Monthly Archives: November 2014

Delegation responds to Obama’s immigration plan

Last year, the Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform. The vote was 68-32. Fourteen Republicans, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski, crossed the aisle to vote with all Democrats in favor of the bill. The House, however, has refused to take up the bill. In response, President Obama announced in a speech on Thursday that he was taking matters into his own hands and said he would issue an executive order that would grant up to about 5 million illegal residents temporary amnesty. Here are the conditions: they have to have children who are citizens or legal residents; they have to have been here for more than five years; and they have to pass a criminal background check. The program is only in effect until 2017 or until Congress passes reform. If that doesn’t happen, the next president will determine whether to extend it.

As expected, Republicans, including Murkowski and Rep. Don Young–who is party of the body who refused to take up the bill–decried Obama’s actions.  (Both of their full statements, as well as the statement of Sen.-elect Dan Sullivan, are below.)

It should be noted, however, that other Republican presidents, Continue reading


Walker announces transition chairs

Gov.-elect Bill Walker announced his picks for transition chairs for the 17 topics that will be discussed this weekend at the transition conference. More than 250 Alaskans have been invited to be an official part of the conference, which is open to the public and starts on Friday night at 7 p.m. with opening remarks by Walker and Lt. Gov-elect Byron Mallott at the UAA Alaska Airlines Center. See details below. Here’s the list of transition chairs:

  • Administration – Joey Merrick
  • Arctic Policy and Climate Change – Craig Fleener
  • Consumer Energy – Jack Hebert
  • Corrections – Carmen Gutierrez
  • Economic Development – Jim Dodson
  • Education – Mary Pete & Bob Williams
  • Fiscal Policy – Brian Rogers
  • Fisheries – Norm Van Vactor
  • Health Care – Jeff Cook & Valerie Davidson
  • Infrastructure – Shirley Marquardt
  • Intergovernmental Relations – Liz Medicine Crow
  • Natural Resources — Nils Andreassen
  • Oil & Gas – Robin Brena
  • Public Safety – April Ferguson
  • Rural Guard – Emil Notti
  • Subsistence – John “Sky” Starkey

Here’s the schedule: Continue reading


Inside/Outside morning news roundup for 11.20

  • Tonight’s the night where Obama is showing some immigration love in a speech The Hill refers to as confrontational. If what the Huffington Post reports is true, if no major networks air the speech, does it matter?
  • Yesterday’s meeting between the U.S. Air Force and our Congressional delegation revealed that Eielson’s F-16’s are once again under review. There’s talk that they be moved Outside or to Anchorage, according to the Fairbanks News Miner.
  • The Dispatch reports that Sen. Anna Fairclough emailed all legislators and their staff that they must sign a pledge not to release confidential information in order to attend an executive meeting whereby gasline terms will be discussed and information will be shared. In response, the director of legal services for the Alaska Legislature wrote to Fairclough that internal rules prohibit legislators from being excluded from executive sessions. Fairclough’s letter was fodder for outrage. Some maybe justified. Some not. Remember, there is always going to be some confidentially in business decisions. Just ask the municipality-funded Gasline Port Authority, say nothing of the film credit program. Lawmakers even signed confidentially agreements before voting on the “transparent” AGIA legislation. In fact, it might be a good thing the legislators are invited to peek under the hood. To my knowledge, they can’t even do that with the film tax credits. That said, it was a dumb PR move right before a new administration that’s been critical of “secret negotiations” takes over.

Continue reading


Record lease sale on North Slope seems to indicate SB 21 is working

As oil prices continue to plunge, and as companies are reevaluating shale oil investments in the Lower 48, something seems to be working in Alaska. On Wednesday, the state accepted bids for 524,387 acres of land, and oil companies, most of them independents, spent $65.2 million on lease rights to that land. It was the richest bid since 1993. Dallas-based Caelus Energy and 70 & 148 LLC, a subsidiary of Denver-based Armstrong Oil and Gas, respectively bid on the most acreage and paid the most for acreage. Last year, a comparable lease sale drew in $5.1 million in bids. Many, particularly those who championed it and defended it, are attributing that success to the passage of SB 21.


Walker confirms Whitaker as COS. KTUU political reporter Jang as spokesperson.

Confirming what most of us knew, Gov.-elect Bill Walker at long last filled some of the information-vacuum by announcing that Jim Whitaker will be his chief of staff. Whitaker is a former state legislator and former Fairbanks North Star Borough mayor, and a longtime friend of Walker’s. He was a board member of the Port Authority, which sought to build a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to Valdez. Walker has been the longtime lawyer and project manager for the authority.

Whitaker’s an outspoken Republican, with a big personality, and often bucks his party, which they tend to do up there. In 2008, he endorsed President Obama, even after Sarah Palin was picked to be veep. He’s also had some strong words about Republican legislators who he perceives have conflicts of interests with the oil companies.

Whitaker has plenty of fans, particularly in Fairbanks and in the media, but Joe Miller isn’t likely one of them. Whitaker was the mayor when Miller worked as a borough employee. Miller accused Whitaker of leaking confidential personnel information to the media in order to sabotage his 2010 Senate campaign. The case went to court. The borough and Whitaker settled for $5,000, and Miller claimed victory.

Walker also announced that Grace Jang will be his spokesperson. Jang was most recently a political reporter with KTUU. She’s known as fair but aggressive, an adjective often ascribed to women who are good at what they do.

Here’s Walker’s press release in full announcing the appointments: Continue reading


Comments are not the Amy Carroll from Fish and Game

Apparently someone named Amy Carroll is writing comments that another Amy Carroll,  who works for the the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, doesn’t want attributed to her. Fish and Game Amy Carroll is pretty emphatic about it. (I would be too.) She has posted the below on numerous stories. So I thought it deserved attention:

To the many people at work and around town who have asked if the above comment is mine: NO. It’s someone else with the same name.

Amy Carroll (from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Juneau Alaska)


Inside/Outside morning news roundup for 11.19

  • KTUU is reporting that Charlo “f*ck it, I quit” Greene is saying “f*ck it” to a subpoena issued by the Alaska Public Offices Commission over whether the Alaska Cannabis Club was involved in the campaigning and whether, if so, it disclosed its activities to APOC.
  • Note to the technology/car sharing company known as Uber: If, as you say, your battle against the calcified taxicab interests is a political one, then you shouldn’t be so incredibly politically stupid, and one of your chief executives should be fired for saying that he was going to run a smear campaign against journalists who were critical of the company. Read the outrageous story here.
  • Yesterday’s Anchorage Assembly meeting was full of activity. They not only greenlight Uber and other private ride-sharing businesses, but they also gave greater protection to Anchorites from predatory towing practices. Will Uber smear me if I don’t characterize this as a win-win? Shiver me timbers.

Continue reading


Loose Lips: More transition buzz. Unity radio. Walker-Mallot’s first post-election fundraiser.

loose lipsMonday was the last cabinet meeting of the Parnell administration. It was held in Anchorage. All of the commissioners were there but two. Department of Labor’s Diane Blumer and DHSS Bill Streur participated telephonically.

Congratulations to the governor and first lady who are now new grandparents. Rowan was born in Tuesday in Anchorage to Grace, and son-in-law Austin

Unity radio: Gov.-elect Bill Walker and Joe Miller will be the guests on the Eddie Burke show on KOAN 1080 AM and 95.1 FM from 4:00-6:00 pm on Wednesday.  Eddie Burke, however, will not be there. In his stead will be libertarian Michael Chambers along with Craig Fleener and trooper Terrence Shanigan. The three are inexplicably calling themselves “Fin, Feathers, and Foil.”

It’s official: Former state legislator and former Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker will be Gov.-elect Bill Walker’s chief of staff. Continue reading


Keystone fails. Murkowski vows to continue trying.

Despite a huge push by Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat, the Senate by a single vote defeated a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline on Tuesday evening, 59-41. All of the Senate Republicans and fourteen Democrats, including Sen. Mark Begich, voted to approve measure. Incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised to again take up the legislation when the new Senate is sworn in, when it’s expected to easily have enough votes to pass. However, President Obama has threatened a veto.

In a statement, Sen. Lisa Murkowski seemed to blame its failure not on Democratic senators who voted against the bill, but on Obama. “The president’s foot-dragging has only deprived Americans of badly needed jobs, a stable source of energy from a close ally, and our usual reputation for a fair system in which project developers can have confidence that federal regulators are acting in good faith,” Murkowski said.

She also said that Keystone’s passage will be a top priority for her and the new majority.


Inside/Outside morning news roundup for 11.18

  • President Obama is between a rock and a hard place, by his own doing. The Washington Post explains that he intends to announce executive action on immigration this week, but a poll by USA Today and Princeton Survey Research shows only 42% approval for such a move while Post exit polls show 57% of those polled want reform. It seems there is support for the issue, but not for the tactic Obama has publically hinted at utilizing.
  • Now that the Senate and the House are completely locked and loaded for a GOP powerfest, Politico reports that the Republican leadership is getting creative in how they are going to avert financial cliffs and redirect party anger toward the president. Somebody’s been reading their history books and realized that the country doesn’t like a Party of “No”.
  • Meet the Alaska State House freshman of the 29th Legislature.
  • The GOP has their Tea Party and now it seems the Democratic Party might soon have their own version thanks to the unifying hatred (collective sensing of blood in the water) of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). The Washington Post covered a recent protest by party purists outside of Landrieu’s home where the overall message to other Democratic candidates and representatives: “Be Pure or Be Afraid.”

Continue reading


Meet the House freshman of the 29th Legislature

Organizationally, things may be a bit chaotic in the Executive Branch, as they are bound to be in a new administration which is pushing out an old administration that isn’t ready to leave yet. Things are  much calmer on the legislative side, which is to be expected. The faces, in leadership at least, are relatively familiar. However, there will be eight new faces in the House in the 29th Legislature this year: five men and three women. Five are Republicans and two are Democrats and one is an Independent who will caucusing with the minority. Here’s a look at who they are:

Adam Wool (D – Fairbanks) – House District 5

Rep.-elect Adam Wool was a late comer to the race gaining his position on the ballot after the Democratic primary nominee dropped out. He is the only Democratic House candidate that beat a Republican incumbent. He will be replacing Rep. Pete Higgins. Wool moved to Fairbanks in 1983 to attend UAF where he obtained a degree in physics. Three years later, he co-founded Hot Licks Ice Cream with his brother. He purchased what is now known as the Blue Loon in 1996 and continues to operate the business as Fairbanks’ top entertainment venue.  His wife, Kate, and he have two young children. He’s said to be a pro-business, pro-hunting Democrat. One insider described him as “More Chris Tuck than Les Gara.” He’s also reputed to be charismatic, and an all-around fun guy to be around, which is going to help to buoy the spirits of the minority.

Dave Talerico (R – Healy) – House District 6 Continue reading


Begich concedes the Senate race

After a phone call to Sen.-elect Dan Sullivan, which I heard was “short,” Sen. Mark Begich officially conceded on Monday evening. (Read my take on why Begich lost here.) The ballots are still trickling in, but as of Monday, Sullivan has 6,211 more votes than does Begich. Here’s Begich’s concession statement in full, which people are saying is a little short of gracious, followed by Sullivan’s statement:

Alaska is a place unmatched by any other, and the opportunity to represent Alaskans and all of Alaska’s communities in the U.S. Senate has been a tremendous honor for which I am eternally grateful. Alaska deserves a bright future with expanded economic opportunity, equality for all Alaskans under the law, and a strong and prosperous rural Alaska. As a born and raised Alaskan, I will always be involved in my community, and the results of an election have never diminished my desire or passion to achieve these goals.

I’m proud of the work my team and I accomplished to open the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska to development, to move forward Arctic oil exploration, and to protect Alaska’s postal service. Saving the F-16’s in Fairbanks, protecting missile defense at Fort Greely, and securing two new squadrons of F-35’s for Eielson Air Force Base will spur the largest economic investment in Interior Alaska since the construction of TAPS. Continue reading


Inside/Outside morning news roundup for 11.17

  • Lisa Murkowski’s 2013 request for an investigation regarding misconduct with the Alaska National Guard resulted in the inspector general determining in May that the allegations could not be substantiated and later released a report that was substantially redacted. APRN reports that Friday, Sen. Murkowski politely asked the IG to reexamine the rigor of its investigation since their conclusions differed so greatly than the National Guard Bureau’s Office of Complex Investigations and asked for an unredacted version of the report to be released. She might have asked in her typically elegant style, but the rest of us were more like, WTF?
  • Keystone XL oil pipeline is green for voting in the House, but it could be all for naught due to an obscure Nebraska commission that regulates telephones, taxi cabs and grain bins according to the AP.
  • Wishbone Hill coal permits have caught the attention of the Federal Office of Surface Mining (OSM). KSKA reports that last month the state gave the Palmer area mine permission to begin mining, but that caused ire with OSM due to the fact that the state never officially terminated the permits due to inaction by the mine’s earlier owner.

Continue reading


Loose Lips (Aloha edition): Transitions. A good night for charities. Semper Fi.

hulu girlThis Loose Lips is coming to you from the Big Island, where I’m currently holed up alone, ostensibly engaging in “deep thoughts” which will lead to “serious writing.” It’s been three days and I’ve entertained long, deep thoughts about a sample of macadamia nut cream pie that I had at the Waimea farmer’s market the other day. There’s love, there’s hate, there’s dread in those thoughts, say nothing of deep regret that I didn’t buy at least a slice. In fact, it has the makings of the great American novel. But I will never write the great American novel because for one, I don’t have the talent and secondly,  I’m constantly interrupted by phone calls, emails and texts about Gov.-elect Bill Walker’s transition team, and potential bodies in his cabinet, which has elicited a fascination heretofore unseen by me. (By the way, I just read that Walker is also in Hawaii. So is Anchorage lobbyist Jim Lottsfeldt. And heaven help me Judy Eledge is coming this way. Say what you will about the three of them: they would have bought the whole damn pie.)

Anyway, here’s what we know for sure as of Sunday night: Ana Hoffman, president of Bethel Native Corp., and former Sen. Rick Halford have been named co-chairs of the transition team and that there are going to be 17 transition task forces named to make policy recommendations.

Here are some rumors that are of the mostly solid variety: Former Juneau Mayor and Knowles’ AG Bruce Bothelo, who knows a lot about government, is playing a significant role with the Walker-Mallott transition (thank God); Koch Brothers’ Jeff Cook from Flint Hills Refinery and chair of Fairbanks Memorial Hospital will head up the Department of Health and Social Services transition task force and former ASHNA president and Knowles’ DHSS commissioner Karen Perdue along with Elizabeth Ripley of the Mat-Su Health Foundation will serve with him, among others, on the task force. Continue reading


Walker responds to Parnell’s concession

Gov. elect Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. elect Byron Mallott released a joint statement, following a touching statement by Gov. Sean Parnell conceding the race. Neither Walker nor Mallott spent any time praising Parnell for his six years in office, but the tone of the response isn’t a divisive one. Other politicos and those working for them should take note: 

“I met with Governor Parnell this morning. The tone of the meeting was very cordial and focused on ensuring that Alaskans’ interests are protected and served first in the weeks and months that lie ahead. We also recognized the dedicated effort of our respective campaigns and expressed tremendous gratitude for our families and volunteers. This evening, Governor Parnell graciously conceded the race in order to facilitate a smooth and efficient transition process.”

Lt. Governor-elect, Byron Mallott added: “I am grateful to Governor Parnell and Mayor Sullivan for allowing the transition process to proceed. Bill and I have a lot of work ahead of us. The graceful gesture of the Parnell Sullivan team signals to all Alaskans that it is time to rise together and work as one toward a vibrant and productive future for our state.”