Category Archives: Anchorage

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.
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Alaska News Roundup for October 30

  • Anchorage parks are taking a page from the Handmaid’s Tale and plan to use pictographs instead of words on trails and maps, per the Dispatch. Really, this is actually happening. pictures

 

  • The City and Borough of Sitka’s recent assembly meeting was very busy indeed between the reappointment of Dan Jones to the Gary Paxton Industrial Board, Eric Skousen to the Port and Harbors Commission and Tami Parker Song to the Planning Commission; the finalization of the raw water contract for $1,000,000; and Mayor McConnell signing a coalition letter to Pres. Obama in support of continued climate action.
  • Juneau’s City Manager Kim Kiefer’s planned retirement for December 2015 has been extended to April 30, 2016 because of the 33 applicants for her soon-to-be-vacant job…not one was determined worthy of her mantle. The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly will begin anew in January with the hopes of finding someone by the end of February.

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Alaska News Roundup for October 29

  • City of Ward Cove is not to be, as the proponents are no longer pushing to create the newest “city” on Revillagigedo Island.
  • The state Department of Resources is ready for all your love mail public comments on increasing the parking lot near the mouth of the Kasilof River to 315 parking spots with turnaround space, area for 20 port-a-potties and 4 dumpsters, AND a two-way beach access. The Peninsula Clarion has the details.Fishing

 

  • Forget Antigua with its beautiful sands, mild weather, and favorable banking regulations because if you’re a retiree, then Alaska is where it’s at…at least in tax haven terms so sayeth KTUU and backed by Washington D.C. based business forecasting organization.
  • The eager applicants for Fairbank’s Mayor Karl Kassel’s open Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly seat begin with Shaun Tacke of state pot policy fame and Cynthia Baldwin. The Fairbanks News Miner has their credentials and the process of choosing Kassel’s replacement.
  • The Second Circuit Court of Appeals have ruled that they would not shut down the very same NSA spying on Americans program they had just ruled was illegal but a few short months before. The Hill tries to shake out the logic while working through the confusion.

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Alaska News Roundup for October 28

  • Tonight’s Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly meeting won’t be just one involving updates on Financial Reports or what to expect during this year’s Trick or Trunk (though it will be a part of it), but also a continued discussion on whether to create an official City of Ward Cove!Ward Cove

 

  • Who knew that North Pole’s Mayor Bryce Ward was such a history nerd? The proof is in the pudding…err…the proposed 2016 budget that includes a brand new full-time position for an archivist though the Fairbanks News Miner explains it won’t be all white gloves and light sensitive work for the new hire.
  • Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz wants to increase traffic ticket fines by implementing an inflation-based fee scale as a means to fill the muni’s fiscal gap. Assemblyman Bill Evans isn’t having any of it and has submitted an ordinance to prevent Mayor Berkowitz’s plan. The Dispatch has the details on this growing story. This public hearing on this issue is scheduled for November 10.

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Alaska News Roundup for October 26

  • This week on Capital Hill, expect more drama than an Italian opera…so sayeth The Hill. The House is expecting to officially decide on their new Speaker (i.e. Rep. Paul Ryan), deal with the November 3 debt limit deadline, add an additional financial Band-Aid to Highway funding, reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, and…FINISH THE CYBERSECURITY INFORMATION SHARING ACT (CISA) on Tuesday. Here is why you should be interested if you use Apple, Twitter, Facebook, and Google and why the digital security field is not amused with FB.
  • Congratulations to Tom Begich (now also known as the luckiest man in Alaska) on his betrothal to the always-engaging Sarah Sledge. One of my little birds told me that it was a quiet affair with only a few select friends and family in Anchorage.
  • It seems that not all is honkey-dory down in Bethel regarding the ABC board’s licensing of Bethel Spirits issue. The Tundra Drums reports that the October 22 meeting was hastily withdrawn and set for a yet to be determined date. The official reason given was that “necessary entities” were not given the obligatory 20 days notice. My little bird told me that there is MUCH more going on behind closed doors and this is expected to turn into a “big deal.”

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Alaska News Roundup for October 16

  • OH YEAH! The AFN is happening right now in Anchorage and yesterday’s opening ceremony saw lots of amazing moments, but one of my little birds was really, really excited about AFN President Julie Kitka’s (!) speech because her little girl “now wants to be president too instead of Elsa.”TShirt

 

  • Kenai’s Prop 1, the ability for candidates to run for designated seats, officially failed by SIX votes and the faces on the Kenai City Council will remain the same, per the Peninsula Clarion.
  • The Ketchikan City Council held a hearing where the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the city and the Ketchikan Professional Firefighters Association and to award a contract with Cal Worthington Ford Lincoln for a Ford F-450 XL truck.

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Alaska News Roundup for October 8

  • Today’s THE day in state legislative meets healthcare at the State Reform Health Policy Conference in Anchorage!! Everyone is going to be there. From one of the Big Three ( Valerie Davis of HSS (!)); to the battling of opinions on the state’s healthcare direction with Sen. John Coghill (R-North Pole), Sen. Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks), Sen. Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage) explaining their vision at the 1:45pm panel; and Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage), Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage), Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage) sharing their vision. The biggest surprise of pre-event excitement from many of my little birds is regarding the 9:30am panel with Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer) to discuss reforming Medicaid. Lots of fans, he has.Seaton

 

  • Could the Permanent Fund Board garner a “Pope-like” figure or more likely a “PF Czar”? That is the latest question wafting out of every Alaskan’s favorite state entity, though the hunt for a regular Executive Director is the main focus for the state with my little birds liking candidates Alexander Slivka and Angela Rodell the most out of the short list.
  • Congratulations Felix Wong and Stephen Bradford on their individual wins for a seat at the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly dais!
  • Kodiak Island Borough now officially can claim Kyle Crow, Mel Stephens and Dennis Symmons as part of their Assembly team.
  • Heads up Sen. Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna) and Rep. Kurt Olson (R-Soldotna): the Kenai Peninsula Borough School districts has their official legislative marching orders for you and it’s all focused on protecting their access to funding. But that doesn’t mean individual input isn’t still being requested. There are lots of locations to be a part of the Oct. 15 budget development meeting.
  • Neither Mat-Su Borough Mayor Larry DeVilbiss nor his challenger Vern Halter is conceding the race until the vote count is finalized, per the Frontiersman.
  • Anchorage is in talks with Conoco Phillips to buy back some of their leases in the upper Cook Inlet for ML&P to control, though as APRN explains…”any purchase will have to first be approved by the [Anchorage] assembly.”

    Cook Inlet

    Photo Credit of APRN

  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski is beginning to see the light at the end of her hard-fought battle to lift the 40+ oil export ban with The Hill reporting that the White House has been making noises that point to a possible signature!
  • Palmer is one town that won’t be selling commercial pot as the town voted 318 to 266 to ban this particular economic sector from opening shop and paying taxes, per the Dispatch.
  • The Western Director and Senior Attorney for NRDC wrote an op-ed for Huffington Post where he made his case for why the recent independent study that found that the relationship between the EPA and anti-Pebble groups was improper, was nothing more than a PR Stunt from a “cash-starved” Pebble Partnership.
  • Mayor-elect Karl Kassel is not wasting time in beginning his transition to full-on mayor. The Fairbanks News Miner reports that he is already taking applications for positions within his administration and has a basic idea of the changes he wants to make.
  • Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage) is not one to let injury slow him down and that was evident last night at the latest UAA College Democrats meeting where he gave a “barn-burning” speech against the current oil tax structure.20151007-Rep-Gara-at-UAA-College-Democrats-Meeting-1

 

  • Sen. Dan Sullivan is backing a new bill regarding illegal immigrants and Politico explains the legislation’s aim and who else is getting on the bandwagon.
  • Quinnipiac has just released their latest poll that shows of the 2016 swing state US Senate races, only Ohio’s Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) vs. Ted Strickland (D) is a toss-up, though Democratic challengers in Florida are gaining traction.
  • Rep. Don Young tweeted his support on H.R. 538 that would give Alaska Natives the ability to utilize their lands without “heavy hand of federal government”.Rep. Young

 

  • Doyon, Limited is expanding their O&G exploration within the Nenana basin with plans to drill their 3rd exploratory well in the summer of 2016, per the Fairbanks News Miner.
  • APRN explains the state’s DNR decision on Alaskans’ rights over natural resource use and why PacRim Chuitna Coal is not amused.
  • While the numbers are still being finalized, it appears that yesterday may have shattered voting records for the past ten years in Fairbanks!
  • The Frontiersman has an excellent piece about Mat-Su Assembly candidate (and future powerhouse) Maria Serrano and her tenacious spirit that took her from simply a name on a ballot to a formidable challenger despite her 19 years.
  • In happy fun time news: the Juneau Empire reports that while the original partnership between the Vincent de Paul Society and GMD Development went belly-up with their plans to bring affordable housing to the capital city, there is still forward movement to ensure the project grows into fruition.
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Alaska News Roundup for October 7

  • The fiscal pinch your wallet’s been feeling is indeed real. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development conducted a study on median incomes and discovered that Alaskans are making $4,000 less than they did in 1989. It gets worse as the YWCA Alaska explained in an interview with KTUU, 60% of low wage earners are women and of Alaskan families they make up 40% of the primary providers.
  • The Seward City News has the breakdown of the Seward/Lowell Point voting results. The Seward City Mayoral election went to Jean Bardarson and the three Seward City Council seats went to Sue McClure (!), David Squires, and Deborah Altermatt.
  • Alaska Supreme Court Justice Dana Fabe is retiring next summer. Justice Fabe was the first female Chief Justice and has served the state since 1996. Her wisdom and devotion to our state will be a loss to our justice system.giphy

 

  • In the Mat-Su, the results in the borough’s mayoral race are considered to be too close to call. Right now, Vern Halter is winning by 4,269 votes with incumbent Mayor Larry DeVilbiss accruing 4,090 votes. Rosemary Vavrin has 317. The Frontiersman reports that there are still 2,000+/- absentee, questioned and special needs votes to count.
  • Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) showed his support for now Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor-elect Karl Kassel in an Instagram. The Fairbanks News Miner reports that Kassel won with 57% of the votes.kawasaki

 

  • Juneau saw a major upset in their political status quo last night, as Mayor Merrill Sanford was beat by challenger Greg Fisk with a 66% Ouchie. True to both men’s diplomatic reputation, they shook hands after their race was called.

    outgoing

    Photo Credit of the Juneau Empire

  • Fairbanks was full of voting fervor with the slightly contentious item of a 5% commercial pot sales tax being approved by a whopping 84% and the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly saw all three incumbents winning their reelection bids. Congrats Lance Roberts, Kathryn Dodge, and Van Lawrence!
  • The Kenai Borough Assembly races were won by Gary Knop (District 1), Brandii Holmdahl will replace term-limited Sue McClure’s seat for District 6, and Willy Dunne for District 9.
  • Nikiski was not having any of the law enforcement service area idea with a wide margin of rejection (541 against to 399 for), per the Peninsula Clarion.
  • KNOB reports that Nome will be getting a new mayor in Richard Beneville.
  • Bethel is ok (sort-of) with having a liquor store (57% yea votes), but was adamantly against having a bar (61% no votes). Over in the Assembly side of life, Mayor Rick Robb won re-election, as did Leif Albertson. They are joined by political newbies Nikki Hoffman and Alison Welch.
  • Over in Soldotna, the grocery tax initiative passed with flying colors and the Soldotna City Council got back incumbent Paul Whitney (331 votes to Fred Sturman’s 218), while many feel the race between Linda Murphy (265 votes) and Dan Nelson (254) are too close to call.
  • The Wall Street Journal explains what the commissioned independent report on the relationship between the EPA and the anti-Pebble Mine groups means to the pending court case on this issue as well as what to expect going forward.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski is not amused with the changes the US Forest Service has made to the dock project at the Anan Wildlife Observatory near Wrangell and Ketchikan. KSTK explains the changes and why this once popular project has quickly lost its allure.
  • In when will the hit stop coming news: The Juneau Empire reports that the state will further cut the ferry schedule down by 32% or more specifically…four docked ferries.
  • In light of the fiscal crisis Alaska is facing, many legislators are calling for more budgetary cuts and setting the stage for a massive showdown for the upcoming regular Session. The Dispatch has the details on what they want to cut.
  • Over on Capital Hill, Senate Democrats are vowing to keep Net Neutrality waivers out of the federal government-funding bill that MUST BE PASSED by December 11, per The Hill.
  • A sure sign that 2016 will be unlike any previous presidential race, Gallup is pulling themselves from the presidential polling game and instead will be focusing their resources on better understanding how Americans feel about issues.
  • Here are some pictures of voter turnout from across the state:
    matsu

    Photo Credit of Rep. Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer)

    voting

    Photo Credit of the Fairbanks News Miner

    sitka

    Photo Credit of Sitka Sentinel

    nome

    Photo Credit of KNOM

 

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