Thursday, January 18, 2007

No Mercy For Alaska Governor Who Pardoned Company Convicted Of Killing Worker

The Anchorage Daily News was as upset as we were by (former) Governor Frank Murkowski's pardon of a company convicted of negligent homicide in the 1999 death of a backhoe operator on a Cordova hydroelectric power project job site (which I wrote about here). The company had also stiffed the state on a quarter-million-dollar fine and interest resulting from the death of Gary Stone who was killed in an avalanche. State job safety officials had warned the company about avalanche dangers at the job site.

In response to the pardon, granted just before Murkowski left office, the state legislature is considering a bill that would
require governors to submit pardon applications to the state Parole Board for review. The existing law makes that optional for governors. The former governor did not bother to ask the Parole Board for its opinion on the pardon that he issued just a few days before leaving office. Nor did Gov. Murkowski or his staff bother to ask whether Whitewater Engineering Corp. of Bellingham, Wash. had ever paid its fine to the state in the case. It hadn't paid a dime.
According to the NewsT
the legislation would not interfere with a governor's constitutional prerogative to issue a pardon, but would shine a much brighter light on the process.

It's good that Rep. Samuels and his colleagues see the need for this legislation, which already has picked up bipartisan support. But it's sad that there is a need for this legislation.

BOTTOM LINE: It's too late to fix what's been done, but Alaska can do better next time.