Category Archives: Politics

Alaska News Roundup for October 30

  • 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. pictures

 

  • 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 Parker Song 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.

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Alaska News Roundup for October 28

  • Tonight’s Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly meeting won’t be just one involving updates on Financial Reports or what to expect during this year’s Trick or Trunk (though it will be a part of it), but also a continued discussion on whether to create an official City of Ward Cove!Ward Cove

 

  • Who knew that North Pole’s Mayor Bryce Ward was such a history nerd? The proof is in the pudding…err…the proposed 2016 budget that includes a brand new full-time position for an archivist though the Fairbanks News Miner explains it won’t be all white gloves and light sensitive work for the new hire.
  • Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz wants to increase traffic ticket fines by implementing an inflation-based fee scale as a means to fill the muni’s fiscal gap. Assemblyman Bill Evans isn’t having any of it and has submitted an ordinance to prevent Mayor Berkowitz’s plan. The Dispatch has the details on this growing story. This public hearing on this issue is scheduled for November 10.

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Alaska News Roundup for October 26

  • This week on Capital Hill, expect more drama than an Italian opera…so sayeth The Hill. The House is expecting to officially decide on their new Speaker (i.e. Rep. Paul Ryan), deal with the November 3 debt limit deadline, add an additional financial Band-Aid to Highway funding, reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, and…FINISH THE CYBERSECURITY INFORMATION SHARING ACT (CISA) on Tuesday. Here is why you should be interested if you use Apple, Twitter, Facebook, and Google and why the digital security field is not amused with FB.
  • Congratulations to Tom Begich (now also known as the luckiest man in Alaska) on his betrothal to the always-engaging Sarah Sledge. One of my little birds told me that it was a quiet affair with only a few select friends and family in Anchorage.
  • It seems that not all is honkey-dory down in Bethel regarding the ABC board’s licensing of Bethel Spirits issue. The Tundra Drums reports that the October 22 meeting was hastily withdrawn and set for a yet to be determined date. The official reason given was that “necessary entities” were not given the obligatory 20 days notice. My little bird told me that there is MUCH more going on behind closed doors and this is expected to turn into a “big deal.”

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Alaska News Roundup for October 16

  • OH YEAH! The AFN is happening right now in Anchorage and yesterday’s opening ceremony saw lots of amazing moments, but one of my little birds was really, really excited about AFN President Julie Kitka’s (!) speech because her little girl “now wants to be president too instead of Elsa.”TShirt

 

  • Kenai’s Prop 1, the ability for candidates to run for designated seats, officially failed by SIX votes and the faces on the Kenai City Council will remain the same, per the Peninsula Clarion.
  • The Ketchikan City Council held a hearing where the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the city and the Ketchikan Professional Firefighters Association and to award a contract with Cal Worthington Ford Lincoln for a Ford F-450 XL truck.

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Alaska News Roundup for October 12

  • 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.

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Alaska News Roundup for October 8

  • Today’s THE day in state legislative meets healthcare at the State Reform Health Policy Conference in Anchorage!! Everyone is going to be there. From one of the Big Three ( Valerie Davis of HSS (!)); to the battling of opinions on the state’s healthcare direction with Sen. John Coghill (R-North Pole), Sen. Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks), Sen. Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage) explaining their vision at the 1:45pm panel; and Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage), Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage), Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage) sharing their vision. The biggest surprise of pre-event excitement from many of my little birds is regarding the 9:30am panel with Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer) to discuss reforming Medicaid. Lots of fans, he has.Seaton

 

  • Could the Permanent Fund Board garner a “Pope-like” figure or more likely a “PF Czar”? That is the latest question wafting out of every Alaskan’s favorite state entity, though the hunt for a regular Executive Director is the main focus for the state with my little birds liking candidates Alexander Slivka and Angela Rodell the most out of the short list.
  • Congratulations Felix Wong and Stephen Bradford on their individual wins for a seat at the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly dais!
  • Kodiak Island Borough now officially can claim Kyle Crow, Mel Stephens and Dennis Symmons as part of their Assembly team.
  • Heads up Sen. Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna) and Rep. Kurt Olson (R-Soldotna): the Kenai Peninsula Borough School districts has their official legislative marching orders for you and it’s all focused on protecting their access to funding. But that doesn’t mean individual input isn’t still being requested. There are lots of locations to be a part of the Oct. 15 budget development meeting.
  • Neither Mat-Su Borough Mayor Larry DeVilbiss nor his challenger Vern Halter is conceding the race until the vote count is finalized, per the Frontiersman.
  • Anchorage is in talks with Conoco Phillips to buy back some of their leases in the upper Cook Inlet for ML&P to control, though as APRN explains…”any purchase will have to first be approved by the [Anchorage] assembly.”

    Cook Inlet

    Photo Credit of APRN

  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski is beginning to see the light at the end of her hard-fought battle to lift the 40+ oil export ban with The Hill reporting that the White House has been making noises that point to a possible signature!
  • Palmer is one town that won’t be selling commercial pot as the town voted 318 to 266 to ban this particular economic sector from opening shop and paying taxes, per the Dispatch.
  • The Western Director and Senior Attorney for NRDC wrote an op-ed for Huffington Post where he made his case for why the recent independent study that found that the relationship between the EPA and anti-Pebble groups was improper, was nothing more than a PR Stunt from a “cash-starved” Pebble Partnership.
  • Mayor-elect Karl Kassel is not wasting time in beginning his transition to full-on mayor. The Fairbanks News Miner reports that he is already taking applications for positions within his administration and has a basic idea of the changes he wants to make.
  • Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage) is not one to let injury slow him down and that was evident last night at the latest UAA College Democrats meeting where he gave a “barn-burning” speech against the current oil tax structure.20151007-Rep-Gara-at-UAA-College-Democrats-Meeting-1

 

  • Sen. Dan Sullivan is backing a new bill regarding illegal immigrants and Politico explains the legislation’s aim and who else is getting on the bandwagon.
  • Quinnipiac has just released their latest poll that shows of the 2016 swing state US Senate races, only Ohio’s Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) vs. Ted Strickland (D) is a toss-up, though Democratic challengers in Florida are gaining traction.
  • Rep. Don Young tweeted his support on H.R. 538 that would give Alaska Natives the ability to utilize their lands without “heavy hand of federal government”.Rep. Young

 

  • Doyon, Limited is expanding their O&G exploration within the Nenana basin with plans to drill their 3rd exploratory well in the summer of 2016, per the Fairbanks News Miner.
  • APRN explains the state’s DNR decision on Alaskans’ rights over natural resource use and why PacRim Chuitna Coal is not amused.
  • While the numbers are still being finalized, it appears that yesterday may have shattered voting records for the past ten years in Fairbanks!
  • The Frontiersman has an excellent piece about Mat-Su Assembly candidate (and future powerhouse) Maria Serrano and her tenacious spirit that took her from simply a name on a ballot to a formidable challenger despite her 19 years.
  • In happy fun time news: the Juneau Empire reports that while the original partnership between the Vincent de Paul Society and GMD Development went belly-up with their plans to bring affordable housing to the capital city, there is still forward movement to ensure the project grows into fruition.
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Alaska News Roundup for October 7

  • The fiscal pinch your wallet’s been feeling is indeed real. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development conducted a study on median incomes and discovered that Alaskans are making $4,000 less than they did in 1989. It gets worse as the YWCA Alaska explained in an interview with KTUU, 60% of low wage earners are women and of Alaskan families they make up 40% of the primary providers.
  • The Seward City News has the breakdown of the Seward/Lowell Point voting results. The Seward City Mayoral election went to Jean Bardarson and the three Seward City Council seats went to Sue McClure (!), David Squires, and Deborah Altermatt.
  • Alaska Supreme Court Justice Dana Fabe is retiring next summer. Justice Fabe was the first female Chief Justice and has served the state since 1996. Her wisdom and devotion to our state will be a loss to our justice system.giphy

 

  • In the Mat-Su, the results in the borough’s mayoral race are considered to be too close to call. Right now, Vern Halter is winning by 4,269 votes with incumbent Mayor Larry DeVilbiss accruing 4,090 votes. Rosemary Vavrin has 317. The Frontiersman reports that there are still 2,000+/- absentee, questioned and special needs votes to count.
  • Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) showed his support for now Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor-elect Karl Kassel in an Instagram. The Fairbanks News Miner reports that Kassel won with 57% of the votes.kawasaki

 

  • Juneau saw a major upset in their political status quo last night, as Mayor Merrill Sanford was beat by challenger Greg Fisk with a 66% Ouchie. True to both men’s diplomatic reputation, they shook hands after their race was called.

    outgoing

    Photo Credit of the Juneau Empire

  • Fairbanks was full of voting fervor with the slightly contentious item of a 5% commercial pot sales tax being approved by a whopping 84% and the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly saw all three incumbents winning their reelection bids. Congrats Lance Roberts, Kathryn Dodge, and Van Lawrence!
  • The Kenai Borough Assembly races were won by Gary Knop (District 1), Brandii Holmdahl will replace term-limited Sue McClure’s seat for District 6, and Willy Dunne for District 9.
  • Nikiski was not having any of the law enforcement service area idea with a wide margin of rejection (541 against to 399 for), per the Peninsula Clarion.
  • KNOB reports that Nome will be getting a new mayor in Richard Beneville.
  • Bethel is ok (sort-of) with having a liquor store (57% yea votes), but was adamantly against having a bar (61% no votes). Over in the Assembly side of life, Mayor Rick Robb won re-election, as did Leif Albertson. They are joined by political newbies Nikki Hoffman and Alison Welch.
  • Over in Soldotna, the grocery tax initiative passed with flying colors and the Soldotna City Council got back incumbent Paul Whitney (331 votes to Fred Sturman’s 218), while many feel the race between Linda Murphy (265 votes) and Dan Nelson (254) are too close to call.
  • The Wall Street Journal explains what the commissioned independent report on the relationship between the EPA and the anti-Pebble Mine groups means to the pending court case on this issue as well as what to expect going forward.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski is not amused with the changes the US Forest Service has made to the dock project at the Anan Wildlife Observatory near Wrangell and Ketchikan. KSTK explains the changes and why this once popular project has quickly lost its allure.
  • In when will the hit stop coming news: The Juneau Empire reports that the state will further cut the ferry schedule down by 32% or more specifically…four docked ferries.
  • In light of the fiscal crisis Alaska is facing, many legislators are calling for more budgetary cuts and setting the stage for a massive showdown for the upcoming regular Session. The Dispatch has the details on what they want to cut.
  • Over on Capital Hill, Senate Democrats are vowing to keep Net Neutrality waivers out of the federal government-funding bill that MUST BE PASSED by December 11, per The Hill.
  • A sure sign that 2016 will be unlike any previous presidential race, Gallup is pulling themselves from the presidential polling game and instead will be focusing their resources on better understanding how Americans feel about issues.
  • Here are some pictures of voter turnout from across the state:
    matsu

    Photo Credit of Rep. Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer)

    voting

    Photo Credit of the Fairbanks News Miner

    sitka

    Photo Credit of Sitka Sentinel

    nome

    Photo Credit of KNOM

 

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Alaska News Roundup for September 28

  • In news that has stunned Alaskan political wonks, popular and beloved Northwest Arctic Borough Mayor Reggie Joule (and former legislator) has dropped out of his re-election race citing political fatigue, per the Arctic Sounder.
  • This week on THE HILL, it will be all about preventing a federal shutdown, dealing with more Iranian Nuclear Accord grandstanding, and passing the mondo spending bill.
  • There’s a new electrical bigwig in the Valley! His name is Michael Burke and he is the new Matanuska Telephone Association The Frontiersman has the skills and Burke’s Curriculum Vitae.
CEO

Photo Credit of MTA

 

  • Homer’s City Council candidates got a chance to distance themselves from their challenger by explaining to a packed Homer Public Library their stances on the budget, commercial cannabis, and much more. My little bird told me that candidate Donna Aderhold was the star of the evening with her “impressive knowledge about Homer and ease with the questions.”
  • Today will see an interesting meeting down at the Anchorage LIO where the 14-member Legislative Council will meet to determine if they are going to squander spend $450,000 to further their lawsuit against Gov. Bill Walker’s move to expand Medicaid.
  • Kind of like Crocs with Socks (yes, I’m looking at you Mr. Speaker), Alaska’s oil response plan is outdated and out of fashion. So, the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation will be joining up with the US Coast Guard to bring the preparedness and response plan up to spec, per the Nome Nugget.
Socks

Photo Credit of Nathaniel Herz/Added “Funnies” Credit of Inside Alaska Politics

  • The Seward City News Kenai Peninsula Borough’s District 6 candidates: Kenn Carpenter and Brandii Holmdahl’s answers to the Senior Citizen Survey.
  • One of my little birds caught this article about Pebble Mine and how awesome Alaska Wild Salmon is in their local-wicked local news outlets.
  • Americans want more transparency in corporate political donations. That’s the takeaway from the recent Public Policy Polling poll on campaign finance with the big surprise on reforming the Federal Election Commission.

    2016

    Image Credit of Public Policy Polling

  • In ouchie news: ExxonMobil’s CEO had terse words for Gov. Bill Walker in Oil Price in light of Special Session 3.0, “Alaska is their own worst enemy.”
  • Shell’s announcement that they are quitting Alaska’s offshore drilling was the Internet equivalent to a shot across the bow. Everybody (even all the way over in the UK) is reporting on this especially after the international headlines about the Paddle in Seattle and Obama’s high-profile trip to the Last Frontier.
  • Dept. of Labor Comm. Heidi Drygas landed Alaska a $2.5 million grant to help 600 disabled Alaskan youth find employment. Alaska was one of six to win the coveted grant.
  • Despite the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly’s best efforts, the Juneau Empire thinks that a tax-free condo association fees just aren’t in the cards.
  • Get your popcorn ready because the Fairbanks News Miner’s Jeff Richardson paints a masterpiece of two diametrically different Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly Seat A candidates Dennis Alexander and Incumbent Van Lawrence.
  • Wired has the skinny on a new support group that is launching an ad campaign geared toward helping surveillance agents (NSA and GCHQ in Gt. Britain) reconsider what they are doing and quit their jobs.

    help group

    Image Credit of Intelexit

  • Soldotna is all about transparency and the Soldotna City Council got really, really happy about City Manager Mark Dixson’s plans to improve the city’s record keeping policies and procedures. The Peninsula Clarion explains the changes from the informal to the newly instituted formal rules.
  • Quinnipiac University just released their poll that found 69% of those polled DO NOT want to see the federal government shutdown over the issue of funding Planned Parenthood. Stricter Gun Control is still closely divided at 45 support/48 oppose.

    planned parenthood

    Image Credit of Quinnipiac University

  • Live in Juneau and have an idea of how to save the state from our fiscal crisis? Well, then head on over to the Juneau Forum on Alaska’s Fiscal Future on Wednesday. The Juneau Empire has the details.
  • Mark your calendars for October 1 at 7:00pm for the Unalaska City Hall Candidates Forum on KUCB. Want your questions asked? Submit them to candidates@kucb.org.
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Alaska News Roundup for September 24

  • The ire over Sen. Lesil McGuire’s (R-Anchorage) $6,500 Seattle Conference hotel bills is growing to such an extent that the former Lt. Governor candidate has revoked her staff’s ability to sign the senator’s name in future and have been verbally flogged via the Dispatch. Her staffers have personally repaid the state for their $450-a-night hotel stay. This issue is sure to come up on an increasing basis during her highly contentious 2016 primary battle.

 Still a catchy tune

 

  • The Mexican Consulate, currently located in downtown Anchorage, might be leaving the state completely-but not without a fight from a quickly formed group that is urgently advocating to keep their doors open past November 1st. KTVA reports that so far 900 people have been signed to their petition and that the consulate’s closure will affect the 4,000+ Mexicans residing in Alaska.
  • Sen. Anna MacKinnon (R-Eagle River) shared the news that the Senate Majority was pleased with the message Gov. Bill Walker had about the PFD and the current fiscal situation the state faces.
  • The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly meets tonight to discuss the proposed commercial cannabis zoning ordinances and regulations. There will also be an opportunity for public testimony and fingers-crossed…a vote! The Fairbanks News Miner has the skinny on what Assemblymen Lance “Straight Shooter” Roberts, John Davies, Van Lawrence, and the ever-eloquent Assemblywoman Diane Hutchison are looking for in the ordinances. It promises to be an interesting hearing.

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Alaska News Roundup for September 21

  • This week on The Hill, it will be all about the Pope Francis love fest. The Senate will be taking up a ban on 20+ week abortion bill and the defunding of Planned Parenthood (which is expected to fail).
  • Hold the presses; Governor Bill Walker and First Lady Donna Walker met with Ambassador Caroline Kennedy while making inroads with potential Japanese LNG buyers!!

    Kennedy & Walkers

    Photo Credit of Gov. Bill Walker’s FB

  • Taxes is not a “four-letter word” in Seward. That was the takeaway of the Seward City News after attending the 20+ public discussion about Alaska’s fiscial situation and potential remedies including bills proposed by Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer), Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage), and Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage). One of my little birds noticed Sue McClure’s absence from “her kind of meeting.”
  • In potentially clap-worthy news: Southeast’s <3 for their ferries is legendary. Their Canadian neighbors feel the same. So much love for this mode of transportation has created an opportunity for Canadian based West Coast Launch to potentially begin once-a-week ferry runs in the winter and twice-a-week in the summer from Prince Rupert, British Columbia to Ketchikan beginning in the summer of 2016.

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Alaska News Roundup for September 18

  • It’s here! The latest in the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly news by the one and only Sue McClure!
  • Rep. Don Young will be among many high-level guests attending the Wolf Trap Ball this Saturday where the basic (i.e. the paupers’) ticket price begins at $750 all the way up to $50K for table sponsorship. This year’s theme tips their hat to ancient Rome in honor of the host: Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero. And yes…there will be a conga line.Conga Line

 

  • Governor Bill Walker might not officially announce our PFD amount till Monday, but the New York Times kind of beat him to the punch with the announcement of record payments of more than $2,000 per recipient.
  • Former Sen. Mark Begich is moving on up to Hilltop Public Solutions as their new advisor in cultivating strategic partnerships within Alaska power networks and increase their
  • Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott’s might have been tirelessly working on getting federal-level assistance with the transboundary mine conflict, but as KCAW reports, the International Joint Commission will not be taking up the issue. This comes shortly after Secretary of State John Kerry declined a meeting with Mallott while he was visiting Alaska.
  • Despite the White House coming out against the 40+ year-old ban on oil exports, The Washington Post thinks the odds are looking more and more promising for Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s pet project by explaining what the average American needs to know how this would impact our economy.

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Alaska News Roundup for September 16

  • Today is THE DAY for oral arguments between the Ketchikan Gateway Borough and the state over the constitutionality of municipalities being forced to pay toward their local public schools’ costs.
  • Hilcorp wants to lay pipe. Ok, more like they have asked DNR for permits to drill exploratory wells near Ninilchik, but my interpretation of the Fairbanks News Miner story is way funnier.
  • In good news/bad news: The good news is that the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the state’s justice system last Tuesday (yay!). The bad news is that the Pew Charitable Trust’s presentation during the hearing pointed to incarceration lengths as the reason for the state’s prison population explosion and not due to an increase in individual inmates, per APRN.

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Alaska News Roundup for August 15

  • Campaign contributions just got a whole lot easier thanks to a joint venture between Twitter and Square, per Wired. So, how do 2016 candidates get in on some of this hot 21st century style dialing-for-dollars action? First set-up a Square Cash account, then once you have your all-mighty ‘CONTRIBUTE” BUTTON, tweet away (on an APOC appropriate account…of course).Twitter

 

  • The Southeast Conference, the mondo economic forum that is held every five years, is starting today in beautiful British Columbia where the highly anticipated Preparing for 2020 development plan will be unveiled. Can’t attend? No worries, they have a newsletter!
  • Get out your credit cards and ready a fruit basket to the new media players in the state as the Fairbanks News Miner reports that Alaska’s #1 news station (KTUU) and assorted Schurz Communication Inc.’s radio stations have been purchased by Gray Television, which is based in Atlanta. The cost of this Alaska market share giant? $442.5 million.
  • The Alaska Gasline Development Corporation board is FINALLY completely filled. The lucky/unlucky person to round out the seven seat board is Eagle River’s own Joey Merrick II. To wit Sen. Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage) sang Gov. Bill Walker’s praises on his “outstanding” choice.

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Alaska News Roundup for September 14

  • Grab your red bull and comfy chair because this week on THE HILL is going to be long and full of potential fireworks! The Hill explains that congress will be all about Planned Parenthood funding, the Iranian Nuclear Accord and monetary sanctions on frivolous
  • The Juneau Empire flexed their eloquence muscle in their latest editorial over the September 5th City and Borough of Juneau Assembly closed doors meeting over the fireweed field zoning issue. Their fury and contempt definitely make this worth a read!
  • In wicked awesome news: the USDA has approved grant money (Nunam Iqua, $112,800, Eek, $4.38 million; Kwethluk, $2.21 million and Akiachak, $6.38 million) for Y-K villages to improve rural water systems with not just pre-existing facilities, but training, technical assistance and development of future ones as well, per the Tundra Drums.

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Alaska News Roundup for September 10

  • Congratulations to Nathan Wallace on his appointment by the Palmer City Council as their new City Manager! The Frontiersman attended the public Meet & Greet and painted a pleasant picture of the evening and camaraderie between Wallace and council members.

    Nathan Wallace

    Photo Credit of the Frontiersman

  • Don’t get too excited about the mondo money heading into the state coffers from the LNG pipeline so sayeth the State Legislative Joint Resources committee via KTVA. While the Peninsula Clarion explains that the reason for the delay is to give the stakeholders (i.e. Alaskans) a better investment by reformulating the pipe diameter and also paying a whopping $100,000 a month to an OUTSIDE consultancy.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski is getting major props for her work on two pieces of legislation. One bill permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the other concerns the Voting Rights Act Restoration.

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