Monthly Archives: July 2015

Alaska News Roundup for July 31

  • In can this possibly be real new, the Homer Tribune reports that after Buccaneer Resources declared bankruptcy and left many local businesses in a financial lurch, after demanding businesses to give back half a year’s worth of expenditures Buccaneer paid for use of their services; the O&G company is now demanding the City of Homer do the same! Buccaneer Resources is requesting re-payment of $17,457 the city has already earned and received payment for “dockage, wharfage, supplying water and storage and other city fees.” Really!!
  • It’s Christmas in July for many Fairbanks area ski and dog mushing clubs as the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly voted to give five of these clubs a free snow machine each! The Fairbanks News Miner that it isn’t all rainbows and glitter as the borough has decided to stop paying for the maintenance and insurance on the machines on behalf of the groups as liability has become an issue.rainbows

 

  • Regulate not ban is the mantra by the Ketchikan Marijuana Advisory Committee to the Ketchikan Assembly.
  • Wasilla gets a special bubble to fill on their October ballot this fall. The Frontiersman relays the Wasilla City Council decision to put before the voters the question of whether to keep the sales tax rate at 3% (with an anticipated $6 million that would prevent a city-only property tax) or let it drop back down to its expected 2% now that the revenue has been collected to build the new library.
  • Shell is back to drillin’ in the Arctic as of 5:00pm last night. This is the first time since the 2012 debacle that Shell’s presence has been felt.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s mondo energy package has gotten tons of ink since she first announced her legislative intensions back before Breakup. Most of the focus has been on the bipartisan effort, but APRN reveals that there are actually 2 bills: and one…not so much.

    Evil Twin

    The tale of the good twin/bad twin anew.

  • Man, the hits keep coming for the North Slope Borough with Fairbanks News Miner reporting that the borough just settled with the EPA for $445,000 over alleged hazardous waste violations between 2012-2014.
  • Greenpeace USA has been found in contempt by US District Court Judge Sharon Gleason and received a fine of $2,500 an hour beginning yesterday at 10:00am AKST until all the Oregon bridge protesters have removed themselves. The Juneau Empire reports that the fine escalates until $100,000 per hour by 10:00am on August 2. Ouchie!
  • NBC News obtained a secret NSA map that shows the 600+ companies and government agencies that have been hacked by the Chinese beginning in 2009.Hackers

 

  • Both Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan voted for the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act-though only Sen. Murkowski got mentioned by Real Estate Rama.
  • Sen. John Coghill (R-North Pole) wrote an op-ed in the Dispatch where he makes his case as to why Gov. Bill Walker’s Medicaid expansion might violate state law by citing state code and SCOTUS rulings.
  • While the 2016 primaries are roughly a year away, Jeff Landfield and Sen. Lesil McGuire (R-Anchorage) are getting into a social media feud ala Drake and Meek Mills. The Dispatch details the beef and accusations’ being bandied about while the Democratic Senate Challenger, Forrest McDonald, has wisely remained out of it.
  • Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz has appointed his new Director of Public Transit: Jody Karcz. She brings with her 30+ years of direct work within the muni’s public transportation department as well as a private citizen with transportation-related organizations/programs. Congrats Jody!

    karcz

    Former Labor Com./Sen. Click Bishop (R-Fairbanks) on far left. Photo Credit of AK Labor Department

  • Hillary Clinton has mentioned her all time favorite job as a worker on Alaska’s slime line a few times while on the campaign trail as a way to make her more relatable to voters. It turns out that this life-changing job lasted only 1 week after she was let go for asking too many questions. She went onto getting another job.
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Alaska News Roundup for July 30

  • First there was the economic shockwaves of the military personnel drawdown, and then there was the UA systems academic/staff cut. Now the Fairbanks News Miner reports that Shell is going to pink slip 6,500 employees during 2015 alone. Yikes!
  • Sen. Dan Sullivan got (some) praise from one of my little birds on his over eagerness at a recent Indo-American awards ceremony earlier this week. Apparently, he accidentally shook an Indian woman’s hand a bit too much-though no offence was taken.
  • Spotted! Lesil McGuire (apparently looking stunning), Rep. Mike Chenault, Rep. Sam Kito (D-Juneau), Rep. Kurt Olson (R-Soldotna), Rep. Craig Johnson (R-Anchorage), Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage), Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) and Rep. Lance Pruitt (R-Anchorage) are all attending the Vail Council of State Governments-West conference. Pictures please!!
  • While the rest of the world is dancing the gig about the US/Iran nuclear accord, Sen. Dan Sullivan and Sen. Lisa Murkowski are not amused, per APRN.

giphy-4

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Alaska News Roundup for July 29

  • Another amazing Sue McClure Borough Assembly Report complete with a diplomatic retelling of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting (though sadly short on the names of the four appointments to the Planning Commission.)
  • Juneau’s beloved senior sales tax exemption will be given its fair share of attention by the City and Borough of Juneau Finance Committee before they make their final recommendation as to how much to scale the program back.
  • Welcome Josie Bahnke to the high stakes game of Alaska elections as the division’s new director! May your name only occasionally grace the media outlets.
elections

Photo Credit of the Juneau Empire 

 

  • The AP’s Becky Bohrer lays out Gov. Bill Walker’s case for Medicaid expansion in a beautifully written piece.

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Alaska News Roundup for July 28

  • One of my little birds is excited about the upcoming Juneau elections because word on the street is that a certain favored son of Juneau (ahem Assemblyman Jesse Kiehl) might be making a run for mayor.
  • The Kodiak City Council were busy little bees at their latest meeting. They not only authorized the regional and county jail contract with the state Department of Corrections, but they also (wait for it…) authorized the purchase of a CAT! 

Correction: One of my little birds regretfully informed me that Kodiak purchased a grader-style cat machine and not the type that meows. L

  • Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s New Era is certainly keeping to that ethos in his administration’s transition report that APRN reveals to include novel problem-solving methods. An example: translation and language training in emergency services and morale boost for muni employees.
  • Another one bites the dust! Gail Fenumiai is no longer the director of the Division of Elections, per APRN.

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Alaska News Roundup for July 27

  • Capital Hill this week will be all Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s mondo package of energy bills all the time! But that’s not all. The Hill also points out that highway funding, VA reform and regulations will also be fighting for some of that prized floor action air.
  • Reuters’s makes the case (with the help of some choice quotes by KFQD’s Dave Stieren) that in Alaska politics, Americans for Prosperity just isn’t relevant. To which AFP was all like, “Nuh-uh!!”
  • Rep. Don Young celebrated Ted Steven’s Day with a YouTube video where he urges Alaskans to get out and explore Alaska. It’s an eerily similar message to FLOTUSLet’s Move from February.Don Young

 

  • Those concerned about British Columbia’s trans boundary mine environmental issues are not about to feel any love from International Joint Commission for US-Canada water conflicts as APRN relay’s Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott’s news that the committee views this as a very local issue.

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Alaska News Roundup for July 24

  • The Bethel City Council is not taking the ABC’s decision to reject their protest of a liquor license lying down! Since under state law, the ABC board MUST accept local government’s protest unless the protest is based on “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable”…and Bethel City Council doesn’t view their reasons to be arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable. My little bird’s choice of words on this issue was a bit less diplomatic and more, er, colorful.
  • Rep. Don Young made a mistake. A very public, official, no-takesies back mistake by voting to allow voluntary GMO labeling of foods instead of against the bill…which was how he had planned…thus helping to pass the bill.

    Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 10.29.44 AM

    Info Credit of Open Congress

  • Nathaniel Herz of the Dispatch has the skinny on the unfolding drama surrounding North Slope Borough’s mayor and her alleged misuse of taxpayers’ funds. So far, he’s uncovered $8,400 in flying five of her grandchildren to a camp in CA and more than $500 a piece for cakes made by her daughters over the span of several years. There’s more, lots more.
  • Homer residents are being asked to take an online poll concerning city services. The Homer Tribune reports the Homer City Council and City Manager will use the results to reevaluate city funding and programs.
  • It’s happening!! Sen. Lisa Murkowski held a presser on her energy package and The Hill confirms that the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (which she chairs) will not only hear her bills, but will vote on them before the August 7 recess begins.

    Murkowski

    Photo Credit of Senate Energy GOP Twitter Feed

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Alaska News Roundup for July 23

  • Add TTP to your lexicon of dreaded acronyms because the Cordova Times explains why the multinational trade agreement (Trans Pacific Partnership) not only threatens democracy as a whole but could also endanger Alaska’s sovereignty.TPP

 

  • The bureaucratic headache to officially name a currently unnamed Kenai Peninsula lake to Regency Lake (fancy!) is articulated by the Peninsula Clarion.
  • Rep. Mike Hawker (R-Anchorage) told the Juneau Empire that he would consider holding a hearing on Medicaid Expansion in the near future.
  • Gov. Bill Walker’s Medicaid announcement last week got a TON of ink. Now critics are beginning to voice their concerns, including Senior Fellows with the Foundation for Government Accountability in today’s Forbes by making their case this this move would shrink the state’s economy, discourage work, cost more, and it would actually create a new program due to a quirk in Alaska law.Walker

 

  • Saxman hearts the designation of “rural” way more than their current “non-rural” label and APRN explains why.

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Alaska News Roundup for July 21

  • Texas based Buccaneer Oil is really upsetting Homer area businesses. First it was when they declared bankruptcy and left many local businesses in a financial lurch. Now the Peninsula Clarion explains that the hurt is not over with many receiving a second slap in the face with letters from Buccaneer Oil’s lawyers demanding the money back the oil company ALREADY paid them calling it “a demand for recovery of preference payments”. One of my little birds told me that Buccaneer “definitely has big brass ones. That’s for sure, and I’ll think twice before getting into bed with another oil company so quickly. That’s for sure.” 
  • In a move that some view as reminiscent of a toddler refusing to go to bed, the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee might have a scheduled meeting tomorrow, but APRN reveals that THEY. ARE. NOT. HEARING. MEDICAID. EXPANSION…yet.giphy-3

 

  • Alaska’s 2016 candidates better ready their bank accounts because The Hill reports that the FCC is thinking March 2016 as the time to have the first auction of the wireless airwave (i.e. radio-the wave your smartphone uses so you can watch Scandal).
  • The Mat-Su Borough Assembly has approved the new site for the new $22 million septage and leachate plant. They already have $5 million as a loan from the Dept. of Environmental Conservation, which will be used to get the design in place while the remaining $17 million is scrounged together.

    Septic

    Image Credit of CH2M Hill

  • The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly took some mighty big steps toward city beautification. The Juneau Empire reports that $6.7 million dollars was approved, with $5,270,000 for Water and Wastewater Utility projects, $72,000 for the “mother-in-law” apartment construction program and a few other programs.
  • Another one bites the dust! The Fairbanks News Miner discovered that UAF has followed Juneau in removing the Mississippi state flag from their campus display-though the flag pole remains bare whereas Juneau has an older version of Mississippi’s flag.
  • It’s easy to forget how long Rep. Don Young has been in office, but in a #TBT tweeted picture of him hanging out with #41 in his infamous office…PREBEARD!unnamed

 

  • Former Gov. Sarah Palin flexed her diplomatic muscle by calling both John McCain and Donald Trump heroes in an email to CNN.
  • Petersburg Borough Assembly voted to pay $213,811 for a new street sweeper! KCAW reveals that the new machine not only picks up the sand/dust from winter road maintenance, but it will prevent unnecessary runoff into store drains.

    Truck

    Spiffy!

  • The four Alaska National Guardsmen whose names appeared in the news stories that sparked a statewide outrage last year sued the state. That’s old news. The Juneau Empire reports that the US attorney’s office has filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that the guardsmen cannot and haven’t established any disclosure of information that violated the federal privacy act.
  • If you want to toke up within the city limits of Fairbanks, prepare to add an additional 5% tax on top of your purchase price if it passes October’s ballot measure, per the Fairbanks News Miner.
  • Another great political reporter has fledged! Katie Moriz of the Juneau Empire is moving onto the twin cities to continue to do that thing she does so well–>write insightful analysis on issues that would stump most. Congrats Katie, fly high!
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Alaska News Roundup for July 20

  • This week on Capital Hill, think more mad rush than leisurely stroll to the finish line before the August break. The Hill thinks that infrastructure (i.e. highway funding) will be the dominant issue of the week.
  • With hardhat in hand (and on head), the ever-elegant Sen. Lisa Murkowski (seriously, who else can rock floral while being surrounded by crude oil?) toured the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in Louisiana on Friday. World Oil explains that this is one of only four sites in the US where petroleum is stockpiled for emergencies.

    Floral

    Right?

  • In sad trombone news, while the national jobless rate dropped from May’s 5.5% to June’s 5.3%, whereas Alaska saw a slight increase of 0.1% to 6.8%. The Fairbanks News Miner discovered that the Bristol Bay Borough has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.7%!

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Alaska News Roundup for July 17

  • In whoa that’s a lot of people news, the Peninsula Clarion reveals that over 600 public comments have been filed with the Office of Subsistence Management on the proposed subsistence gillnet rules. The next step will be a work meeting scheduled for July 28-29 to review Red Sheep Creek, Cake Creek decisions, rural designation process, and whether or not to re-evaluate the re-designation of Saxman.
  • The Ketchikan City Council made a bunch of its residents rather happy last night with their decision to increase salaries and to better the benefit packages for both IBEW and non-union employees.
  • Gov. Bill Walker has gone with the nuclear option of using his executive power after months of trying the diplomatic approach with the legislature on Medicaid expansion. The Senate Majority was not amused. However, Alaska Democratic Party Chair Mike Wenstrup was positively glowing in a celebratory email that thanked all those involved in getting Medicaid expanded.Thanks

 

  • Finally! From the mouth of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, her highly anticipated energy package will “hopefully [be out] by the end of this week”, per Politico.

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Alaska News Roundup for July 16

  • Gov. Bill Walker’s efforts (including Sen. Pete Kelly’s (R-Fairbanks) statement about “a system that’s broken”) to expand Medicaid caught Reuters notice.
  • The Fairbanks North Star Borough mayoral race just went from exciting to epic when Rep. Tammie Wilson’s (R-North Pole) filed her letter of intent for the seat with APOC yesterday. The Fairbanks News Miner reports that she decided to run due to an increased amount of borough regulations. Her new opponents (Doug Isaacson and Karl Kassel) remained diplomatic.

    michael-jackson-eating-popcorn-gif

    Ready your popcorn for this race!

  • Getting a spiffy new icebreaker isn’t in the cards for Alaska, but the possibility of renting one is still on the table, per APRN.
  • The Dispatch delves into the complicated morass of commercial cannabis within the state.

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Alaska News Roundup for July 15

  • The contentious mobile home park zoning code has received so much ire from Kodiakians (?) that the scheduled Planning and Zoning Commission Special Meeting on this issue has been canceled and moved to their regular meeting tonight. My little bird tells me to come early, because it’s anticipated to be popcorn worthy. 
  • It appears that North Slope Borough Assembly’s Mayor Charlotte Brower has been naughty. There have been murmurings of ethical violations of payments to Brower’s family for goods and services, but now the Dispatch reveals that the NSBA is now taking official steps to investigate the alleged impropriety by hiring a law firm.

200-2

 

  • Our Washington Delegation’s reaction to the Iran nuclear accord was generally along the same viewpoint: this is not a good deal. Sen. Dan Sullivan went old school with his criticism with a quote by former Pres. Ronald Regan. Sen. Lisa Murkowski took a graceful and diplomatic tone with her disapproval and Rep. Don Young referred to the Obama administration as using “a dog and pony show”.
  • Gov. Bill Walker’s decision to allow forward movement on 3 separate large-scale projects without official funding has raised some eyebrows across the state. The Juneau Empire reveals those projects to be: Knik Arm Bridge, The Road and the Susitna-Watana dam.

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Alaska News Roundup for July 14

  • It is good news for Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s quest to lift the export ban on crude oil! Politico explains how yesterday’s Iranian nuclear deal only gives her supporters more leverage to “get’er done.”
  • In light of yesterday’s historic Iranian nuclear accord, one of my little birds sent me this touching YouTube video about how we are more alike than different.
YouTube Preview Image

 

  • For Mat-Su residents planning on taking a dump run, prepare to pay a little bit more now at both the local transfer stations and the borough landfill because the Mat-Su Borough Assembly has passed rate increases. The Frontiersman explains that beginning July 1, it will cost $6 to dump (2) 33-gallon garbage bags and getting rid of more will trigger extra fees.
  • Mark your calendars for July 15 because the Dispatch reveals this will be the day Gov. Bill Walker explains how his administration will be moving forward with Medicaid expansion.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski lead a block of senators in urging the director of NSA to keep them abreast of international security implications of expanding US energy output while the issue of lifting the 40+ year old crude export ban is being bandied about Congress, per Business Insider.
  • Hey Kodiakians! Want to run for Mayor or City Council? Well, today’s your lucky day because you totally can! Mayor Pat Branson, Council members Gabriel Saravia and Richard Walker’s terms end this October and Kodiak needs you!

    You

    You’d be a perfect candidate. Take the plunge!

  • The OPM data hack has now officially affected 22.1 million people and The Hill reports that there is a bill that would give these victims identify theft protections for the rest of their lives.
  • Barrow is about has happy about Shell’s offshore drilling as Seattle, but instead of protesting via kayaks they are planning on a beach vigil to “gather in unity for the safety of the Arctic Ocean.” For those interested in participating the Arctic Sounder reports that it will be held on July 18 at Nalakuataq.
  • APRN reports that while the ship containing federally required blowout response equipment is heading to Oregon for repairs, Shell does not anticipate an interruption in their 2015 drilling schedule.
  • Alaska is synonymous in many minds with polar bears, Palin and men-lots and lots of men. The Washington Post has a captivating breakdown of not only where men out number women in total population, but also by age group. For Alaskan men seeking a female counterpart between the ages of 30-34…you’re really out of luck.Men

 

  • While cannabis is legal in Alaska, where you can open-carry your greenery is getting a bit more complicated in Anchorage as the Dispatch explains that a proposed ordinance by Anchorage Assembly Ernie Hall and Amy Demboski will ensure that weed can only be kept in the trunk of your car.
  • Fairbank’s commercial pot district is slowly materializing with the Fairbanks News Miner expecting the Fairbanks North Star Borough to finalize the zoning ordinances in time for business owners to purchase commercial permits from the state in time for summer 2016.
  • Sen. Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks), Rep. Dave Talerico (R-Healy), Rep. Tammie Wilson (R-North Pole), and Rep. Adam Wool (D-Fairbanks) will be speaking at the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce about the previous legislative session as well as their forecast for 2016.

 

Have something to share? Contact Inside Alaska Politics at michelle@insidealaskapolitics.com

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Alaska News Roundup for July 13

  • This week on the Hill, prepare for some more No Child Left Behind madness, California drought talk (my little bird tells me that nothing more is expected on this issue), the House will examine federal pipeline safety rules, and Hillary Clinton’s quickie drop-in photo op speech to House Democratic Caucus on Tuesday. Fun, fun!
  • The Mat-Su Borough would like to alter subdivision rules to which the powerful local business block is like, “Umm…No.”
  • SNL Metals & Mining (no, this isn’t that SNL) unveiled a report that quantified how expensive it is for mining companies to go through the permitting process (Kensington gold mine is cited beginning on pg. 14).Graph

 

  • Erin’s Law might be a new law in Alaska, but Rep. Charisse Millett (R-Anchorage) and Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) explained to APRN how the work on this issue has just started.
  • Uncle Ted’s Senate work is being preserved in the basement of UAF where they are currently off limits to the public.   🙁   The Dispatch’s Dermot Cole waxes poetic on the historical importance of his political legacy and why restructuring a $1 million grant for digitizing the documents is in the best interest for all.

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Alaska News Roundup for July 10

  • Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly listened to well over 6 hours of testimony (and my little bird told me that number doesn’t count the endless conversations just out running errands) about a proposed ordinance to repeal portions of the riparian habitat protection program. In the end, the repeal died 5/4 and the Peninsula Clarion has the entire nail biting moments.
  • Gov. Bill Walker signed Erin’s Law into law last night at an ice cream bill signing celebration. It was an Anchorage Who’s Who affair.
    picnic

 

  • In coffee spitting news, CNN reports that the US military intercepted two Russian aircraft off the coast of CA and Alaska! This comes on the heels of the announcement of military personnel cuts to Alaska’s Army base, which Gov. Bill Walker considers to be an “opportunity” for Alaska in the long–run.
  • APRN explains the Alaska Department of Revenue’s report on why Oil Tax Credits are a bad investment for the state.Tax Credits

 

  • Shell Oil is thinking of about making the branding equivalent of wearing spanx: just enough change to be noticeable, but not enough to draw too much attention. The Hill reveals that Shell’s change would be dropping the “oil” aspect from its name…completely.

    spanx

    Photo Credit of Styles by Katrina

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