“He's leaving on a jet plane…”
Charismatic Frank has an aversion to traveling with the Great Unwashed, even in first class, and has been using “his” jet* for campaigning. Although Frank claims it's all been business, suspiciously no campaign money has been used for travel, and the number of state appearances by the Gov at local fish frys and boy scout weenie roasts has suddenly shot up. But stupid me, why should Frank “Friend of Big Oil” Murkowski have to pay for something when he can get it for free? After all - he’s worth those sorts of perks – and entitled to campaigning on the state’s dime. Oops, nope, guess it's more than just a dime considering what jet fuel must be going for now that Murk’s buddies suddenly discovered corrosion in their pipes!
Simultaneously, someone is taking out ads pleading for the state jet’s life. A couple of days ago in the Fairbanks Snooze Minus, an ad appeared exhorting candidates of all political stripes not to make selling the state jet a plank in their platform. It's OK to object to the Gov doing an end run around the legislature and buying his jet through a line of credit at Key Bank, reasons the ad, but “Please don’t resent the state jet itself. It’s a hardworking machine that is needed and is doing a good job for Alaska. “ It's hard not to get a little pang of sympathy for that quasi-anthropomorphized jet that might get put out to pasture very soon.
The state jet supporter makes some good points about the efficacy of having a jet at the disposal of state business, although his principal one – that it is used to transport prisoners from Alaska to Arizona brings up a bigger issue that this blogger would like to see addressed by the next governor and legislature…the matter of Alaska inmates – the overwhelming majority of whom are Alaska Native – being incarcerated thousands of miles from their homes in a privatized prison facility (and thus feeding some bloated corporation on the misfortunes of a people terribly disadvantaged by the present legal and political system.) Given Alaska’s population – it seems incredible that money can't be found to expand our correctional facilities (we aren’t talking needing a facility the size of Sing Sing or Rikers Island here) so that people doing their time can do it where their families and friends have a better chance than a snowball’s in hell to regularly visit.
Hmmm…nearly three million buckeroos can be found for a private jet for Frank – loosely using the excuse of prisoner transport for its raison d’etre, but no money can be found to expand correctional facilities here, or more importantly, to fund sufficient law enforcement and social services in Alaska’s rural areas so that the core problems of drug and alcohol related violence, domestic assault, and child abuse are addressed and treated. Much better to buy a jet and warehouse, out of the state, these reminders of the problems plaguing the Native villages. Out of sight, out of mind.
We can only hope that come this Tuesday, Frank the Bank will also be out of sight, out of mind. But hey, who is paying for this frigging jet? A line of credit is a line of credit – it means the State still owes the money. So it really doesn’t matter that the legislature didn’t approve the purchase, does it? Alaskan residents still foot the bill for that little ego-booster toy of Frank’s.
* Despite Frank’s “compelling reasons" why he needed a jet to conduct his bizness as the Guv, in a moment of fiscal clarity, the State legislature refused to appropriate $2.7 million for Frank’s jet. Frank, in the way of all spoiled children, refused to take no for an answer so used a state line of credit to buy his toy. Wow. Wish I could get me some o’dat special state line of credit!