Category Archives: Rep. Les Gara

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays from Alaska’s Elected Officials Part 2

From the State House:

The Alaska House Majority updated their FB profile picture, though mostly focused their energy on drones.House Maj

 

The Alaska House Minority kept it traditional (though wicked tiny):House Dem

 

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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 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 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 3

  • There is something very special about this picture by Andrew Harnik if several of my little birds have emailed it to me with their own individual take.Obama vs. fish

“The symbolism of man’s effect on the planet is right there”

“At least it wasn’t on a blue dress.”

“Even Alaska’s fish love Obama”

“I wish I had been that fish so I could’ve peed on his boots to.”

 

  • The LA Times gives an Outsider’s view of the president’s trip to Alaska. Complete with rebuke (fair/unfair?) toward the Alaska GOP’s twitter feed, the shock that Pebble Mine could even be a possibility, and a tidy wrap-up invoking previous presidential visits.
  • If Pebble Mine wasn’t on Pres. Obama’s environmental radar before his visit to Alaska, it is now! Reuters admits that while he did not directly address the controversial mine issue during his tour of Dillingham…he did say, “There are other threats [other than climate change] to this environment that we’ve always got to be alert to.”
  • Get out your popcorn and a non-work electronic devise to read this Anchorage Press retelling of their experience covering the GLACIER conference. Warning: the excitement is infectious and the language can be rather blue. Enjoy!

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Alaska News Roundup for August 26

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

    FDR

    Photo Credit of the FDR Library 

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

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Alaska News Roundup for August 19

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

    Begich

    Image credit of CQRC Engage

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

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Alaska News Roundup for July 6

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

 

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

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Alaska News Roundup for May 29

  • The beginnings of a GOP primary battle royale commenced when  Rep. Lance Pruitt (R-Anchorage) and 2013-2014 House Speaker confirmed to the Dispatch that he was in fact “considering” running against Rep. Don Young in 2016!
  • In champagne cork popping news- the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has given Alaska to license to export LNG out of Nikiski. APRN has the kicker: we can export to countries that don’t even have a free trade agreement with the US.
  • Gallup just released their findings that 50% of 1,024 US adults self described as “pro-choice” and 44% as “pro-life”. This is the first time pro-choice ID has surpassed “pro-life” since 2008.Gallup

 

  • The Fairbanks preliminary commercial marijuana zoning maps came out last night to overall community support. My little birds tell me that certain neighborhoods are already starting to organize to prevent marijuana and that this map is by no means final.
  • While Gov. Bill Walker was on his diplomatic trip to Seattle, he didn’t mince words with UPI by stating, “Offshore drilling in the Arctic WILL happen.”
  • The Paddle in Seattle has been enough of a headache that the Coast Guard is taking precautions in anticipation of receiving Shell’s drill rig in Alaska’s waters. APRN details what this entails and where the perceived hot spots will be.

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Alaska News Roundup for May 26

  • Sen. Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks) has the dubious distinction of being the reason for a new Jezebel column series called Loser Sons of Politics, per one of my little birds.Kelly

 

  • APRN explains where the legislature is in negotiating a budget deal.
  • Sen. Dan Sullivan is heading to Vietnam and Singapore with a Senate delegation this week to mark the 20th anniversary of normalized relations with the US.
  • Oil tax credits. Things seemed to take a nasty turn in decorum by Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks) when Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage) mentioned oil tax law during a legislative budget meeting over the weekend. Dermot Cole with the Dispatch covered the exchange and the points made by all sides on this issue.

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Alaska News Roundup for May 20

  • Rep. Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) admitted that the House Majority is planning on raiding the Permanent Fund to KTVA in a move to fund the state budget without having to work with the House Minority on current sticking points.
  • Energy & Capital explain the reasons Sen. Lisa Murkowski is pushing for the oil export ban now with graphs and charts!

    Graph

    This is just ONE of their graphs!

  • Rep. Sam Kito (D-Juneau) showed his mischievous side Tuesday when he tried to block adjournment of the expected gavel bangin’ technicality that was the official legislative floor session. Things quickly became heated and the Dispatch captured the whole episode in detail.

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Alaska News Roundup for May 15

  • My little birds tell me that Mayor-elect Ethan Berkowitz is on the mend from recent shoulder surgery. He is expected to be back in transition-mode next week!
  • State flags are at half mass today throughout Alaska in honor of Peace Officers Memorial Day.
  • It’s not just Joe Miller that Sen. Lisa Murkowski might have to contend with during the Republican senatorial primary, but maybe state Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R-Fairbanks) as well per Roll Call and my little birds. Former Sen. Mark Begich’s 2016 senatorial ambitions have remained elusive.
  • House Finance announced that the committee was blocking the Medicaid Expansion bill yesterday. APRN has Rep. Steve Thompson (R-Fairbanks) statement and Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage), HSS Commissioner Valerie Davidson and Gov. Bill Walker’s responses.
  • Cordova is not amused with the Navy’s summer training exercise because of the planned use of bombs, sonar and the expected dumping of 352,000 lbs. of toxic materials during mating season for the area’s marine and migratory animals. KTUU has further details.
  • Sen. Dan Sullivan and Sen. Lisa Murkowski are part of a short list of senators that sponsored a bill to delay the Positive Train Control, the technology system used to monitor trains and would likely have prevented the Amtrak derailment in Pennsylvania, that was supposed to be fully implemented by the end of 2015 after the passage of a 2008 law regarding PTC, per FirstLook.

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Alaska News Roundup for May 8

  • This Just In:  Messages left for legislators with their Juneau offices are  Calls to Juneau offices are not being forwarded to Anchorage’s LIO and are going straight to Voicemail Jail!  It has also been confirmed that at least some GOP legislator’s staffers cannot figure out how to check voicemail in the first place.
  • Skynet. Is. Real. The dark government program dreamed up for the Terminator franchise, as the cause for world destruction is not only an actual NSA program, but also it is using the exact same NAME for the system that spies on American citizens’ phone calls, per Wired.
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  • My little birds in Kodiak told me that attendees were not impressed with Sen. Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak) and Rep. Louise Stutes’ (R-Kodiak) legislative update last night. The meeting was well attended with many expressing their worries, anger and frustration over education funding cuts, the protracted Session and fish issues. Afterwards, there was a gaggle of people that quietly spoke about potential 2016 contenders. Interesting!

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