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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Arabicinternational 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.
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.”
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.
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.
Congress is out for the week! Get ready to see your Twitter feed explode with constituent meeting photos.
One of my little birds is not amused that Gov. Bill Walker has yet to issue a statements on President of the Alaska Railroad Workers Union Local’s indictment for embezzlement since the AKRR’s board is appointed and managed by the governor.
The Nome Common Councildebated the merits of commercial cannabis and possible transportation methods of the plants all the way to Nome as the FAA has made it clear that via the air is not an (legal) option.
The Pentagon is “considering” stepping up their cyber fight with ISIS, to wit Anonymous responded, “Good luck with that.”
Congrats (?) to Fritz Krusen on his official title as interim president for AGDC. This comes after the surprise-ish removal of former Dan Fauske and several other members of the board over the course of the year. One of my little birds now jokingly refers to the AGDC board as “a carousel of names.”
Politico makes the case that Alaska owes a giant, “Thank you” to Andrew Lundquist for the Arctic drilling that has happened with the state.
Sen. Dan Sullivan voted against the omnibus spending bill, Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted for it, and Rep. Don Young made his views on the bill quite clear.
Have no fear Alaska; BlueCrest is still wicked interested in drilling in Cook Inlet.
Nome’s Superior Court Judge Timothy Dooley has the dubious distinction of being added to Jezebel’s Big Time Small-Time Dicks Hall of Shame for his recent comments during the sentencing of a man that was JUST convicted of RAPING A 14-YEAR-OLD GIRL, “From what I’ve read, this was not someone who was — I hate to use the phrase ‘asking for it.’ There are girls out there who seem to be temptresses, and this does not appear to be anything like that.” The Nome Nugget reports that the Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct calls for a public censure of Dooley.
The Legislative Council has tabled the controversial Anchorage LIO issue…for now as Council Chair Sen. Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak) explained that breaking the lease on the building wasn’t an accurate depiction by the media. APRN skillfully reveals the juicy details of this soap operaesque saga.
Point Hope is busy doing a happy dance, as they were the recent recipients of a $2.89 million grant for transportation improvements and construction by the US DOT.
The Kodiak Island Borough AssemblyNewsletter is out and full of awesomeness like the fact that the construction on the landfill is going well, the controversial zoning revision of RV’s was postponed and (drum roll, please) Barry Altenhof was appointed to the City Seat of the City and Planning Committee…just in time to tackle the RV issue.
The Frontiersman gives an update on the controversial Mat-Su veterans’ monument
Former Gov. Sarah Palin surprised many with a delightful spoof of Tina Fey’s 30 Rock TV show by bringing in some well known politicos (including the current mentor of Sen. Dan Sullivan). Vanity Fair breaks down the video.
The Peninsula Clarion bids a misty eyed “adieu” to their publisher, Vitto Kleinschmidt, as he has stepped down to begin a new chapter in his life. Kleinschmidt is credited for bringing stability and strengthening the journalist prowess of the Clarion while under his mantle. Morris Publishing Group’s vice-president of operations Deedie McKenzie will serve as the interim publisher.
Big game hunting just got more expensive as the Dispatch reports that the raise in fees is due to a long-time deficit of $1million+ that stemmed from rather messy accounting.
The PFD voter initiative just got a mondo supporter in the form of power player Doyon, Limited CEO and PresidentAaron Schutt, per the Fairbanks News Miner.
Jim Gottstein can now add a new label of “Whistleblower” to his already full roster of titles. This one is courtesy of APRN for his role in bringing the the Anchorage LIO debacle to light.
Legislative staffers are one step closer to easier housing during their time down in Juneau as the Juneau Empire reports that the city and borough’s accessory apartments program has officially been launched!
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’srecent speech on the House Floor where he expounded upon the importance of the 2nd amendment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Oil Tax Credit Working Group’s report is out and Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) is diplomaticallynot amused.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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 Millettshared this great picture of the female House Majority members (though where is Rep. Louise Stutes in this female empowerment photo?).
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 petitioningAKDNR 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 Murkowskitweeted this fascinating Waterworldesque picture of Alaskan waterways regarding the controversial EPA water rule under debate this week on THE hill.
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.
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 Murkowskimade 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.
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!
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.
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 ParkerSong 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.