Loose Lips: Walker admin rumors continue. Paging AAA Moving and Storage. Basic math at ASD?

loose lipsOver 100 people turned out Monday evening in Palmer to show their support at a fundraiser for Gov-elect Bill Walker at John Lee’s New Horizons’ hangar. Normally, you don’t see a lot of Democrats in the Mat-Su, but I’m told there was a gaggle of them on that night. In fact, the only member of the all- Republican Mat-Su legislative delegation who showed was Rep. Lynn Gattis.  Some familiar faces spotted: Palmer Mayor DeLana Johnson, Dave and Dana Cruz, Mat-Su School Superintendent Deena Paramo, John and Linda Combs, school board member Ole Larson, Terry Snyder, Bob Williams, Diane Straub, Eddie Grasser, Doug Glenn, Mat-Su Borough Assemblymen Steve Colligan and Ron Arvin, Janet Kincaid and John Shepherd.

Sen.-elect Bill Stoltze has added DEC Legislative Liaison Brandon Brefczynski to his 2015 legislative session staff. Prior to joining DEC, Brefczynski worked as a legislative aide to Rep. Tammie Wilson (R – North Pole).

Both of outgoing Rep. Lindsey Holmes’ staffers will be working for members of the House leadership. Grace Abbott will work for Rep. Charisse Millett and Robert Ervine is going to Rep. Craig Johnson’s office.

There was another fundraiser on Tuesday evening for Gov.-elect Bill Walker. This one was held at the AGC’s offices in Anchorage. About 80 guests, give or take, showed for the event including: Derald Schoon, Mark Pfeffer, Sen. Cathy Giessel, Joey Merrick, Aves Thompson from the Trucking Association, Meg Nordale, AK AFL-CIO’s Vince Beltrami, Dave Cruz, Ross Thompson from Pruhs Construction, John MacKinnon, and former Palin COS Mike Tibbles to name a few. Word is that a few Parnell administration types obviously hoping to make nice and keep their jobs also showed.

Also on Tuesday, Anchorage mayoral candidate Dan Coffey was thanking about fifty people who showed up at the Petroleum Club with their checkbooks to support his campaign. Some of the folks attending included: Mayor Dan Sullivan, Norm Elliott, Ed Rasmuson, Jerry Green, Pete and Kelly Nolan, Steve Strait, Dawn Linton, Eric and Sue Taylor-Smith, and Arlene Raney. Mrs. Raney and her husband Carrol owned the Family Market on 13th and I (now the New Sagaya), which is where this “candidate” used to buy his comic books, candy and ice cream as a kid. Later after graduating from law school, Coffey represented them for years as their lawyer – – and she’s still writing checks to him.

Some gotta win, some gotta lose with every change of any administration. One of the winners is AAA Moving and Storage, which the state paid more than $400,000 in 2010—during  a relatively light administrative transition—to move state government around. The losers? Well, here’s an excerpt from an email that some members of the outgoing Parnell administration received from AAA:

AAA Moving and Storage would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your service to Alaska and it’s citizens.  With the new administration taking office, some people in your departments may elect to relocate. AAA Moving and Storage would like to offer a pre-move survey and consultation to any who might be thinking of relocating…Thanks so much for all you have done and are doing for Alaska.

Paging AAA: Word is that on Friday, everyone in Parnell’s communication team was told that their services weren’t needed anymore and that they need not show up on Monday.

The rumor mill has been gobbling it up during the Thanksgiving break: The competent former Department of Revenue Deputy Commissioner, Marcia Davis, who was most recently with Calista Corp. is coming back to state government as the deputy chief of staff. Sources say that Gov-elect Walker offered the third floor legislative director’s job to former Sen. Rick Halford. Word is he said thanks, but no thanks. Other names circling the mill for this position include Kelly Huber, Ron Clark and Paul Fuhs. Other unconfirmed rumors: Juneau Assemblyman and Dennis Egan staffer Jessie Kiehl’s name has been brought up for DOA commissioner; Catherine Reardon, a former division director at Commerce and legislative staffer is likely to show up somewhere; Janice Mason, the governor’s scheduling assistant, has been wisely asked to stay.

On Friday, the last full business day of the Parnell administration, the governor made over 85 appointments to state boards and commissions. Some were high profile appointments. Others not so much. He reappointed both Linda Leary and Jon Cook to the Railroad Board of Directors. Somebody named Amanda, but not me, to the Board of Massage Therapists, CIRI’s Bruce Anders to the Royalty Oil and Gas Board, and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell to the Compact for a Balanced Budget, to name just a few.

Monday is Inauguration Day, and at about 12 noon we’ll all be able to drop the “elect” when talking about Gov.-elect Bill Walker and Lt. Gov.-elect Byron Mallott. According to Walker’s spokesperson, 150 seats are reserved for the Walker and Mallott families at the inauguration in Juneau and their out-of-town guests, and 110 seats are reserved for performers and elementary school kids attending the inauguration. The $150,000 that Walker-Mallott requested from Gov. Sean Parnell’s administrative contingency fund to pay for the transition conference will also go to pay for airfare and maybe some hotel rooms for the governor elect’s and lieutenant governor elect’s immediate family.

Governor-elect Walker is said to be headed to D.C. on Dec.3. 

Remember all those “Kids Not Cuts” signs? All of the talk about the state short-changing its students? The $73 million dollar Anchorage School District projected deficit? The protests? The political ads? And then remember the relatively blip that was made of the news that ASD was sitting on a $22 million surplus? It gets better. Word is that at the next school board meeting on Dec. 1, the public will learn that the surplus will have miraculously grown to perhaps as much as $40 million. If it’s true, fingers will point, conspiracies will be generated. Common Core will likely take some of the blame.  But perhaps the answer is simple: maybe a requirement of being an official of the Anchorage School District is a basic math class.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


12 thoughts on “Loose Lips: Walker admin rumors continue. Paging AAA Moving and Storage. Basic math at ASD?

  1. AH HA

    @Amanda, It would be nice to see you take a hard look at it. In recent years Juneau has seen very significant increases in our cost per student per year as well. Like Anchorage we are now well past the $17,000 per student per year range and to be nice about it, student performance at graduation remains mediocre at best. Of note though are the village schools. Financially they are in far worse shape and are costing the State an atrocious amount per student per year to operate. Worst of all is that for the most part, the students who attend these school are not getting an education.

  2. Whatthepho

    The ASD still needs to come to grips with the fact that it has been led around by the construction industry for too long. We have squandered precious resources that could have been used attracted quality educators.

    By adding over 2 million square feet of new school floor space in the last 20 years (a 34% increase) while the student population in neighborhood schools has declined by over 4,000 kids (8% decline) from the peak in the 2003-04 school year, we have left our gold-plated facilities operationally over-staffed and under-funded.

  3. Amanda Post author

    @John. That’s been talked about, but the NEA resists fiercely. They have their own national health trust. There’s been insinuation as to why they are so keen on keeping teachers using it, but I haven’t done the reporting.

  4. Jon K

    If the ASD budget has in fact doubled over the last ten years, does anyone know why? My hunch is health care costs are a major factor. If so, we have to find a smarter way to provide health care to public employees – maybe pool all public employees?

  5. Birchstick

    You are not seriously bringing Sarah “per diem from home!” Palin into a discussion on public finance ethics, are you?

  6. Hockey Dad 2

    I’d like to associate myself with DB’s comments. We’ve doubled the cost of education in the past 10 years and what diid we get for it? A bunch more administrative do-nothings and smiles from the teacher’s union. I find it disgusting. We need a new school board and legislators willing to stand up to the ASD and the teacher’s union and tell them enough is enough.

  7. DB

    I’ve been monitoring the ASD for 5 years now and this education model is truly broken. I hope people wake up and start really questioning this bureaucracy about student achievement and finances. The per student spending has increased another $200 and was $17,600 for the last academic year. How on earth can we spend that much and get very mediocre results? Student population this year is down about 750 from the previous year, now less than 48,000. Student achievement has remained stagnant.
    Since 2004, the ASD budget has more than doubled, and it has nearly 6,500 employees. The School Board is incapable of leading because they follow the Administration. The ASD needs to be held accountable for results. Transfer all physical plant to the Municipality. Let the District focus on education-its primary mission. Tell the Great Alaska Schools they are no longer needed-we have more than enough money.

  8. Cheddar Head

    This obsession with frquent flyer miles seems odd and misplaced. A reader commented questioningg if the Walker family would be getting miles while traveling on the state dime. My response: I hope so!
    The point is to either cut a deal so state workers don’t get mileage for consideration of some economic benefit to the state or have the miles go into a singular state account. But until such is negotiated, people should get miles. Also, the airlines like the miles going to individuals for sake of brand loyalty and thus will resist attempts to take away from the individual employee. To do so will require leadership and commitment. We’ll soon see what this governor is made of.

  9. Gerry J.

    Everyone wants their schools to be well funded. I want our schools to be well run. They aren’t.
    Let’s quit spending on administrations and put money in the classrooms.

  10. Hideki Matsui

    I wonder if the Walker and Mallot famillies will be earning airline miles while traveling on the state dime?

  11. CPG49

    Good luck and best wishes to the Walker-Mallott administration. I am going to suggest, however, that they are getting off to a poor start interms of judgement using state funds to pay for family to attend the inauguration. To the best of my lnowledge, the Knowles, Murkowskis and Palins paid for “family” travel themselves (they could even use some of their campaign cash they’re still raisingg). I’ve heard that there are legal opinions on such even. Just saying.

  12. Roger

    The ASD has absolutely no credibility. Each year, regardless of the budget amount, ASD goes thru this ridiculous excercise of shouting that “the sky is falling” and then, miraculously, it doesn’t. And of course, the NEA in the name of learning and the children add their moans which creates a frenzy in the do-gooder parent community. You suggest that maybe a course in basic math might be required of the ASD administration. I would suggest a course on integrity and telling the truth would resolve matters.

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