Author Archives: Michelle Scannell

Alaska News Roundup for December 14

  • This week Congress is going to do whatever it takes to avoid having to stay in DC any longer than necessary and that means playing nice across the aisle to get the Omnibus spending bill passed, pass a strengthened customs enforcement bill, and maybe…just maybe…pass a few political nominations.
  • Ready your calendars you lucky Unalaska residents you because your city council will be shortly announcing an agenda free, survey free public forum at City Hall so all parties can freely discuss their stance on allowing commercial pot (and the lovely tax stream it could become) onto the island. KUCB also reports that after a nail biting vote by the Unalaska council members, Wayne Chin was voted in as the newest Museum of the Aleutians Board of Directors after Mayor Shirley Marquardt had to cast the deciding vote.
  • One of my little birds just loved (like fangirl level of love) Rep. Don Young’s recent speech on the House Floor where he expounded upon the importance of the 2nd amendment.
YouTube Preview Image

 

  • The Homer City Council totally earns a gold star for hard work after finishing a marathon public meeting where they not only passed their $20+ million budget (potential legislative lobbyists should contact them…they are in the market), but they also decided to table the seasonal sales tax till May while making noises that the seasonal tax might become a permanent year-around tax.
  • Former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan’s administration has been found guilty of super sloppy accounting with the city’s Centennial celebrations budget. The Dispatch reveals that a recent audit found close to $100,000 in outstanding bills that have forced Mayor Ethan Berkowitz to ask the Anchorage Assembly to cover at least $69,000 of the bills. Assemblyman Bill Starr is requesting a forensic accountant to look into the matter.

Continue reading

facebooktwittermail

Alaska News Roundup for December 9

  • The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly confirmed the new Mayoral appointments for several local boards and one of my little birds was proud as punch for Ed MaHoney and Mark Anderson on their positions as the newest members of the Citizens Board of Equalization.
  • GCI is gathering its soldiers and preparing their battle plans for a storm on the state capital to figure out a solution to the state’s budget crisis. Considering who’s already on tap, the odds are ever in their favor.GCI Lobbyists

Continue reading

facebooktwittermail

Alaska News Roundup for December 4

  • One of my Washington little birds was not amused by Rep. Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer) recent FB posting on her official state FB page where she referred to people in attendance (possibly Sen. Pete Kelly (R- Fairbanks) and Chief of Staff to Sen. Dan Sullivan as well) as “homies.” “It is an insult to her elected position and to the people in attendance to use such a term. They are not hanging out at Coots on their own time and this is not her private FB page. She was attending an official event with professionals. This lack of decorum is disgusting.” Fair/unfair?Homies

  Continue reading

facebooktwittermail

Alaska News Roundup for December 3

  • Sen. John Coghill (R-Fairbanks) has testified before Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s powerful Energy and Natural Resources Committee along with six other Alaskans about how the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) is going and what issues needed to be addressed.coghill

 

  • The Mat-Su Borough Assembly had to dust off an old parliamentary maneuver to temporarily borrow $2.5 million to fix a major safety/structural issue with the Port MacKenzie’s barge dock until the insurance company is satisfied with the necessary documentation and cuts the owed insurance money. The Frontiersman fully explains the needed repairs and how the Assembly quickly fixed the fiscal holdup.
  • Quinnipiac University has released the results of nation wide poll on Americans’ perspective on refugees, terrorists and Congress’ handling of the issue. The results were surprising to many news outlets as 58% of American voters felt the greatest threat to safety/security was from homegrown jihadists, then 17% feared radicalized foreign visitors down to 16% of people fearing terrorists hiding among Syrian refugees. This reaction was across the board with age and ethnicity.Refugee

Continue reading

facebooktwittermail

Alaska News Roundup for December 2

  • If you’ve bought your little ones a VTech electronic “learning” toy in the past few years AND utilized their “Learning Lodge” app store database to store all of your kiddo’s creations…congratulations because you’re probably amongst the 5 million people who’s customer accounts got hacked. So along with any stored names, email addresses, encrypted passwords, security questions, answers, IP addresses, mailing addresses, and download history…your kids’ photos could now be added to the Internet’s child pornography racket.
  • Rep. Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan) appears to have a bit of bad news: he now officially has a contender for his reelection next November in Ketchikan Assemblyman Bob Sivertsen.   Sivertsen had filed a Letter of Intent back in August, but filed the official “I’m bonafide” paperwork on Monday of this week. Interesting to note is that his Deputy treasurers are fellow Assemblypersons (and local rainmakers) Dick Coose and Judy Zenge.Sivertsen

 

  • The Oil Tax Credit Working Group’s report is out and Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) is diplomatically not amused.

Continue reading

facebooktwittermail

Alaska News Roundup for December 1

  • This week on Capital Hill, Congress is going to be scrambling to avoid another government shutdown (and increase the ire of their constituents) while tackling the highway funding and even throwing in some energy debate for good measure, per The Hill.
  • Southeast is sure to be doing a happy dance with the news that AKDOT is going to be pumping $30+ million into improvements of the Ferry System. The projects includes small ones like a new terminal building complete with functioning sanitation (!) for Kake and for Angoon; replace mooring dolphins (sorry, not what you think) and increase passenger bridge safety in Ketchikan; to Hainesmondo project that will completely replace the current end dock for ferries.

happy dance

 

  • Unalaska’s City Council was hard at work grappling with the ramifications of the Pot Board’s recent decisions and though not all issues ended with a decision, it’s part of an ongoing community discussion. Not so on the issue of too many taxicabs as that number has officially been lowered to 18, per KUCB.
  • The State Pot Board’s inclination to allow cannabis cafes has given the state its first potential location in Fairbanks. The Fairbanks North Star Assembly discussed the possibility at their last meeting and while many members were not amused with the prospect, Fairbanks seems to at least be rational about the good vs. bad.

Continue reading

facebooktwittermail

Alaska News Roundup for November 26

  • Happy Thanksgiving! When things just aren’t coming out the way it looks in the cookbook, Some Life has compiled baking fails to remind you that you’re not alone.food

 

  • Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (the federal court’s who’s job it is to ensure that the NSA works within the law) has just gotten five new lawyers to serve as special standing advisers. To whit privacy advocates and the American public responded with:CheeringCrowd

Continue reading

facebooktwittermail

Alaska News Roundup for November 23

  • North Slope Borough Mayor Charlotte Brower’s days in office are quickly getting a tick-tock sound as Barrow residents have officially started a recall petition. The Arctic Sounder reports that the group is not backing ANYONE and just wants Brower gone.
  • The Peninsula Clarion reports that the Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre, Kenai Mayor Pat Porter, and Soldotna Mayor Pete Sprague bribed offered the Board of Fisheries $60,000 in service savings if they kept their Upper Cook Inlet finfish meeting on the Peninsula until 2017 instead of moving to Anchorage.   City managers and mayors of the Kenai Borough, Homer, Seldovia, Soldotna, and Seward are also supportive of this financial incentive.
  • The National Journal explains the latest (and currently unpublished) Pew Research Center’s poll on the makeup of religious Americans and found something VERY interesting: white Christians are no longer the majority! In fact, as you look at the results by generation…more and more consider themselves unaffiliated. This will become increasingly interesting in future election cycles stump speeches and the shifting dynamic of religion in daily life.
  • In a move that has shocked, horrified, elated, and bemused MANY of my little birds…(drum roll please) the State Pot Board has taken a step toward allowing Amsterdam style pot cafés within the state!!! As APRN’s Zachariah Hughes explains, this would be a first for the entire country.

Continue reading

facebooktwittermail

Alaska News Roundup for November 16

  • Our Washington delegation should be doing their downward dog and plenty of breathing exercises in order to get through this upcoming week in Congress. Not only are they supposed to pass renewed transportation project funding, deal with the issue of penalizing undocumented immigrants who reenter the US after being deported, have one more go at repealing parts of ObamaCare, BUT ALSO taking on the Federal Reserve with audit threats. Whew!! Next week: Turkey Day Vacation.
YouTube Preview Image

 

  • Want to make your voice heard on the Ferry schedule debacle? Today is the day for the Alaska Marine Transportation Advisory Board’s meeting beginning at 10:30am. Interested parties should call (800) 315-6338 and use conference code 39051.
  • Nikiski Mayor Mike Navarre and Borough LNG Special Assistant Larry Persily conducted a public hearing on the pipeline project last week and while it made one of my little birds happy that this issue was finally being conducted by an elected official and not by the LNG pipeline staff, Rep. Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) could not be found amongst the crowd to much chagrin.

Continue reading

facebooktwittermail

Alaska News Roundup for November 12

  • The latest State Senate candidate to become official (she filed her Letter of Intent with APOC back in September…but that doesn’t mean anything really) is Anchorage’s Hilary Morgan who will be running against campaign workhorse (and kitchen timer queen) Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage). Morgan is a well-respected community leader who has steered the YWCA’s as their CEO and by the looks of her kick-off party invite…a lot of the Democratic Party’s establishment’s support (i.e. help with finding donors).Morgan

 

  • The way Alaska campaigns can raise money could soon be changing as three Anchorage area residents and the Anchorage chapter of the Republican Party have filed a federal lawsuit against the $500 individual limit to a candidate, $500 individual limit to a group, $3,000 individual limit from out-of-state peoples to a campaign and a $5,000 limit to a political party within a calendar year. KTUU has the details.
  • In pinch me, I must be dreaming news: Sitka’s Highliner Coffee, Backdoor Café and Homeport Eatery all offered FREE COFFEE on Monday to anyone that submitted a comment card on the severely reduced ferry schedule. By the end of the day there were 200 happily caffeinated people, DOT had 200 more opinions on their schedules and the Peninsula Clarion had a delightful article.

Continue reading

facebooktwittermail

Alaska News Roundup for November 11

PoppyThe Dispatch has you covered with information on Veterans Day ceremonies for the Anchorage and Mat-Su area.

  • In a move that has sent a shockwave throughout the Peninsula, Homer’s Mayor Beth Wythe has become the latest Republican to take on a GOP incumbent and force a primary. The reason for such a jaw dropping reaction for many of my little birds? Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer) is a well-respected and beloved legislator in his district by both sides of the aisle and his support is considerable. Some whisperings have been that Wythe’s run is not to actually win, but to learn the ropes of campaigning for a future successful run in 2018.
  • Gov. Bill Walker is looking for a new State Agriculture Director as it has been decided that Franci Havemeister is not cut from his type of leadership cloth. One of my little birds thought DNR’s Commissioner Mark Myers was misogynistic innapropriate by referencing Havemeister as “Franci” in the state’s official press release instead of “Director Havemeister” as the governor did.

Continue reading

facebooktwittermail

Alaska News Roundup for November 5

  • The brewing battle over Bethel’s liquor store permit has yet to be resolved and the contentious issue is spilling over into other matters before the Bethel City Council including conflict of interest vote by Councilwoman Nikki Hoffman. The Dispatch has the popcorn worthy details of the hearing.
  • The full text of the TPP trade deal has been released (thanks New Zealand government) to both horror and applause. Wired points out that Congress will be voting a straight-up “yea” or “nay” in 2016 as there is VERY little wiggle room on altering the multi-nation agreement.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski is quite chummy with her House Energy Committee Chair cohort by joining forces (and donor lists) to form a joint fundraising committee that will allow them to raise a lot of $, but only have to divvy up the funds between themselves. International Business Times has the details of the ramifications of this Washingtonesque Friends with Benefits.

Continue reading

facebooktwittermail

Alaska News Roundup for November 4

  • Wired has some great background on a new bill before Congress that INCREASES (pretty non-existent) Americans’ rights to digital privacy. The bill would require state and local law enforcement to obtain a warrant BEFORE they can use stingray surveillance devices. Wonder where our Congressional Delegation will side on this issue?stingray

 

  • Ninilchik Tribal Council is going full-throttle on taking care of its community by beginning the steps toward an area-wide peninsula public-transit system complete with a transit hub to ensure access for all to medical and public amenities. The Peninsula Clarion reports that the estimated annual operating budget of $200,000 and an initial start-up cost of $1.2 million that would go toward the purchase of buses, drivers, insurance, etc.
  • Learn all about the Mat-Su Borough’s new Mayor Vern Halter in a LIVE radio interview with APRN today from 2:00-3:00pm. Call 1-888-353-5752.
  • One of my little birds shared this photo from a Politico photo essay of “When Halloween and Washington Mixed”. There was some slight confusion of why Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s nephews were so…”bulky” and thought it might be due to the “caribou diet”.   Nah, her security guards were geared up for Halloween Alaska style: complete with snow gear UNDER the costume.Murkowski Halloween

 

  • The State Pot Board might be on track to satisfy all the policy requirements of the 2014 ballot initiative cum law but the Juneau Empire reports that one rather important aspect is still unsolved: where can visitors/tourists legally consume the now legal cannabis?
  • TransCanada is probably doing a happy dance about the AK Senate’s vote to buyout the company’s stake in the LNG pipeline from the Peninsula Clarion’s take on the event.
  • Fairbanks Mayor Karl Kassel gave an administration defining speech to borough employees last Tuesday where he stressed substance over flattery. The end goal according to the Fairbanks News Miner? “I want to end the Super Bowl of local governments.” Then maybe a trip to Disneyland?
YouTube Preview Image

 

  • Health insurance rates will continue to go up for 2016 as to will subsidies, but the Dispatch explains what the state is doing to help those found in the unenviable situation of earning too much to receive subsidies and have to purchase their healthcare through the Marketplace Exchange.
  • The AP has a pretty expansive list of how states evaluate their teachers using testing results. Alaska is part of a large contingency that uses test scores as a key factor in teacher evaluations.
  • Rep. Charisse Millett shared this great picture of the female House Majority members (though where is Rep. Louise Stutes in this female empowerment photo?).House Majority Ladies

 

  • Take heart Democratic Party because Politico charts a path to winning back the House…if Donald Trump or Dr. Ben Carson wins the prime spot on the ticket.
  • The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly was all like a Human Beinz song at their last public meeting where they decided to take a stand against homeowners buying or selling from being forced to connect to the South Tongass Service Area’s public water system and approved all of Mayor David Landis’ Assembly appointments without a fight.
  • Anti-Pebble groups are petitioning AKDNR to investigate Pebble Mine backers to ensure they have the met current reclamation requirements with deadlines so the state isn’t left paying for any cleanup that isn’t done after mining is complete, per the Dispatch.
  • The City of Juneau is but a few short, sweet months away from handing out 12 individual $6,000 grants to homeowners to build an accessory or MIL apartment to help boost Juneau’s housing market. For those interested, the Juneau Empire has the requirements for the grant money and why this is a widely considered a good use of limited fiscal resources.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski tweeted this fascinating Waterworldesque picture of Alaskan waterways regarding the controversial EPA water rule under debate this week on THE hill.

Waterways

 

  • The House Oversight Committee gave REALLY bad marks to federal agencies on their compliance with properly managing and securing their IT systems. The Department of Energy, Education, and NASA all received “F.” The State Department got a “D” and Homeland Security got a “C.” The best marks of a “B” went to the Department of Corrections and General Services Administration, per The Hill.
facebooktwittermail

Alaska News Roundup for November 2

  • Infrastructure funding and water regulation over minor waterways under the Clean Water Act will be the main points of contention focus this week in Congress.
  • While Sen. Lisa Murkowski made the time to congratulate Soldotna’s own Anna DeVolld on her winning essay about the US Capital Tree and right to light the tree all the way in Washington, D.C., the same could not be said about Little Anna’s own Sen. Peter Micchiche or Rep. Kurt Olson.Murkowski

 

  • Saxman is getting their wish in will once again be designated as rural and be regranted the ability to hunt with subsistence allowances by the of the Interior AND Kenai, Wasilla/Palmer, Homer and Ketchikan’s areas will be returning to their pre-2007 nonrural boundaries!

Continue reading

facebooktwittermail