Monthly Archives: May 2015

Alaska News Roundup for May 29

  • The beginnings of a GOP primary battle royale commenced when  Rep. Lance Pruitt (R-Anchorage) and 2013-2014 House Speaker confirmed to the Dispatch that he was in fact “considering” running against Rep. Don Young in 2016!
  • In champagne cork popping news- the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has given Alaska to license to export LNG out of Nikiski. APRN has the kicker: we can export to countries that don’t even have a free trade agreement with the US.
  • Gallup just released their findings that 50% of 1,024 US adults self described as “pro-choice” and 44% as “pro-life”. This is the first time pro-choice ID has surpassed “pro-life” since 2008.Gallup


  • The Fairbanks preliminary commercial marijuana zoning maps came out last night to overall community support. My little birds tell me that certain neighborhoods are already starting to organize to prevent marijuana and that this map is by no means final.
  • While Gov. Bill Walker was on his diplomatic trip to Seattle, he didn’t mince words with UPI by stating, “Offshore drilling in the Arctic WILL happen.”
  • The Paddle in Seattle has been enough of a headache that the Coast Guard is taking precautions in anticipation of receiving Shell’s drill rig in Alaska’s waters. APRN details what this entails and where the perceived hot spots will be.

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Alaska News Roundup for May 28

  • Seattle was over the moon that Gov. Bill Walker visited their fair city AND toured the infamous resident of Terminal 5. Seattle Times has some quotes and intones the governor’s visit as part explanatory, part redress.
  • Nome Superior Court Judge Timothy Dooley has received a filed complaint against his treatment of victims, witnesses and other parties during court proceedings, per the Fairbanks News Miner. If Dooley is found guilty, he could be publically disciplined with a public statement, suspension and/or removal from his appointment.
  • It’s getting hot in here, and NASA’s captured the Last Frontier’s record high temperatures in colorful maps to go along with Weather’s explanation of how this odd weather pattern occurred.AK


  • Rep. Sam Kito III (D-Juneau) wrote an op-ed in the Dispatch where he ruminates over the House Majority’s budget compromise/coercion.

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Alaska News Roundup for May 27

  • Cordova has a friend in the fight to prevent the Navy from exploding bombs, releasing toxic waste, etc., this summer in the Gulf of Alaska with the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly. During their last meeting, the assembly passed a resolution to oppose the scheduled summer exercises.Resolution
  • It’s OfficialEthan Berkowitz is the next Mayor of Anchorage. The Dispatch reports that he received 74% 60.74% of the vote with Amy Demboski receiving 39.26%.
  • The Juneau Empire explains Rep. Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) and the GOP lead House Majority proposed accountancy jiu-jitsu to gain access to the Permanent Fund. Sen. Dennis Egan (D-Juneau) mentions this move is “volatile”, while my little birds are saying:giphy


  • APRN has Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage) and House Minority’s side to oppose the House Majority’s Permanent Fund raid.
  • Indian Country Today did not mince words about Rep. Don Young’s behavior during a Congressional hearing where Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn testified on Native rights. Ouchie.

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Alaska News Roundup for May 26

  • Sen. Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks) has the dubious distinction of being the reason for a new Jezebel column series called Loser Sons of Politics, per one of my little birds.Kelly


  • APRN explains where the legislature is in negotiating a budget deal.
  • Sen. Dan Sullivan is heading to Vietnam and Singapore with a Senate delegation this week to mark the 20th anniversary of normalized relations with the US.
  • Oil tax credits. Things seemed to take a nasty turn in decorum by Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks) when Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage) mentioned oil tax law during a legislative budget meeting over the weekend. Dermot Cole with the Dispatch covered the exchange and the points made by all sides on this issue.

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Alaska News Roundup for May 22

  • Happy Birthday to a Senator so cool, she even shares a birthday with Morrissey!


    Happy Birthday Sen. Murkowski!

  • Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage) wrote a fiery op-ed in the Dispatch that held nothing back against the majorities. The first three words alone is coffee spitting worthy, though his side of the budget debacle are as informative as it is entertaining.
  • One of my little birds was aflutter over the “risqué” jokes City and Borough of Juneau’s Assemblyman Jesse Kiehl made during his marijuana regulations update at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce.
  • APRN has the transcript of the gavel bangin’ that went on down at the Anchorage LIO with the sine die of Special Session part I and the commencement of Special Session part II.
  • The Mat-Su Borough Assembly accomplished something the state legislature hasn’t: passed a budget. Even though the Frontiersman explains that the borough budget keeps the mill rate under 10 and either maintains or increases services, Mayor Larry DeVilbiss’ is planning on a veto because it’s simply not Tuff Enough.
  • The uproar over the majorities intention to raid the Permanent Fund has gotten to at least six of the House majority members because the Fairbanks News Miner reports that Rep. Jim Colver (R-Palmer), Rep. Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham), Rep. Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak), Rep. Neal Foster (D-Nome), Rep. Gabriele LeDoux (R-Anchorage) and Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer) signed off on a letter to Rep. Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) saying they didn’t want to be any part of this action.
  • Sen. Dan Sullivan used words during a Senate Armed Services hearing over the current war strategy that my little bird described as “worrisome” and “bordering on warmongering”. APRN’s take seems to align with that observation.
  • Mike Dingham’s last Dispatch op-ed obviously didn’t sit well with Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan because “he” made another public statement, this time in the comment section. HT to @Nat_Herz.Comment


  • Alaska’s Special Assistant on Arctic Policy, Craig Fleener, spoke at the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society Conference in Juneau on the importance flexible hunting and fishing rules for rural communities adjusting the changes brought upon by climate change. KCAW has the details on his speech.
  • The Baker Hughes News crunched the numbers and found that the number of O&G rigs has continued to drop from last year’s 1,857 to the current 885. Good news? Bad news?
  • The FCC wants the US Court of Appeals for DC to make a quick ruling on the new Net Neutrality rules, and they want them NOW!
  • The Washington Post explains the connection between Saudi Arabia’s decision to flood the crude oil market and the potential layoff of Alaska’s state employees (with graphs!)Chart


  • The Seward City News has the US Fish and Wildlife Services proposed changes for Kenai National Park’s Public Use regulations. Most proposals seem pretty straight forward until the 7th bullet point. Prohibition of gun use in Alaska will surely raise an eyebrow…or two.
  • Palmer’s City Manager has submitted his resignation to begin on September 1. The Frontiersman relays the Palmer City Council’s public understanding of this unexpected move.
  • Anchorage Assembly Chair Dick Traini wants public smoking rules on cigarette usage to include marijuana, per the Dispatch.
  • The Fairbanks News Miner explains the implications on Alaska’s elections if voting reform for Alaska Natives by the US Department of Justice goes through.
  • KTUU shares the good news that the border crossing between Hyder, Alaska and Stewart, British Columbia will once again be open 24 hours a day.Hyder


  • Think Progress has listed 6 of the “Craziest Arguments” made by politicians over keeping national parks…nationally owned. Rep. Don Young and Sen. Lisa Murkowski both made the dubious list.
  • EPA Region 10 Administrator, Dennis McLerran, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, where he explains why the EPA should be careful regarding Pebble Mine.
  • The Fairbanks North Star Borough got busy last night and passed the resolution in support of the state purchasing FNG and appropriated $21,720 for state training and equipment for the borough’s air quality program.
  • Sen. Dan Sullivan was quoted by The Hill acknowledging the “moving parts” in vote whipping over keeping NSA’s program to spy on American citizens. The final tally is expected to occur Saturday.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski was part of the 18-12 members of the Senate Appropriations Committee to approve a bill that allowed VA doctors to advise patients about medical marijuana, per Al Jazeera America.

Alaska News Roundup for May 21

  • Tensions have escalated between the US Navy and Cordova over the Navy’s intent to use bombs, potentially toxic waste, and high-power sonar during this summer’s exercises because of the potential for detrimental affect on procreating critical marine life. The Cordova Times reports that Sen. Lisa Murkowski will be sending a staffer to facilitate the problem on Memorial Day. As to the worry about exploding bombs, Sen. Murkowski said, “If there are fishermen in one area, they would move to another area.”
  • The Dispatch wonders if raiding the Permanent Fund is the solution to the senate and house majority’s inability to work for a budget solution.
  • Homer scientist, Martin Renner, lead a mapping project to discover where in Alaska oil spills would be the most detrimental to seabirds. The biggest surprises Renner shared with APRN were Unimak Pass and Sand Point.


    Seabird Density Mapping Tool/Photo Credit of Shady Grove Oliver

  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski introduced a bill for six HEAVY icebreakers for the US Coast Guard.
  • Intercept and CBC News published documents that show the NSA had plans to hijack smart phone apps to further their spying program on US citizens with a project code-name of “IRRITANT HORN.”
  • Gov. Bill Walker’s now-former Director of Boards and Commissions resigned over the intended appointment of Bobbi Quintavell to the Alaska Board of Fisheries. The governor’s administration claims it never happened and that it was their intention all along to appoint Bob Mumford to the vacant seat. The Peninsula Clarion has the gossip and timeline.
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  • Alaska (and 30 other states) won a settlement against the three largest credit reporting agencies in the US over information reporting practices, level of data scrutiny of information provided by outside sources and timeliness on fixing incorrect information, per US News.
  • Matt Buxton with the Fairbanks News Miner offers his explanation of  the accounting dexterity being proposed by the house and senate majorities to raid the Permanent Fund.
  • Sen. Dan Sullivan joined a group of bipartisan senators to denounce China’s construction on islands that are claimed by several other countries. He told The Hill, “as one the world’s key conduits of energy – nearly one-third of global crude oil and over half of global liquefied natural gas (LNG) passes through the South China Sea each year – it is imperative that this region remain peaceful and free of conflict.”
  • The Sitka School Board developed a working plan for FY17 with the hopes that the state legislature regains some “sanity” and figure things out, per KCAW.
  • The Fairbanks North Star Borough is expected to pass a resolution in support of selling FNG to the state, per the Fairbanks News Miner.
  • The NSA has authorized the steps to close down operations of its controversial program of spying on American citizens’ phone calls as The Hill reports that Congress is unlikely to reach a deal to maintain program funding.
  • APRN reports that the White House is planning on vetoing Rep. Don Young’s bill that would alter the Magnuson Stevens Act, which is up for renewal.
  • Obama talked about climate change and the lack of time there is to correct the levels of pollution during a speech to US Coast Guard Academy graduates. Politico relays what the president spoke about and how it was seen by some as hypocritical since this came about a week after he opened the Arctic Coast to offshore drilling.
  • The ACLU has come out against Anchorage’s proposed alcohol sales restriction claiming it is illegal under Alaska state law, Title 47.
  • Slate has an interesting article about Rhodiola rosea, possibly Alaska’s next cash crop.

    Cash Crop

    A different type of Green Rush?


  • Erin Merryn, the advocate behind Erin’s Law, is upset with the current language in Alaska’s version of the sexual abuse prevention bill and the Dispatch explains why, what changes have been made and by whom.
  • First Lady Donna Walker told the Juneau Empire her plans to bring Bridge Builders to Juneau.



Alaska News Roundup for May 20

  • Rep. Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) admitted that the House Majority is planning on raiding the Permanent Fund to KTVA in a move to fund the state budget without having to work with the House Minority on current sticking points.
  • Energy & Capital explain the reasons Sen. Lisa Murkowski is pushing for the oil export ban now with graphs and charts!


    This is just ONE of their graphs!

  • Rep. Sam Kito (D-Juneau) showed his mischievous side Tuesday when he tried to block adjournment of the expected gavel bangin’ technicality that was the official legislative floor session. Things quickly became heated and the Dispatch captured the whole episode in detail.

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Alaska News Roundup for May 19

  • Update:  Dueling Dispatch op-eds!  Alaska AFL-CIO’s  president, Vince Beltrami, lays out his argument that the problems of budget gridlock should be placed squarely at the feet of the majorities.  While Sen. Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage) pledges that there will not be a government shutdown.
  • The value over the taxable portion of the trans-Alaska pipeline is heating up again in Anchorage. The oil companies believe it is worth $2.6 billion (yes, that would be a “b”) while the state Department of Revenue has it closer to $7.7 billion, with the State Assessment Review Board having settled on a value of $10.2 billion in 2014. The devil is in the details and the Dispatch has the backstory and clarification into this important, yet complex issue.
  • Get your popcorn ready because the Frontiersman has lifted the veil off the Mat-Su Borough’s Department of Emergency Services with former ambulance service chief’s, Brian Wallace, side of the story behind his dismissal.
  • The New York Times has 5 Things You Might Not Know about Hillary, including that she worked the Valdez slime line after college. Check it out at the 1:38 mark.
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  • Things seem to be getting hot and heavy over at the 9th Circuit by Courthouse News Service’s description of US District Judge Russell Holland hearing where he dismissed Pebble Partnership’s complaint against the EPA over improper behavior with a former employee.

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Alaska’s News Roundup for May 18

  • State employees are getting pink slipped due to the state’s legislature stuck in gridlock. Things are about to go from effete buearucratic discourse to wicked ugly…about right NOW. Dermot Cole with the Dispatch has an indepth artile about the trickle effect this will have on Alaska’s economy and community.
  • The Dispatch’s publisher, Alice Rogoff, has an op-ed where she writes a passionate missive on the legislature’s gridlock and inability to look at the state’s revenue realities.
  • This week in Congress, a fiscal Band-Aid on the Highway Trust Fund is expected to be pass, the Senate is expected to update expiring provisions of the Patriot Act (the NSA’s spying on American’s private phone calls and the passage of USA Freedom Act), and work on trade legislation now that the Democratic filibuster is finished.
  • The Hill explains the ACLU’s recent poll of 1,001 likely voters from across the US and what the results of 60% wanting changes to the Patriot Act (with 71% of Independents wanting modification) means to Congress.
  • Rep. Don Young offended many leaders within the National Congress of American Indians by intonating they were “pouring gasoline on a political fire” by undermining his work on land-into-trust issues, according to APRN.
  • The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Moose Pass Planning Commission explained the land transfer of 5,282 acres of unconditional state land (including Moose Pass) and an additional 3,369 acres of conditional state land and about 1,300 acres near Lower Trail Lake if KPB classifies it as recreation use within the next 18 months. The Seward City News has the details on this complex land matter.Map

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Alaska News Roundup for May 15

  • My little birds tell me that Mayor-elect Ethan Berkowitz is on the mend from recent shoulder surgery. He is expected to be back in transition-mode next week!
  • State flags are at half mass today throughout Alaska in honor of Peace Officers Memorial Day.
  • It’s not just Joe Miller that Sen. Lisa Murkowski might have to contend with during the Republican senatorial primary, but maybe state Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R-Fairbanks) as well per Roll Call and my little birds. Former Sen. Mark Begich’s 2016 senatorial ambitions have remained elusive.
  • House Finance announced that the committee was blocking the Medicaid Expansion bill yesterday. APRN has Rep. Steve Thompson (R-Fairbanks) statement and Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage), HSS Commissioner Valerie Davidson and Gov. Bill Walker’s responses.
  • Cordova is not amused with the Navy’s summer training exercise because of the planned use of bombs, sonar and the expected dumping of 352,000 lbs. of toxic materials during mating season for the area’s marine and migratory animals. KTUU has further details.
  • Sen. Dan Sullivan and Sen. Lisa Murkowski are part of a short list of senators that sponsored a bill to delay the Positive Train Control, the technology system used to monitor trains and would likely have prevented the Amtrak derailment in Pennsylvania, that was supposed to be fully implemented by the end of 2015 after the passage of a 2008 law regarding PTC, per FirstLook.

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Alaska News Roundup for May 14

  • Former Gov. Frank Murkowski’s respected Director of Labor Relations, Art Chance, wrote a sensational post prompting Republicans to cause a state government shutdown, called someone (potentially the governor) “the Hermaphrodite”, and labeled the Dispatch as part of the BoWash Axis of Evil (while intoning they would make squealing sounds ala Deliverance). There were some raised eyebrows about the original post as Chance is an established moderate Republican with tremendous street cred, but it became an unofficial/official BIG DEAL the moment the Alaska Republican Party shared (thus endorsing) Chance’ post. At which point, Matt Buxton with the Fairbanks Daily News Miner tweeted this happening to his massive following.Scandal


  • Things could turn ugly this summer over fishing. It turns out that there is fighting over Kenai River subsistence gillnetting due to the new regulations with the Federal Subsistence Board. Right now the Peninsula Clarion reports that there are roughly 100 public comments and requests for reconsideration with the FSB. The previous record is six.
  • CNBC has an article about how Sen. Lisa Murkowski turned the lemons of low crude oil prices and are turning them into lemonade by illustrating the Saudi Arabia’s decision to flood the crude oil market as a reason to lift the ban on US crude oil export.

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Alaska News Roundup for May 13

  • Sincerest condolences for those that lost loved ones aboard Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 in Pennsylvania last night and may those injured have a speedy recovery. Inside Alaska Politics thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.Candles


  • There was plenty of gavel bangin’ happening during the technical session of the Alaska State Legislature yesterday in Juneau. APRN covered what occurred.
  • Sen. Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage) has a great picture in the Centre Daily from her testimony at the Port of Seattle Commission yesterday. There is also information on Shell’s full intention of utilizing the port for oil exploration vessel moorage.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski showed off her wry sense of humor at the Nuclear Works assembly.Murkowski


  • With Medicaid expansion still in the works, the Free Republic has an article and interesting thread about a South Carolina man losing his sight and Politico offers a behind-the-curtains look at how America’s medical system really works.

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Alaska News Roundup for May 12

  • Shell has been given conditional approval (i.e. a green light) to drill up to six wells near the Burger Prospect in Alaska’s Arctic offshore area, per NPR.


    Photo Credit of This Small Planet

  • The House and Senate minorities intend to hold their own set of public hearings on budget issues, Medicaid expansion and Erin’s Law. APRN explains why.
  • An update on Interior Energy Project is tonight at 6:00pm at Pioneer Park in Fairbanks.   For those unable to attend, the Fairbanks News Miner has the gist of what is expected to be reported.
  • The federal Government Accountability Office has released its first-in-depth report on “landscape-scale” forest restoration. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) requested the study to determine if restoration efforts were in fact efficient and cost-effective. The GAO discovered that while the system in place isn’t perfect, the economic and environmental positives largely outweigh the negatives.

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Alaska News Roundup for May 11

  • This week on Capital Hill, expect lots of work from our Washington Delegation on issues including abortion bans for after 20 weeks of gestation, resolution on Iran’s American hostages, defense authorization, the USA Freedom Act, and trade bills.
  • Sen. Berta Gardner requested a Legislative Budget and Audit of the state crime lab after a report by the Legislature’s research department left many questions unanswered. APRN has the backstory on the $90 million crime lab and why an audit is necessary.
  • Nathaniel Herz with the Dispatch takes a look at the potential hurdles Mayor-Elect Ethan Berkowitz will have to tackle to increase APD’s force to be 400 strong.
  • The Nome Nuggett has the details on what Nome Gold discussed at their first official public meeting in Nome about their mining plans at Dry Creek.


    Photo Credit of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources

  • Homeless camps will soon be “pushed out” of Wasilla’s city limits, according to the Frontiersman in reaction to last year’s crisis and as an effort to prevent and effectively treat camp victims.

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