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.
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.
North Slope Borough Mayor Charlotte Brower’s days in office are quickly getting a tick-tock sound as Barrow residents have officially started a recall petition. The Arctic Sounder reports that the group is not backing ANYONE and just wants Brower gone.
The Peninsula Clarion reports that the Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre, Kenai Mayor Pat Porter, and Soldotna Mayor Pete Spraguebribed offered the Board of Fisheries $60,000 in service savings if they kept their Upper Cook Inlet finfish meeting on the Peninsula until 2017 instead of moving to Anchorage. City managers and mayors of the Kenai Borough, Homer, Seldovia, Soldotna, and Seward are also supportive of this financial incentive.
The National Journal explains the latest (and currently unpublished) Pew Research Center’s poll on the makeup of religious Americans and found something VERY interesting: white Christians are no longer the majority! In fact, as you look at the results by generation…more and more consider themselves unaffiliated. This will become increasingly interesting in future election cycles stump speeches and the shifting dynamic of religion in daily life.
In a move that has shocked, horrified, elated, and bemused MANY of my little birds…(drum roll please) the State Pot Board has taken a step toward allowing Amsterdam style pot cafés within the state!!! As APRN’s Zachariah Hughes explains, this would be a first for the entire country.
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!
While the House is off till next week, the ongoing saga over Who. Will. Be. The. Next. Speaker. Of. The. House. contines with Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) spokesperson playing coy and saying that there isn’t any anticipated news this week and to “Enjoy you Columbus Day”.
Take heart Interior Democrats! While the owners of your beloved Drinking Liberally hang-out have changed, Big Daddy’s will continue serving their delicious BBQ and libations with ease. From the Fairbanks News Miner’s take, it is simply a matter of new name on the door.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
In that was quick news: Roselynn Cacy has become candidate #4 for the now open Senate District L seat Southwest Anchorage. This is expected to be old had for Casey as she ran for the seat back in 2012, but as the Dispatch reports, this time around she will first have win the Democratic primary against long-time campaigning Forrest McDonald. Jeff “I’ve never met a Speedo I couldn’t rock” Landfield and Natasha von Imhof have their own primary battle for the GOP bid before the final face-off in November 2016.
Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! The lucky coffee-drinking Juneau residents just got luckier with the announcement that Coppa, GonZo, and the Rookery are going to match discounted coffee prices to October 6th’s voter turnout. As the Juneau Empire reports that last year’s turnout was 29% and that would have meant 29 cents off a cuppa.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski might have come a long way baby as the ONLY Chairwoman of a full committee, but according to Politico…this is probably as far as the GOP will allow her (or any other GOP Congressional women) to ascend.
The Peninsula Clarion covered the latest Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Seat 1 candidate debate between incumbent Kelly Wolf, Gary Knopp, Robin Davis, and David Wartinbee.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’smondo 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 Youngmade 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.
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.
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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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.