Monthly Archives: February 2014

Quotes of the day: Nugent, Palin and Perry

“I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not shame enough Americans to be ever vigilant not to let a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America,” – Ted Nugent, last month

“(C)heck the box for another good conservative – Greg Abbott for Governor of Texas. If he is good enough for Ted Nugent, he is good enough for me,” – Sarah Palin, on Feb. 19.

“I’ve got a problem with someone calling the president a ‘mongrel,” — Texas Gov. Rick Perry, on Feb. 20. Continue reading


Billionaire political players eyeing Alaska

New York Republican billionaire Paul Singer is beginning to make his mark in Republican politics, and Politico reports that he’s already begun taking an interest in Alaska by donating to U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan and holding fundraisers for him and other Republican Senate candidates.

Singer, who made his money in hedge funds, like many of his fellow mega rich donors, is for low taxes, and less federal government regulation. However, he diverges wildly from many of them on social issues. He’s aggressively pro-gay rights and pro-immigration and has given money and organized events to tout both of those causes. Continue reading


Quote of the day: Murkowski okay with civil disobedience

“If the people of King Cove believe perhaps rightly so that civil disobedience is what it will take to get a level of attention to this, you’re not going to find me standing in the way.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski talking to reporters after her address to the Alaska state Legislature about King Cove’s fight with the Interior Department to be allowed to build a small gravel road to Cold Bay, about 22 miles away. Read about the road here and here.


Independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker’s campaign report

There must have been something wrong with my eyes last night when I was searching through APOC for campaign report numbers, because I missed independent candidate Bill Walker’s numbers. In any case, Walker raised $202,629, of which $29,000 is his own money. He spent $77,952 leaving him with $124,677, a respectable amount for a non-incumbent independent.

In comparison, the Democrat in the race, Byron Mallott, raised an impressive $234,000. However, $40,000 of that came from the Democratic Party, and he spent $188,136 and owes $9,633. This leaves him with only $36,580 to spend.

Gov. Sean Parnell raised $407,253 and only spent $76,220.

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Fracas in Legislature over online notices

A bill that would put public notices online, and would decrease the ad revenue of newspapers, has gotten an inordinate amount of attention. It’s become such a hot-button that the bill was pulled off the floor and sent back to House Rules, where bills like this go to die.

A little background: As it is, state agencies and some local governments are required to publish some legal notices, such as meetings, foreclosures, and certain court notices. They do so often in their local newspapers. A bill introduced by Rep. Mike Hawker would allow certain notices, such as housing foreclosure notices, to be put online. Legal notices from state agencies would not be affected, but some of those agencies would be allowed to put some reports, like annual reports, online instead of in print. Allowing Anchorage to put foreclosure notices online would save the city about $20,000, the muni said. Annual reports cost the state about $1.6 million in 2011. Both Anchorage and the Alaska Municipal League wrote letters in support of the bill.

It’s pretty innocuous on the face of it. However, if it passed and worked well, it would likely lead to all state agency notices bypassing newspapers. Then, the situation wouldn’t be so innocuous and it would very much effect the revenue of newspapers.

At a press conference, Anchorage Daily News reporter Rich Mauer accused Hawker of introducing the bill in order to seek retribution on the paper for its coverage of Hawker’s roll in the Legislative Office Building. Hawker called the charged ludicrous.

Rep. Ben Nageak of Barrow, who also supported the bill, was also accused of trying to get retribution on the Daily News, something that he denied also. Jenny Canfield, a Juneau Empire reporter got caught in the mess and was fired.

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What would it take for Alaska to attract more entrepreneurs?

According to new research, lowering taxes at the expense of public services doesn’t attract entrepreneurs:

Cutting state taxes to attract entrepreneurs is likely futile at best and self-defeating at worst, a new survey of founders of some of the country’s fastest-growing companies suggests…The 150 executives surveyed by Endeavor Insight, a research firm that examines how entrepreneurs contribute to job creation and long-term economic growth, said a skilled workforce and high quality of life were the main reasons why they founded their companies where they did; taxes weren’t a significant factor.  This suggests that states that cut taxes and then address the revenue loss by letting their schools, parks, roads, and public safety deteriorate will become less attractive to the kinds of people who found high-growth companies.

Continue reading


Some surprises in campaign fundraising reports

10349421_mCampaign disclosure reports were due on Tuesday, and there were a few surprises in the money game. For one, GOP lieutenant governor candidate Alaska state Sen. Lesil McGuire out-raised Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, who is also running for the seat. On the Democratic side of the aisle for lieutenant governor, relatively unknown Bob Williams sort of out-raised Sen. Hollis French. In the race for governor, Democrat Byron Mallott raised more than expected, but he spent more than expected too. Read on for details.

  • Gov. Sean Parnell raised $407,253 this election cycle. He spent $76,220, leaving him with a hefty amount to spend on the race. Much of his staff so far, like Jerry Gallagher, have been working as volunteers. Such is the luxury of incumbency.
  • Byron Mallott raised an impressive $234,000, which included $40,000 from the Alaska Democratic Party. However, he spent $188,136 and owes $9,633, leaving him with $36,580 to spend. Much of the money he raised went to traveling around the state. A good chunk also went to staff. He spent $27,000 for management expenses to Vantage Point, a consulting firm. He paid his communications director campaign manger Claire Richardson more than $19,000, and thousands went to other staffers.
  • Independent Bill Walker raised $202,629, of which $29,000 is his own money. He spent $77,952 leaving him with $124,677, a respectable amount for a non-incumbent independent.
  • GOP  lieutenant governor candidate Alaska state Sen. Lesil McGuire raised more than $108,000 and spent about $35,000, leaving her with about $73,000 on hand. Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan raised about $91,000, and has $57,000 left to spend.
  • Another surprise: Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Bob Williams raised $63,000, about $12,000 more than was reported by Sen. Hollis French. If you compare debts, however, Williams has $41,324 left to spend and French has $51,700. (The numbers are a little tricky because French brought $22,605 to the campaign, about $8,000 of which are funds from a previous state Senate race. The rest came from when he began raising money in August to run for governor. He changed his candidacy to lieutenant governor in October.)
  • In another race that I’m watching, Republican Rep. Lindsey Holmes raised $42,152. She brought $4,800 into the campaign and still has more than $44,200 on hand. One of her Democratic challengers, Clare Ross, raised $31,427, which is pretty impressive for a political neophyte. Ross has $18,717 to spend. Matt Claman, who’s not a political neophyte and who is also running for Holmes’ seat, raised $34,663 and has $21,974 left over.

I’ll have more on these and other numbers on Wednesday.

UPDATED: The story was updated to include Bill Walker’s tally.

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Murkowski again urges Jewell to allow for King Cove road

On the heels of a Coast Guard medical evacuation in King Cove on Friday, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski again urged Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to allow a road that would connect King Cove, the small Aleutian Island village, to Cold Bay, another small village about 22 miles away with an all-weather airport.

On Friday, 63-year-old Irene Newman had to be evacuated from King Cove to Cold Bay, where she was then transferred via life flight to the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage. Newman had experienced heart failure.

Fearing the destruction of birding habitat, the Interior Department has refused to allow the road, which would cut through a slice of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. Murkowski has made the road a major issue since the latest decision not to allow the road was issued on Dec. 23.

“Friday was just the latest example of the unnecessary risk the Interior Department is willing to submit Alaskans to in the name of protecting bird habitat,” Murkowski said. “While plenty of our smallest communities face transportation challenges, none are as close to an all-weather runway and safe access to hospital care as King Cove. To be left in harm’s way, not because of geography, but because of the callous decisions of Washington bureaucrats is unacceptable.”

The Coast Guard received the rescue call on Friday night at about 4:20 p.m. By 5:15, the Coast Guard helicopter had determined that conditions were too dangerous for a commercial flight. It was snowing and the winds were blowing up to 70 miles an hour.

Three Coasties — two pilots and an airline mechanic– made the flight to King Cove. At about 7:20, Newman was in Cold Bay, waiting to be transported to Anchorage. All told there was about a 30 minute weather delay, according to the Coast Guard.

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Lt: Gov. candidate Bob Williams: the Democratic sleeper?

There’s no doubt that Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Bob Williams is an up-and-comer in Democratic politics in Alaska. A Palmer teacher, Williams is funny, full of energy, and he uses props, like color-coded cups, to try to explain complicated situations, which is only occasionally corny. In early January after a candidate forum, I said that he was a politician to watch, thinking, perhaps that he might do well sometime in the future, after he raised a larger profile and learned how to raise money.

The future, apparently, is now.

According to his most recently campaign disclosure, Williams raised $63,096, about $12,000 more than was reported by Alaska state Sen. Hollis French, who is the other Democratic running for the seat.

Almost all of Williams’ money came from small donors from across the state and the country, many of whom are fellow teachers. Williams spent $8,771 and owes the Democratic Party $13,000 for access to databases, leaving him with $41,324 cash on hand.

French, who has been a legislator since 2003 and who ran for statewide office in 2010, is much more well known and is considered by many to be the heir apparent for the Democratic nomination. He reported raising $51,328. He brought in $22,605 to the campaign, about $8,000 of which are funds from a previous state Senate race. The rest came when he began raising money in August to run for governor. He changed his candidacy to lieutenant governor in October. So far, French has spent $12,233, leaving him with $61,700 cash on hand.

French has given $5,000 to the Democratic party for access to databases, and will pay another $10,000 before the primary He did not list that debt because he has not used all of the services yet, he said.

Political consultant Ivan Moore was impressed with Williams’ haul. “There’s always pressure on the lesser known to kowtow and bow out of the race, but he’s not going anywhere, is he?” Moore said.

Former Democratic candidate for governor and former House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz was also impressed. “He deserves a lot of credit for that. He wants to learn and is willing to work hard and would bring a lot to the ticket,” Berkowitz said.

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CLARIFICATION: This story was changed to clarify when Hollis French raised money.


Quote of the day: The Faith of Abraham Lincoln

From a piece by Timothy George, republished in First Things from The Birmingham News: 

Though Abraham Lincoln was neither baptized nor joined a church of any kind, he was the most spiritually minded president in American history… So why did he never join a church himself? Two reasons. First, he was offended by the religious rivalry and braggadocio of the frontier preachers of his day. None of them made a compelling case to his lawyerly mind that only one denomination was right and all the others wrong. Further, Lincoln was reticent, “the most shut-mouthed man I know,” as his law partner William Herndon said. He did not want to cross the thin line between sincerity and self-righteousness. There was nothing smug about Lincoln’s faith.

Read the rest here. Continue reading


Fundraising numbers for statewide candidates dribbling in

Because it’s a holiday, official financial fundraising reports for candidates aren’t due to the Alaska Public Offices Commission until Tuesday. However, as of Monday afternoon, some numbers were dribbling in.

Alaska state Sen. Hollis French, who’s running for lieutenant governor and has already filed with APOC, reported raising $51,328 from Oct. 30, 2014 through Feb. 1, 2014. French brought $22,605 into the campaign, and spent $12,233, leaving him $61,700 cash on hand.

French’s fundraising total isn’t likely going to match the GOP lieutenant governor candidates. Both Sen. Lesil McGuire and Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan have said that they raised in the ballpark of $100,000 apiece. However, $61,700 on hand is a pretty good number for French.

As reported earlier, Gov. Sean Parnell raised $407,253, and had over $330,000 on hand.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott beat expectations by raising more than $230,000. However, he hasn’t filed his report yet and it’s unclear how much money he spent raising that amount.

Finally, independent candidate for governor Bill Walker hasn’t released his official report, but he did send out a release on Monday saying that he raised more than $200,000, also beating expectations. According to the release, that number includes $29,000 of his own money.

Walker said that unlike Parnell, he has to pay for his own travel.

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King Cove resident in critical condition as Murkowski continues battle over road to Cold Bay

A King Cove resident is in critical condition in Anchorage after a medical incident in the small Aleutian-chain village of King Cove on Friday night. The wind was blowing hard, but the Coast Guard was able to get a helicopter into the village to transport 62-year-old Irene Newman to Cold Bay, where she was then transferred via life flight to the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage.

As of 10 a.m. on Monday, Newman was still in critical condition, but is alert and responding, said King Cove Mayor Henry Mack, who is Newman’s brother-in-law and who is currently at the Native Medical Center.

“It was pretty traumatic,” Mack said. “The Coast Guard put their lives at risk,” he said. And they likely wouldn’t have had to go to such lengths if the federal government were to allow for a small gravel road to be built from King Cove to Cold Bay, he said.

It’s another incident among many that has Alaska’s congressional delegation determined to go to battle with the U.S. Interior Department to allow for the road.

For dozens of years, residents of King Cove —  a village of about 950 on the Aleutian chain — have been lobbying the federal government to allow for the road to Cold Bay, about 22 miles away. But because it cuts through a slice of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, they have been told they can’t. The state of Alaska and King Cove Native Corp. recently offered a land exchange. They would give up nearly 60,000 acres of land for the nearly 2,000 needed for the road, which would include 200 acres from the Refuge.

In December, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell rejected the deal, saying that the road has the potential to harm the Pacific black brant, which is a small goose, and other wildlife in the refuge.

Both Murkowski and U.S. Sen. Mark Begich voted to confirm Jewell. Both objected to the decision. There are numerous stories of deaths and near-deaths because of the lack of a road.

Murkowski continues to keep the issue in the spotlight. “I won’t give up,” Murkowski said recently. “I will not get over it.”

Her current battle is trying to block Rhea Suh’s nomination to be assistant Interior secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, the agency that conducted the environmental impact statement on the road.

It’s unclear if Sen. Mark Begich supports Suh’s nomination. His office did not answer repeated questions about it. If he does, it will likely be used by his GOP opponents in the 2014 election.

Given wide Democratic support for Suh and filibuster reform, it’s unclear how Murkowski will prevail. But apparently she has something in mind.

“If I revealed my whole strategy, there would be no surprise and nothing for you all to work on. I can’t divulge everything,” Murkowski told reporters, according to Politico.

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Loose Lips: Beware of the Rushdoonians

15770860_mTHE Alaska GOP met this weekend for its central committee meeting. I have no idea if a central committee is different than a western committee, or if there is such a thing as a western committee or if any of it is referring to geography. I don’t know these things because I so don’t care about organizational structure of any kind. Throw local party politics into the mix and find me in a corner wishing I was reading Sartre.

But I am a trooper, and with heavy heart, I was just about to ask those questions, when the person I was speaking with tried to slip in the fact that someone with a video camera got hauled off by security at this central committee meeting.

And, as things go at Republican Party gatherings, it gets better! The person who was kicked out of the central yadayada is someone named Daniel Palmer, who according to Republicans, is an Occupy Wall Street disciple.

Lance Roberts, who is a district chair, objected and accused the GOP of using Gestapo-type tactics. Roberts is a disciple of John Rushdoony. He’s a Rushdoonian.

Who’s Rushdoony? Good question.  According to Wikipedia, “Rushdoony began popularizing, albeit densely, the works of Calvinist philosophers Cornelius Van Til and Herman Dooyeweerd into a short survey of contemporary humanism called By What Standard?” It goes on, and on. It’s dense. Also, he’s supposedly a Holocaust denier.

I had never heard of Daniel Palmer and his video camera. Nor had I heard of Lance Roberts, the Rushdoonian. But others have. So much so that a whole Facebook page was created about him by those who have a problem with him. It’s called “Lets Lose Lance,” and there’s a picture of him with a red slash through his face.

It has 105 likes.

Why oh why can’t the Democrats have meetings that are so downright Rushdoonian?

ON Friday night, it was the 37th annual Salute to the Military at the Egan Center in Anchorage. More than 500 people showed. Among them were Gov. Sean Parnell and the first lady; U.S. Rep. Don Young and his date Ann Walton; and Mayor Dan Sullivan and the Senate candidate Dan Sullivan, or Lieutenant Colonel Dan Sullivan, he was called that night. In full military dress, he was representing the U.S. Marine Corps as the highest ranking officer of that branch in Alaska. Finally, Margie Johnson showed, sporting a Valentine’s Day hat.

SPEAKING of the Senate: In what universe does a pollster live who says that Senate candidate Dan Sullivan, who barely anybody knows yet, has a “fairly solid lead” in the August primary election? That would be Adam Hays, of Anchorage-based polling firm Hays Research Group, who apparently lives in some sort of Democratic fantasy world. He also has Joe Miller running as an independent. Why would he think that? Well, he just does, that’s all. This is the same group that told us four days before the 2010  election that Democrat Scott McAdams was up over Joe Miller in the Senate race by six points. Oops. McAdams lost to Miller, 23 to 35 percent.

MORE Senate news: Lets all give a big Alaska welcome to the sparky Ben Sparks who joined Dan Sullivan’s campaign. Sparks comes to Alaska via some other places where the weather, women, and politics are comparatively milquetoast. New Jersey, for one.

MEGA CORRECTION: Initially, I had written that Lance Roberts had been kicked out of the central committee meeting. Not so. Daniel Palmer was the one who got kicked out, and Lance Roberts objected.


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The weekly wrap in Alaska politics

Below is an excerpt from my weekly column in the Anchorage Daily News. Coming soon: a few tidbits that I wasn’t able to include in the column:

Many lawmakers spent the week sitting on committees, soothed by the drone of shaved-to-within-an-inch-of-their-lives oil company executives telling us how best to get our natural gas to market. They’re there to help, they assured lawmakers. Just sign on the dotted line, they all but said. Think what a 48-inch line will do for the state, they said.

Chair of House Resources Rep. Eric Feige’s all like: a big pipe for a big man! Sen. Lesil McGuire’s like, I love big projects! Rep. Geran Tarr is worried that the pipeline might be built out of genetically modified material, and no doubt when it’s her turn, Rep. Lora Reinbold will be worried that gays, with same-sex benefits, will work on it.

That was a joke, but seriously, we all share gas line fatigue. But this proposed legislation begins to set the terms for one of the biggest projects in the world, certainly in the history of Alaska. And with it comes a big, thick, complicated contract, negotiated by DNR Commissioner Joe Balash, Revenue Commissioner Angela Rodell and Mike Pawlowski, aka “Fish.”

God love ’em but none of the three have any experience with this kind of contract. And with few exceptions — among them Reps. Peggy Wilson, Mike Hawker and Eric Feige — lawmakers appear to be abdicating their responsibility to ask questions to the gods in charge of passing gas.

Democrats could be helping. But apparently “gas line” doesn’t fire up the base like “oil tax repeal” does. Besides, they waved the white flag when Sen. Bill Wielechowski, perhaps borrowing a term from Sen. Hollis French, said passage of the gas line bill was a “fait accompli.”

And while the oilies soothed our legislators, there were several social do’s. On Wednesday in Juneau, more than 50 women gathered at the Annual Women in Resources shindig. Among them: Commerce Commissioner Susan Bell; and Reps. Peggy Wilson, Tammy Wilson, Lynn Gattis and Lindsey Holmes. Wendy Lindskoog from the Alaska Railroad, Deantha Crockett from the Alaska Miners Association and Kara Moriarty from AOGA were also there.

If you’re wondering where the men in resources meet, look no further than those who are testifying in the resource committees.

Read the rest here.

Contact Amanda Coyne at 


Mayors feel left out of natural gas pipeline negotiations

Four mayors from across Alaska sent a letter to Gov. Sean Parnell dated Feb. 11, expressing concern about their lack of involvement in the ongoing natural gas pipeline negotiations, and what those negotiations mean to their respective communities, particularly regarding taxation. (Read the letter here: Gasline Letter)

Although the mayors write that they are encouraged by the project, “we have become concerned about the lack of information provided to municipalities regarding the impacts of the ongoing negotiations, particularly local government concessions that may be considered during pending gas pipeline negotiations with the North Slope producers,” the letter says.

It is signed by Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre, Valdez Mayor Dave Cobb, North Slope Borough Mayor Charlotte Brower, and Mayor Luke Hopkins from the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

The state has been negotiating terms with the major producers and TransCanada under which a large diameter pipeline would be built. The pipeline, one of the largest projects in the world, would snake from the North Slope to tidewater in Southcentral Alaska and is estimated to cost up to $65 billion. Legislation is currently being considered which would give the state power to further negotiate fiscal terms. Among them are terms that could involve local property and infrastructure taxes, which are the charge of local governments.

“We are willing to be a party to such agreements provided that we have the opportunity to participate in the discussions, and to negotiate and agree to terms that will directly impact municipal tax structure and revenues,” the mayors write.

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