Category Archives: Community

Alaska News Roundup for January 14

  • Rep. Bob Lynn (R-Anchorage) has filed a bill that would prohibit imprisoned couples from getting married while both partners are incarcerated. This extends to both same and heterosexual couples. My little bird said this was simply a move to beef up Lynn’s street cred amoungst his more conservative constituents as this is an election year and he is now facing a primary with Uber conservative Anchorage Assemblyman Bill Evans.
  • Pew Research Center found in their most recent poll of 541 people that while most (47%) are ok with trading their purchasing privacy via retail loyalty cards for occasional discounts, that abruptly changes when confronted with what the company does with that data and how it could be used against the consumer.Technology

 

  • The Kenai City Council’s 10+ year-old big plans for Millennium Square are finally getting the dust brushed off them and is set to be officially presented to the council in February. The Peninsula Clarion reports that the square will incorporate both scenic beauty and economic driving retail space.
  • Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) is continuing his fight against high gas prices in Alaska by requesting an investigation into possible antitrust issues. Whoa!

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Alaska News Roundup for January 13

  • Some of Newtok’s village leaders have refused to leave their offices after losing a power dispute, but US District Judge Ralph Beistline has authorized the AK State Troopers to forcefully remove the former leaders. The New York Times has the detail on this modern Trail of Tears
  • Whoa!! Check it: the voter rejected 2013 Kenai Comprehensive Plan is going to be used anyway as the basis for the revised version in 2016. While the Peninsula Clarion refrained from inflammatory language on this move…Kenai’s electorate will probably not be so demure.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) seat buddy caught the eye of Politico, Inside Alaska Politics, and anyone with an appreciation for successful fashion risks (is there anything that Sen. Lisa Murkowski CAN’T pull off?)Murkowski

 

  • The Anchorage Caucus were busy little bees last Saturday as constituents voiced their concern (and at times outrage) over the fiscal situation Alaska is facing. One of my little birds noted that MANY Republican legislators were late to their own meeting AND looked “more bored than interested in doing their job.”

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Alaska News Roundup for January 12

  • The Frontiersman usually has banal questions that need to be answered in order to access their top notch reporting (totally worth a few clicks of the mouse). The questions are almost exclusively regarding commercial product knowledge or personal data points (home ownership, age, etc.), but the latest question does cause concern. Will the data used regarding how their readership plans to vote determine how their news will be written or what will be reported on? Online surveys are not totally anonymous as your personal IP address can easily be used to identify who clicked what and where they live.Frontiersman

 

  • So, in a fiscal case of “it’s not you, it’s me”, Standard and Poor’s downgraded Alaska’s credit because of the ongoing crude price slump and the upcoming bond sales and not because of Alaska’s reputation.
  • Alaskans’ PFD check will start shrinking in the upcoming years and the Dispatch warns that if the state does tap the kitty to cover immediate expenses…that check could become A LOT smaller. Like, below $1,000 just for 2016 smaller. Ouchie!

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Alaska News Roundup for January 11

  • This week on Capital Hill, it’s going to be all about Obama’s last State of the Union address…with a smattering of North Koran/Iran sanctions talk, attempts to minimize STREAM and OSM and some good ole fashioned vote on auditing the feds for good measure.
  • The petition to recall North Slope Borough Mayor Charlotte Brower has been submitted for certification. The Arctic Sounder explains what the next steps could be.
  • The City of Fairbanks could be a total buzz kill (and fiscally shortsighted) if a proposed ordinance to ban a downtown cannabis club AND fine a Higher Calling $1000.00 a day for staying open.
  • Self Identifying Democrats and Republicans are at an all time low as Gallup discovered in their recent poll that for many labels were SOOOO 20th century.Gallup

 

  • Kenai is NOT OPEN for commercial cannabis business (or the ability to legal imbibe), at least until 2017 as the Kenai City Council voted on a 1 year moratorium in a bid to have more time to properly sort out regulations.

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Alaska News Roundup for December 31

  • Wired has you covered with all the information you need to prep for New Year’s reveries and how too minimize tomorrow’s ouchie…with Science!
  • Either Alaska is going to see a $110 a barrel crude again or we are going to see more taxes, per Gov. Bill Walker (looking rather smart in a cross-weave tie) during his CNBC interview.Gov. Bill Walker

 

  • Pres. Obama’s decision to allow the NSA to collect communications between Israeli government officials and members of Congress did not sit well with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and has requested the pleasure of NSA Director Michael Rogers’ presence to explain themselves.
  • Rep. Mike Hawker (R-Anchorage) is not seeking re-election for his uber safe (for Republicans that is) seat this fall. Let the bloodbath for the GOP primary for House Seat 28.

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Alaska News Roundup for December 28

  • This week on Capital Hill will see a ton of bureaucratic procedures (and fingers crossed, parliamentary maneuvering!!) by the Senate to prevent lifting Iran’s sanctions.
  • Alaska’s own William Scannell was recently highlighted as part of Qatar Foundation International’s I Speak Arabic international program that aims to increase the number and proficiency of Arabic speakers. The site is full of interesting facts, resources and kits for teachers, parents, and students.

 

  • Sen. Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak) continued his charm offensive regarding the budget crisis while speaking with Homer constituents recently. By all accounts (his fan club is growing), he is quickly becoming the state’s Shepherd through the Storm and should be utilized by the governor on budget discussions throughout the state.

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Alaska News Roundup for December 22

  • Mat-Su legislators have looked over Gov. Bill Walker’s budget plans and are sharpening their scalpels now that as Rep. Wes Keller (R-Wasilla) put it, “ The easy cuts have already been made.” The Frontiersman has the details on what exactly this power block has in mind for the upcoming legislative season (hint: income taxes aren’t likely).
  • In sad trombone news, APRN broke the news that the Fairbanks News Miner AND the Kodiak Daily Mirror have been sold to a non-profit foundation. Gone will be the razor sharp criticisms that have become part of the News Miner’s charm. Oh, and they won’t be able to endorse candidates, while gleefully explaining why the other candidate isn’t cool…for more “balanced” reporting.
  • The Dispatch confirms the whispers and rumors; O&G jobs are up for a 7th straight month, though Alaska overall unemployment hasn’t changed since September.
    unemployment

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Alaska News Roundup for December 16

  • The Taj McHawker is increasingly becoming a political “hot potato” (Rep. Lance Pruitt‘s (R-Anchorage) words) and with reelections just around the corner…it comes as no surprise to many that APRN is reporting that the Anchorage LIO will most likely have a new address really soon. Interested in the legislative hearing on this issue? Head on over to 716 W 4th Avenue for the Saturday 9:00am meeting.
  • The Peninsula Clarion reports that Kenai Mayor Pat Porter is proposing to put the kibosh on commercial cannabis with the town’s limits through a marijuana moratorium that will get a public hearing AND subsequent vote on January 6, 2016 during a Kenai City Council
  • Kake and Petersburg really, REALLY want a linking road to connect the two cities, though the proposed project would cost an estimated $37 million dollars and there is some serious controversy surrounding the issue so…this Magic 8 ball shows :magic 8 ball

 

  • Tundra Drums has the details on the proposed tax increases to help offset the costs of running/operating Alaska’s 247 rural airports. The nutshell would see a $0.10 per gallon in jet fuel and aviation gas taxes if Gov. Bill Walker gives the green light.

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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.

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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

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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 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 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 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 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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