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).
The Kodiak Island Borough Assemblyconfirmed the new Mayoral appointments for several local boards and one of my little birds was proud as punch for Ed MaHoney and Mark Anderson on their positions as the newest members of the Citizens Board of Equalization.
GCI is gathering its soldiers and preparing their battle plans for a storm on the state capital to figure out a solution to the state’s budget crisis. Considering who’s already on tap, the odds are ever in their favor.
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.
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 BoroughMayor-elect Karl Kassel in an Instagram. The Fairbanks News Miner reports that Kassel won with 57% of the votes.
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.
Photo Credit of the Juneau Empire
Fairbanks was full of voting fervor with the slightly contentious item of a 5%commercial pot sales taxbeing 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 Assemblyraces 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 initiativepassed 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:
The vibrant Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly candidates for District 1 did not disappoint one of my little birds. Apparently Robin Davis was the most polished of the group by being able to quote previous experiences and numbers on budgetary items. While David Wartinbee’s fish knowledge was “impressive” and Gary Knopp was “on fire”. The candidate that didn’t get positive reviews? That would be Assemblyman Kelly Wolf for not even showing up. Naughty!
The Cordova Times reports that Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office was awash in 8,000 postcards from United Tribes of Bristol Bay members encouraging her to support their efforts against Pebble Mine or any other similar mine that could affect the Bristol Bay watershed.
Guess who can be found in Japan Times? That would be Alaska’s own Rep.Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks)!! The article goes on to explain that while attending a conference as part of a US delegation in Kyoto, he has continued to work toward strengthening the relationships between Alaska and future Japanese LNG buyers.
For Kenai Peninsula Borough voters, Proposition 4 is a $4.4 million bit of consideration. What’s at stake? The ability for Central Emergency Services to replace outdated or past its usefulness tools like a ladder truck and other vital emergency equipment. The Peninsula Clarion explains both sides of this ballot issue.
Tempers and a tempestuous history between Mat-Su Borough Assembly candidates Randall Kowalke and Doyle Holmes made for continued fireworks as the Dispatch furthers the Frontiersman’s original story.
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.
Rep. Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski), Sen. Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage), Sen. Anna MacKinnon (R-Eagle River), Rep. Mark Neuman (R-Big Lake), and Rep. Steve Thompson (R-Fairbanks) think there are simply too many Alaskans in prison and have started proposing changes to the state justice system in order to see at least a 25% decrease in incarcerations.
Here they come to save the day! The State of Alaska has agreed to wire part of Cook Inlet Energy LLC’s tax credit payment to the tune of $6.4 million early so the energy producer doesn’t go into bankruptcy, per the Peninsula Clarion.
FINALLY!! The state ferry system has something to celebrate (happy dance time). APRN reports that the LeConte ferry not only saved six men after their skiff overturned in the choppy waters off Rocky Island, but this bit of derring-do didn’t even alter the ferry’s expected arrival time too much.
Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) wants the governor to investigate the curious situation where when “oil prices go up the price for gas also goes up but when oil prices fall we don’t see that same decrease in gas prices.”
Have no fear Rep. Kawasaki because the Dispatch reveals that Alaska’s oil and gas system is already on the governor’s mind with plans to reduce the state’s gas tax credit program following Sen. Cathy Giessel’s (R-Anchorage) special legislative hearing on the very issue.
ConocoPhillips has announced that they are going to cut around 10% of their Alaska workforce. While this number is sure to send shivers down many a spine, it is important to remember that roughly 25% employees for the major O&G players in Alaska live full-time Outside and commute to the slope. Some subcontractors use 100% Outside workers for in-state work. The exact number of AUCTUAL Alaska ConocoPhillips employees that will be receiving a pink slip is still unknown.
The Fairbanks News Miner has an editorial urging folks to register to vote before the muni election cut-off date later this week. Register to vote by goingHERE.
The Dispatch gives a beautiful, no–poetic, re-telling of Pres.Obama’s trip/hike to the Kenai Fjords National Park. Truly worth a read just for the details and enriched writing.
Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) and one-time staffer, turned girlfriend, now with the Interior Gas Utility Mindy O’Neall parted ways after almost three years. Sounds like yet another casualty of the long special session. What will he do now as the Legislature’s most eligible bachelor?
Get those champagne glasses ready because APRN has cheer worthy news! The Alaska wage gap between genders is on its way out with YWCA anticipating equal pay for equal work by 2025!
Secretary of State John Kerry will be touching down on Alaska soil on August 30th, per the Seward City News!
Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) and Rep. Charisse Millett (R-Anchorage) both gave a Twitter shout-out to the awesomeness that is strong women with the right to vote (both in the ballot box and on the legislative floor) to commemorate the 19th Amendment.
Sen. Lesil McGuire (R-Anchorage) is going to have heavy competition going into the 2016 election season. Just with the August primary she will once again face Jeff “I’ve never met a speedo I didn’t rock” Landfieldbut also former Anchorage School Board member Natasha Von Imhof! Whoever wins the GOP primary for District L; they will face the Democratic force that is Forrest McDonald.
First there was the economic shockwaves of the military personnel drawdown, and then there was the UA systems academic/staff cut. Now the Fairbanks News Miner reports that Shell is going to pink slip 6,500 employees during 2015 alone. Yikes!
Sen. Dan Sullivan got (some) praise from one of my little birds on his over eagerness at a recent Indo-American awards ceremony earlier this week. Apparently, he accidentally shook an Indian woman’s hand a bit too much-though no offence was taken.
Spotted! Lesil McGuire (apparently looking stunning), Rep. Mike Chenault, Rep. Sam Kito (D-Juneau), Rep. Kurt Olson (R-Soldotna), Rep. Craig Johnson (R-Anchorage), Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage), Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) and Rep. Lance Pruitt (R-Anchorage) are all attending the Vail Council of State Governments-West conference. Pictures please!!
While the rest of the world is dancing the gig about the US/Iran nuclear accord, Sen. Dan Sullivan and Sen. Lisa Murkowski are not amused, per APRN.
Add TTP to your lexicon of dreaded acronyms because the Cordova Times explains why the multinational trade agreement (Trans Pacific Partnership) not only threatens democracy as a whole but could also endanger Alaska’s sovereignty.
The bureaucratic headache to officially name a currently unnamed Kenai Peninsula lake to Regency Lake (fancy!) is articulated by the Peninsula Clarion.
Rep. Mike Hawker (R-Anchorage) told the Juneau Empire that he would consider holding a hearing on Medicaid Expansion in the near future.
Gov. Bill Walker’s Medicaid announcement last week got a TON of ink. Now critics are beginning to voice their concerns, including Senior Fellows with the Foundation for Government Accountability in today’s Forbes by making their case this this move would shrink the state’s economy, discourage work, cost more, and it would actually create a new program due to a quirk in Alaska law.
Saxman hearts the designation of “rural” way more than their current “non-rural” label and APRN explains why.