State Transportation Commissioner Steps Down

The head of the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, Commissioner Pat Kemp, stepped down today.

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Walker’s spokesperson Grace Jang says Walker accepted Kemp’s resignation because their philosophies and objectives were not aligned.

On December 24th, Walker sent out an administrative order directing agencies to halt discretionary spending on six projects, and to submit funding status reports on the projects.

Jang says Kemp’s position on the Knik Arm bridge and the Juneau Access Road were at odds with the Governor’s position:

“Commissioner Kemp stated in his memo that he essentially is taking a different stance than the governor,” Jang said. “And, like I said, all commissioners serve at the pleasure of the governor.

For his part, Kemp says he didn’t resign, he retired. He says he had already emptied his desk when the new administration asked him to stay on as acting Commissioner. He says he thought the memo was a status report, not a position paper.

“I sent the memo to the governor and OMB director and just gave the facts on the two projects on federal payback and things like that,” Kemp said. “I had no idea i was not in line with the governor’s ideas.”

In his memo, Kemp said halting or delaying the projects likely will result in penalties from federal funding agencies. He said they’d been authorized by repeated Legislative appropriations, and are cost-effective opportunities to improve transportation.

Joaqlin Estus is a reporter at KNBA in Anchorage.

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