Monthly Archives: September 2013

Study confirms what all knew: Women are less corrupt than men.

Female politicians do not send electronic photos of their nether regions to strangers on the other side of the country. If they are picking up prostitutes, which they aren’t, they’re pretty discreet about it. And they aren’t as corrupt as men, so says a new paper to be published in an upcoming issue of Politics and Gender by Rice University’s Justin Esarey and Gina Chirillo.

Or at least that’s the case in democratic countries which stigmatize corruption. There isn’t much of a difference, the authors find, between the sexes when corruption is part of a norm. The authors say that this has something to with how the different genders perceive risk.

In Alaska, we knew this. There have only been a few scandals up here, and they have all been male dominated, save one former lawmaker, Bev Masek who traded her vote for $4,000.

In any case, this provides a great case for recruiting more female candidates into business and politics. In 2013 women held 98, or only about 18 percent of seats in the U.S. Congress. Across the country, women held about 24 percent of the seats in state Legislatures.

Alaska does a little better when it comes to gender equity in our state Legislature. Out of 60 legislators in Alaska, 17 or about 27 percent are women. Out of 14 total, there are five women in Gov. Sean Parnell’s cabinet.

But our private sector isn’t doing so well, at least if the make-up of boards is any indication. There are four major publicly traded companies based in Alaska with a total of 38 board members. Of these board members only seven are women, four of whom are on the board of First National Bank and three of whom are the chairman’s daughters.

Sen. Lesil McGuire is planning a conference, scheduled in October, about the economic status of women in Alaska and what can be done to raise the status of women in the state.

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Keithley: Sticks and stones may break his bones. But politics? We’ll see.

laughAs I previously reported, Brad Keithley is making noises about running for governor. If he does so, he’d likely run as an independent, and he likely would be self-financed. He’s well-educated and cultured. He knows as much about college basketball and more about music than anyone who is running or has talked about running to date. And he’s also proving to be rather unorthodox compared to most politicians.

So far, in front of groups, on talk radio, and on his blog, he has focused on Gov. Sean Parnell’s handling of the state’s fiscal affairs, which could prove to be a major weakness for Parnell.

Under Parnell’s “fiscally conservative” administration, the budget has grown 55 percent. There are all sorts of reasons for this: declining federal funds and ballooning health care costs, to name a few. But there’s been loads of fat in Parnell’s budgets. And he’s done nothing to address what Keithley and others call a looming fiscal crisis. In fact, Parnell doesn’t even talk about it.

Inexplicably, Bill Walker let this one get away from him. Someone was bound to jump into the budget-sized opening. Too bad for Parnell that it increasingly looks like it’s Keithley who’s doing so.

That Keithley might have enough money to be self-financed, and not beholden to anybody, should be enough to make Parnell nervous. But already Keithley is proving that not being beholden also provides the flexibility to say and do what he pleases, and to break the so called “rules” of politics. This should be particularly unnerving for Parnell, who is nothing if not conventional.

Last week, for instance, Keithley posted correspondence on his blog that belittled his own candidacy. Most politicians would have tried to bury it. Keithley highlighted it by republishing the criticism in full, saying that it brought him “humor:”

Meant to tell you, I was recently at a meeting that included several Alaskan republican leaders. It was rumored that you were considering running for governor. When I heard their reactions, I was actually embarrassed for you. Of course democrat friends in JNU and on the hill hope you run, as there’s not a chance in hell you can win, but you will help push the vote in their favor. Best part? Several of those I mention above are people you told me were good friends and who you respect immensely. You are the laughing stock of that town. So gratifying to watch…

Keithley’s pitch-perfect response:

The humor? That ‘Alaskan republican leaders’ are wasting their time talking about personalities. (If you believe the writer, at least.) My recommendation? They spend their time instead talking about things that really matter, starting with ways to reduce the upcoming budget. Otherwise … they won’t be leaders for much longer.

Truth is, some Alaska Republicans, the smart ones, are talking about Keithley. In fact, they seem to be talking more about him than they are about Walker, who has been running for months. And they aren’t laughing.

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Clarification: As far as I know, Keithley posted the correspondence in full. The author of the email that he published, however, says otherwise. 


Sin tax on booze in Alaska not working to quell thirst

alcohol In 2002, those who fought most vigorously to increase alcohol taxes in Alaska said that if consumers paid more, they’d drink less.

Not so. The ADN’s Kyle Hopkins reports that since the 2002 increase passed the Legislature, “sales of whiskey, vodka and other spirits have grown 41 percent.”

Hopkins writes that the tax on beer increased from 35 cents a gallon to $1.07. The wine tax increased from 85 cents a gallon to $2.50 and the tax on hard liquor from $5.60 to $12.80 a gallon.

All that translates to about 10 cents a drink. Whoever thought that spending 10 cents more on a drink is going to curtail behavior hasn’t spent much time with those who like their wine or need their Monarch Vodka. Many economists believe that so-called sin taxes can work to change behavior, but most believe that the tax has to be large to really be felt, like taxes on cigarettes.

Perhaps most galling is that despite the promise that half the money it received from the tax would go to combating substance abuse, programs took a huge dive.

When oil prices went up, however, money began to flow freely. By 2010, the state spending was up to about $40 million on alcohol abuse and treatment. In that year, the state received $39 million in alcohol taxes.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Quote of the day

“Health care’s unpopularity can be traced to the decision by the White House and its allies to allow Republicans to define it AFTER it was signed into law. Just how poorly has the White House messaged health care? Consider that 30% of Democrats say they don’t know enough about the law to have an opinion, and ‘only’ 56% of Democrats call the plan a ‘good idea’ So barely half of the president’s base calls health care a ‘good idea.’ That’s a big problem.”

From NBC’s First Read in a post about a NBC/WSJ poll showing that 44% think that the Affordable Care Act is a bad idea, while only 31% say it’s a good one.


Deep pockets drop out of Pebble project

Mining giant Anglo America, the Pebble Partnership’s weight and muscle, announced on Monday that it’s dropping out of the Pebble mine project.

What this means to the mine is unclear. But it doesn’t bode well for Pebble’s prospects. Anglo had a 50 percent interest in the project. The other 50 percent belongs to Northern Dynasty. Anglo is the parent company to the diamond giant De Beers, and the company has holdings all over the world. Northern Dynasty’s sole asset is Pebble.

Anglo says that it’s dropping its project to focus on lower risk projects, ones that are perhaps less politically charged. The EPA is in the process of deciding whether or not to block the project, which would be one of the world’s largest gold and copper mines near the source of over a third of the world’s wild salmon supply.

If the EPA chooses not to block Pebble, it will likely become one of the country’s most heated environmental fights. Anglo and De Beers have already been getting pressure from jewelers across the world to drop out of the project.

Northern Dynasty’s stock, which opened on Monday at $1.66, had dropped 34 percent by midday East Coast Time.

Northern Dynasty vows to fight on. The company’s CEO Ron Thiessen said that it has $541 million worth of expenditures, “which opens the door to a number of exciting possibilities for Northern Dynasty and its shareholders and the Pebble Project and its stakeholders.”

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Quote of the day

“As co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, I know that if we don’t get more oil production soon, the state won’t be able to fund as many projects as this one and we won’t have as many jobs for our graduates. Nothing would disappoint me and everyone in this audience more than to have our engineering students have to go to North Dakota, Texas, Canada or wherever to get a job.”

Kevin Meyer, co-chair of Senate Finance, at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new University of Alaska Anchorage engineering building.


Thank God it’s Friday: The political nicknames edition

Thank God it's Friday facts A few weeks ago the Washington Post’s political blog posted a piece listing what they considered the top ten best nicknames in politics. “Bubba/Slick Willie” made the list, of course. Sen. Arlen Specter, or “Snarlin’” Arlen was there. So was my personal favorite: “Governor Moonbeam,” for California Gov. Jerry Brown.

Scholars have all sorts of theories as to why we get and give nicknames. One writing in the journal of American Anthropology theorizes that for the Zinacantan tribe, who live in the southern part of the Mexican central highlands, nicknames serve as a type of mnemonic device and means of social efficiency. Another scholar writing in the British Journal of Educational Psychology says that “name-calling and nicknames in particular are ambiguous social events that can serve positive as well as negative goals.” However, the scholar writes that nasty nicknames in the schoolyard are more common than positive ones, and that such nicknames are “prevalent and hurtful features of school life.”

From what I was able to read about them, Alaska politics, indeed Alaska itself, seems to have a lot in common with the Zinacantan tribe, say nothing of a schoolyard.

In any case, whether due to mnemonics, social efficiency, or bullying, people in power in this state have received their fair share of nicknames.

I do the Washington Post three better. After asking around, I came up with 13 of what I consider the best, listed here in no particular order:

  • Unit One: This one goes to Gov. Bill Sheffield, who was dubbed such by his security detail. His staff, particularly now BP lobbyist Paul Quesnel, grabbed onto it, and it spread.
  • Disco Ray: Ray Metcalfe, who was a state lawmaker in the late 1970s, explained how he received the moniker in an interview with the Anchorage Press. “I do like ducks. When I was younger my friends nick-named me ‘Duck.’ When I got into the legislature there was a song that came out, “Disco Duck,” and I like to dance… so for a while I became Disco Duck. My political foes wanted to make that stick so they started calling me Disco Ray… And there wasn’t anything I could do about it, so I just started to answer to it.” Unbuttoned shirts, chains around his neck, and the double knit polyester pants that he wore also helped.
  • The Great Amender: Rep Max Gruenberg got this one for his prolific amendments. He was the subject of ridicule one year at the legislative skits where they sang a song about “Max the great amender” to the tune of “The Great Pretender.
  • The High Plains Drifter: The cowboy boot wearing, mustachioed Gov. Steve Cowper got this one from the Anchorage Daily News’ Shelia Toomey, who stole it from another reporter in the newsroom who used to whistle the tune to the movie whenever he wrote a story about Cowper.
  • Teflon Tony: This self-explanatory one was given to Gov. Tony Knowles. Finally, something stuck.
  • Frank the Bank: Frank Murkowski got this when he was in the U.S. Senate. It was often used when he was governor. Its genesis was his role as president of the Alaska National Bank of the North, which failed under his leadership.
  • Llama Lady: Republican oil booster Sen. Jan Faiks was nothing if not well-coiffed and cheery. In fact, legislative skits characterized her as wearing a cheerleading outfit. So, that this expensive-clothes wearing, sorority type would raise lamas, for fun, was an image that stuck.
  • McPipeline: Lt. Gov. Steve McAlpine was from Valdez, the terminus of TAPs. He liked oil. He liked pipelines.
  • Mitch ado about nothing: This one for Sen. Mitch Abood needs no explanation.
  • The congressman for all Alaska (except for Ear and those who didn’t vote for him): This, once again, was conceived by Shelia Toomey after Young made a remark about representing only those who voted for him.
  • Rambona: Anybody who ever met Rep. Ramona Barnes would understand why she got this moniker, which went viral after ADN cartoonist Peter Dunlap-Shohl took his pen to it.
  • Ethan Spendawitz: House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz was never in the majority and therefore didn’t have much control over state spending. But still, he was viewed by many as a liberal spender so the name stuck. Frankly, it could have been worse for him.
  • Captain Zero: Gov. Sean Parnell will never shake this one, which came from Rep. Don Young during a public radio interview debate when Parnell was trying to take his seat from him. You know it’s eternal when Gregg Erickson, the editor-at-large of the Alaska Budget Report, was allowed to get away with writing a column in the Juneau Empire defending Parnell with the following headline: “Governor’s ‘Captain Zero’ image (mostly) undeserved.”
  • And of course there’s Uncle Ted. (Hello up there Uncle Ted!)

These are what I came up with. Some new ones are beginning to form. “Afghan Dan,” for the soon to be Republican Senate candidate. “The Tall One,” for Sen. Mike Dunleavy, who’s like 8 feet tall. We’ll see if these stick. If anybody out there has others, please email them to me at or tweet me at @Amanda_Coyne.


At the Republican Party picnic: the calm before the battles begin

picnic The national Democrats are calling the upcoming Republican primary race for U.S. Senate in Alaska a “civil war” in the making. Indeed, it’s likely going to get brutal, at least between declared candidates Joe Miller and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, whom the Miller people seemingly want to destroy.

But if there is going to be a civil war, the Republican Party picnic held at Kincaid Park in Anchorage was the calm before the storm of battles begins.

Everyone seemed to get along just fine, inside the chalet, that is. Trouble was brewing outside, however, where right-wing activists were at work on their plan to oust Treadwell.

But inside, Reps. Mike Hawker and Craig Johnson stood in harmony as they dished out chow with Gabrielle LeDoux and Lance Pruitt. Sen. Lesil McGuire was even trying to be friendly to former challenger Jeff Landfield. Mayor Dan Sullivan’s eyes twinkled Irishly.

Those working the Joe Miller booth, absent Miller himself, smiled at the new Republican Party chair Peter Goldberg. One woman working the booth actually agreed when he said, “everybody here wants to protect liberty.”

Kids bounced in the inflatable bouncy houses. A band played on. Randy Ruedrich flippantly flipped burgers, all the recent Tea Party and Ron Paul travails behind him. Rep. Lora Reinbold appeared to have temporarily forgotten that Obamacare is going to be the ruination of the country. Rep. Lindsay Holmes seemed to fit right in with her new tribe.

Sen. Kevin Meyer had a certain glow about him. Who wouldn’t? He was recently in Rome where he was at a mass in St. Peter’s Square that was blessed by the Pope. Sen. Anna Fairclough, who spent most of the evening picking up plates and wiping tables, lived up to her reputation that she is at her most content when she’s working and appeared to forget that her name is nearly unpronounceable.

Sen. Charlie Huggins, who is NOT, by the way, running for lieutenant governor, opted to sit like normal people do with his burger rather than eating it while doing one-armed pushups.

As always, Sen. Cathy Giessel strode through the room with perfect posture.

Gov. Sean Parnell looked casual and calm for a change, pleased that he had sponsored the pony rides. And Mead Treadwell was in his element amongst his staffers of young, preppy college kids who wore his logo on their polo shirts.

Inside, Republicans were doing their right-wing version of Kumbaya, while outside, someone was busy plastering cars with flyers highlighting an article where Mead Treadwell was quoted as saying that he voted for Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the 2010 primary and the general against Joe Miller.

“I think Alaskans made the right decision,” he said in voting for Murkowski.

The flyer highlighted the fact that Murkowski supports gay rights and a women’s right to choose. Treadwell has been trying to position himself as a socially conservative candidate.

“When you voted for Lisa you are responsible for the policies she votes for,” the flyer said. “You can’t have it both ways Mead.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Sen. Begich, Koch brothers group in tussle over ads

time to fightSen. Mark Begich and a Koch brothers’ funded group are in a battle over whether or not a television ad falsely characterizes Begich’s position on a carbon tax.

The American Energy Alliance, the political arm of the Institute for Energy Research, both of which are funded partly by the Koch brothers, launched an ad recently in Alaska that says that Begich is in support of a carbon tax, something that the AEA is staunchly opposed to.

Begich says he doesn’t support the tax, and now lawyers are involved.

Begich’s lawyer called on station managers to take the ads down, calling them “false and misleading.”

“For the sake of both FCC licensing requirements and the public interest, your station must immediately cease airing this advertisement,” Begich’s lawyer wrote to the station managers on Sept. 5.

According to the AEA, the station mangers reviewed the ads and declined to remove them.

Begich has said publicly that he opposes a carbon tax. He did, however, vote on a non-binding amendment that said if such a tax were passed, revenue from it would be “returned to the American people in the form of federal deficit reduction, reduced federal tax rates, cost savings or other direct benefits.”

The vote would not have created or defeated a carbon tax, Begich’s lawyer wrote.

However, the AEA says his vote was a vote for the tax. Further, Begich voted against an amendment that would have required a vote of three fifths of the Senate to approve a carbon tax.

“That you felt the need to attempt to suppress the advertisements with threats and intimidation from your lawyers rather than publicly disclaim your past support for a carbon tax is telling,” said President of AEA Tom Pyle in a scathing press release.

“The American Energy Alliance would welcome a public apology to your constituents for your earlier votes in support of carbon taxes and your pledge that going forward your voting record will match your rhetoric on this vitally important issue for Alaska’s economic well-being,” Pyle wrote.

There’s more than a year to go before the 2014 election. Expect much more of this in the future.

Below is the AEA press release in full:

WASHINGTON — The American Energy Alliance responded today to a series of letters from a Washington D.C. law firm representing Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) who complains that a current advertisement sponsored by AEA “mischaracterizes” the senator’s past support for carbon tax legislation and threatens legal action for the continued airing of the ads. On Sept. 5, 2013, attorneys with Perkins Coie, LLP, notified station managers in Alaska that continued airing of AEA’s ad, entitled “Games,” could be cause for “loss of [the] station’s license.” Attorneys for the American Energy Alliance responded to the charges, and the Alaska stations were satisfied that the AEA advertisement did not run afoul of federal laws that prohibit “false, misleading or deceptive advertising.” All Alaska stations continue to run the AEA ad.

In his response letter, AEA President Thomas Pyle addressed two primary claims made by Senator Begich’s attorneys and campaign staff, namely that Begich has not supported a carbon tax and that AEA represents outside interests interfering in the state.

“That you felt the need to attempt to suppress the advertisements with threats and intimidation from your lawyers rather than publicly disclaim your past support for a carbon tax is telling,” Pyle wrote. “The American Energy Alliance will continue our current advertising initiative to inform Alaskans . . . of the impacts of harmful energy policies emanating from Washington and the role you play in shaping them. Moreover, we will seek additional opportunities in the future to do the same.”

Pyle took issue with Begich’s characterization of AEA as an “outsider group,” noting the senator’s willingness to host other “outsiders” who are opposed to economic development in Alaska — so long as those “outsiders” were raising money for the Begich re-election effort.

“Your campaign hosted a recent fundraiser in Fairbanks, charging guests as much as $120 per person to meet Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), [who was there] to help raise money for the Alaska Democratic Party and Alaska’s junior senator . . . Your willingness to invite an ‘outsider’ like Senator Cantwell to help swell your campaign coffers, all the while knowing of her well-documented history of championing legislative efforts to limit the development of Alaska’s vast natural resources and drive up the cost of energy for your constituents, exposes the height of hypocrisy that corrodes our system of representative democracy and always, eventually returns to haunt public officials.”

Pyle pressed further: “You certainly know your record, Senator. And you certainly know that elected officials are held to account more for their recorded votes than for their campaign rhetoric or the threatening missives and petty litigious needles threaded by their Washington-based lawyers. In any event, your record stands, and Alaskans are better informed citizens when organizations like the American Energy Alliance remind them of it.”

Pyle’s letter concludes: “The American Energy Alliance would welcome a public apology to your constituents for your earlier votes in support of carbon taxes and your pledge that going forward your voting record will match your rhetoric on this vitally important issue for Alaska’s economic well-being. Be assured that we will not be intimidated into backing away from our mission to foster an informed electorate of the voting records of their elected officials and call for engaged democratic participation in the American political tradition.”

To read Pyle’s full letter to Begich, click here.

To read the threatening letter from Begich lawyers to Alaska TV stations, click here.

To read the response letter from AEA attorneys, click here.

To view the AEA carbon tax ad currently running in Alaska, click here.

To read the fact sheet supporting the AEA ad, click here.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Quote of the day

“There’s an all out Republican civil war in Alaska, and Republican officials in Washington are in disarray when it comes to this race,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee deputy executive director Matt Canter. “[D]ivisive primaries are hurting Republican Senate hopes across the country.”

From Thursday’s Politico story about Dan Sullivan jumping into the Alaska Senate race


DNR Commish Dan Sullivan resigns; sets stage for U.S. Senate campaign

SullivanAs I wrote last night that he would do, Gov. Sean Parnell announced on Thursday morning that Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan submitted his resignation letter. Although he doesn’t say so in his letter, Sullivan is resigning effective Sept. 24 to run for the U.S. Senate Republican nomination to challenge incumbent Democrat Mark Begich.

“As I explore new opportunities and challenges in the next phase of my life, I intend to seek ways to continue to serve my fellow Alaskans,” Sullivan wrote.

“As attorney general, Dan played a major role in the Choose Respect initiative and fought hard against federal overreach,” Parnell said in his announcement. “During his tenure as commissioner, Dan led the state’s efforts in resource development and permitting reform, and worked to resolve Pt. Thomson litigation – setting the stage for a natural gas pipeline.”

In his resignation letter Sullivan is more specific about his successes as both Alaska’s AG and as DNR commissioner:

  • Protecting Alaska’s most vulnerable through the Choose Respect Initiative;
  • Spearheading the Cook Inlet energy renaissance;
  • Promoting increased oil production and jobs through the More Alaska Production Act;
  • Accelerating the commercialization of North Slope gas for Alaskans’ benefit;
  • Resolving Point Thomson and jump starting this multi-billion dollar North Slope development;
  • Slashing permitting backlogs and streamlining the State’s regulatory system;
  • Going on offense on ANWR exploration; and
  • Effectively fighting against federal overreach into the lives of Alaskans and our economy.

Sullivan will be running in the primary against current Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and former Senate candidate Joe Miller. Treadwell is kicking off his campaign today.

Both Sullivan and Treadwell are considered more “establishment” candidates, to the extent there is an “establishment” in Alaska. Miller is, well, Miller.

Because the party makeup of the U.S. Senate might very well rest on this race, people who are watching are nervous that Treadwell and Sullivan will pave the way for Miller to claim victory in a Republican primary, as he did when he ran against U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Between Treadwell and Sullivan, Karl Rove, for one, has deemed Sullivan to be the more winnable and is prepared to put money through at least one super PAC that he spearheaded to help ward off Tea Party candidates such as Miller.

Sullivan looks good on paper. He’s got a Harvard undergraduate degree and a law degree from Georgetown. He’s a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State under President George W. Bush. He’s been in the United States Marine Corps since 1993, and just got back from reservist duty where he was on a counter-terrorism mission in Afghanistan. He’s married to Julie Fate, whose mother is a respected Native Alaska leader and whose father is a former Fairbanks lawmaker.

However, unlike Treadwell, Sullivan has never run for office. Treadwell can fight tough and dirty if need be.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Sad politics in the Sunshine State

floridaIf you want a reminder that Alaska’s politicians aren’t that bad, read this lead to a Tampa Bay Times story:

“There is no graver responsibility and act of state government than an execution. In Florida this week, a campaign fundraiser takes precedence. Attorney General Pam Bondi persuaded Gov. Rick Scott to postpone an execution scheduled for tonight because it conflicted with her re-election kick-off reception.”

Marshall Lee Gore was supposed to be executed on Tuesday for murdering 30-year-old Robyn Novick and 19-year-old Susan Roark in 1988. His execution date is now set for Oct. 1.

Bondi and Scott are Republicans. Bondi has admitted that she requested the rescheduling because of her fundraiser and has apologized. Scott has not.

My favorite quote:

“Wherever one stands on the death penalty, there isn’t anyone in America that believes an execution should be postponed for political fundraising,” said David Donnelly, executive director of Public Campaign Action Fund. “That Pam Bondi requested a delay in this execution shows how the nonstop chase for campaign cash has hollowed out the morality of our political system. Her moral compass is broken.”

Read the full story here.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


OMG: Congress, environmental movement and Obama working together for Alaska

CooperationYesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that will, among other things, authorize potential builders of a natural gas bullet line to meander through seven miles of Denali National Park. The bill passed the Senate, where it was first introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski in 2009 at the request of ENSTAR Natural Gas Company, reintroduced with Sen. Mark Begich in 2011, and is now in front of the president, who is expected to sign it.

Let me repeat this: Congress actually passed a bill that will allow a pipeline to go through seven miles of Denali National Park, one of the largest, most remote and protected national parks in the country.

This is not a small development. For one, because cutting through the park could save millions of dollars in construction costs and eliminate a whole heap of headaches, it brings the idea of the bullet line closer to reality. But secondly, and most importantly, the bill required cooperation between energy companies, environmentalists, Republicans and Democrats. The route through the park was arguably a more environmentally responsible route, and the environmentalists recognized this and ultimately supported it.

The media, by and large, missed the story. The country was Syria crazed, for one. Secondly, it’s not all that exciting to report a story where the plot line is that people acted rationally and that Congress, the environmental community, and business functioned like the nation wants them to function.

Contact Amanda Coyne at 


The Affordable Care Act and women

Below is from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, from which I get nearly daily press releases. I get nothing, however, from Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services, which appears to have abdicated their role in educating Alaskans who need to sign up for the exchanges.

Perhaps this silence from HSS is a directive from Gov. Sean Parnell, who apparently would rather see the law fail than to have his constituents be able to receive insurance that they can actually afford. He and his advisors, after all, have theirs, paid for by the oil companies and the citizens of Alaska.

4 things for women to know:

• You won’t be charged more for health insurance just because you’re a woman.

• You can’t be denied coverage or charged more due to pre-existing conditions, like cancer or being pregnant.

• You can choose from any primary care provider, OB-GYN, or pediatrician in your health plan’s network without a referral.

• You’ll get free preventive care like mammograms, well-woman visits, contraception, and more.

Open enrollment begins on October 1, 2013. Coverage starts as soon as January 1, 2014. I’ll have more as I get it on how and where to sign up for the exchanges.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Tweets of the day: Sarah Palin v. Mark Kelly

Mark Kelly is the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head on January 8, 2011. Prior to the shooting, Gifford was on Palin’s “target list” of politicians to beat. The graphic that went with the list featured rifle scope-like cross hairs on certain legislative districts.