Inside/Outside morning news roundup for 12.11

  • Alaska Supreme Court Judge has ruled that the Anchorage anti-panhandling law proposed by Mayor Dan Sullivan and passed by the Anchorage Assembly violated free speech laws. But the court upheld another law that made sitting on municipality sidewalks illegal, according to the Alaska Commons.
  • Alaska Education Update reports that Gov. Bill Walker might keep Department of Education & Early Development’s commissioners Mike Hanley and Department of Environmental Conservation’s Larry Hartig.
  • The Dispatch believes that the next big issue on Gov. Bill Walker’s plate will be dealing with the state’s retirement fund problem.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports on how the slumping prices of natural gas could affect LNG gas-export terminals from Australia to Canada. The break-even number for Australia projects is $12-to-$14 per million British thermal units. LNG prices in Asia have sunk below $10 per million British thermal units.

  • Politico reports that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, “the only woman that can make pink both terrifying and elegant,” is quickly becoming the lion of the hill within her party.
  • Last night’s Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly do’s and don’ts meeting regarding air pollution regulations lasted three hours and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner’s Matt Buxton earned his spot in reporter’s heaven for sticking around to capture it all.
  • Sen. Mark Begich gave his farewell speech today on the Senate floor. (Will post the full speech when it’s up.) He said that he broke Senate floor rules by sneaking his kids onto the Senate floor the night before to eat candy and take photos, thanked his wife who was sitting in the gallery and joked that because he is Catholic, he was using his farewell speech as “confession time”. Nat Herz tweeted live about the emotional moment.
  • The New York Times has two articles regarding the fallout of the Torture Report. The first is the discovery that the CIA had initially planned to make political prisoner jails (ala the Geneva Convention mandate) until Donald Rumsfeld is said to have nixed the idea. The second is the unusual quiet surrounding the 2016 presidential hopefuls that just a few days ago were busy scrambling for attention getting headlines.
  • From labeling GMOs to power-plant regulations, The Hill lists the top 10 lobbying victories of the year. My personal favorite? Sunscreen.
  • The country’s changing demographics and views on marijuana have put the GOP in a difficult position. Politico explains how D.C.’s voter referendum to legalize pot back in November is becoming a microcosm of larger problems ahead for the GOP.
  • APRN announced that Congress gave fishermen a 3-year reprieve from tighter EPA regulations that the Kodiak Daily Mirror explains would have devastated Alaska’s fishing industry.
  • Here’s one for potential positive outcomes due to global warming; fish are moving northward due to warming-West Coast waters. The Juneau Empire details to what extent Alaska can be affected by this changing ecosystem.
  • High Country News wonders if people would still be eager for Arctic drilling if it was known that there was a 75% chance of a large oil spill.
  • The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly is preparing their 2015 agenda and the Soldotna City Council are concerned about the city’s push to develop a home rule municipal charter, per the Peninsula Clarion.
  • The Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board discussed ideas on how to bridge $4-$8 million budget gap and continued declining enrollment, per the Fairbanks News Miner.
  • Alaska Native News has issued a Call for Attention regarding the number of Alaskan Natives that are in foster care, incarceration, facing homelessness and lower than average high school graduation rates.
  • The Senior Voice announced that Alaska’s Silver Alert system goes into effect today. Those that are interested in the program can contact Rep. Gruenberg’s office [269-0123] or
  • The Huffington Post has the 29 Best Moments for Women in 2014. While the list might not be purely political, it is by nature a great touchstone in how our country is moving forward. Here’s to an even more inclusive 2015!

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4 thoughts on “Inside/Outside morning news roundup for 12.11

  1. AH HA

    I mean when you think about it, that guy panhandling on the corner is not really any different from the guy selling hotdogs from his cart…

    Both are offering a product for sale… One Guys sells hotdogs and the other sells a tale of woe…

    BTW: Bets are that the guy selling the tale of woe has a higher net profit…

  2. AH HA

    Ok, now that the Supreme court has weighed in an found that the act of panhandling is a legal enterprise perhaps we can start requiring business licenses and sales tax remittances from panhandlers? Hell, for an extra fee offer a ‘sitting’ permit….

  3. POW Pete

    Please allow me the following comments as a first-time blogger. (1) Generous and timely for AK Supreme Court to allow panhandling given the revenue forecast. (2) Yes, I did know that AK takes in more from tobacco taxes than mining or fishing (not mining and fishing combined). Did you know that much or most of the tobacco taxes have been spent since debt was issued against the tax during the Knowles and Murkowski days? Debt service and the anti-tobacco ads consume the income. It’s an arm of AHFC called the Northern Tobacco Trust. (3) Hartig has been an exemplary commissioner and has been great for DEC. (4) I am not always a fan of the Dispatch but Forgey and Cole got it right today on PERS/TRS and the fiscal deficit. Governor Parnell did well to make a $2 billion deposit from savings plus the annual $1 billion toward the deficit but the legislature extracted an extension of the debt paydown from Parnell in return, and an intended or unintended (it might be both) consequence is that other employers (municipalities and the like – well over 100 of them I think) will end up paying more of their own share of the debt. However there is no reason to be certain the deficit will stop growing so maybe today the unfunded (past-due actually) liability is 9.5 billion and maybe tomorrow it will be $10 billion. I hope that Governor Walker is equally responsible, and given the union backing he received I have little doubt he will be. By the way, the AK Retirement Management Board has earned a rate of about 18.5% on its investments each of the past 2 years so anyone can calculate what Parnell’s transfer from CBR to ARMB is likely to earn net (likely in the billions of $). (5) What I gleaned from legislative hearings on an LNG line is that for a gas line to save us we need about $24. If Australia can do it for $14 we need to declare war against them (or else see #1 above – panhandling). (6) Every six months or so the press predicts the end of the GOP. Not long ago it was the Hispanic demographic, and before that it was that GOP voters are all aging and dying. But just last month there was an election that was far different than the liberal media wanted or predicted. By the way, at least half of the life-long R’s I know voted for Ballot Measure 3. (7) Talk with teachers one on one and they will tell you of lots of wasteful situations, so the $2500 per day should shock no one. I would bet that 90% of Alaskans know that the Alaska Education Association is the main obstacle to improving education. (8) In a bar last night I overheard a story about a former state official (of the 1980’s) now visiting Alaska with a scheme to borrow against the Permanent Fund (so in theory voters need not be asked for permission) to derive magic income from investing the borrowed amount without impacting normal Permanent Fund earnings. The Alaskans talking were slurring their words and had heavy Spenard accents (an accent that may include alcohol-induced slurring) but I got the gist of it. So it seems that the Permanent Fund can be invested twice (who knew?). I am sure fees would be charged but for someone to bring such sophisticated financial ideas to Alaskans (who are unsophisticated and far from Wall St.) a fee would only be fair – and honorable perhaps. Shame on those people who say the budget must be reduced when former Alaskans are so smart and so willing to help in our time of need.

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