The big news, which I got off the record from numerous sources, is that House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, is going to resign to take a fellowship at Stanford University. It’s a huge loss for the state and for the Dems. Kerttula is one of the nicest, and smartest legislators in Alaska.
No word yet who will take her seat. The Juneau Dems, officially the Tongass Democrats, will make recommendations to Gov. Sean Parnell, who will pick. Jesse Kiehl, who declined comment until a later day, will likely be among many who are interested. Kiehl is a staffer for Sen. Dennis Egan and is on the Juneau Assembly. He put his name in for the Senate seat in 2009, when Kim Elton left for the Obama Administration. Kim Metcalfe’s name is also being floated.
Also no word yet on who will be the new House Minority Leader. Speculation is centered around Reps. Les Gara and David Guttenberg, although Chris Tuck might also be an interesting choice.
On to happier news: Say what you want about how sites like BuzzFeed and Zimbio have contributed to the decline of society, but they sure know how to get people’s attention. The various made-for-Facebook personality quizzes are all the rage. You know, the kind that young girls used to pour over in Seventeen Magazine? Yes, those ones have been basically repackaged for a co-ed audience. The most recent is Zimbio’s Star Wars personality test. Everyone’s doing it! And it’s, like, super fun! Even DNR commissioner Joe Balash, was like, I’ll go for it. YOLO. Turns out his Star Wars doppelganger is Obi-Wan Kenobi. Perhaps that will give the public some confidence that the governor has chosen Balash, AKA Obi, to negotiate terms with the largest private companies in the world, under which multi-billion, 800 mile natural gas pipeline might be built. House Majority spokesperson Will Vandergriff was Chewbacca.
How does Sarah Palin try to get attention on Martin Luther King day? She plays the race card by telling others not to. Here’s what she posted on Facebook: “Mr. President, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and all who commit to ending any racial divide, no more playing the race card.” Perhaps someone should suggest to Palin that playing all that solitaire during those long dark winter days can make you a little nutty. In other words, Palin, stop playing cards.
The Department of Health and Social Services computer software transition is going about as well as the federal government’s health exchange site was before it got fixed. The department has been having problems paying Medicaid providers since September and unlike the feds, state officials are mum as to when the problem is expected to be fixed. Meanwhile the frustration and grumbling amongst Medicaid health care providers has been growing. Word is that Fairbanks Republican Rep. Pete Higgins, who is chair of the House Health and Social Services committee, is considering having hearings.
Former Anchorage school board member Crystal Kennedy has joined Rep. Lynn Gattis’ staff. Kennedy served as the campaign manager in Larry Woods’ race against Lora Reinbold. Gattis and Reinbold are both Republican freshman legislators who could be sisters. But they’re not. Not even close. Besides, Reinbold seems to have plenty enough sisters, one of whom is a doctor and is continually invited by Reinbold to testify at committee hearings to slam ObamaCare. The other is Reinbold’s twin.
State law prohibits legislators from fundraising when the Legislature is in session. And the governor cannot raise money from Juneau residents during session either. The laws seem screwy, if not blatantly unconstitutional. Regardless of my opinions on the matter, Monday was a big money day. House and Senate Democrats had a fundraiser at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum. Meantime, House and Senate Republican majority members were at the Hangar Ballroom on Juneau’s waterfront. Gov. Sean Parnell hosted an event at the Baranof’s Gastineau suite.
And that was how our lawmakers and our governor spent the night before session.
Contact Amanda Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org