posts from writer/blogger Amanda Coyne found at Amanda  Amanda’s posts include the Governor’s responses to the Moore article.

I can sum up the Governor’s responses in just a few words, “None of this is my fault.”  Sorry Governor, but at the end of the day, it does not matter who failed to do what, or who told who what to say.  The buck stops with the Governor; no scapegoats allowed.

This is way too serious.

The most recent and poignant statement I’ve read on the subject so far was from Byron Mallott.  Mallott is a candidate for governor and his statement published today reads:

“Today we learned the details of the failure of Sean Parnell as the Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard. He campaigns on ‘Choose Respect’ but fails to act when it comes to enforcing that goal,” said Byron Mallott, Democratic candidate for governor. “By waiting passively, Parnell abandoned the victims of sexual abuse, the National Guard and Alaska’s many veterans whose record of service is being damaged.” 

For four years, the pleas for help by victims of sexual abuse in Alaska’s National Guard were disbelieved and discounted.  The courage of military officers and chaplains reporting the abuse directly to Parnell was complimented but then disregarded. Not only was no action taken, but the efforts of chaplains and others to aid the victims of sexual assault were actively discouraged by the administration which instructed the chaplains not to speak to the Legislature. 

We are proud of our many Alaskan veterans.  They deserve a leader who leads, not one who passively waits years until the federal government is compelled to act,” said Mallott.  “Sexual abuse cannot be condoned.  Inaction speaks louder than slogans.”

None of this is good news.  The timeline and other facts have been reported.  Evidence is forthcoming.  It is simply hard to believe.  I don’t want to believe it!

We do know (largely from the Choose Respect campaign) abuse starts with disrespect, and it escalates in very many ugly and awful ways.  I saw the beginnings in early on in 2010 with disrespect for employees eventually becoming blatant disregard for state laws.  And, like so many Alaskans, I noticed a sharp growth of arrogance coming from the Administration during the last session in Juneau.

I repeat a quote below from the first Choose Respect article I wrote in January 2011.  It reads, in part:

“The State of Alaska has an initiative called Choose Respect.

 It has a nice ring to it; however, the Administration has no business preaching about respect until it changes the disrespectful way it treats good employees when it is done with them.  Quit with the hypocritical preaching of Choose Respect.”  

I still mean it.  Who knew it would escalate to this serious and sad state of affairs.

There is only one recourse.  We must care about the candidate’s character when we step into that voting booth next November.  We must choose a candidate that clearly knows right from wrong.  If we do not, it is all downhill from here folks.  So please Alaskans vote and when you are done, give someone a ride to vote.


LeadDog Alaska

Tara Jollie, retired State Director, Division of Community and Regional Affairs (DCRA), writes as LeadDog Alaska and the views here are her own.


Anchorage Daily News: “After 4 years, Parnell finally lifts a finger to help sexually assaulted Guard members” by Shannyn Moore



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