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!
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.
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 Sullivanout 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 State Legislatures. Democrats controlled 27 and Republicans controlled 14.
2015 State Legislatures. Democrats control 11 and Republicans control 30.
First there was the economic shockwaves of the military personnel drawdown, and then there was the UA systems academic/staff cut. Now the Fairbanks News Miner reports that Shell is going to pink slip 6,500 employees during 2015 alone. Yikes!
Sen. Dan Sullivan got (some) praise from one of my little birds on his over eagerness at a recent Indo-American awards ceremony earlier this week. Apparently, he accidentally shook an Indian woman’s hand a bit too much-though no offence was taken.
Spotted! Lesil McGuire (apparently looking stunning), Rep. Mike Chenault, Rep. Sam Kito (D-Juneau), Rep. Kurt Olson (R-Soldotna), Rep. Craig Johnson (R-Anchorage), Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage), Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) and Rep. Lance Pruitt (R-Anchorage) are all attending the Vail Council of State Governments-West conference. Pictures please!!
While the rest of the world is dancing the gig about the US/Iran nuclear accord, Sen. Dan Sullivan and Sen. Lisa Murkowski are not amused, per APRN.
One of my little birds is excited about the upcoming Juneau elections because word on the street is that a certain favored son of Juneau (ahem Assemblyman Jesse Kiehl) might be making a run for mayor.
The Kodiak City Council were busy little bees at their latest meeting. They not only authorized the regional and county jail contract with the state Department of Corrections, but they also (wait for it…) authorized the purchase of a CAT!
Correction: One of my little birds regretfully informed me that Kodiak purchased a grader-style cat machine and not the type that meows. L
Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s New Era is certainly keeping to that ethos in his administration’s transition report that APRN reveals to include novel problem-solving methods. An example: translation and language training in emergency services and morale boost for muni employees.
Another one bites the dust! Gail Fenumiai is no longer the director of the Division of Elections, per APRN.
Gov. Bill Walker’s efforts (including Sen. Pete Kelly’s (R-Fairbanks) statement about “a system that’s broken”) to expand Medicaid caught Reuters notice.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough mayoral race just went from exciting to epic when Rep. Tammie Wilson’s (R-North Pole) filed her letter of intent for the seat with APOC yesterday. The Fairbanks News Miner reports that she decided to run due to an increased amount of borough regulations. Her new opponents (Doug Isaacson and Karl Kassel) remained diplomatic.
Ready your popcorn for this race!
Getting a spiffy new icebreaker isn’t in the cards for Alaska, but the possibility of renting one is still on the table, per APRN.
The Dispatch delves into the complicated morass of commercial cannabis within the state.
It is good news for Sen.Lisa Murkowski’s quest to lift the export ban on crude oil! Politico explains how yesterday’s Iranian nuclear deal only gives her supporters more leverage to “get’er done.”
In light of yesterday’s historic Iranian nuclear accord, one of my little birds sent me this touching YouTube video about how we are more alike than different.
For Mat-Su residents planning on taking a dump run, prepare to pay a little bit more now at both the local transfer stations and the borough landfill because the Mat-Su Borough Assembly has passed rate increases. The Frontiersman explains that beginning July 1, it will cost $6 to dump (2) 33-gallon garbage bags and getting rid of more will trigger extra fees.
Mark your calendars for July 15 because the Dispatch reveals this will be the day Gov. Bill Walker explains how his administration will be moving forward with Medicaid expansion.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski lead a block of senators in urging the director of NSA to keep them abreast of international security implications of expanding US energy output while the issue of lifting the 40+ year old crude export ban is being bandied about Congress, per Business Insider.
Hey Kodiakians! Want to run for Mayor or City Council? Well, today’s your lucky day because you totally can! Mayor Pat Branson, Council members Gabriel Saravia and Richard Walker’s terms end this October and Kodiak needs you!
You’d be a perfect candidate. Take the plunge!
The OPM data hack has now officially affected 22.1 million people and The Hill reports that there is a bill that would give these victims identify theft protections for the rest of their lives.
Barrow is about has happy about Shell’s offshore drilling as Seattle, but instead of protesting via kayaks they are planning on a beach vigil to “gather in unity for the safety of the Arctic Ocean.” For those interested in participating the Arctic Sounder reports that it will be held on July 18 at Nalakuataq.
APRN reports that while the ship containing federally required blowout response equipment is heading to Oregon for repairs, Shell does not anticipate an interruption in their 2015 drilling schedule.
Alaska is synonymous in many minds with polar bears, Palin and men-lots and lots of men. The Washington Post has a captivating breakdown of not only where men out number women in total population, but also by age group. For Alaskan men seeking a female counterpart between the ages of 30-34…you’re really out of luck.
While cannabis is legal in Alaska, where you can open-carry your greenery is getting a bit more complicated in Anchorage as the Dispatch explains that a proposed ordinance by Anchorage Assembly Ernie Hall and Amy Demboski will ensure that weed can only be kept in the trunk of your car.
Fairbank’s commercial pot district is slowly materializing with the Fairbanks News Miner expecting the Fairbanks North Star Borough to finalize the zoning ordinances in time for business owners to purchase commercial permits from the state in time for summer 2016.
Sen. Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks), Rep. Dave Talerico (R-Healy), Rep. Tammie Wilson (R-North Pole), and Rep. Adam Wool (D-Fairbanks) will be speaking at the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce about the previous legislative session as well as their forecast for 2016.
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International Agro exporters in the state saw a vital program that provides necessary certification go dark as part of the Division of Agriculture’s budget cuts. The Peninsula Clarion explains the impact not having a phytosanitary certifier will have on this economic sector and regional economies.
Usibelli Coal Mine is moving through its mining permit process and the Dispatch details the backstory, location of the mine and its opposition’s reasons to prevent it from opening.
Chill baby, it’s a drill!Seward Marine Industrial Center will be without electricity between 8:00-10:00am today as part of scheduled maintenance by the Seward Electric Department.
Military exercises will not just be contained in the Gulf of Alaska with 3 Navy destroyers (one that has guided-missiles will be docking at the Port of Anchorage today), a submarine. It turns out that Alaska will have 6,000 soldiers from all four branches of the military conducting exercises across the state, per the Juneau Empire.
The Hill’s staffers, interns and high-level government workers are known for being rather, err lackadaisical (some might even go so far as to say wicked lazy) about keeping their online presence technologically secure. Wired has exposed just how widespread AND EASY government workers’ online credentials can be found, thus allowing for easy hacking into government systems. We are talking about passwords, emails, etc. out there on public domains-not even lurking on the dark web. Yikes!
A mondo piece of “almost-uninhabitable land, water and glacier that is about 1.5 times the size of Rhode Island” might become the ire of cartographiles if the Alaska Supreme Court rules that it should be included as part of the state, per the Juneau Empire.
The FBI and the North Slope Borough are now working together to discover how drug and monetary evidence from the borough’s police department went missing. The Arctic Sounder has the details on this ongoing investigation.
Kodiak Wants You! At least, the Kodiak Island Borough wants interested parties to know the filing process for the vacant Assembly seat following former Assemblywoman Carol Austerman’s
Alaska political wonks take note; Anchorage’s Sable Scotton (age 10) will be breaking bread with FLOTUS as the Last Frontier’s winner of the Healthy Lunch Challenge, per KTVA.
The Juneau Empire has more details that are coming out on Charlie Huggins’ convicted staffer. It turns out that since her conviction for pointing a gun on her roommate, she has been receiving her salary…just not the full $10,404 monthly amount. The portion Deborah Grundmann has been receiving is still unknown.
The Homer City Council hosted a presentation by the Navy over their intended summer exercises in the Gulf of Alaska (including the use of bombs, toxic chemicals and high-power sonar). The Homer Tribune reports that the presentation did not quell the ever-increasing hostilities of the community toward this exercise. The Homer City Council will vote during their next meeting to pass a resolution (to join many other coastal communities) against the current planned exercises and for the time frame to be moved to the fall.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough mayoral race is heating up! Today, FNSB Assemblyman Karl Kassel will launch his bid to be the borough’s next mayor, per the Fairbanks News Miner.
Sue McClure’s riveting Borough Assembly Report is HERE!
Sen. Charlie Huggins’ (R-Wasilla) convict legislative aide has in fact remained on the state’s payroll despite her 2014 fourth-degree assault charge and subsequent Outside treatment that has lasted for months. The Juneau Empire not only reports that her legislative pay will stop at the end of this month but also why Deborah Grundmann remained on the payroll for so long without working.
Kodiak City Councilhas approved the proposed re-design of the new fire station and a reassessment on the condition of the “old” library to no more than $100K. They also have given borough residents permission to legally use fireworks (just not within city limits) between June 15-July 15 and December 26-Jan1.
APRN has the expanding anger of several costal communities including Kodiak, Cordova and Homer over the Navy’s summer exercises in the Gulf of Alaska. Seattle might have kayakativists, but nothing can match the wrath of Sourdoughs.
Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan raised tensions to 11 with an ordinance introduction regarding the highly contested land swap proposal between the Ted Stevens Airport and the Anchorage Municipality just by. KTVA has the backstory and the details of the proposal.
Photo Credit of KTVA & the Anchorage Municipality
Best wishes to the newelyweds- Rep. Don Young and Anne Garland Walton. May your days be filled with joy and peace.
Lotteries, Income Taxes, Oil Tax Credits, oh my! The Dispatch lists the many options that are currently being discussed to help Alaska fill its budget gap. Many of these options are seen as a political kiss of death for both sides of the political aisle. The Rasmuson Foundation seems to comprehend the severe ramifications of the situation and is calling for a state fiscal plan.
Sen. Dan Sullivan’s D.C. office has finally moved into their new and well-appointed digs on the seventh floor of the Hart Building. My little bird tells me that there have been many a giggle over the office’s penchant for BLUE since the senator is a “Major Reddie”.
KTVA has coverage of the escalating tensions down in Kodiak over the Navy’s planned summer exercises (this includes the planned use of BOMBS, toxic chemicals, high-powered sonar, etc.).
What is the economic cost of the government spying on private citizens? The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation estimates that by 2016 it will amount to a loss of $35 billion (yes, with a “B”) in investment by foreign tech companies.
The Kenai City Council showed what is important to their city with the passage of FY16 budget. The Peninsula Clarion explains that part of the budget allocations include technology improvements (hello shiny new iPads), certain city employees a pay raise and most importantly: funding the preservation and protection of the Field of Flowers!
The Fairbanks News Miner’s Matt Buxton delved into the report by the State Assessment Review Board that claim the trans-Alaska oil pipeline has been undervalued by roughly $2 billion (yes, with a “b”) since its last assessment on January 1 by the Department of Revenue.
Gov. Bill Walker was a busy little bee yesterday by signing into law two bills. The first was HB106 that allows the state to collect child support from parents that live outside of the country. The second was HB46 that changed one seat on the Alaska Workforce Investment Board from a private sector seat to one for a veteran.
Rep. Gabriele LeDoux (R-Anchorage), Sen. Lesil McGuire (R-Anchorage), & Gov. Bill Walker/ Photo Credit of State of Alaska
Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivanboth voted to pass the USA Freedom Act.
The Fairbanks News Miner put pen to “paper” in support of the USA Freedom Act’s passage, our Washington Delegation’s votes and why Alaskans (and the rest of the country) won a well-earned victory.
The Hill has the Winners & Losers from the USA Freedom Act’s passage. Sen. Rand Paul earns the dubious distinction of being labeled “Mixed”.
Cordova has a friend in the fight to prevent the Navy from exploding bombs, releasing toxic waste, etc., this summer in the Gulf of Alaska with the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly. During their last meeting, the assembly passed a resolution to oppose the scheduled summer exercises.
It’s Official: Ethan Berkowitz is the next Mayor of Anchorage. The Dispatch reports that he received 74%60.74% of the vote with Amy Demboski receiving 39.26%.
The Juneau Empire explains Rep. Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) and the GOP lead House Majority proposed accountancy jiu-jitsu to gain access to the Permanent Fund. Sen. Dennis Egan (D-Juneau) mentions this move is “volatile”, while my little birds are saying:
APRN has Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage) and House Minority’s side to oppose the House Majority’s Permanent Fund raid.
Indian Country Today did not mince words about Rep. Don Young’s behavior during a Congressional hearing where Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn testified on Native rights. Ouchie.
Sincerest condolences for those that lost loved ones aboard Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 in Pennsylvania last night and may those injured have a speedy recovery. Inside Alaska Politics thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.
There was plenty of gavel bangin’ happening during the technical session of the Alaska State Legislature yesterday in Juneau. APRN covered what occurred.
Sen. Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage) has a great picture in the Centre Daily from her testimony at the Port of Seattle Commission yesterday. There is also information on Shell’s full intention of utilizing the port for oil exploration vessel moorage.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski showed off her wry sense of humor at the Nuclear Works assembly.
With Medicaid expansionstill in the works, the Free Republic has an article and interesting thread about a South Carolina man losing his sight and Politico offers a behind-the-curtains look at how America’s medical system really works.
Shell has been given conditional approval (i.e. a green light) to drill up to six wells near the Burger Prospect in Alaska’s Arctic offshore area, per NPR.
Photo Credit of This Small Planet
The House and Senate minorities intend to hold their own set of public hearings on budget issues, Medicaid expansion and Erin’s Law. APRN explains why.
An update on Interior Energy Project is tonight at 6:00pm at Pioneer Park in Fairbanks. For those unable to attend, the Fairbanks News Miner has the gist of what is expected to be reported.
The federal Government Accountability Office has released its first-in-depth report on “landscape-scale” forest restoration. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) requested the study to determine if restoration efforts were in fact efficient and cost-effective. The GAO discovered that while the system in place isn’t perfect, the economic and environmental positives largely outweigh the negatives.