Monthly Archives: March 2015

Lunch Break: Diplomatic No-No’s

With Alaska at the forefront of many international discussions involving climate change, offshore drilling, mining, Arctic exploration (land grab), etc., it might be helpful for staffers and state diplomats to refresh themselves with American gestures that are best left at home.

In other words, if meeting with a Russian delegation to discuss their interesting decision to boost their military presence so close to Alaska’s borders…it might behoove you to have that introductory shake of hands once everyone is firmly inside the conference room.

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Alaska News Roundup for March 31

  • It’s Party Time over at Shell Oil this morning with the news that they were given the green light for offshore drilling around the North Slope of Alaska, according to the New York Times.Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 8.15.39 AM

 

  • Today’s the last day to file for your 2015 PFD! In the spirit of this momentous day, the Dispatch explains how the Permanent Fund Corp. is starting to look overseas for investment opportunities to keep our dividend check well rounded.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan have introduced legislation to grant Alaskan Native tribes in Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Haines, and Tenakee land and thus form village corporations-something that KRBD reports was intentionally prevented during the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
  • In an update that is sure to make Salmon Beyond Borders reach for their smelling salts, the Juneau Empire explains the newest British Columbia gold mine that will be located upstream of Southeast Alaska.Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 9.51.46 AM
  • The Frontiersman reports that the highly unpopular monofil, which has already been twice defeated, has found its way onto the Mat-Su Borough Assembly’s calendar as the only item for discussion at today’s 10:00am meeting in the borough assembly chambers.
  • GitHub (one of the U.S.’s leading coding sites) has been successfully fending off Brute Force attacks since last Thursday. The Hill explains why indicators point to China and why.
  • In a reminder of good in the world, 10-year-old William Scannell’s Post Cards of Hope international project was featured on KTUU.

 

  • NOAA announced yesterday that Cook Inlet beluga whales have increased from 312 in 2012 to 340 in 2014. The Peninsula Clarion explains what this means for Alaska and the ecological health of our waters.
  • APRN reports that SB30, the marijuana regulation bill, has passed with concentrates still attached despite a fiery speech by Sen. Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks) in opposition to the concentrates section. Matt Buxton with the Fairbanks News Miner captured the vote:Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 6.57.47 AM

 

  • The AP reports that the attorneys for the proposed Pebble Mine are requesting a subpoena for Alaska Communications’ email conversations of a former EPA employee and an anti-Pebble attorney to preserve the data from routine server maintenance (coincidentally making such data vulnerable for hackers) and file-clearing procedures.
  • Rep. Don Young has the latest distinction of being the first have “terms of a spousal honor tucked into a bill name” with SAFETEA-LU. The “LU” in the title is for Lu Young, his late wife, per the Washington Post.
  • The President of the Greater Fairbanks Community Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees, Jeff Cook, wrote an impassioned op-ed in today’s Fairbanks News Miner in support of Medicaid expansion. Something that Gov. Bill Walker officially tweeted.Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 9.15.32 AM

 

  • It is still unclear if the packed Senate Finance committee by Juneau residents to testify in defense of funding for education, public broadcasting and social programs will sway legislators, but the Juneau Empire’s account of the hearing would require a heart of stone to remain unmoved.
  • The U.S. is at a tipping point, or as Politico puts it, a hinge moment of major change in the electorate makeup with graphs and charts to elaborate what the breakdown is forecast to look like.Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 8.31.09 AM

 

  • While Rep. Lora Reinbold (R-Eagle River) might be a caucus of one, it doesn’t prevent her from enjoying the company of fellow legislators. Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 6.56.13 AM

 

  • Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Just ask Lynn “Goddess” Gattis (R-Wasilla) or Rep. Jonathan “Jesus Christ-Tomkins” Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka) in a hilarious send-up to tongue twisting names of our elected officials by Nate Herz with the Dispatch.
  • Politico has today’s birthday roundup. Who knew Piers Morgan and former Mark Begich could rock party hats together?Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 7.53.07 AM
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Alaska News Roundup for March 30

  • Politico explains why after the Chamber of Commerce has spent millions getting “their” type of candidate into office, GOP office holders just aren’t turning into their lap dogs. Take heart Rachael Petro! Sen. Dan Sullivan’s groveling quote (also trending on Twitter) from a February teleconference is the lead in the story and highlights how the senator remembers where his bread gets buttered.Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 6.47.32 AM

 

  • It’s getting down to the wire with this legislative session means that there are lots of things to watch on Gavel to Gavel (and who’s working the hallways) the week, but the Juneau Empire thinks that the Senate Operating Budget, School Fundraisers involving food that do not meet federal nutritional standards and the repeal of the “Art in Public Places” state policy are the ones to follow.
  • In celebration of Seward’s Day, put on your history hats because the International Business Times is ready to school us on the “facts, price, history” of the Alaska purchase for $7.2 million.
  • The Juneau Empire explains how Sen. Mike Dunleavy’s (R-Wasilla) zeroed-out funding for public broadcasting will detrimentally impact over 100,000 Alaskans that have no over-air TV service.
  • Last week the new fracking regulations came out and there was quite a kerfuffle within the energy industry about varying additional costs of $11,400-97,000-per-well these new regulations would create. The Washington Post put the numbers through the test and discovered that the claims are so extreme and the issue so complex that they awarded it Two Pinocchios.Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 8.41.07 AM

 

  • The Great Land Trust and the Frontiersman have joined forces to highlight Mat-Su Valley “King Makers”. Don’t go clutching your pearls. It isn’t à la Richard Neville; think more along the “I Heart King Salmon” lines.
  • Devin Kelly with the Dispatch feels there’s a whiff of the 2014 senatorial race surrounding certain the Anchorage mayoral candidates.
  • The New York Daily News reports on a new video by Charlo “F*#k It, I Quit” Greene where she ponders running for Anchorage mayor as a write in candidate while rocking a look that gives Carmen Dell’Orefice a run for her money. Fierce!
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  • The battle over Net Neutrality is not over by a long shot. The Hill reports on five different things that “could kill” the FCC’s updated Internet rules.
  • APRN reports that budget cuts might not happen to the Anchorage Police Department. In fact, all legislative discussions seem to point in an increase in budget to combat violent crimes.
  • The Seward City News explains the Seward City Council’s decision to approve $8 million expansion of the Providence Seward hospital and up to $1 million toward affordable senior housing.
  • With the change in time as we know it looking more and more likely to become reality, Nate Herz with the Dispatch reports on the formalizing opposition. This tweet alone says so much.Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 9.18.58 AM

 

  • Now that the $1.5 million “Choose Respect” campaign has gone the way of the Dodo bird, the Juneau Empire explains what Alaska got for its money.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski is quoted by RealEstateRama for her support of the Senate passage of the bipartisan Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015.
  • Reuters/Ipsos conducted an online poll of 2,809 Americans to rate how much of a threat a list of countries, organizations and individuals posed to the U.S. 34% of Republicans thought that Pres. Obama was more of a threat than Mr. Putin (25%) or Mr. Assad (23%).Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 8.46.00 AM

 

  • The TimesUnion uses Alaska’s state hostess, Miss Alaska, as an example of superfluous state symbols.
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Alaska News Roundup for March 27

  • ISER was quite the Debbie Downer with their economic forecast. The Dispatch explains that part of the presentation included talk of taxes and raiding the Permanent Fund. It was Legislative Finance Division Director David Teal’s Lunch & Learn that was truly standing room only. While his spreadsheets impressed, his forecast matched ISER, though with softer rhetoric.Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 8.37.33 AM

 

  • The Washington Post’s coverage on the Oil Council’s presentation has created shock waves throughout Alaska and North Dakota: Shale (fracking) isn’t going to be enough to stave off heavy reliance on future imported oil. U.S. energy exploration should be focused on Alaska’s offshore Arctic waters.
  • Gov. Bill Walker’s Interior Energy Project bill has advanced from the Senate Energy Committee yesterday. Matt Buxton with the Fairbanks News Miner reports on the progress and the contentious mini-history of this piece of legislation.
  • Bloomberg explains why the eleven GOP Senators (including Sen. Lisa Murkowski) that voted for LGBT couple benefits matter in the greater scheme of things. The amendment passed 57-43 as part of the budget resolution that passed 52-46.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski was also part of the 61 “yea” voting block to pass the amendment in support of paid sick leave, per MSNBC.
  • Alexandra Gutierrez with APRN recounts the dramatic Senate Finance subcommittee hearing in which public broadcasting’s funding was completely cut in a charge lead by Mike Dunleavy (R-Wasilla).Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 8.32.04 AM

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Alaska News Roundup for March 26

  • Those participating in the Juneau “Choose Respect” march will see Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott taking the helm and not, as previously reported, Gov. Bill Walker. My little birds tell me that the 3rd floor is where reporters really should be stationing themselves around noon.
  • From Russia with love: the ambitious proposal to link New York to London via a single span of road and rail through the U.S./Canada/Russia/Europe is explained along with the proposal’s history by the Washington Post.Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 8.45.23 AM

 

  • Mayor Dan Sullivan has dropped the hammer on commercial marijuana businesses by prohibiting the inclusion of pot (the actual substance, use or display) at marijuana trade shows that are held in municipal facilities. The Dispatch has the details on this new development. Hammer, hammer!
  • The Daily Reporter that the latest Pebble Mine development is being led by the Pebble Limited Partnership in their hiring of The Cohen Group to investigate the actions of the EPA in their evaluation of the proposed largest open pit mine in the watershed of the most pristine salmon fishing area in the world.
  • KTVA and KTBY have an update on 10-year-old William Scannell’s international organization Any Refugee’s Postcards of Hope.

 

  • The Native Village of Point Hope is withdrawing from the lawsuit that has prevented the Chukchi Sea oil drilling, per the Fairbanks News Miner.

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Alaska News Roundup for March 25

  • This might not be the best FB picture to have up when mired in a controversy involving bribing elected officials.Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 7.57.54 PM

 

  • In more Dan Coffey news, Devin Kelly with the Dispatch explains why the order by Superior Court Judge Andrew Guidi for the city to search their records and turn over emails, letters or documents relating to the onerous AO37 could have negative repercussions on mayoral candidate Dan Coffey.
  • Becky Bohrer with the AP interviewed Gov. Bill Walker on his legislative must-haves: Medicaid expansion and Interior energy.
  • Rep. Don Young and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) are leading the charge to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug (i.e. ability to use for medical reasons). CBS News explains that this simple reclassification would give states more wiggle room to determine their own regulations, medical marijuana dispensaries banking access, allow scientists the ability to really study cannabis without fear of prison and VA doctors to prescribe pot to their patients.
  • The salvo heard across the state yesterday was launched from the House chambers when the majority voted to keep the LNG pipeline project as is-basically thumbing their nose at Bill Walker’s veto threat. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez caught the grandstanding in prose.Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 9.17.23 AM

 

  • The security breach on Premera Blue Cross has started a multistate investigation by the federal Insurance Commissioner and his counterparts in Alaska and Oregon, according to the New York Times.
  • Former Albert “warmest smile with the coldest eyes” Kookesh is continuing the fight against subsistence violations all the way to the State Supreme Court. KCAW has the titillating backstory and what is expected to happen.
  • The public was invited to testify on rate increases on hunting and fishing licenses last night and by the looks of this Tweeted photo…Fairbanks did just that.Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 9.06.37 AM

 

  • The Dispatch reports that the Anchorage Assembly has added sixty-four teachers to the 2015-2016-education budget.
  • The Fairbanks News Miner reports that the City of Fairbanks website was hacked, though no security breach of any information or payment process occurred. Gold star Ryan Rickels!
  • The Dispatch covered the Samoan Community’s Anchorage mayoral candidate forum. Dan Coffey and Dustin Darden were no-shows.
  • KTOO has the update on where Rep. Mike Chenault’s (R-Nikiski) bill to allow Alaska to seize federal lands is in the legislative process.
  • The Washington Post’s Fact Checker is not amused when they are misquoted regarding their Three Pinocchios award the FCC’s reclassification on Net Neutrality.
  • In bad news that just got worse; The Hill reports that ISIS has successfully hacked military websites because the IT departments haven’t been updating their CMS (making them wicked easy to hack) and military members’ penchant to brag allowed for easy authentication of information stolen. The worst part is that the DoD has “no indication of a data breach on the agency’s system”.

 

  • The Wasilla City Council backpedaled on previously passed ordnances that prohibited baking marijuana edibles in the privacy of one’s home, per the Dispatch.

 

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Chill Baby!

Across the state this morning there will be a testing of the  tsunami warning system.  There could be sirens, radio/TV warnings, etc.

DO NOT PANIC!  

This is simply a safety precaution to ensure if and when a real tsunami does occur…the system in place actually works to warn Alaskans.

Here is the coolest warning from around the state, brought to you by the Seward City News:

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*Or in the spirit of Douglas Adams:

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Alaska News Roundup for March 24

  • Anchorage mayoral candidate Dan Coffey is desperately trying to deflect the mounting scandal over the audio recordings of him allegedly admitting to bribing Anchorage Assembly members. Devin Kelly with the Dispatch covered the most recent mayoral debate with lots of descriptive imagery.
  • Sen. Dan Sullivan gave his first joint session speech yesterday to much fan fare. KTVA has footage.   KTOO has their take, with an unfortunate photo of Rep. Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski), or, you could just read Matt Buxton with the Fairbanks News Miner’s Twitter feed for the highlights.Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 12.18.31 PM

 

  • The Nome Nugget’s editorial chastises Sen. Dan Sullivan for signing onto the Iran Letter.
  • It will be a whale of a time in Juneau with the Juneau Empire reporting that the $10 million whale stature and sea walk will arrive at summer’s end and complete for 2016’s tourist season.
  • Laurie Schmidt is Shell Oil’s new Vice President. APRN has the backstory on who Schmidt is replacing and her impressive resume.Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 12.56.46 PM

 

  • Rep. Don Young was victorious in the House passage of the HR360 Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA) that is now on its way to the Senate for reauthorization. Indian Country Today explains the historical importance of this bill and why not all tribal nations are completely happy with the current language of the bill.
  • The Dispatch has the details on the tentative new contract between Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan’s administration and the Anchorage Police Department.
  • The Washington Post has an entire article outlining the “dreariest” cities in graphs (!) in the U.S. utilizing Anchorage’s own Brian Brettschneider’s methodology. Anchorage and Alaska as a whole ranks pretty high for dreariness.Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 12.24.45 PMScreen Shot 2015-03-24 at 12.25.15 PM

 

  • The Seward City News was on hand at the legislative town hall in Seward this past weekend and has insight on how Rep. Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) thinks this legislative session is going and how it might end with an extended special session.
  • The Wilderness Society’s VP, Allen E. Smith, wrote an extensive anti-ANWR piece in Roll Call today where he called Alaska greedy for wanting to open it up to exploration. Ouchie.
  • Alaska Robotics has their latest video, this time with Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) saying “YOLO” before playfully recreating the  “tongue gate”.YouTube Preview Image

 

  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski is leading the charge of a bipartisan effort to responsibly manage nuclear waste, per The Hill.
  • The Fairbanks News Miner has the skinny on Sen.  John Coghill (R-North Pole) and Sen. Johnny Ellis’ (D-Anchorage) joint crime reform bill that targets ways to lower Alaska’s recidivism rates.
  • Politico explains what all Alaskan politicians know down to their DNA: talk radio is the medium to conquer for election night victory.
  • The Hill explains the House Intelligence Committee’s Protecting Cyber Networks Act, which will provide legal liability protections for companies that share cybersecurity information with federal government agencies as a reaction to heightened cyber attacks.
  • The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly unanimously to appoint Jerome Selby to the Providence Kodiak Medical Community Advisory Board.Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 12.42.14 PM
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Alaska News Roundup for March 23

  • The Mudflats has the backstory on how the recorded audio of Anchorage mayoral candidate Dan Coffey allegedly admitting to bribing Anchorage Assembly Members in a conversation to current Anchorage Assemblyman Bill Starr came to be known. Get your popcorn ready.

HERE IS THE RECORDING

  • This week in the Alaska Legislature there are lots of issues being discussed in both committees and on the chamber floors. The Juneau Empire thinks the update to the Alaska Military Code, the nomination hearings for new Gasline Corporation Board members and SenDan Sullivan’s joint legislative speech today.
  • According to the AP via the IRS, Alaska is the state least likely to have low-income families using paid tax preparers. Most likely is New York.

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  • Forbidden money is the subject of a piece by Pat Forgey with the Dispatch on how the legislature is looking to “clawback” some of the appropriations of previous years and yes, the PFD is mentioned.

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Alaska News Roundup for March 20

  • KTVA has the details on why Anchorage mayoral candidate Dan Coffey is threating to sue media outlets. It’s to prevent the public from hearing the conversation he had with Anchorage Assemblyman Bill Starr where Coffey allegedly mentions bribing the assembly with “$250 at a crack” for votes in full.
  • Something for the techie wonks: James Brooks with the Juneau Empire revealed that there is a possibility of reliable, better internet connectivity in Southeast Alaska with a fiber-optic cable running between Juneau and Whitehorse. The buzzword for this project is supposedly “reliability”, though the “Silicon Canal” is way snappier.
  • Meet Bethel’s new District Attorney: J. Michael Gray. The Tundra Drums has his solid resume and is known to exercise control in all things, but that probably won’t stop a shiver running down your back if you ever hear the words, “Mr. Gray will see you now.”

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    photo credited to KYUK.org

  • Fracking just got more bureaucratic with the announcement by ABC News that companies drilling on federal lands will now have to disclose what chemicals are being utilized in the fracturing process.

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Alaska News Roundup for March 19

  • Sen. Dan Sullivan appeared on Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto to discuss Iran not being added to the government’s annual terrorist threat report. After first throwing shade at the change in declaration by the State Department, Sen. Sullivan then explained that he simply didn’t know the exact reason for the change, before reaffirming his association with the infamous Iran letter.
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  • Al Jazeera America has a piece by Julia O’Malley about Alaska’s hotter than thou weather.

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Lunch Break: AK’s Politically Insultable…

So, the Washington Post did an analysis of U.S. states in terms of 2016’s presidential election importance and ranked them based on which ones can be insulted with minimum backlash.

Alaska ranks somewhere in the middle at #33, which means that to make a disparaging remark about the Last Frontier isn’t a “Big Deal” (though presidential candidates might want to remember who’s Chairman of Energy & Natural Resources and a seat at the Appropriations’ table).  Still, it’s better than being one of the six that are totally safe for politicians to insult.
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Alaska News Roundup for March 18

  • While Alaska does not officially have full-time legislators, Alaska Pipeline discovered that more than half of state Senators did not have a full-time job.
  • Nathaniel Herz’s crystal ball was correct in predicting that Gov. Bill Walker was going to unveil his Medicaid expansion bill yesterday to a standing room only crowd. The bill was not welcomed with open arms by everyone, per APRN. Which is odd, because over the weekend…Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 6.14.49 AMScreen Shot 2015-03-18 at 6.25.27 AMScreen Shot 2015-03-18 at 6.14.18 AM

 

  • The Washington Post reports that the Notorious 47 (including Sen. Dan Sullivan) have no intention of backing down on challenging Pres. Obama’s and five other world powers’ nuclear negotiations with Iran. In fact, they are planning to continue their aggressive challenge.

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Alaska News Roundup for March 17

  • Elections are around the corner and a political newbie seems to be in it to win it. Derrick Slaughter’s army of supporters were wailing on the phones last night to garner support for his Anchorage School Board bid as evidence in this photo.Derrick Slater Campaign

 

  • While Sen. Dan Sullivan is painted a coward by Bill Press in The Hill for signing the infamous Iran letter, Press simultaneously feels that Sen. Lisa Murkowski should be awarded one of seven for Congress’ Profiles of Courage awards.
  • CNNI/ORC conducted a poll of 1,009 adult Americans and found that 68% of those polled were in favor of diplomatic talks with Tehran.
  • The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly weighs in on finding a balance between keeping their seasonal food exemption and the importance the estimated $3.3 million in additional funds the exemption repeal would create for their coffers, per the Peninsula Clarion.
  • The drama bomb that was felt across the state was the dramatic removal of Rep. Lora Reinbold (R-Eagle River) of her committees, staff, and membership to the House Majority Caucus. Becky Bohrer with the AP has the details, Alaska Pipeline has the dramatic moment on the house floor and the timeline was captured by reporters via their Twitter feeds:

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