Category Archives: Ketchikan

Alaska News Roundup for September 23

  • In oh, that’s wicked embarrassing news: Mat-Su Borough Assembly District 7 candidates Randall Kowalke and Doyle Holmes dirty laundry has been aired out by the Frontiersman. Turns out that a landlord-tenant dispute over a bad toilet, arsenic levels and claims of mismanagement devolved into “accusations over mental illness, sexual deviancy and damages totaling $420,000.” Then there came the slander suit. Get your popcorn ready for this juicy story. 
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s staff wants to make one thing clear: SHE DID NOT DUCK THE ABORTION VOTE. She just missed the highly contentious lose/lose vote due to prior Yom Kippur plans. Sen. Murkowski is Roman Catholic.
  • It’s official! If you are on a Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly service area board, what little power you had is no more and you’ve been relegated to simply “advise.”

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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 26

  • President Obama will be visiting Seward, Dillingham, Kotzebue, Anchorage, via the Seward City News, Juneau Empire, and historical inference. There may be more places announced in the coming days (fingers crossed!)
  • Alaska might be beside themselves with glee as Mr. President visits next week, but as the Washington Post points out…he isn’t the first. Their article lists the previous presidents that have visited the Last Frontier, where they traveled and for how long. Biggest surprise? FDR fishing in Juneau while wearing a suit and fedora!

    FDR

    Photo Credit of the FDR Library 

  • The Ketchikan City Council race has one more candidate in Charles “Chuck” Slagle. My little bird is looking forward to his fundraisers as Slagle is known for his smoked fish.

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Alaska News Roundup for August 21

  • The proposed borough-wide marijuana tax ballot measure went up in smoke at the last Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly The reason? Too many unknowns to properly assess tax rates on this burgeoning economic driver.
  • The Dispatch’s Dermot Cole’s recent article figuratively took Sen. Dan Sullivan out to the toolshed over the senator’s flip-flopping on his Law of the Sea treaty stance.
  • Politico examines the political landscape shift that has occurred during Pres. Obama’s tenure in office from state to federal levels (Blue–>Purple–>Red with Congressional seats and Blue–>Red with legislative seats; Alaska being the one exception).
    2009

    2009 State Legislatures. Democrats controlled 27 and Republicans controlled 14.

    2014

    2015 State Legislatures. Democrats control 11 and Republicans control 30.

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Alaska News Roundup for August 19

  • The latest Borough Assembly Report by one Sue McClure is HERE! It is complete with news on Mayor Navarre’s official trip to Japan, upcoming public hearings, ballot proposition summaries for the Oct. 6 election and so much more.
  • One of my little birds took umbrage at yesterday’s Roundup by pointing out that Sen. Dan Sullivan “is following in [former Sen. Mark] Begich’s footsteps” regarding the move to rename Mt. McKinley à Denali. Fair enough.

    Begich

    Image credit of CQRC Engage

  • Medicaid Expansion appears to have the stuff to become Gov. Bill Walker’s legacy issue. After the joint state senate/house’s decision to sue the governor over the legality of his decision, there was a flurry of press releases each making it quite clear where the battle lines are currently drawn: Senate Minority via Sen. Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage); House Minority via Rep. Sam Kito (D-Juneau), Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage), Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage), Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage); House Majority via Rep. Lynn Gattis (R-Wasilla), Rep. Dan Saddler (R-Eagle River), Rep. Lance Pruitt (R-Anchorage), Rep. Tammie Wilson (R-North Pole).

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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 6

  • Nathaniel Herz with the Dispatch continues to uncover alleged mismanagement with this latest bit of eyebrow raising news surrounding the North Slope Borough mayor. According to Jonathan Owen, Mayor Charlotte Brower personally asked him for his letter of resignation as the borough’s Chief of Police for “no real reason.”
  • Alaska Attorney General Craig Richards told Hilcorp, “No. No, no, no, no, no,” on their attempt to purchase the Titan LNG facility along Cook Inlet, thus concentrating the LNG plant and delivery system within state control. Good thing? Bad thing?
YouTube Preview Image

 

  • The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly is mulling over the costs vs. safety of their animal protection unit getting body camera after an escalation of incidents between enforcement officers and pet owners. Nothing was determined, but their next meeting is set for September 2.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski was on Bloomberg this morning to discuss the importance of the Keystone XL pipeline (haven’t heard discussion about that in a while) and her undecided position on the Iran Nuclear Accord.
  • One of my little birds sent me the latest All About video that focuses on Sen. Lisa Murkowski.YouTube Preview Image

 

  • Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz has officially brought in Robert Harris as the city’s new CFO and Alden Thern as the Deputy CFO for the IT and finance team.
  • Shell’s Arctic Icebreaker is back! APRN reports that the Fennica has arrived in Unalaska and now Shell has full permission to drill into the seabed.
  • Festival Fairbanks has removed all of the US state flags because a) their condition was beyond acceptable and b) certain state flags emblazoned with a Confederate flag design could be perceived as uninviting to visitors, per the Juneau Empire.

 

  • Our Washington delegation is not giving up on reducing the number of military personnel that will be removed from Alaska by writing a letter to Secretary of the Army John McHugh.
  • The US Treasury will be $4.4 billion wealthier from a deposit by Fannie Mae over their second quarter profits, per The Hill.
  • Alaska’s decision to enforce federal work requirements involving food stamp recipients will affect about 3,000 in Anchorage alone.
  • Congrats Alaska! The Washington Post pointed out that the Last Frontier has the latest average start time for middle and high schools at 8:33am in the country in an article about the negative health impacts of a too early school day on kids.

    Alaska

    Image Credit of the CDC

  • APRN explains why Gov. Bill Walker visited Akiachak and Tuluskak amidst increasing national interest in a legal case-involving jurisdiction on Alaska Native Lands.
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Alaska News Roundup for August 3

  • This week on Capital Hill, the senate is expected to end the discussion on Planned Parenthood’s federal funding with a procedural vote and Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) is on tap for Thursday, though The Hill expresses doubt as to any forward movement on this issue.
  • The Nome Common Council handled not one red button issue, but two during their last meeting. The Nome Nugget relays the details of how discussions over cannabis regulations and gun control within city limits (it basically boiled down to you can’t randomly discharge your gun in public for giggles).
  • One of my little birds shared this chart from Rep. Shelley Hughes’ (R-Palmer) FB page of where Alaska ranks amongst other states within 3 categories for grade school education. According to this chart, our state isn’t doing so well.graph

 

  • Alaska is looking at a $2.7 billion deficient in unrestricted general funds next year, thus prompting Gov. Bill Walker to crisscross the state to gain support for a “sustainable future”. The Frontiersman explains the different income generating possibilities from fewer state employees to raiding the Permanent Fund, but taxes seem to be the most likely answer to our fiscal problem.

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Alaska News Roundup for July 31

  • In can this possibly be real new, the Homer Tribune reports that after Buccaneer Resources declared bankruptcy and left many local businesses in a financial lurch, after demanding businesses to give back half a year’s worth of expenditures Buccaneer paid for use of their services; the O&G company is now demanding the City of Homer do the same! Buccaneer Resources is requesting re-payment of $17,457 the city has already earned and received payment for “dockage, wharfage, supplying water and storage and other city fees.” Really!!
  • It’s Christmas in July for many Fairbanks area ski and dog mushing clubs as the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly voted to give five of these clubs a free snow machine each! The Fairbanks News Miner that it isn’t all rainbows and glitter as the borough has decided to stop paying for the maintenance and insurance on the machines on behalf of the groups as liability has become an issue.rainbows

 

  • Regulate not ban is the mantra by the Ketchikan Marijuana Advisory Committee to the Ketchikan Assembly.
  • Wasilla gets a special bubble to fill on their October ballot this fall. The Frontiersman relays the Wasilla City Council decision to put before the voters the question of whether to keep the sales tax rate at 3% (with an anticipated $6 million that would prevent a city-only property tax) or let it drop back down to its expected 2% now that the revenue has been collected to build the new library.
  • Shell is back to drillin’ in the Arctic as of 5:00pm last night. This is the first time since the 2012 debacle that Shell’s presence has been felt.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s mondo energy package has gotten tons of ink since she first announced her legislative intensions back before Breakup. Most of the focus has been on the bipartisan effort, but APRN reveals that there are actually 2 bills: and one…not so much.

    Evil Twin

    The tale of the good twin/bad twin anew.

  • Man, the hits keep coming for the North Slope Borough with Fairbanks News Miner reporting that the borough just settled with the EPA for $445,000 over alleged hazardous waste violations between 2012-2014.
  • Greenpeace USA has been found in contempt by US District Court Judge Sharon Gleason and received a fine of $2,500 an hour beginning yesterday at 10:00am AKST until all the Oregon bridge protesters have removed themselves. The Juneau Empire reports that the fine escalates until $100,000 per hour by 10:00am on August 2. Ouchie!
  • NBC News obtained a secret NSA map that shows the 600+ companies and government agencies that have been hacked by the Chinese beginning in 2009.Hackers

 

  • Both Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan voted for the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act-though only Sen. Murkowski got mentioned by Real Estate Rama.
  • Sen. John Coghill (R-North Pole) wrote an op-ed in the Dispatch where he makes his case as to why Gov. Bill Walker’s Medicaid expansion might violate state law by citing state code and SCOTUS rulings.
  • While the 2016 primaries are roughly a year away, Jeff Landfield and Sen. Lesil McGuire (R-Anchorage) are getting into a social media feud ala Drake and Meek Mills. The Dispatch details the beef and accusations’ being bandied about while the Democratic Senate Challenger, Forrest McDonald, has wisely remained out of it.
  • Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz has appointed his new Director of Public Transit: Jody Karcz. She brings with her 30+ years of direct work within the muni’s public transportation department as well as a private citizen with transportation-related organizations/programs. Congrats Jody!

    karcz

    Former Labor Com./Sen. Click Bishop (R-Fairbanks) on far left. Photo Credit of AK Labor Department

  • Hillary Clinton has mentioned her all time favorite job as a worker on Alaska’s slime line a few times while on the campaign trail as a way to make her more relatable to voters. It turns out that this life-changing job lasted only 1 week after she was let go for asking too many questions. She went onto getting another job.
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Alaska News Roundup for July 24

  • The Bethel City Council is not taking the ABC’s decision to reject their protest of a liquor license lying down! Since under state law, the ABC board MUST accept local government’s protest unless the protest is based on “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable”…and Bethel City Council doesn’t view their reasons to be arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable. My little bird’s choice of words on this issue was a bit less diplomatic and more, er, colorful.
  • Rep. Don Young made a mistake. A very public, official, no-takesies back mistake by voting to allow voluntary GMO labeling of foods instead of against the bill…which was how he had planned…thus helping to pass the bill.

    Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 10.29.44 AM

    Info Credit of Open Congress

  • Nathaniel Herz of the Dispatch has the skinny on the unfolding drama surrounding North Slope Borough’s mayor and her alleged misuse of taxpayers’ funds. So far, he’s uncovered $8,400 in flying five of her grandchildren to a camp in CA and more than $500 a piece for cakes made by her daughters over the span of several years. There’s more, lots more.
  • Homer residents are being asked to take an online poll concerning city services. The Homer Tribune reports the Homer City Council and City Manager will use the results to reevaluate city funding and programs.
  • It’s happening!! Sen. Lisa Murkowski held a presser on her energy package and The Hill confirms that the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (which she chairs) will not only hear her bills, but will vote on them before the August 7 recess begins.

    Murkowski

    Photo Credit of Senate Energy GOP Twitter Feed

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Alaska News Roundup for July 17

  • In whoa that’s a lot of people news, the Peninsula Clarion reveals that over 600 public comments have been filed with the Office of Subsistence Management on the proposed subsistence gillnet rules. The next step will be a work meeting scheduled for July 28-29 to review Red Sheep Creek, Cake Creek decisions, rural designation process, and whether or not to re-evaluate the re-designation of Saxman.
  • The Ketchikan City Council made a bunch of its residents rather happy last night with their decision to increase salaries and to better the benefit packages for both IBEW and non-union employees.
  • Gov. Bill Walker has gone with the nuclear option of using his executive power after months of trying the diplomatic approach with the legislature on Medicaid expansion. The Senate Majority was not amused. However, Alaska Democratic Party Chair Mike Wenstrup was positively glowing in a celebratory email that thanked all those involved in getting Medicaid expanded.Thanks

 

  • Finally! From the mouth of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, her highly anticipated energy package will “hopefully [be out] by the end of this week”, per Politico.

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Alaska News Roundup for July 13

  • This week on the Hill, prepare for some more No Child Left Behind madness, California drought talk (my little bird tells me that nothing more is expected on this issue), the House will examine federal pipeline safety rules, and Hillary Clinton’s quickie drop-in photo op speech to House Democratic Caucus on Tuesday. Fun, fun!
  • The Mat-Su Borough would like to alter subdivision rules to which the powerful local business block is like, “Umm…No.”
  • SNL Metals & Mining (no, this isn’t that SNL) unveiled a report that quantified how expensive it is for mining companies to go through the permitting process (Kensington gold mine is cited beginning on pg. 14).Graph

 

  • Erin’s Law might be a new law in Alaska, but Rep. Charisse Millett (R-Anchorage) and Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) explained to APRN how the work on this issue has just started.
  • Uncle Ted’s Senate work is being preserved in the basement of UAF where they are currently off limits to the public.   🙁   The Dispatch’s Dermot Cole waxes poetic on the historical importance of his political legacy and why restructuring a $1 million grant for digitizing the documents is in the best interest for all.

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Alaska News Roundup for July 7

  • Ketchikan was graced with a visit from Gero, Japan’s Mayor Makoto Nomura.

    mayor

    Photo Credit of Seniors’ World Chronicle 

  • Hilcorp Energy just added some assets to their portfolio in their acquisition of two XTO Energy offshore oil platforms located in Cook Inlet AND a tank facility AND Nikiski office space (my little birds tell me that of the three, the office space might be the most valuable). No fears for the employees of these locations, Fuel Fix explains that Hilcorp will be offering all of them their jobs. Think same operations, just with a new doormat and lock.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s energy legislation package must be making waves because E&E reports that Senate Democrats are using the excitement over last month’s clean energy letter as the foundation for their own version of broad-spectrum energy law updates.
  • The Hill has the first round of freak-out over the Hacking Team data dump that revealed long standing contracts between the FBI, DEA, and DOD’s and the company many are now calling, “The Merchant of Death”.

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Alaska News Roundup for July 6

  • The proverbial sh*t has hit the fan. CSO Online broke the story about Hacking Team’s (the technology company dictators and oppressive regimes hire to hunt and suppress detractors) 400 GB of internal documents, source code and emails being publically published. Sad to say that the FBI, DEA and the DoD are among the client list that includes Sudan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Ethiopia (the last one has an email thanking the company for its help in getting a “high value target” shortly after the assassination of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister). Trials, prison sentences and international fleeing/hiding will be coming in the coming months/years as this story unfolds.Hacked

 

  • This week on The Hill, No Child Left Behind’s reauthorization, finalization of the Department of Interior’s FY16 fiscal budget in the House, and possibly a floor vote on the trade enforcement bill.
  • Another round of Dueling Pens! This time it is by Les Gara (D-Anchorage) and AKGOP’s Com. Director Suzanne Downing take on the state budget. Rep. Gara makes his case for Medicaid expansion while Ms. Downing explains why she thinks there is a pattern of “incoherent leadership” at the heart of Alaska’s budget crisis.
  • Gov. Bill Walker received both props and a slap in the face by the New York Times in the same article! After including Walker’s decision to change the name of Wade Hampton Census District as an example of where Confederacy dedications are being removed, they then rename our governor to Walter. It has since been changed.Walter

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Alaska News Roundup for July 3

  • While none of our Washington delegation are sponsors to bills that fund and implement Erin’s Law in states where it’s been adopted, KTOO reports that they “were looking forward to reviewing the bill.”
  • Alaska no longer has a dog in the same-sex marriage fight, per APRN.
  • The Fairbanks News Miner reports that with only one meeting under its belt the state Pot Board wants 4 changes to the law including the allowance of c cannabis clubs, an update to the criminal code, clarification on the difference between a personal grow and an illegal operation, and giving villages the ability to completely opt out of commercial marijuana sales.

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