A FORCE: Criminal conviction overshadows successes for working people.
By RICHARD MAUER
Anchorage Daily News
(Published: September 3, 2003)
Lew Dischner's death is "the passing of a true legend in our state," Greg O'Claray, labor commissioner, said.
Lew Dischner, one of Alaska's most powerful lobbyists until he went to prison in the 1980s North Slope corruption scandal, died at his home in Portland, Ore., early Monday morning of a heart attack.
At 85, his death came just days before a birthday celebration to mark 100 years in the combined ages of himself and his 13-year-old daughter, Molly, both born on Sept. 7.
Dischner, a trained carpenter and born deal maker, arrived in postwar Alaska when opportunities -- and inequities -- abounded. He became a force for organized labor, the Inupiat people of the North Slope and the Filipino communities in Southeast Alaska. An old-school, rough-edged, blue-collar working man, he was still giving advice to government officials late last year.
"I spoke to Lew just after I became commissioner," said Greg O'Claray, labor commissioner in Gov. Frank Murkowski's Cabinet and a former official of the Seafarer's and Marine Engineers unions. "He said keep your head down, kid, stay loyal to your boss, and do what's right for working people. That was Lew. Actually, he said, 'Keep your head down and your ass up,' but you probably can't print that."
O'Claray said Dischner was "one of the pillars of the state" whose accomplishments on behalf of working people and minorities were overshadowed by his criminal conviction in 1989, for which he served five years in federal prison.
"It's the passing of a true legend in our state," he said.(more)