Category Archives: Politics

Alaska News Roundup for January 13

  • Some of Newtok’s village leaders have refused to leave their offices after losing a power dispute, but US District Judge Ralph Beistline has authorized the AK State Troopers to forcefully remove the former leaders. The New York Times has the detail on this modern Trail of Tears
  • Whoa!! Check it: the voter rejected 2013 Kenai Comprehensive Plan is going to be used anyway as the basis for the revised version in 2016. While the Peninsula Clarion refrained from inflammatory language on this move…Kenai’s electorate will probably not be so demure.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) seat buddy caught the eye of Politico, Inside Alaska Politics, and anyone with an appreciation for successful fashion risks (is there anything that Sen. Lisa Murkowski CAN’T pull off?)Murkowski

 

  • The Anchorage Caucus were busy little bees last Saturday as constituents voiced their concern (and at times outrage) over the fiscal situation Alaska is facing. One of my little birds noted that MANY Republican legislators were late to their own meeting AND looked “more bored than interested in doing their job.”

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Alaska News Roundup for January 12

  • 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.Frontiersman

 

  • 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!

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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 31

  • 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.Gov. Bill Walker

 

  • 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.

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Alaska News Roundup for December 29 & 30

  • Along with Hair of the Dog this Friday to boost your…er…morale is the knowledge that some 12,000 Alaskans will be receiving a minimum wage increase to $9.75. Cheers!
  • CNN/ORC conducted a poll that is chocked full of interesting data concerning how the American voting public feel toward their elected officials. In general…it’s not a rosy picture. That’s what getting the most attention. Hidden toward the end of the poll is a slow and steady shift toward stronger gun control (pg. 14).Gun Control

 

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Alaska News Roundup for December 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 Arabic international 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.

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Alaska News Roundup for December 21

  • 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.gov

 

  • The Nome Common Council debated 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.Judge

 

  • 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 Assembly Newsletter 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.

Palin

 

  • 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 President Aaron 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!
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Alaska News Roundup for December 16

  • The Taj McHawker is increasingly becoming a political “hot potato” (Rep. Lance Pruitt‘s (R-Anchorage) words) and with reelections just around the corner…it comes as no surprise to many that APRN is reporting that the Anchorage LIO will most likely have a new address really soon. Interested in the legislative hearing on this issue? Head on over to 716 W 4th Avenue for the Saturday 9:00am meeting.
  • The Peninsula Clarion reports that Kenai Mayor Pat Porter is proposing to put the kibosh on commercial cannabis with the town’s limits through a marijuana moratorium that will get a public hearing AND subsequent vote on January 6, 2016 during a Kenai City Council
  • Kake and Petersburg really, REALLY want a linking road to connect the two cities, though the proposed project would cost an estimated $37 million dollars and there is some serious controversy surrounding the issue so…this Magic 8 ball shows :magic 8 ball

 

  • Tundra Drums has the details on the proposed tax increases to help offset the costs of running/operating Alaska’s 247 rural airports. The nutshell would see a $0.10 per gallon in jet fuel and aviation gas taxes if Gov. Bill Walker gives the green light.

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Alaska News Roundup for December 15

  • Mark your calendars Anchorage because some of the feistiest legislators we have are coming together to host an End of Year Town Hall with (drum roll please) Gov. Bill Walker tomorrow night! That’s right, Sen. Bill “who needs sleep” Wielechowski (D-Anchorage), Rep. Max “parliamentarian wizard” Gruenberg (D-Anchorage), and Rep. Gabrielle “multitasking master” LeDoux (R-Anchorage) have ensuring interested parties get the chance to speak directly with the governor about the budget and other issues considered vital. It is happening December 16 from 6:30-8:00pm at the Creekside Park Elementary School.
  • Here are some pictures of Sen. Click Bishop’s (R-Fairbanks) and Rep. Adam Wool’s (D-Fairbanks) recent Politics and Pizza constituent meeting. My little bird tells me that 60+- people showed up and the focus of concern regarded the budget and its current/potential impact on the local economy.Click and AdamP1000251

 

 

  • The stomach churning Alaska Department of Corrections report doesn’t appear to have brought about the changes many were hoping as the Dispatch breaks the news that instead of using this as a turning moment in Alaska prison history…the Attorney General is advising prisons to NOT DOCUMENT THE FACTS of inmate’s deaths. Really.

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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 1

  • This week on Capital Hill, Congress is going to be scrambling to avoid another government shutdown (and increase the ire of their constituents) while tackling the highway funding and even throwing in some energy debate for good measure, per The Hill.
  • Southeast is sure to be doing a happy dance with the news that AKDOT is going to be pumping $30+ million into improvements of the Ferry System. The projects includes small ones like a new terminal building complete with functioning sanitation (!) for Kake and for Angoon; replace mooring dolphins (sorry, not what you think) and increase passenger bridge safety in Ketchikan; to Hainesmondo project that will completely replace the current end dock for ferries.

happy dance

 

  • Unalaska’s City Council was hard at work grappling with the ramifications of the Pot Board’s recent decisions and though not all issues ended with a decision, it’s part of an ongoing community discussion. Not so on the issue of too many taxicabs as that number has officially been lowered to 18, per KUCB.
  • The State Pot Board’s inclination to allow cannabis cafes has given the state its first potential location in Fairbanks. The Fairbanks North Star Assembly discussed the possibility at their last meeting and while many members were not amused with the prospect, Fairbanks seems to at least be rational about the good vs. bad.

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Alaska News Roundup for November 5

  • 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.

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Alaska News Roundup for November 4

  • 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?stingray

 

  • 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.Murkowski Halloween

 

  • 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?
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  • 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 Millett shared this great picture of the female House Majority members (though where is Rep. Louise Stutes in this female empowerment photo?).House Majority Ladies

 

  • 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 petitioning AKDNR 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 Murkowski tweeted this fascinating Waterworldesque picture of Alaskan waterways regarding the controversial EPA water rule under debate this week on THE hill.

Waterways

 

  • 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.
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