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A Bad Day in the State Capitol
By Sen. Hollis French


May 07, 2007
Monday PM

Among the days I have spent in the Legislature, Friday was about the worst. Seeing current and former legislators arrested for bribery and other misdeeds is disturbing, to say the least. As a former prosecutor, I am very familiar with the many different ways that people can misbehave. Nevertheless, I was shocked to read about the alleged activities taking place in the Capitol and the VECO offices in the Baranof Hotel.

In our country, of course, no one is guilty of anything until he or she pleads guilty or is found guilty by a jury. It may be that the government cannot prove the allegations in the indictments. But the allegations are extremely serious, and go straight to the very heart of the democratic process.

I've been asked if Friday's arrests will change anything in the Capitol this year. Certainly the ethics reforms, which were already headed for passage, get more momentum. There will also be a very close look at the profits-based PPT legislation that passed last year. I voted against that bill because I preferred a simpler tax on the gross value of the oil. The PPT tax has resulted in less revenue than expected and disputes about whether BP can write off the costs of its pipeline repairs. A tax of the gross avoids these problems.

Will the arrests lead to more global changes in Juneau? I hope so. I don't expect these events to reshape human nature, but in the aftermath of this crisis, I think we can look forward to a time of reflection and behavior modification on all our parts. I maintain that the great majority of us are honorable individuals doing our best to serve the public. But we can all do better.

Hollis French
Alaska State Senator
District M - Anchorage

Received May 07, 2007 - Published May 07, 2007




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