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The current mayor of Anchorage, Alaska Dan Sullivan is the son of former mayor George Sullivan [1922-2009] who was mayor from 1967 to 1981.  When the elder Sullivan left office in Jan. 1982, an unusual agreement was suggested by the Anchorage Assembly [city council] to continue the former mayor's life insurance coverage, apparently as a tribute to his accomplishments.

Last month, three months after George Sullivan's death the Assembly authorized a payout of $193,000 to his family.

The details of the story are tantalizing, agonizing, mind-numbing, even precious.  

The original deal was more of a handshake agreement, it now seems -- with various successive mayors and their appointed municipal attorneys made aware of the deal and weighing in with various proposals for either cancelling it, or meeting its terms.  The most sensible advice -- give back the premiums and tell the family there is no contract -- was routinely ignored.

The really funny/tragic part is the current mayor's statements and positioning, as he tries to say there is no possible connection between his actions as mayor and as the administrator of the "George Sullivan Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust" [an entity which may or may not actually exist]:

"It was simply honoring a contractual agreement," the mayor said. "Coincidentally the fact that I'm mayor and this was with my father the former mayor is really irrelevant to it, because certainly no actions taken by this administration either led to that contract or to the obligation to fulfill its terms and requirements."

The guy I know who always predicts outcomes better than I said I was dead wrong that Sullivan would bow to public pressure and give the money back by yesterday, a week or so after the story broke.  And sure enough, in a follow-up article today:

Dan Sullivan said Tuesday that it wouldn't be possible for him as trustee to give the money back. "The funds have been disbursed. ... it would be violating my fiduciary responsibility to disburse it in any other means other than what is outlined in the trust."

Sullivan will not list the beneficiaries of the trust, saying that it's not public information.

One member of the current Assembly is leading a drive for an investigation into the legal and contractual aspects and full history of the insurance deal.  

Meanwhile, I'm just in awe of the many ironies -- Sullivan the younger was elected during a recession a year and a half ago [and endorsed by the newspaper now running these articles] as a fiscal conservative who was going to solve our budget woes [we have the largest savings account and nearly smallest population of the 50 states; we have a low tax burden].  And his entire term thus far has been dedicated toward discrediting the financial practices of his predecessor, former mayor and now U.S. Senator Mark Begich.


Originally posted to Dear Friends on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:22 AM PST.

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