Monthly Archives: June 2015

Alaska News Roundup for June 30

  • Ready the fire extinguisher because when Alaska’s statehood birthday cake will now have 57 candles!

    Cake Suck

    You’ve Come a Long Way Baby! 

  • Juneau’s Gastineau Apartments is turning out to be their city’s version of Dante’s Inferno. The longer this story enfolds, the deeper the pockmark it has become on the municipality. No longer just an eyesore, the Juneau Empire reports that the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly is now having to take 8 million in dedicated funds from a different project to put toward the demolition of the apartment complex’s remains because it is looking highly unlikely that the property’s owners will cough up the dough.
  • Rep. Lynn Gattis (R-Wasilla) threw shade at the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. for hosting a golfing tournament during working hours while the state is in a budget crisis. To which the corporation returned her volley with a simple statement to the Dispatch.
  • APRN takeaway from Arctic Geopolitics is not all sunshine and unicorns. You have been warned.
  • The Hill explains why SCOTUS’ ruling on redistricting will likely alter the makeup of 2022’s congressional seats, but APRN reports that it will remain status quo on the federal side…. not so much state side.

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Still Lookin’ Good Alaska

Alaska celebrates statehood today as a spry 57 year old state.  It was a long, hard struggle to gain this designation, but with a 64-20 vote…it happened and Sour Doughs never looked back.

As we enter a new era in our state’s history, what do you think The Last Frontier will be wishing for as it blows out its proverbial birthday cake candles?

My money is on an oopsy daisy reassessment on our oil fields’ longevity.

Birthday

 

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Alaska News Roundup for June 29

  • Tonight’s Wasilla City Council meeting will decided if the 1% sales tax increase becomes permanent and to approve a temporary 2-3% tax to raise the needed $15 million for the new Wasilla Library. The Frontiersman has the details.
  • The GOP is girding their loins, sharpening their quills and readying their rhetoric for the regulation battles ahead. The Hill reports that dietary guidelines, the carbon pollution reductions, E-cigarette oversight, calorie count menu labeling requirements, and union election laws will be getting extra attention in the coming weeks.
  • Gov. Bill Walker signed two of Rep. Cathy Munoz’s (R-Juneau) bills into law over the weekend. The first incentivizes affordable housing through municipal tax exemptions. The second creates the first new tax in well over a decade. HB158 creates a 1% per gallon tax that will go toward funding the Hazardous Substances Prevention and Response Fund.
  • Sen. Dan Sullivan was spotted at a recent Indo-American Community Services meet & greet. According to my little bird, he was all smiles, but was still mastering the art of working the room while his more senior congressional colleagues demonstrated “how it’s done”.
  • Budget cuts hit the Alaska Marine Highway hard with 3 of the 11 strong fleet being docked for the majority of 2016. APRN reports that several Southeast communities won’t have ferry access for about a month with more cuts on the horizon.

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Alaska News Roundup for June 26

  • Why yes, the Soldotna City Council will accept the $250,000 FAA grant and the matching $8,300 grants from the state and city to begin phase II of the airport master plan project, per the Peninsula Clarion.
  • Arctic Slope Regional Corp., NANA Regional Corp. and Bering Straits Native Corp., just got extra bonafide by forming a mondo alliance for Arctic development (and one heck of a political block). The Dispatch has the details on this new development.
  • Running of the SCOTUS interns is a long and hallowed tradition of relaying information from the justices to reporters. Wired examines why SCOTUS rulings first come on paper and not via-pick your 21st or even 20th century technology-a faster non-sprinting intern manner.YouTube Preview Image

 

  • FERC is not happy with Homer Electric Association’s shoddy filings and missing necessary information. HEA has four months to correct and address all comments or FERC will drop its proverbial hammer. Winter is coming.

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Alaska News Roundup for June 25

  • Gov. Bill Walker has joined the national movement to rename areas once dedicated to Confederate soldiers and slavers by supporting the renaming of the Western area of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta that includes 20 villages and seasonal communities from Wade Hampton Census Area to Kusilvak Census District. The Dispatch has the backstory, who’s supporting the name change and more.
  • The saga of the hacked OMP files has gone from stomach churning to sobbing into beer on the sad meter. The Hill reveals that along with 18 million people’s personal information (including addresses, SSN, income, levels of security clearances, etc.) hackers also gained access to classified FBI files.
  • The Dispatch explains a new report put out by the Rockefeller Institute that found Alaska was the hardest hit of all the states by the downward spiral of crude oil prices.Oil

 

  • Federal Superior Court Judge Michael McConahy made a temporary ruling to minimize the turmoil embroiling Tok over who has a seat on the community’s Tok Community Umbrella Corporation board. The Fairbanks News Miner reports that the “winner” is Lisa Conrad.

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SCOTUS Upholds Affordable Care Act/ObamaCare

The highly anticipated ruling on King v. Burwell came out today with SCOTUS upholding a key provision of ObamaCare in a vote of 6 to 3.  This particular provision was seen by both sides of the argument as a vital basis on which the law was built upon.  Namely, individuals participating in the Healthcare Marketplace (healthcare.gov) would be able to receive subsidies from the government to help purchase health insurance.

SCOTUS’ decision on King v. Burwell is below:

Obama Care

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Alaska News Roundup for June 24

  • International Agro exporters in the state saw a vital program that provides necessary certification go dark as part of the Division of Agriculture’s budget cuts. The Peninsula Clarion explains the impact not having a phytosanitary certifier will have on this economic sector and regional economies.
  • Usibelli Coal Mine is moving through its mining permit process and the Dispatch details the backstory, location of the mine and its opposition’s reasons to prevent it from opening.
  • Chill baby, it’s a drill! Seward Marine Industrial Center will be without electricity between 8:00-10:00am today as part of scheduled maintenance by the Seward Electric Department.
  • Military exercises will not just be contained in the Gulf of Alaska with 3 Navy destroyers (one that has guided-missiles will be docking at the Port of Anchorage today), a submarine. It turns out that Alaska will have 6,000 soldiers from all four branches of the military conducting exercises across the state, per the Juneau Empire.
  • The Hill’s staffers, interns and high-level government workers are known for being rather, err lackadaisical (some might even go so far as to say wicked lazy) about keeping their online presence technologically secure. Wired has exposed just how widespread AND EASY government workers’ online credentials can be found, thus allowing for easy hacking into government systems. We are talking about passwords, emails, etc. out there on public domains-not even lurking on the dark web. Yikes!

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Alaska News Roundup for June 23

  • Veterans are not amused when it comes to the new, for profit, healthcare program that is part of the “Choice” program. Sen. Dan Sullivan told KTUU that hearings on the Choice Act would begin tomorrow.

 

  • Ready your confetti because the SCOTUS has ruled in in a 5-4 decision in favor of personal privacy regarding warrantless searches of hotel registries, per The Hill.

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Alaska News Roundup for June 22

  • The Battle of Blackwater: Alaska style won’t see epic CGI effects ala Game of Thrones, but the Juneau Empire explains why the stakes involved in permitting cruise ship’s wastewater release into Juneau Harbor waters are just as high.
  • This week on Capital Hill, it will be an all-out marathon to finish legislation before the holiday recess. Passage of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), the 2016 annual appropriations bill, judicial review of final EPA air regulations and Interior Department appropriations.
  • The latest in the Snowden revelations is not going to warm the cockles of your heart. It turns out from The Intercept that the NSA and their British counterparts (GCHQ) have been working together to hack antivirus software to further conduct surveillance on American citizens.Snowden

 

  • The Nome Nugget has the details on the state Dept. of Natural Resources’ new regulations on offshore mining.

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Alaska News Roundup for June 19

  • Alaska’s Fraud Czar John Skidmore warned those interested in committing healthcare fraud (as well as within other industries) that “we will come after you.”
  • ABC News reports that Alaska’s unemployment rose again to the level of 9%. The state with the highest is Mississippi at 7.7% and North Dakota wins a gold star for the lowest rate of 2.7% unemployment.Unemployment

 

  • KTVA was on hand to capture Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan’s final State of the City in Eagle River occurred yesterday where he admitted that the infamous SAP program might have benefitted from more caution by his administration.
  • 49 businesses and supporters of Tongass National Forest recreation programs came together with a letter to Congress urging to prioritize funding for this region following a 42% decline in funding over the past six years, per the Juneau Empire.
  • The Washington Post delves into the question of Pope Benedict’s stand on climate action and how GOP Catholic politicians are publicly handling this new development. Yale University discovered that among republican voters, Roman Catholics are more likely to believe in global warming AND support policies to counter its affects than other religious denominations. Both Sen. Dan Sullivan and Sen. Lisa Murkowski are Roman Catholic.
    Belivers

    Yale University

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Alaska News Roundup for June 18

  • A mondo piece of “almost-uninhabitable land, water and glacier that is about 1.5 times the size of Rhode Island” might become the ire of cartographiles if the Alaska Supreme Court rules that it should be included as part of the state, per the Juneau Empire.
  • The FBI and the North Slope Borough are now working together to discover how drug and monetary evidence from the borough’s police department went missing. The Arctic Sounder has the details on this ongoing investigation.
  • Kodiak Wants You! At least, the Kodiak Island Borough wants interested parties to know the filing process for the vacant Assembly seat following former Assemblywoman Carol Austerman’s
  • Alaska political wonks take note; Anchorage’s Sable Scotton (age 10) will be breaking bread with FLOTUS as the Last Frontier’s winner of the Healthy Lunch Challenge, per KTVA.

    Girl

    Winner!

  • The Juneau Empire has more details that are coming out on Charlie Huggins’ convicted staffer. It turns out that since her conviction for pointing a gun on her roommate, she has been receiving her salary…just not the full $10,404 monthly amount. The portion Deborah Grundmann has been receiving is still unknown.

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Alaska News Roundup for June 17

  • The Homer City Council hosted a presentation by the Navy over their intended summer exercises in the Gulf of Alaska (including the use of bombs, toxic chemicals and high-power sonar). The Homer Tribune reports that the presentation did not quell the ever-increasing hostilities of the community toward this exercise. The Homer City Council will vote during their next meeting to pass a resolution (to join many other coastal communities) against the current planned exercises and for the time frame to be moved to the fall.
  • The Fairbanks North Star Borough mayoral race is heating up!  Today, FNSB Assemblyman Karl Kassel will launch his bid to be the borough’s next mayor, per the Fairbanks News Miner.
  • Sue McClure’s riveting Borough Assembly Report is HERE!
  • Sen. Charlie Huggins’ (R-Wasilla) convict legislative aide has in fact remained on the state’s payroll despite her 2014 fourth-degree assault charge and subsequent Outside treatment that has lasted for months. The Juneau Empire not only reports that her legislative pay will stop at the end of this month but also why Deborah Grundmann remained on the payroll for so long without working.
  • Kodiak City Council has approved the proposed re-design of the new fire station and a reassessment on the condition of the “old” library to no more than $100K. They also have given borough residents permission to legally use fireworks (just not within city limits) between June 15-July 15 and December 26-Jan1.

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Alaska News Roundup for June 16

  • OEM Hotline for current information is: (907) 714-2495
  • Ready those smelling salts because Gov. Bill Walker is crowd sourcing for budget solutions with an addicting Choose Your Own Adventure style spreadsheet algorithm (officially called Revenue and Expenditure Model). This is probably the single sneakiest way to educate while entertaining since the Oregon Trail…but this time it’s for realsies!

    Fun Times

    So much wonkish fun!

  • In a 78/21 vote, the US Senate passed a ban against the use of waterboarding, “rectal feeding” and other torture techniques as part of enhanced interrogation (i.e. torture) against prisoners, per The Hill.
  • Yesterday saw the release of the long awaited report on the Alaska State National Guard. The Juneau Empire explains the overall takeaway from the press conference. Accompanying the reaction from the report’s content was an articulate and fervid op-ed in the Dispatch by Lisa Demer.
  • Whip out your black Amex because the Fairbanks News Miner has won the top award at the Society of Professional Journalists event and bar tabs for journos don’t come cheap.
  • My little birds tell me that Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management is working overtime (figuratively for our budget hawks) to help those impacted by the Sockeye wildfire. The Seward City News has updates.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski has released a report (with the front cover featuring an interesting looking item dangling from a helicopter) titled “Rendering Vital Assistance: Allowing Oil Shipments to U.S. Allies” to lift the crude oil export ban AND allow O&G trade with allies. Another interesting item are the signatures from an old letter that was attached at the end of the report. Sen. Dan Sullivan isn’t found until the third page of John Hancock’s, buried 4th from the end. Ouchie!Oil

 

  • Anchorage building codes were years in the making before they were finally ratified, but that hasn’t meant a smooth transition. The Dispatch reports that area builders are balking at the new regulations and Anchorage Assembly members Ernie Hall and Amy Demboski are coming to their rescue with an 18-month stay on the new building requirements.
  • The City an Borough of Juneau has six new(ish) appointees for the Eaglecrest Board (Carlton Heine, Lee Henry), the Planning Commission (Matthew Bell) and the Docks and Harbors Board (Tom Donek, David Lowell, Tom Zaruba), per the Juneau Empire.
  • Rep. Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer) showed her softer side by tweeted this to fellow Alaskans affected by the Sockeye wildfire.Home

 

  • Things are turning ugly with the Paddle in Seattle. The Washington Post reports that some kayakativists were arrested for interfering with the transport of Shell’s oil rig.
  • Politico has more on the social media tiff going on between the US and Russia.
  • Alaska is one of only three other states that reject the federal rules to prevent prison rapes. The other three: Idaho, Arkansas and Utah. The Peninsula Clarion explains what the requirements are and possible reasons why the Last Frontier is choosing to be one of the last on board this issue.
  • Bristol Bay Native Corporation has a new President and CEO for their freshly launched BBNC oilfield and industrial services holding company!  Mark D. Nelson brings with him industry knowledge from serving as Senior Vice President at Quanta Services to ensure BBNC’s oilfields operate successfully.

    Mark D Nelson

    Photo Credit of Bristol Bay Native Corporation

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Alaska News Roundup for June 15

  • This week on Capital Hill, it’ll be a mad dash in the Senate to get the new head of TSA through the nomination process (the previous one was yanked from his role due to the embarrassingly high 67-70% failure rate of internal testing among US airports earlier this month). There will also be discussion on school lunches, a look at Obama’s executive action on immigration and GMO labeling.
  • Juneau’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development has something the other satalite offices don’t: Workers’ rights pamphlet in Samoan! O le gagana e tasi e le lava.
  • Alexandra Gutierrez with APRN has an indepth accounting of legislators’ per diem during the (wicked long) special sessions. An interesting mixture of Anchorage representatives took their per diem ( Sen. Lesil McGuire at $7,347 and Sen. Cathy Giessel at $5,352) while most (including Sen. Kevin Meyer, Rep. Craig Johnson and the none of the Anchorage Democrats) did not.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s impassioned speech in support of the Alaska priorities in the FY16 Defense Appropriations Bill moved Real Estate Rama to write an entire article about her amendments and her growing recognition as a national advocate for Lou Gehrig’s disease research.
  • The Nome Nugget reports that the Nome Common Council has passed LOWER property taxes for FY16. The mill rate will be lowered from FY15’s 12 to 11 and could end up saving homeowners several hundreds of dollars.
YouTube Preview Image

 

  • Soldotna business owners are flexing their muscle (and vocabulary) with the Soldotna City Council over the proposal to ease food truck permitting. The Peninsula Clarion reveals that they don’t want it and as a result-the city council has postponed the measure.
  • Power lines. Wasilla’s growing pains are currently being reflected in finding the balance between the need for MEA’s voltage and the desire for it to be somewhere…just not in one’s backyard. The Frontiersman has the details.
  • Defense is how Outside GOP groups will be working the 2016 election cycle. Roll Call uses Sen. Dan Sullivan as an example of success when groups and the NRSC identify AND back candidates early.
  • Mayor Bert Cottle’s vote broke the 3-3 tie of the Wasilla City Council over hiring back Park Rangers. The Frontiersman reports that it will come with a price tag of $25,180 for two seasonal rangers.
  • Meet the alpha dog of Alpha Media: Larry Wilson. He is going to have significant sway in what Anchorage radios will be playing (KBEAR 104.1, KOOL 97.3, MIX 103.1, KWHL 106.5, KHAR 590, KFQD 750) once the FCC confirms the sale of the station by Morris Media, per the Dispatch.
  • Alaskans looking for work just got some extra love from Commissioner Heidi Drygas with the instutition of a 90% Alaska resident hire requirement for state-funded public construction jobs beginning July 1, per the Fairbanks News Miner.
  • Drill, Baby Drill might be an iconic slogan, but when it comes to BlueCrest Energy’s plans for drilling six miles from Anchor Point-residents are not so enthusiastic, according to APRN.
  • Sen. Anna MacKinnon (R-Eagle River/Anchorage) and Sen. Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage) co-wrote an op-ed in the Dispatch where they explain why certain budget cuts were made.

 

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Alaska News Roundup for June 12

  • One of my little birds sent this to me for a laugh. Who knew that Alaska shared Sen. Dan Sullivan with Arkansas?AR

 

  • Paging RepCraig Johnson (R-Anchorage) to the white curtsey phone. Kodiak has discovered another invasive species in the form of a crayfish, per the Kodiak Daily Mirror.
  • Becky Bohrer with the AP has her take on the legislative Winners (state workers, House Minority, the Ferry System), Losers (Medicaid & Gov. Walker) and the “Eh” (education).

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