Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: Press Event: Introducing Chuck Kopp as the new Commissioner of Public Safety

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Press Event: Introducing Chuck Kopp as the new Commissioner of Public Safety

Yours truly on the right (photo courtesy of The Department of Public Safety)

I went to the State Trooper's building today for the "press availability" event (Megan Peters corrected me when I called it a "press conference") at 1:00. He talked about looking forward to working with the Legislature, being an advocate for the Troopers and focusing on recruitment, moving forward with improvements in Rural Alaska, including reducing substance abuse. He gave pretty much the standard spiel and definitely no "new agenda."

Then the first question came:

Corey Allen Young, Channel 11--"I'd just like to get your side of the story regarding the sexual harassment allegations made."

Commissioner Kopp--"[There has] never been a sexual harassment allegation that resulted in a lawsuit or a settlement by the City of Kenai. There is nothing in my record that would give me a black eye or would hinder me in my roll as Commissioner of Public Safety."

Then a follow up from Channel 11, then a similar question from Channel 13.

Commissioner Kopp: "There is no personal settlement there is no public settlement as in there is nothing in the record."

**raised eyebrow**

Channel 11 and 13--more questions

Commissioner Kopp--"There is one that has happened, period," said Kopp. "But I don't want to comment on that. There is absolutely nothing in my record that I am ashamed of. There is no skeletons in my closet. There is no monster looming to crawl out to say, 'Did this happen?'"

Public Safety Commissioner Chuck Kopp speaks to the press (photo courtesy of The Department of Public Safety)

The back story per channel 11's website:
While no lawsuit or settlement came from the sexual harassment complaint, we do know one was made; and so did Governor Palin before she appointed Kopp, Alaska's top cop.

The governor's office said there was no substance to the complaint filed three years ago and Commissioner Kopp continues to have her full support. After being pressed on the issue several times, Kopp did admit to the complaint...

...CBS 11 News is in contact with the woman who filed the complaint and she wants to tell her side of the story, but doesn't want to do that until she can talk to her attorney. He is not going to be back in town until later this week.

Megan Peters jumped in and said this is about "talking about the future of DPS and where we are headed."

K...let's ask a "future" question.

So I asked "The reason [given] for Walt Monegan's firing was so that they could go 'in a new direction' so I wanted to know specifically what you wanted to do differently than Walt Monegan was doing."

Commissioner Kopp--"I'm not going to comment on prior leadership or the circumstances there. I'm just going to move forward with a positive focus. I've talked about recruitment and retention, talking about improving the working conditions for the employees of the Department of Public Safety, looking at being accountable and responsive in all our Divisions to the people of Alaska as we execute our mission.

Me--"I was wondering what was new about this direction?"

Kopp--"We're building on the good things of the past and we are looking forward to further refining our approach, our fiscal responsibility, our accountability. We're looking forward to moving forward and having a credible (*muffled*) policy."

Corey from Channel 11 pointed out that this was all the same things the Governor has been saying and that Walt Monegan has been saying. He asked for more specifics on recruitment and...again...we heard some of the same things we've been hearing--that we have to target people with an "adventurous spirit" who want to live in Rural Alaska.

I have heard good things from others about Chuck Kopp and though I wonder how he'll handle 800 state employees vs. the 30 he dealt with in Kenai, he probably deserves a chance...if he can handle this "sexual harassment" issue better than he did today.

However, I left the press room thinking less about Chuck Kopp and wondering more about Walt Monegan and why that change was needed?

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Blogger Art Vandelay said...

Well there are always two sides to every story and sexual harassment complaints are very difficult to figure out.

I guess the bottom line is a complaint is one thing but a prosecution, a settlement or a disciplanry action are another. It appears that it is more of the former than the latter.

Anyone can complain about anything or sue about anything for that matter. What it comes down to is the results of an investigation.

It seems to me that Walt was let go 'cause this guy is a Palin politico. I agree he deserves a chance but something doesn't smell right about this whole thing.

7/16/2008 8:31 AM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

I've dealt with a number of EEO issues in my life, including sexual harassment. I never took the harassment ones forward but that doesn't mean they didn't happen. So when someone says "There is nothing in my record that would give me a black eye..." that makes my warning bells go off because he NEVER said "I didn't do it."

That being said, I don't really understand how this guy could be so much better than Walt Monegan. It may be that the Palin Administration anticipated dissention from Monegan in the future.

7/16/2008 10:31 AM  
Blogger Art Vandelay said...

From reading what you reported he certainly sounded like he had something to hide, didn't he? It reads like he didn't handle that interview all that well.

Doesn't matter now that he's been annoited.

One thing I just found out that I thought was interesting about Commissioner Monegan was that he father won the medal of honor posthumously during the Korean war. I guess serving was in the commissioner's blood.

7/16/2008 12:15 PM  
OpenID mudflats said...

Ah yes..."We're looking forward to looking forward." That explains everything. (eyeroll)

Nice job. I'll be interested to see if the 'skeletons', 'monsters' or things not on the record emerge later...

7/16/2008 9:08 PM  
Blogger Myster said...

Have you seen this yet? Halcro's tossing out some pretty intense allegations. I know he has a Palin hangup, but I'm inclined to believe at least some of what he says.

7/17/2008 10:39 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

I heard someone (was it Steve Heimel?) say recently that his first boss impressed on him to never say 'press' in this context, but to use 'media' so it didn't favor newspapers.

7/17/2008 11:58 PM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

That makes sense. I'll try to watch that!

7/18/2008 12:14 AM  

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