Loose Lips: Parnell eating his Wheaties? Cronyism doesn’t pay like it used to. The energetic Begich.

feminism Gov. Sean Parnell hasn’t been known for being a base-galvanizer. But if not exactly on fire, they seem at least a little stoked after the most recent debates. During the debates, Parnell has come out forcefully against Bill Walker, among other things, forcing an admission that education and Medicaid could be on the chopping block. Some wondered what got the governor uncharacteristically charged-up. Has he been eating his Wheaties? Did Walker really privately insult the governor right before the Juneau debate started when the two were shaking hands?  it doesn’t sound like him, but some folks supposedly in the know seem to think so.

So much for the notion of loyalty as payback for cronyism. Just ask Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, who was friends with Dan Kendall, and served on the Anchorage Assembly with him. While Sullivan was mayor, he put Kendall in a high-paying job in the mayor’s office. Later, he was placed as the interim CEO at ML&P where the mayor took heat from at least one reporter (me!) questioning the appointment, Consider this: Kendall’s only qualifications were that he worked at ENSTAR for 30 years as a corrosion technician. During that time, he was a member of the plumbers and pipefitters union and didn’t supervise or manage any employees. He was never involved in any of the company’s gas supply contracts, regulatory matters nor participated in the operations or management of the company. He likely never participated in one employee’s evaluation while at ENSTAR. And then he’s the head of one of the largest utilities in the state? Anyhow, because of Mayor Sullivan, Kendall got his tier-one, high three years, which significantly enhanced his retirement paycheck. And then he goes and joins the Republicans for Walker committee and writes an op-ed on Tuesday, criticizing Sullivan’s running mate, Gov. Sean Parnell. All of which confirms the saying about reaping what you sow, or something.

It’s all any of us can do to keep up with the November 4th general election. Yet, Ivan Moorewas in the field this week polling on potential mayoral candidates for the MOA elections in April. Here’s the list of potential mayoral candidates that he was testing for their positive/negative ratings: Dan Coffey, Amy Dembowski, Andrew Halcro, Hollis French, Elvi Gray-Jackson, Paul Honeman and Mead Treadwell.

Speaking of the lite governor, Mead Treadwell may have lost his Republican Senate nomination bid but it doesn’t seem to have deterred his interest in politics and supporting fellow Republicans. This week he’s co-hosting an event for Dan Sullivan’s Senate campaign and is rumored to be hosting an event at his Anchorage home for Gov. Sean Parnell sometime soon.

One man, who is sometimes old-school offensive, said that he felt that he could hear Helen Reddy belting out, “I Am Woman” as he walked into the Millennium Hotel on Monday evening where the Republican Women of the House– 10 female candidates–were having a joint fundraiser with special guest Sen. Lisa Murkowski. There were about 100 people there including: three of the governor’s commissioners – – Joe Balash, Curtis Thayer and Dianne Blumer; lobbyist Kevin Jardell; Heather Brakes; Steve Strait; Larry Baker; Anchorage’s first lady Lynnette Sullivan; Angelina Burney; and Myrna Maynard who served as the emcee for the event. Also, Reps. Johnson, Hawker and Saddler showed, realizing that it may well be a target-rich atmosphere for organizational purposes. In other words, they can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan.

Meanwhile, in Juneau Monday evening, some 75  guests crowded the Parnell – Sullivan headquarters in the capitol city at Twin Lakes for a fundraiser. Some of the guests spotted included: Emily Ricci; Bonnie Gruening; Randy and Dana Ruaro; Barb Propes; Bruce Twomley; Linda Perez; Andy and Cori Mills; Mike Barnhill; Royce Weller; Tom and Cathy Boutin; Bill Streur; and Mike Hanley.

While the Parnell folks were at Twin Lakes, Bill Walker and Byron Mallott were hosting the grand opening of their Juneau headquarters in the Nugget Mall.

Al Jazeera  was in Alaska last week and this week following our Senate race and ballot propositions. Alas, our own Libby Casey wasn’t one of the reporters.

Sen. Mark Begich is nothing if not energetic when he’s in town, even when he’s not fighting for his seat. Expect that energy level to rise significantly in the next month. Tuesday evening alone, Begich participated in a nonprofit fundraising event for Cook Inlet Tribal Council’s Chanlyut at former Gov. Bill Sheffield’s home, a campaign event in his honor at the home of former Gov. Tony and Susan Knowles where more than 50 people showed, and an ASMI event at the Marriott Hotel. There may have been others.

Speaking of the ASMI event at the Marriott, everyone was there for the Great Alaska Seafood Cook Off – –  four chefs, three mystery ingredients and one hour to create a dish highlighting Alaska seafood with the winner going to Las Vegas and a chance to win $25,000. Spotted in the crowd: Jon Bittner, Deputy Commish of Commerce; Mark Palmer from Ocean Beauty Seafoods; Jason Hooley; Barry Collier from Peter Pan Seafoods; Sen. Gary Stevens, Reps. Kurt Olson, Bill Stoltze and Craig Johnson; commercial fisherman Arnie Thompson; Kevin Adams; Robbie Graham; and Heather Brakes.

A strong crowd of 60 people showed up Wednesday evening at former Gov. Bill Sheffield’s house (I hope he has a clearing service) for a fundraising event to benefit Mia Costello’s state Senate campaign and the House campaign of Charisse Millett. Sen. Lisa Murkowski was the honorary host. The crowd was diverse and included: Alice Hanley, former legislator and mother of Commissioner Mike Hanley; Father Elliott; Greg Wolfe; AHFC’s Bryan Butcher; Therese Foley; former AK legislator Rick Uehling who now lives in California; Laurie Gray; Troy Jarvis of Anchorage Lithia Chrysler; Bernie Smith; Emily Ricci from the Governor’s office; Karen Morrissey; Kevin Sweeney; Assemblywoman Jennifer Johnson; Pam Birch; Justin Johnson; and, a whole slew of folks from the state’s Gaslactic Empire – – Miles Baker, Bruce Tangeman, Steve Pratt and Dan Fauske.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


11 thoughts on “Loose Lips: Parnell eating his Wheaties? Cronyism doesn’t pay like it used to. The energetic Begich.

  1. Lynn Willis

    The Alaska State Department of Revenue publishes a revenue projection. Google it and you will be depressed. Argue as you may about the accuracy but the truth is we must base our state government funding on a non-renewable resource extraction model and frankly, we have been as short sited as a lottery winner who blows the winnings on the “good life” for as long as he can afford it. His only hope is for another winning lottery ticket.
    Now it is too late to have followed the advice of those like Roger Cremo who wanted Alaska to live off the earnings of the revenue from oil. In other words, we ignored our 401K while expecting to live in retirement off our checking account even after our employment ended and our only assured income was now from Social Security.
    Parnell cannot have it both ways – he cannot claim that the majority of the operating budget is a fixed cost yet tell us to not worry about having savings sufficient to cover those fixed costs when the revenue stream is reducing. We face a double threat of not only reduced prodution but also of increased production yet at a reduced price for the oil produced. Also, Parnell made himself popular with one time capital budget expenditures. He failed to warn that all these roads, buildings, and astro-turf football fields may well cost as much in life-time maintenance expenses as they did to build. Maintenance is an operating cost. If Alaska already has unaffordable pension, medicade, and education fixed costs why would you purposefully add additional maintenance costs with capital projects?
    Lastly to appreciate the magnitudes of the problem remember that a billion is 1,000 million and we currently have a two billion dollar deficit. The Crime lab and UAA Sports Arena approved by Parnell were in the 100 million dollar range (not including future operating costs). Take them away and you have saved 200 million from the capital budget – now go find another 800 million to save a billion. Then do that again and you have us now spending what we earn.
    So build your gas line where we might realize 3 to 4 billion a year but not until long after our current cash reserves, except for the corpus of the Permanent Fund, are gone. At the rate we are spending by then every one of those dollars will be certainly be required just to just to keep our heads above water. Then, after that non-renewable resource is consumed our children will be having this same conversation I betcha!

  2. Straitlaced Radical

    I have not seen the graph but will look for it. I have heard Parnell talk about his fiscal philosophy in small group settings in a way that resonates with me more than the way he comes often comes across in the media or his official communication. To his way of thinking, it should not be the state’s aim to keep sitting on billions of dollars of reserves if those funds can be used to get the state through to the point when increased oil production and new revenue through a gas line can bring revenue back up. I don’t think he genuinely sees the situation as a “deficit” in the way that most people are describing it. He more sees it in the context of a private sector entity or even an individual’s assets — using a portion of one’s amassed savings strategically to get to a more secure financial footing.

    If you subscribe to that way of thinking (and not everyone does), it makes a certain kind of sense. It can be considered a gamble, but if it works, people will be talking 50 years from now about how great Parnell was for setting it in motion.

    I am not as concerned as many are about the deficit, provided it does not continue on the same trend it is currently on, and I honestly don’t think Parnell or the Legislature will let it, especially if revenue does not begin to increase. Talk to many executive branch employees, and they will tell you what kind if belt-tightening they’ve been told to expect for agency budgets over the next several years. $7 million dollars a day, or whatever the projections are, is scary if there’s no plan or context attached to it. I think Parnell and crew have a plan — you just have to listen to him very closely to pick up on it, and I wish it got out there in the public eye more than it has. And there are a lot of folks who are more interested in screaming about the sky falling than to ask whether some of their underlying assumptions might be inaccurate.

    I do agree with Parnell that the state shouldn’t be about amassing savings at all costs (at least outside of the permanent fund). I am willing to see our elected officials trade some rainy day funds for economic growth, if it’s done right. In the private sector, you generally gotta spend some $ to make some $, and a little bit of that philosophy in government doesn’t bother me too much, provided it’s reasonable.

  3. Lynn Willis

    He did get into a battle with Hollis French regarding the scope of his veto power. I cannot remember the exact details but I do remember it had something to do with French attempting to demand a group of line item appropriations regarding a single topic be consolidated and not subject to parsing. French lost that challenge.
    Too bad you were not there to remind Governor Parnell of that struggle and better yet if he was able to point out the dollar value. He didn’t use that argument instead he blamed some other group for his problem of not controlling spending.
    Whatever amount he has vetoed from the budget (including not a dime last year) the problem is that he hasn’t vetoed enough to keep us out of trouble. I encourage you to view the graph that appeared in the ADN regarding a conference that will be held this Saturday at UAA. Very troubling prognosis based on revenue projections and the resulting deficits we face at current spending levels at oil prices ranging between $110 to $90 per bbl.

  4. Straitlaced Radical

    As I recall, Parnell vetoed quite a bit from the budget during the bipartisan coalition years. Hundreds of millions of dollars, if I’m not mistaken.

  5. Lynn Willis

    Sean Parnell thought he could be a figurehead Governor supported by loyal sycophants. He apparently thought he had found a way to run the State on “cruise control” and that no single issue would be solely his responsibility. Blind party loyalty would solve all problems. He assumed he could always claim that “he wasn’t aware” or “he got bad advice” or similar excuses. Now, the ongoing National Guard scandal might just prove to him that he is in charge and throwing subordinates under the bus isn’t going to make this go away as did that tactic in the Dahlstrom hire. I sense fear on the part of Parnell and people motivated by fear appear to be “eating their Wheaties”.
    Yesterday during the Ketchikan debate, the topic of our fiscal crisis was broached. Governor Parnell attempted, as usual, to spin a step down from the largest budget to the second largest as a “reduction”; however, the most telling retort was his attempt to blame the excess spending on the actions of the legislative bi-partisan Senate caucus. He apparently forgot that he has line item veto power over the budget items yet he just couldn’t get past his loathing of members of the other party and his displacement of responsibility. We need more than a figurehead who might occasionally be motivated to “eat his Wheaties”.

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