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.

Macadamia nut pieces and Mai Tai quality rumors: Former Fairbanks Mayor and legislator Jim Whitaker will be named the governor’s COS. Ralph Kibby, Joe Thomas and Mike Kenny are under consideration to be Department of Labor commissioner. Former Lt. Gov. Stephen McAlpine is a possible candidate for attorney general. Craig Fleener for Fish & Game? Under consideration for the top job at Department of Natural Resources is former Fairbanks legislator Joe Paskvan, and Marty Rutherford who formerly served as deputy DNR commissioner under multiple administrations and was a Valdez schoolmate of Bill Walker’s. Supposedly, former Wasilla mayor Vern Rupright has expressed interest in the top job at Department of Transportation and is said to be under consideration.

If Jim Whitaker is Walker’s COS, he’ll have to contend with a certain op-ed that he wrote in 2006, calling Reps. Mike Chenault’s, Mike Hawker’s, and Kevin Meyer’s vote on oil tax legislation “unconscionable” because they all three had conflicts of interest. Chenault is now Speaker of the House. Meyer is Senate President and Hawker will be chair of the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee.

A fax sent from the Clarion Suites with 24 names who could serve as Fish and Game transition members went viral in the last few days. It’s raised hackles all over because it’s heavy on Dems and on commercial fisherman. (Read it here.) Walker’s campaign spokesperson said that it didn’t come from them and they had no idea who put it together.

One of the big positions that I haven’t heard anything about is who is going to be director of the Office of Management and Budget, which is pressing considering that Walker’s budget is due for submission two weeks after he takes the oath of office.

Typical transition protocol suggests that the gov-elect asks the incumbent to request letters of resignation from all of the exempt employees in state government, however, Walker supposedly told a trade group this week that he wasn’t going to make that request, which some might find solace in.

Speaking of transitions: Rep. Lynn Gattis’ office is in the process of hiring Tyson Gallagher and Steve Ricci. Gallagher most recently worked for Parnell’s unsuccessful campaign. Prior to the campaign, he worked at OMB and DOT. Ricci worked the past two legislative sessions for Sen. Dunleavy.

Rep. Craig Johnson has hired Robert Ervine who currently works for retiring Rep. Lindsey Holmes.

Legislative staffer Daryl Breeze seems to follow the money. He’ll be moving from Finance chair Rep. Bill Stoltze’s office to incoming Finance chair Rep. Mark Neuman’s office.

Kathlene Rowell is the executive director of the Sullivan for Senate transition.

Is Mark Begich ever going to officially concede? Does it matter if he doesn’t?

The Kenai Boys and Girls Club had their most successful fundraiser ever on Saturday night. Companies like Udelhoven, Peak Oilfield Service Company, BP, Arby’s, MagTec, PRL Logistics, All American Oilfield, Wells Fargo, Carlisle, Tesoro, Stanley Ford, ConocoPhillips, and Hillcorp all showed up in a big way to support the event. About 250 400 people showed. Spotted: Kenai Borough Mayor Mike Navarre, Speaker Mike Chenault, Sen. Peter Micciche (who was the auctioneer) and wife Erin, Paul Quesnel, former Kenai school superintendent Donna Peterson, Joe and Sara Reese, Tim Navarre, Tom and Mary Rhyner, Dave and Mary Kay Knudsen, XTO’s Ryan and Heidi Tunseth,  Misty Peterkin, Lou and Stacey Oliva, Jake Arness, Blaine and Margaret Gilman, and Ron Hyde.

Amy Demboski is hosting her campaign kickoff for Anchorage mayor on Thursday, Nov. 20 at the Crowne Plaza from 5 to 7 pm.

The Associated General Contractors held their annual 49ers dinner at the Quarterdeck on Thursday evening. Between 80 – 100 people attended. Some of the folks spotted at the dinner included: AGC Executive Director John McKinnon and his bride Sen. Anna Fairclough; Robbie Capps; Sen. Cathy Giessel and her husband Richard; Dave and Dana Cruz; AIDEA Deputy Director Mark Davis and his wife Rep.-elect Liz Vazquez; Dana and Deanna Pruhs; Rep.-elect Cathy Tilton and her husband Berkley; and Reps. Gabrielle LeDoux, Craig Johnson and Max Gruenberg.

The sold-out, star-studded annual Jewish Gala, which is the social event of the year, was held at the Dena’ina center in Anchorage on Saturday night. In past years, this event is known to get a little wild, but either it was very tame this year, or people are closed lipped. Some of those attending: Gov. Sean and Sandy Parnell, Mayor Dan and Lynnette Sullivan, Bill and Michelle Bittner, Arliss Sturgelewski, Perry and Gloria Green, Mel Sather and Diane Kaplan, Troy and Janice Weiss, Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, Drs. Michael and Laurie Bleicher, David and Shani Green, Sen. Lesil McGuire, and Hugh Ashlock. Sen. Lisa Murkowski was recognized and received an award proclaiming her a Woman of Valor.

Speaking of valor: On November 1, 1921 Major General Commandant John A. Lejeune declared November 10 a Marine Holiday, which is now celebrated across the country on or around that date with Marine Corps Birthday Balls. In Anchorage on Saturday, more than 300 gathered at the Sheraton in Anchorage on Saturday night for the ball. It was, I’m told, an extraordinarily touching event. The Marines ranged from 18 year-old new enlistees to WWII vets, wearing multiple Purple Hearts, Bronze and Silver Stars. One of the Marines present, Bob Thoms who lives in Wasilla, was awarded all of the medals listed above for his heroic role at the Battle of Hue where more than 5,000 lives were taken. Thoms is now a counselor, helping veterans who have come back from wars. Dan Sullivan is the first politician he ever supported, and Thoms was one of the first supporters Sullivan met with after he announced.  (Read more about Thoms’ and the Battle of Hue here.) Thoms and his lovely wife along with veteran Marine Rep. Bob Herron and his wife Margaret, Becky Hultberg, Col. Otto Feather, Tom and Terri Gimple, and Ashley Reed were among the guests of Senator-elect Lt. Col. Dan Sullivan and his wife Julie. Others spotted in the crowd of dress blues: MSgt. Daniel Juarez, LCpl. Shane Bertram, Chuck Achberger and his wife (former Hickel administration COS) Nancy Usera, Maj. Jordan Rogers, Sen. Cathy Geissel, and GySgt. Ben Rigney.

From the event’s official dedication: “…So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as ‘Soldiers of the Sea’ since the founding of the Corps.”

Spoiled women angst-ridden over writing and pies come and go. Governors and their staffs and legislators and their aides come and go. Galas will happen, or not. The Marine Corps is eternal. Semper Fidelis.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


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

  1. Amy Carroll

    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)

  2. Audit

    An audit of why Fleener was asked to leave his position as deputy commissioner at fish and game is on order. Specifically his alleged abuse of travel authorizations, where he was supposed to be attending wildlife conferences but instead went on personal vacations on the state dime.

    Just the type of shenanigans we don’t need in the new administration.

  3. Milton Friedman

    So, as many speculated, Fleenor get Fish and Game as the political payoff. You wanted a change in the way things are done in Juneau? I give you the same old political graft and good ol boy network politics that there has always been. I had hoped Fleenor was genuine and above this kind of thing. I was starting to believe his rhetoric I guess. Shame on me. Turns out he is probably just as full of crap the rest of them.

  4. A Public Servant

    Unless one has a general desire to serve the public with integrity and figures he or she might still be able to do some good, potential chaos at the helm notwithstanding. And might even be able to lessen the impact of the chaos on the public to some degree.

  5. Amy Carroll

    Seriously? Political appointees serve at the complete pleasure of the Governor. It is unquestionable that political appointees have no expectation that they will serve from one administration to another.

    The better question is why any competent bureaucrat would want to serve under such a schizophrenic duo as Walker/Mallott This pair is a recipe for disaster. No competent person would be associated with what will only be a cluster-f… .

  6. Tom Bodett

    Either you are naïve or I am disillusioned. I think Walker just wants the thrill of firing Joe Balash and others himself. Walker is a mean old man. Don’t let the recent niceties of someone that just won an election fool you.

  7. Anonymous


    Are you serious? The recent election corrected nothing and SB21 was not a give-away of our resources. The recent election proved 3 things:

    1. Anyone from either party can now buy an election, maybe not with money, or maybe with money if Alice Rogoff was involved, but also by making deals with your opponents by teaming up to smear and beat your common enemy or object of hatred.

    2. It proved that one can win an election and have no belief system, no soul, no loyalties because the voters who voted for him have no critical thinking skills so he could say anything – or, in this case, he said nothing substantive and he still won.

    3. It proved that mean, vindictive and self-serving, angry and arrogant people – like Walker, Palin, Rogoff – sometimes win over humble, hard-working, selfless and honest people, like Gov. Parnell, but only for a season and always for the betterment of the latter and the demise of the former.

    That is the only lesson from this election. Voting should require an IQ test as well as an ID.

  8. Freshwrestler

    The connection between SB21 and a successful fundraiser is a little spurious. I think a more direct link would be the Sen. Micciche and Mayor Navarre were or are on the B&G BOD for many years and maybe the oil industry knows when to show up to curry favor with politicians. Further, giving away our resources to industry in hopes that they may give a little $ to charities of their choosing doesn’t seem very democratic. I guess the recent election corrected that.

  9. Northern Observer

    Appreciate the clarification Mr Willis. I agree that would be a wonderful approach, however,given some of the news reports to date, it’ll be interesting. I do believe the standard you are suggesting is a standard of quality we should hope and strive for. I hope we aren’t disappointed. Thanks.

  10. Lynn Willis

    Sorry for the confusion. I would hope Governor Walker would focus on retention of the best people who can put service to the State before party loyalty. I would think that standard would be best accomplished with minimal impact on employee moral by adopting a positive approach. I don’t see how a policy that states; “you can considered yourself fired unless I say otherwise” as conducive to either morale or to creating loyalty. I want people discharged for valid cause not for political expediency perhaps to simply create an award for some incompetent sycophant.
    I understand anybody can resign for any reason; however, if Governor Walker wants to fire somebody he needs to have a objective justification and be directly responsible for that action. He should not simply let them disappear for reasons that have nothing to do with ability yet might appear to have everything to do with a political vendetta.

  11. Northern Observer

    IIn response to Mr Willis – All due respect,I don’t think you understand the concept of resignation requests. Its NOT that they are accepted; rather, it allows for exactly what you seem to encourage and applaud. Given your statement and seeming support of individual evaluation, are you upset with those that will be asked to leave Day1? Do you feel these folks were fully and fairly evaluated? Are you upset that Walker’s administration will be firing these people based on purely political reasons? I feel your standards are somewhat confusing.

  12. Lynn Willis

    I am encouraged to see Governor Walker allow for the evaluation of individual merit in job performance by ending the demand for letters of resignation from all current appointees. I am also glad to see at least the consideration of new appointees whose primary employment qualification is not political party affiliation.
    As a gentle reminder of priority to Governor Walker, all his appointees, and our elected legislators (especially those in the finance committees), I suggest a “debt clock” be installed at the entrance to the Capitol Building showing the ever declining balances in our cash reserves. I would be willing to donate toward the purchase of such a device if that would help spare the state another expenditure.

  13. Brandon Wall

    The current state transportation department has shown an unwillingness to listen to and work with local jurisdictions. This is a complaint shared by former Mayor Rupright and others around the state. I think Verne would do a great job in transportation. There may be other departments for which he is better suited, but that one will need an overhaul on what may be an increasingly limited budget, something Verne just spent six years doing as mayor.

  14. CPG49

    The article about the Kenai Boys and Girls Club suggests that SB 21 is working. Sounds like the bulk of the support of the evening came from oil field service companies and producer companies. Glad to hear it was the charity’s most successful event ever.

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