Category Archives: Ethan Berkowitz

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 23 & 24

  • Sitka could have the proud distinction of an experimental pot buffer zone between cannabis businesses and schools. This will be up for a vote with the Sitka Assembly next week. The Juneau Empire explains what exactly a “buffer zone” is and it is supposed to work.
  • The Fairbanks News Miner has an engaging editorial on the budget that basically boils down to, “Hey legislators, put on your big girl panties and get your job done.”oPW3V1uhRL2YIYaYglj7_tumblr_nk7eysuwpJ1qiavcao1_400

 

  • While it was reported earlier that Alaska has seen its straight 7 month increase in laid off O&G employees, the Peninsula Clarion has some good news involving the sector: North Slope spending will continue as ConocoPhillips is excited about its future GMT-1 oil project and Doyon’s onshore staging will see its rig in place this spring while the Cosmopolitan O&G field will be getting LOTS of love from a number of energy companies.

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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 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.
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  • 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 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 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 5

  • This week in Congress, expect plenty of grandstanding, verbal fireworks, and hurt feelings over choosing the NEW GOP LEADERSHIP! Also on tap will be passing the annual defense bill and on Friday…the House will vote on lifting the export ban on crude oil (though The Hill doesn’t think it will pass). 
  • Sen. Peter “perfectly dignified” Micciche (R-Soldotna) spoke to at a recent Kenai Peninsula Borough meeting in Moose Pass (yes, Assemblyperson Sue McClure was there!!) to discuss Capital Improvement requests. Know who else was there? The hard working Rick Smeriglio of Seward City News fame.
  • KTOO has the details on GCI’s TERRA project that is expanding the 21st century’s version of the printing press (our beloved Internet) to rural Alaska beginning throughout the YK Delta and Western Alaska region.

TERRA

 

  • Alaska Political Leadership, please come to the white curtsey phone. Wired has some interesting news about how drones are now being used to hack wireless printers.
  • The Nome Common Council is in a tough position over a tugboat confiscation due to unpaid port fees of its previous owner. While the council approved the necessary $52,640 contract to demolish the eyesore, the amount is still too high for the City of Nome because the unexpected problem was not included in the budget, per the Nome Nugget.
  • Bernadette Wilson of Bernadette Live fame has new segment called “Rumor Has It” and my little bird tells me that a certain Anchorage-based News Station is so impressed with its buzz that they are interested in bringing her onboard.
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  • Get the lowdown on Soldotna’s four city council candidates from the Peninsula Clarion. They also have information on their sole mayoral candidate, Pete Sprague.
  • $7,000,000,000.00 is the current expected amount it would cost the state to buyout TransCanada Corp…but could also see $400 million a year in additional revenue. It’s a complicated issue and thankfully the Juneau Empire explains both sides of matter.
  • The City of Ketchikan approved the license agreement between the City of Saxman and themselves for the use of the old Fire Station 1 by the renowned Saxman Carvers.

Saxman Carvers

 

  • Ready all about where the Mat-Su Borough Assembly candidates stand on various issues in the Frontiersman.
  • Rep. Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) wrote an impassioned op-ed in the Dispatch over the upcoming Special Session 3.0 and how Gov. Bill Walker’s communication style is not of the two-way street variety.
  • In that’s awesome news: KUAC-FM and the Daily News Miner are joining forces to get Interior Alaskans more and higher quality news in the form of a weekday newscast on KUAC with the Miner’s Tom Hewitt.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski was this year’s recipient of the Alice Awards (an award named after a kick@ss Suffragette and reserved only for other trailblazers) along with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

Murkowski

 

  • The fight over Pebble Mine and the tasty seafood it could endanger is mentioned in a food critique column in Pennsylvania’s Centre Daily Times.
  • The Nome Nugget gives an expansive critique over the differences (and there are many) between the various candidates running for office.
  • The Seward City News details last week’s Chamber of Commerce’s candidates forum for the Kenai Peninsula Borough Regular Municipal Election (say that five times fast) and what to expect from the individual candidates. While Kenai Assemblyperson Sue McClure’s (!) tenure is coming to a close due to term limits, she is running for City Council along with Deborah Altermatt and Councilmember Dave Squires.
  • Power has been restored in Fairbanks, just in time for tomorrow’s elections. That is great news, though voting by lantern would have made for awesome visuals…cold, miserable voting conditions…but awesome visuals none the less.
  • Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s 2016 budget reflects his New Era promise of more police and less waste with a $1.8 million lower budget than former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan’s 2015 version. APRN reports on the major takeaways.
  • One of my little birds told me that Les Gara (D-Anchorage) was seriously hurt at a local coffee shop. While this was not a case of a “Battle over Cronuts”, here’s to a speedy recovery!

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  • Homer’s City Manager and City Council held a standing room only meeting over potential options for raising desperately needed funds. The Homer Tribune explains how the crowd took the ideas ranging from a seasonal sales tax, raiding the tax $ for roads and trails, to an increase in property taxes.
  • Meet the candidates vying for the two open seats on the North Slope Borough Assembly. They are from a wide-ranging background and their stance on issues is just as varied.

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News Roundup for October 2

  • The vibrant Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly candidates for District 1 did not disappoint one of my little birds. Apparently Robin Davis was the most polished of the group by being able to quote previous experiences and numbers on budgetary items. While David Wartinbee’s fish knowledge was “impressive” and Gary Knopp was “on fire”. The candidate that didn’t get positive reviews?   That would be Assemblyman Kelly Wolf for not even showing up. Naughty!
  • The Cordova Times reports that Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office was awash in 8,000 postcards from United Tribes of Bristol Bay members encouraging her to support their efforts against Pebble Mine or any other similar mine that could affect the Bristol Bay watershed.
  • Guess who can be found in Japan Times? That would be Alaska’s own Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks)!! The article goes on to explain that while attending a conference as part of a US delegation in Kyoto, he has continued to work toward strengthening the relationships between Alaska and future Japanese LNG buyers.Kawasaki

 

  • For Kenai Peninsula Borough voters, Proposition 4 is a $4.4 million bit of consideration. What’s at stake? The ability for Central Emergency Services to replace outdated or past its usefulness tools like a ladder truck and other vital emergency equipment. The Peninsula Clarion explains both sides of this ballot issue.
  • Tempers and a tempestuous history between Mat-Su Borough Assembly candidates Randall Kowalke and Doyle Holmes made for continued fireworks as the Dispatch furthers the Frontiersman’s original story.

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Alaska News Roundup for September 24

  • The ire over Sen. Lesil McGuire’s (R-Anchorage) $6,500 Seattle Conference hotel bills is growing to such an extent that the former Lt. Governor candidate has revoked her staff’s ability to sign the senator’s name in future and have been verbally flogged via the Dispatch. Her staffers have personally repaid the state for their $450-a-night hotel stay. This issue is sure to come up on an increasing basis during her highly contentious 2016 primary battle.

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  • The Mexican Consulate, currently located in downtown Anchorage, might be leaving the state completely-but not without a fight from a quickly formed group that is urgently advocating to keep their doors open past November 1st. KTVA reports that so far 900 people have been signed to their petition and that the consulate’s closure will affect the 4,000+ Mexicans residing in Alaska.
  • Sen. Anna MacKinnon (R-Eagle River) shared the news that the Senate Majority was pleased with the message Gov. Bill Walker had about the PFD and the current fiscal situation the state faces.
  • The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly meets tonight to discuss the proposed commercial cannabis zoning ordinances and regulations. There will also be an opportunity for public testimony and fingers-crossed…a vote! The Fairbanks News Miner has the skinny on what Assemblymen Lance “Straight Shooter” Roberts, John Davies, Van Lawrence, and the ever-eloquent Assemblywoman Diane Hutchison are looking for in the ordinances. It promises to be an interesting hearing.

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Alaska News Roundup for September 14

  • Grab your red bull and comfy chair because this week on THE HILL is going to be long and full of potential fireworks! The Hill explains that congress will be all about Planned Parenthood funding, the Iranian Nuclear Accord and monetary sanctions on frivolous
  • The Juneau Empire flexed their eloquence muscle in their latest editorial over the September 5th City and Borough of Juneau Assembly closed doors meeting over the fireweed field zoning issue. Their fury and contempt definitely make this worth a read!
  • In wicked awesome news: the USDA has approved grant money (Nunam Iqua, $112,800, Eek, $4.38 million; Kwethluk, $2.21 million and Akiachak, $6.38 million) for Y-K villages to improve rural water systems with not just pre-existing facilities, but training, technical assistance and development of future ones as well, per the Tundra Drums.

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Alaska News Roundup for September 2

  • ConocoPhillips has announced that they are going to cut around 10% of their Alaska workforce. While this number is sure to send shivers down many a spine, it is important to remember that roughly 25% employees for the major O&G players in Alaska live full-time Outside and commute to the slope. Some subcontractors use 100% Outside workers for in-state work. The exact number of AUCTUAL Alaska ConocoPhillips employees that will be receiving a pink slip is still unknown.
  • The Fairbanks News Miner has an editorial urging folks to register to vote before the muni election cut-off date later this week. Register to vote by going HERE.
  • The Dispatch gives a beautiful, no–poetic, re-telling of Pres. Obama’s trip/hike to the Kenai Fjords National Park. Truly worth a read just for the details and enriched writing.
  • Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) and one-time staffer, turned girlfriend, now with the Interior Gas Utility Mindy O’Neall parted ways after almost three years. Sounds like yet another casualty of the long special session. What will he do now as the Legislature’s most eligible bachelor?

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Alaska News Roundup for August 17

  • North Slope Borough Mayor Charlotte Brower’s husband exchanged some choice words with the NSB assembly over the brewing scandal of his wife’s alleged misappropriations of funds. The Arctic Sounder has the details; you provide the popcorn.
  • Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins is worried for good reasons. The rough draft of state DOT future projects showed that not only were there fewer projects on tap, but several important transportation projects in the region have been placed in the dreaded “limbo” category. The Fairbanks News Miner has the details.

    Fairbanks & Anchorage

    Photo Credit to the Dispatch. Captions, all Inside Alaska Politics baby!

  • Sen Lesil McGuire (R-Anchorage) wrote an op-ed in The Hill bestowing platitudes onto Donald Trump and his performance during last week’s Fox News 2016 GOP presidential debate.
  • Last week the PEW Charitable Trust released their 2015 review of each state’s “checkbook” and found Alaska lacking at such a degree that it was awarded an “F” for the second year in a row for lack of government transparency and feasibility in deciphering the state’s “checkbook”. To which Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) responded with a public letter to the governor asking for the MUCH needed improvements.

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Alaska News Roundup for August 14

  • Big Lake voters are getting increasingly jittery over the upcoming vote in October that will decide (again) over whether to become the 4th incorporated Mat-Su Valley city. It didn’t help that the initial Division of Elections flier had such vague/confusing wording that many thought the incorporation would up mill rates by 33% and not the expected 09 mills. The Frontiersman reports that it has been fixed with a second flier being sent out with clearer language.Big Lake

 

  • KCUB explains that the purpose behind Obama’s trip to Alaska. It’s not anti-drilling. It’s more along the lines of climate change…not anti-drilling. That is all.
  • Rep. Don Young has his own response to Pres. Obama’s upcoming trip to Alaska. It is brief and diplomatic.

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