“The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end: there it is.” Winston Churchill
January 8, 2012: As I scanned the crowd last Thursday at a reception welcoming the CEO’s of Alaska’s largest taxpayers it wasn’t hard to notice the obvious absence of their harshest legislative critics.
Instead of where’s Waldo, the question was where’s Wielechowski?
After all, every lawmaker was offered an invitation to join the crowd in talking with the leaders of three companies that currently pay for 90 cents out of every dollar that state lawmakers spend. The same taxpayer dollars that vocal industry critics like Bill Wielechowski and Hollis French have enjoyed spending so freely.
Remember last session when both Wielechowski and French were part of the senate group that held the capital budget hostage because they thought the governor would cut spending? These two have been the epitome of tax and spenders.
Over the last ten years since French has been serving in the State Senate, spending has doubled while oil production has dropped 40%. And while there seems to be no end to increased state spending, there also seems to be no end to the rapid decline of Alaska’s economic engine.
Standing less than a foot away from Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, Conoco’s CEO Jim Mulva and BP’s CEO Bob Dudley talking one on one about the future of Alaska’s economy, I couldn’t help but think this was a great opportunity for critics of tax reform like Wielechowski and French to get the answers they supposedly have been seeking from oil company executives.
By Andrew Halcro
However, as evident by their conspicuous absence, these two aren’t searching for the truth.
Just hours after he passed up the opportunity to look in the collective eyes of Exxon, Conoco and BP and ask them to explain what Alaskans would receive from tax reform, Wielechowski instead seized the opportunity to appear on a local television show blasting the oil industry.
Wielechowski’s arguments against tax reform are as weak as his understanding of Alaska’s economy. He constantly spouts what he considers truths without explaining the unvarnished facts, because doing so would negate his own arguments.
He talks about record employment on the North Slope.
However the companies doing the employing have stated that most of those new hires are conducting maintenance which has no impact on creating additional production. In fact, Conoco recently reported that 70% of its 2012 capital investments will go towards maintenance. BP was quoted at the same time saying, “capital spending on activities that produce more oil, on drilling, pad expansions and others is on hold or significantly limited.”
Absence of malice? Nope, it’s right there on center stage for all to see.