Sullygate & Chronos, god of time


Chronos, god of time, with wings like an angel, sleeping on Georg Wolff grave at Friedhof IV der Gemeinde Jerusalems- und Neue Kirche. Sculptor: Hans Latt, around 1904. Photo copyright Mutte Erde, 21 Sep 2006; used by permission via Wikimedia Commons.

For other news stories & posts on this topic, see my bibliography on all things Sullygate.

This is something of another update — more substantive than yesterday’s, but more a preview of what’s to come than the full kerblooey post I’m writing about Sullygate.

For those who are just catching up, Sullygate is the nickname that’s been coined (possibly by me — I’m not really sure) for all the stuff surrounding former Anchorage Mayor George M. Sullivan’s “life insurance policy” through the Municipality of Anchorage, which culminated in a February 16 vote by the Anchorage Assembly to pay out $193,000 from public monies to a trust headed up by Sullivan’s son, current Mayor Dan Sullivan.

Fishy.  And not in a nice omega 3 fatty acids-rich way.

One of the first questions Shannyn Moore asked me last Friday when I guested on her radio show was, when I first began paying attention to the story of  Sullygate, where did I begin?  Did I start with the events of 1982, when the plan to keep George Sullivan on the Muni’s group plan was first put together, & move forward from there?  Or did I start with the Assembly’s February 16 vote and move back from there?

Good question.  I first learned about it by reading Sean Cockerham’s excellent Anchorage Daily News article first posted on the web on March 3.  [Ref #1] And then I went to the PDFs of relevant Muni documents that the ADN acquired through a public documents request & posted to accompany the article.  And then… well, long story short: I started with 1982, & moved forward.  Chronos god of time is not on the zodiac, but I’m sure if he was, he’d be my sun sign.

Canned kippers

Kippers. Yum. Good brain food.

(My sun sign is Pisces.  Fishy.  But in a nice omega 3 fatty acids-rich way, as you can tell from all the kippers & sardines & salmon & tuna that I eat.)

All this by way of saying: I do my best in figuring out how long strings of events relate to each other if I can look at them in chronological order.  In fact, my first action when I downloaded the PDFs of relevant Muni documents was to rearrange them into chronological order (the Muni had provided them to ADN in some other order which, while creative, did not hasten my understanding).  And then I read ‘em through.  And counted on that ordering to help me write my big posts on this stuff.

I’m not of course unique in understanding the value of chronologies.  Thus, Sean Cockerham’s March 3 article was accompanied by a George Sullivan timeline. [Ref #2] And in 2007, during the Mark Begich administration, Plan Adminstrator/Privacy Officer Joanne Hanscom preparing for a meeting to discuss the George Sullivan “life insurance” issue by putting together a timeline based on documents found on file. [Ref #3, pages 2–3]

So… that’s the full kerblooey post I’m preparing: the great-grandmother of all Sullygate timelines, based on all the factual information that has so far been publicly disclosed. Heavily annotated.

Now, if you have been paying attention to the way I do these things, you will know how geekily detail-oriented I am.  So it’s taking a long time.  I started it last night when I got home from work, & then I looked up at the clock & it was past midnight, & I was only 2/3 through the 2002 Wuerth administration emails.  I hope to finish it tonight.  It’ll probably take me through to past midnight again, so maybe I should stop by Carrs on the way home & get me some of those teensy 5-hour energy drinks.

I will say that already it’s caused me to rethink some of my earlier understandings, so I may also have to follow up with a post about that.  But: chronology first.  And with good luck, it will also be helpful for other people looking at this issue.

Before I close out this post, though –


Last Thursday someone wrote to tell me that Susan Lindemuth & Larry Crawford are married.  “Don’t know if or how it ties into the saga,” my correspondent told me, “but I thought you might be interested.”

I don’t know if or how it ties into the saga either, but yes, I find it interesting.  Susan Lindemuth was Manager of Records & Benefits for the Municipality of Anchorage from April 1970 to October 2000 — spanning the administrations of George Sullivan, Tony Knowles, Tom Fink, Rick Mystrom, & a few months into the George Wuerch administration.  (She has served since then as Director of Human Resources with the Alaska Railroad Corporation.) [Ref #4] Due to her longtime position with the Muni, she shows up several times in the record that has so far been made public about the George Sullivan “life insurance” policy.  She’s a central figure: you’ll see her time & again in the timeline I’m preparing.

And the other person?  Well, Larry Crawford is Mayor Dan Sullivan’s chief of staff.  He was also city manager under three previous mayors — George Sullivan, Tom Fink, & Rick Mystrom. [Ref #5]

I haven’t actually been able to verify that Crawford & Lindemuth are actually married — not every detail of people’s family lives shows up in news sources or on the Internet — but I have discovered that together they attended the 2009 reunion at Lindemuth’s alma mater Carleton College [Ref #6], & searches on each of their names at confirm that they live at the same Anchorage address.

The fact of their relationship might fit into the saga, but then again it might not.  As Wikipedia explains, correlation does not mean that there’s necessarily a cause & effect relationship:

Correlation does not imply causation” is a phrase used in science and statistics to emphasize that correlation between two variables does not automatically imply that one causes the other (though it does not remove the fact that correlation can still be a hint, whether powerful or otherwise).

The opposite belief, correlation proves causation, is a logical fallacy by which two events that occur together are claimed to have a cause-and-effect relationship. The fallacy is also known as cum hoc ergo propter hoc (Latin for “with this, therefore because of this”) and false cause. [Ref #7]

So it would be false cause to assume that Larry Crawford’s relationship with Susan Lindemuth, in combination with him having top administration positions with four different Anchorage mayors — including (1) the former mayor whose “life insurance” we’re talking about; (2) the current mayor who is trustee of the trust the $193,000 of public monies was paid out to; and (3) two mayors (Fink & Mystrom) during whose administrations there were reductions in the so-called “premiums” — means that Crawford had any knowledge or anything else to do with any of this stuff.

But it’s still interesting.  Indeed, when I mentioned the Crawford/Lindemuth relationship on last Friday’s Shannyn Moore show, Shannyn exclaimed, “I’ve just got like 16 instant messages that were like, What!?? Back up! hold on! This is new information!

And the interestingness of it makes it all the more apparent to me that we’re going to have better luck getting to the bottom of this if there’s an independent investigation, as called for by the resolution submitted last week by Assemblymember Harriet Drummond. [Ref #8]

If you agree with me, & you’re an Anchorage resident, please tell your Assembly representative(s) so. You can also call the Anchorage municipal ombudsman at (907) 343-4461.

Update 3/17/2009

I’m writing this quick update because I saw that The Mudflats has just linked to this post [Ref #9] as a backgrounder to the Anchorage Daily News‘ editorial posted late last night (which means it probably appears in today’s print edition) which called Mayor Dan Sullivan on his clear conflict of interest between his roles as mayor and as trustee of the George M. Sullivan Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust.  Here’s the money quote (both literally & figuratively) from that editorial:

In defending his actions, the mayor stresses his fiduciary responsibility as trustee to seek payment. What about his fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers of Anchorage? That comes first. [Ref #10]

And meanwhile… here I am not having yet completed my great grandmother of all Sullygate timelines that I promised in this post.  It’s one of those things that comes with (1) working a 40-hour a week job which is not to write this blog (no matter how much I worship Chronos god of time, he obstinately refuses to provide me with more of that commodity); (2) needing to take care of responsibilities at home, including my responsibility to myself to not overtax myself into depression (a number 1 priority for me) or lack of sleep.  I added to my chronology during my lunchtime today, but nope, still not done.  I can only promise you that it’ll be worth the wait.

If you’re waiting with bated breath or are still catching up, I recommend checking out the bolded items in my Sullygate bibliography. If you’re fairly well caught up on the news, you still might have missed the excellent report by Len Anderson of KSKA-FM Anchorage Public Radio that was broadcast last Friday — the audio report can be listened to online & includes interviews with Assembly Chair Patrick Flynn and Municipal Attorney Dennis Wheeler. [Ref #11]


  1. 3/3/2010. “City life insurance payout for former mayor raises eyebrows — $193,000: Assembly honors ‘82 deal that puts city money into George Sullivan’s trust” by Sean Cockerham (Anchorage Daily News).
  2. 3/3/2010. “George Sullivan timeline” (Anchorage Daily News).
  3. 2007 Begich administration emails. Contains the same documents provided in a PDF by the Anchorage Daily News, except slightly reordered & provided with bookmarks (table of contents).
  4. Susan Lindemuth public profile at Linked-in.
  5. 5/25/2009. “Mayor-elect appoints chief of staff and city manager” (Alaska Star).
  6. “Reunion 2009 Attendance: 89 attendee(s) for the class of 1969″ (Carleton College Alumni Gateway). Google’s cached version — snapshot of the page as it appeared on Feb 12, 2010 19:33:25 GMT.
  7. “Correlation does not imply causation.” Wikipedia article.
  8. AR NO. 2010–91: Resolution submitted by Assemblymember Harriet Drummond on March 9, 2010 calling for an independent investigation of legal & ethical questions surrounding the $193,000 “insurance policy” and payout. Currently scheduled for discussion at the 23 March 2010 Anchorage Assembly meeting.
  9. 3/17/2010. “They Nailed It. Gold Star for ADN’s Sullivan Smack Down!” by Jeanne Devon (The Mudflats).
  10. 3/16/2010. “Our view: Insurance payout — Mayor should have been upfront about conflict of interest” (editorial) (Anchorage Daily News).
  11. 3/12/2010. “Assembly to Review Sullivan Insurance Trust” by Len Anderson (KSKA-FM 91.1 Anchorage Public Radio). Audio; includes interview with Assembly Chair Patrick Flynn and Municipal Attorney Dennis Wheeler.
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