Emailed message sent to Valdez City Clerk was unintentional Tom Wright says in apology
Mayor Dave Cobb sent a letter chastising House Speaker Mike Chenault, saying he was” shocked” and “offended” after the Valdez City Clerk, Sheri Pierce, received an email reply from Chenault’s official legislative email that read “What a crock of sh-t.”
Chenault’s email did not omit the letter i.
The reply came in response to an offer from Mayor Dave Cobb to partner with the state in developing Alaska’s natural gas.
The resulting apology and explanation sent by Tom Wright, Chenault’s senior aid, did little to mollify Cobb.
“I am personally offended by this insult and language to our city clerk, not to mention your complete lack of objectivity toward such vitally important issues,” Cobb said in a letter of reply.
In a flowery email apology to Pierce, Wright claimed responsibility for authoring the expletive and said he did so using Chenault’s email, with the intention of sending it to fellow legislators, not Pierce.
“Your crass response…may get you some laughs and slaps on the back in Juneau, but let me assure you it does not get that reaction from the state’s larger constituency,” Cobb’s letter said. He also cast doubt Wright was the actual author and held Chenault accountable for the tone, regardless.
“The response from Chenault is certainly not an olive branch,” Bill Walker, city attorney for Valdez and legal council for the Port Authority said, shortly after learning of the email.
City officials and members of the Alaska Gasline Port Authority have long complained that the legislature has short-shifted Port Valdez as a natural gas pipeline terminus for export and in-state gas use, and the reply gives credence to the laments. Officials have also protested that legislators have repeatedly ignored credible studies by industry analysts such was Wood Mackenzie and other reputable firms that have shown Port Valdez not only is the least expensive natural gas option, but also will provide cheaper energy for Alaska consumers statewide – a savings of up to 85 percent in Bethel for example – but would also provide the most revenue for the state treasury.
Last week, the Valdez City Council voted to allocate $400,000 to a media campaign it hopes will help sway Alaskans to pressure their legislators to take a fair look at Port Valdez. It also hopes to overcome what has been called blatant misinformation about Port Valdez and an all-Alaska gasline that city and port officials say are continually repeated in the Alaska legislature as truth.
The Valdez Star sent an email enquiry to Chenault’s address asking “Is this the House Speakers official position regarding exporting Alaska’s natural gas from the North Slope through Port Valdez?”
Wright replied, in part “The reply was reactive and the response was mine and does not represent the Speaker’s position on the issue.“