Tag Archives: bill walker

Fagan grills Walker over support for repeal of oil taxes

On Monday independent governor Bill Walker was on the Dan Fagan/Glen Biegel show, where he talked about his support for repealing SB 21. Fagan, who can be relentless, drilled down on Walker’s support for repeal. Fagan focused on the fact that since the current tax structure has been in place, oil production has ceased to decline. Last December, the state estimated a 4.4 percent decline for this year. That didn’t happen. For fiscal year 2014, which ended June 30, oil production averaged 530,939 barrels per day, roughly the same amount of oil produced as the year before. Production decline averaged about 5 percent between 2008 to 2011, and slipped 8 percent between 2012 and 2013.  Until this year, the last year the state didn’t see a decline in production was in 2001. Those who advocate for repeal say that the flattening is the result of geophysics, not taxes,. Some of them say that the oil companies are increasing production temporarily to make it seem as the new regime is working. Walker, who is usually not at a loss for words, stumbled his way through the interview and only alluded to the latter. Listen to the clip here. 


New poll shows Walker neck-and-neck with Parnell

A poll paid for by independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker shows that Walker is just one point behind Gov. Sean Parnell, if the two were able to go head-to-head in the general election without a third candidate. However, throw Democratic candidate Byron Mallott into the mix, and Parnell beats Walker by about 14 percent and Mallott by 26 percent. When Mallott and Parnell are put together, Parnell wins by about 21 percent. (The questions and results are below.)

The take-away, according to Ivan Moore, who conducted the poll: Continue reading


Independent governor candidate Walker is first up with TV ad

Independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker is on the air, making him the first candidate in the governor’s race who has bought television time. The ads, four in all, three of which so far are on TV, highlight Walker as a man of action, a family man who isn’t afraid to take risks. The best one, I think, is the one below that’s running in Fairbanks. It isn’t the slickest commercial, but the question Walker asks in it is very good one. Watch here:

The answer for most residents is a resounding “No.” Fairbanks is not better off than it was six years ago. Home heating costs have skyrocketed in Fairbanks. The air is not cleaner. The quality of life is not better. It’s a stretch to say that Parnell is responsible for all that ails the Interior city. But that Fairbanks sits only a few hundred miles from the largest energy fields in North America, and yet some residents are being forced to choose between food and heating oil, is if nothing else, a stark display of lack of leadership, which appears to be exactly Walker’s point.


Bill Walker’s role in bringing the National Guard sexual abuse story to light

Sometime last fall, two chaplains with Alaska’s National Guard knocked on independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker’s door. They had something to say about rampant sexual abuse in the Guard, and they didn’t know where else to go. They had tried everything else. They even broke ranks and went to Gov. Sean Parnell years before, in 2010. They waited. Nothing happened.

One of them knew Walker from church. He started telling Walker about what he knew and what has since been reported. Female Guard members were getting sexually assaulted and nobody seemed to be doing anything about it.

There’s been a nasty rumor going around that Walker knew about the sexual assaults, but that he also sat on the information. After I heard the rumor, I asked to speak with Walker about what happened.

While it’s true that Walker didn’t have an easy answer for the chaplains, it’s untrue that he didn’t do anything. He did what he knew how to do to get the information out to the public and to get the abuse to stop.

When the chaplains came to Walker, he was already a candidate for governor, and he knew that if he made an issue of it, he risked it turning into a political story, he said. And if that happened, there’s a chance that the story itself would be minimized.

“I was horrified,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do. But I knew something had to be done.” So shortly after the chaplains left, he picked up the phone and called former Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker for advice. He then flew up to Fairbanks to talk to Whitaker.

Whitaker, who confirmed Walker’s account, told him that he’d handle it and that he had a good relationship with a trusted reporter. Weeks later, the first story by McClatchy reporter Sean Cockerham appeared in the Anchorage Daily News about the abuses.

Whitaker confirmed that he called Cockerham and provided him information. As is standard policy with reporters, Cockerham would neither confirm nor deny that Whitaker was a source.

The story that Cockerham chronicled shocked many in the state. It said that at least 29 cases of alleged sexual assault have been reported to local law enforcement. As of October, no one had been charged or prosecuted.

It also said that the chaplains had come to Parnell in 2010—presumably the same ones who came to Walker three years later—to ask for help. According to the story, one member of the guard, Lt. Col. Ken Blalock had about 15 victims come to him. He also said that he told Parnell and the Anchorage Police about the issues, and got his “butt chewed” for going above his chain of command by the head of the Guard Gen. Tom Katkus.

Following the article, Katkus issued a statement and wrote a column in the ADN assuring the public that the Guard takes these issues seriously and that “the Anchorage Police Department and the Alaska State Troopers, was (sic) contacted in 21 cases, and for reasons specific to each case, these law enforcement agencies did not open investigations.”

Also following the article, the Alaska National Guard revealed that a dozen soldiers face administrative charges of sexual misconduct, including four sexual assault cases.

In late February, Gov. Parnell called on the federal government to help investigate the issue. He said that prior to the time, the information he received was too vague to call for action. However, in February, he talked to a “specific person who was able to make specific claims about what went wrong.” Within 24 hours, he went to the feds.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Palin praises Walker, swipes at Parnell and calls out Alaska ‘crony capitalists’

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin shocked many in the state when she called into a local radio talk show on Wednesday morning, and seemingly endorsed independent Gov. Bill Walker, took swipes at current Gov. Sean Parnell and called those who supported the current oil tax regime “crony capitalists.”

Parnell was Palin’s lieutenant governor and took over for her after she quit her job in 2009. He then was elected in 2010 and is currently running for reelection. One of his biggest victories since being governor was to change the oil tax structure, termed ACES that Palin fought hard for and enacted in 2007 on the heels of a federal corruption scandal involving oil field services contractor VECO and state legislators.

Palin appears to say on the Bob & Mark show, which has long supported Palin, that the reason Parnell changed the tax structure was because of his ties to the oil industry, including his former job as a lobbyist for ConocoPhillips.

“Bless his heart. Remember that Sean Parnell came from the oil industry…lobbying for the cause there. Perhaps that’s ingrained in him,” Palin said. (Listen to the full interview here.)

The tax structure enacted by Palin included a steep windfall tax, and bulged state coffers as oil prices rose in the last few years. The new tax regime, which is highly supported by the oil industry, takes less on the high side but is said to protect the state as prices drop.

A measure to repeal the tax will appear on the August primary ballot. The oil companies have spent more than $8 million so far fighting against the repeal effort, which is supported by Walker and by many in the Democratic Party.

Palin said that those who don’t support the repeal are “buying into the highly funded PR campaign” waged by the oil industry.

“People need to remember what crony capitalism is all about.” She also said that there are still “remnants” of the “Corrupt Bastards Club” in the state, referring to the words on some pro-oil legislators’ baseball caps, which were designed as a joke.

Bob and Mark asked Palin if she could, would she go back in time and choose a lieutenant governor other than Parnell. Instead of answering directly, Palin changed the subject and praised Walker. She said that he’s “absolutely spot on,” and that he has the “thumb on the pulse of most Alaskans.”

She also said that Alaska needs a governor who is a fighter.

Is that Parnell? they asked. She laughed and said, “I want to make sure we’re tuned into all the debates to find out who that fighter is.”

It’s been years since Palin has weighed in on state issues. However, she said that she’s happy to do so, indicating that this isn’t the last time that the state will hear from her between now and the election.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


State-wide candidates try to connect with kids and seniors at forum

AARP Alaska, along with Anchorage middle schools, hosted both a gubernatorial and senatorial forum on Wednesday. About 100 people showed, most of whom were middle school students and the questions were written by them.  First up: The three candidates for governor—Democrat Byron Mallott, independent Bill Walker, and incumbent Republican Gov. Sean Parnell, who answered about 45 minutes worth of questions ranging from education, resource development, social security and healthcare. Many of the students were engaged, at least initially and were trying to understand. Others weren’t and couldn’t,

This was the second gubernatorial forum of the week. On Monday, the event was hosted by the Anchorage Chamber, and allowed for more back and forth, along with slight tension between Walker and Parnell, mostly over the natural gas pipeline. Walker doesn’t believe that the current plan in the works will get a gasline built. At the forum on Wednesday, Walker again lamented all the wasted years and hundreds of millions of dollars studying the gasline, and Parnell again said that the state is closer than ever.

But there was no heat in the exchanges. The candidates were limited to 60 second answers. Of all the candidates, the format suited Mallott the best, who has so far focused on generalities and platitudes and has shied far from specifics. About as specific as he got was when he said that his first act as governor would be to accept federal money to expand Medicaid, something that Parnell rejected. Walker said he would also expand the program, as long as he was assured that the feds would pick up 100 percent of the tab.

Parnell told the crowd, that those who would qualify for Medicaid already get access to primary care and emergency rooms “free of charge.”

If they hadn’t before, this is probably where they lost the children.

The group of 10 or so that I talked to after said that they didn’t understand a lot. One of them said they liked that Mallott talked more than the others about education. A few of them said that Walker seemed confident. Most of them said that they liked Parnell and felt more comfortable with him than with the others.

Up next was the GOP Senate forum, featuring Joe Miller, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, and Dan Sullivan. This, too, was this group’s second time meeting. The last, moderated by KTUU Channel 2’s Steve MacDonald, wasn’t live, and lacked energy, at least the kind of energy that Sullivan appears to feed on. This one also contained few fireworks. The candidates spoke about federal government overreach, about honoring our vets, and about social security.

Miller said that he would work to privatize the program for those under 50 years old, which likely didn’t go well with the seniors in the group. The two others talked around the issue, but didn’t, like Miller, address it head on. Treadwell said that we’ve got to be “flexible,” when thinking about how to save social security. Sullivan said that when the country elects “serious leaders” there’s an “opportunity for serious reform.” He didn’t elaborate.

All three candidates oppose federal government overreach. All said they would focus on the youth. And all agreed that the minimum wage hike that’s being debated in Congress should be left up to individual states.

After it was over, the kids didn’t remember much of what they said, and were mostly stymied when I asked which one they thought did the best job. One said that they thought Treadwell’s experience was important. A few of the more outspoken ones said that Sullivan connected most with the audience. All of them remembered when Sullivan asked for a show of hands of all those who had done their homework the night before.

After about half the room raised them, he said that the passing of ObamaCare was a great example of legislators not doing their homework. “It was legislative malpractice,” he said. “Not healthcare form.”

One of the students after said she was surprised how few of her peers didn’t do their homework. She also said that she had wished social issues, like gay marriage, had been discussed.

Another said that he had heard a lot about ObamaCare. Then again, he was U.S. Rep. Don Young’s grandchild. His grandfather comes over for dinner a lot, he said, and talks a lot.

“About politics?” I asked.

Yes, the boy said. A lot about ObamaCare.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Bob Williams’ campaign releases poll

A poll conducted for lieutenant governor candidate Bob Williams shows that although Hollis French, the other Democratic candidate for the seat, has a greater name recognition, French also has larger negatives than does Williams.

Williams, a teacher from Palmer, paid for the poll, which was conducted by EMC Research, a firm with offices in Washington state, California, Idaho and Oregon. It surveyed 400 likely primary voters from Feb. 4-7, and has a 4.9 percent margin of error.

It also shows that a majority of voters will not be voting for Gov. Sean Parnell and that his negatives are more than 40 percent. In the poll, only 25 percent knew who Democratic candidate Byron Mallott was.

Note: The poll did not mention independent candidate Bill Walker’s name, which makes the gubernatorial numbers suspect.

The narrative accompanying the numbers says that French has “limited appeal outside of the base,” and that Williams has “significant upside potential with a strong ability to appeal to voters across the board.”

Williams is a political neophyte. However, he surprised many by reporting having raised more than $63,000 in his last report.

Here are some key numbers from the poll.

  • 54 percent will not vote for Parnell. 16 percent will “definitely” vote for him, and 26 will “probably” vote for him.
  • 40 percent have a negative view of Parnell.
  • Mallott only has a 25 percent name ID.
  • French has a 54 percent name ID.
  • 22 percent have a negative view of French.
  • Williams only has a 10 percent name ID.

Among those who have heard of him in Anchorage, Williams’ favorability ratings is 12 points higher than French’s.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


State campaign restriction being questioned by both sides

A law restricting gubernatorial candidates from soliciting or accepting campaign donations from anybody who lives or happens to be in Juneau during the legislative session is being questioned by gubernatorial candidates from both sides of the aisle.

The law was written in 1996, along with a host of other laws that restricted campaign finances, including limiting donations from individuals from $1000 to $500 a year, limiting party donations, restricting lobbyists’ contributions, and banning union and businesses from directly contributing to a candidate.

Juneau-based lawyer Bruce Botelho, who is campaigning for Democratic candidate Byron Mallott, wrote to the Alaska Public Offices Commission that given the Alaska state Supreme Court’s ruling in another part of the law, the law as it pertained to Mallott appeared to be unconstitutional. Given that other ruling, he asked for an advisory opinion as to whether or not the law was going to be enforced.

Botelho was the Alaska state Attorney General under then Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles when the campaign finance laws were passed. Knowles supported the laws.

The Commission is expected to issue its opinion this week.

Since the legislative session began, it appears that about 15 Juneau residents have contributed to Mallot’s campaign, giving a total of about $3,000. The campaign said that all such donations were forwarded to Anchorage and that the campaign had not asked for donations in Juneau since the session.

Still, the Commission could rule that the donations have to be returned.

Bill Walker, who is running as an independent, had a gathering in Juneau earlier this session. He was not aware of the law. He said he received about three contributions during that gathering and that he would return those contributions.

Campaign restrictions already make it daunting for non-incumbents to build the kind of war chest they need to compete, and this law makes it all the more challenging, particularly for Mallott, who is from Juneau and presumably has a deep bench of support there.

The law also makes it tough for incumbents. In an electronic age with the regular use of Facebook and email solicitations, how do you keep track of who is contributing from Juneau?

In order to try and comply with the law, Jerry Gallagher, who is Gov. Sean Parnell’s campaign manager, posed this and other questions to APOC. In the meantime, Parnell’s campaign has included the following disclosure on its email solicitations:

Under recent advice from the Alaska Public Offices Commission, we are required to tell you that if you receive this email, and you are in the City and Borough of Juneau, you may not contribute in Juneau while the Legislature is in session.

Mallott’s campaign said that it will also include that disclosure in its campaign solicitations.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker’s campaign report

There must have been something wrong with my eyes last night when I was searching through APOC for campaign report numbers, because I missed independent candidate Bill Walker’s numbers. In any case, Walker raised $202,629, of which $29,000 is his own money. He spent $77,952 leaving him with $124,677, a respectable amount for a non-incumbent independent.

In comparison, the Democrat in the race, Byron Mallott, raised an impressive $234,000. However, $40,000 of that came from the Democratic Party, and he spent $188,136 and owes $9,633. This leaves him with only $36,580 to spend.

Gov. Sean Parnell raised $407,253 and only spent $76,220.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Fundraising numbers for statewide candidates dribbling in

Because it’s a holiday, official financial fundraising reports for candidates aren’t due to the Alaska Public Offices Commission until Tuesday. However, as of Monday afternoon, some numbers were dribbling in.

Alaska state Sen. Hollis French, who’s running for lieutenant governor and has already filed with APOC, reported raising $51,328 from Oct. 30, 2014 through Feb. 1, 2014. French brought $22,605 into the campaign, and spent $12,233, leaving him $61,700 cash on hand.

French’s fundraising total isn’t likely going to match the GOP lieutenant governor candidates. Both Sen. Lesil McGuire and Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan have said that they raised in the ballpark of $100,000 apiece. However, $61,700 on hand is a pretty good number for French.

As reported earlier, Gov. Sean Parnell raised $407,253, and had over $330,000 on hand.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott beat expectations by raising more than $230,000. However, he hasn’t filed his report yet and it’s unclear how much money he spent raising that amount.

Finally, independent candidate for governor Bill Walker hasn’t released his official report, but he did send out a release on Monday saying that he raised more than $200,000, also beating expectations. According to the release, that number includes $29,000 of his own money.

Walker said that unlike Parnell, he has to pay for his own travel.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Parnell raises more than $400,000 this election cycle

Gov. Sean Parnell filed his disclosure with the Alaska Public Offices Commission on Wednesday morning, showing that he has raised $407,253 this election cycle, which ran from April 15, 2013 to Feb. 1 of this year. He spent $76,220, leaving him with a hefty  amount to spend on the race.

Parnell’s campaign said in a press release that about 93 percent of that money came from 1,100 Alaskan donors, who are limited to $500 donations per year.

“I am both grateful and humbled by the incredible amount of support shown by Alaskans,” Parnell said in the release. “Our message of proven leadership and opportunity for all Alaskans is resonating.”

The reports aren’t officially due until Saturday. The other candidates, independent Bill Walker and Democrat Byron Mallott haven’t yet filed their reports. Neither was immediately available for comment.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com 


Walker fires back at Parnell over Medicaid. ‘Debate me’ he says.

15526075_mIn a Facebook post, independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker fired back at Gov. Sean Parnell over what Walker said was a misrepresentation of his support of Obamacare. Last week, Parnell’s campaign manager Jerry Gallagher sent out a fundraising email, calling Democrat challenger Byron Mallott and Walker “two peas in a pod” when it comes to supporting Obamacare.

“Two peas in a pod? How about Parnell and Gallagher as two oil industry lobbyists?” Walker wrote. Gallagher worked with Parnell at ConocoPhillips, where they were both lobbyists.

Walker wrote that while Obamacare isn’t the answer to the country’s health care issues, he did support accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid and thereby insuring up to 40,000 Alaskans through federal funds.

“By rejecting the expansion, Parnell in fact, supports ‘Obamacare; by forcing uninsured Alaskans into the ACA exchanges,” Walker wrote. “I continue to have two words for you, Governor Parnell. ‘Debate me.'”

Here’s the Walker’s post:

Not only is Governor Parnell misrepresenting why he has thrust Alaska into deficit spending, in a desperate attempt he is also misrepresenting my position on “Obamacare” (ACA). In Facebook posts and donation letter statements by his fellow ConocoPhillips lobbyist/campaign manager, Jerry Gallagher, Parnell claims Byron Mallot and I are “two peas in a pod” supporting “Obamacare”. (Two peas in a pod? How about Parnell and Gallagher as two oil industry lobbyists?) Parnell is pulling a play from Gov. Hickel’s playbook when he ran a successful “two peas in a pod” campaign against his two opponents in his Independent run for governor. I knew Wally Hickel. Wally Hickel was a friend of mine and Governor Parnell is no Wally Hickel. Hickel always put Alaska’s interests first.

Is our health care system broken? Yes. Is ACA the answer? No. But in agreement with the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce and other fiscal conservatives, once ACA became law, I supported Medicaid expansion with the caveat of continued federal funding. My support is due to the sheer economics of Alaskans paying for the expansion in federal taxes and increased premiums if we reject the expansion, the creation of 4,000 new Alaskan jobs, billions of dollars flowing into our communities from the expansion and lower cost coverage for 40,000+ Alaskans. By rejecting the expansion, Parnell in fact, supports “Obamacare” by forcing uninsured Alaskans into the ACA exchanges.

Stop trying to pull the wool over our eyes, Governor. Alaskans are smarter and deserve better than this. I continue to have two words for you, Governor Parnell. ‘Debate me.’

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


The race for governor is heating up

It looks like Gov. Sean Parnell’s reelection campaign is slowly waking up. Below is the fundraising email I got today, with direct pleas for money edited out. (My new rule, which I’m making up as I go.) Parnell has been having lots of fundraisers, but this is the first email I’ve seen from his campaign.

The subject of the email was, “Two Peas in the same pod.” The peas are Independent candidate Bill Walker and Democrat Byron Mallott, and the pod is ObamaCare. Parnell says that the support of ObamaCare sacrifices “the financial well-being and future of young Alaskans.”

As far as attacks go, it was relatively tame compared to what the Alaska Democrats sent out today. In advance of Parnell releasing his budget, the Dem’s press release was titled, “Parnell Presides Over Fiscal Disaster.”

Copied below, it attacks him for everything from running the state into deficit spending, taking a raise, and refusing to accept federal dollars for Medicaid expansion, among other things. (If it were my job to do so, I’d advise them to start separating the wheat from the chaff. Cutting office space for state workers might be a little hard for those in the private sector to get worked up about, particularly considering the generous state salaries and benefits package.)

Here’s Parnell’s release:

Only Sean Parnell has a consistent, proven record of making decisions for Alaskans first. Just this month, for example, a new law championed by the governor kept payroll taxes from automatically increasing on Alaskan employees and employers. As a result, Sean helped put $89 million back into the pockets of hard-working Alaskans, rather than into state government’s treasury.

Sean’s record speaks for itself: his commitment to creating economic opportunity for all Alaskans, strengthening our families and communities, improving educational and training opportunities, and wisely managing Alaska’s finances – all have made Alaska a better place to call home.

Sean’s opposition in the election have gone on the attack and begun making oversized promises. If nothing else, Bill Walker and Byron Mallott have already defined themselves as two peas in the same pod.

Both Walker and Mallott support Obamacare. Both have been silent as thousands of Alaskans received insurance cancellation notices, and are forced to pay higher health insurance premiums and higher deductibles. Walker and Mallott appear willing to sacrifice the financial well-being and future of young Alaskans who will have to pay the massive federal debt from Obamacare’s failed promises. Alaskans expect and deserve better leadership.

Help keep the governor in office who fought for Alaska Performance Scholarships for our young people; who leads the fight against domestic violence and sexual assault in our state; and who, at every turn, works to clear paths of opportunity for Alaskans.

Thank you,

Jerry Gallagher

Campaign Manager

Parnell 2014

Here’s the Democrats’ press release:

Tomorrow, Governor Parnell will release his budget for Fiscal Year 2015.  Parnell is likely to emphasize spending cuts rather than the massive deficit caused by his Oil Giveaway.  A careful review of his claims will be warranted.  When Governor Parnell presented his last budget (FY 2014), he claimed it would cut spending and produce $500 million in “surplus revenue.”  In fact, that budget has a $1 billion dollar deficit, which Parnell attempted to mask with a $374.1 million transfer from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.

Governor Parnell has presided over the most significant deterioration of state finances in Alaska history, turning a $5 billion surplus into a $1 billion deficit. Last week, the Department of Revenue revealed that the state will take in $2 billion less revenue in FY 2014 than previously anticipated, while oil production will decline.  At this rate, Parnell is poised to draw down all of Alaska’s savings—set aside during the ACES era–within approximately five years.  While administering this transition to deficits, Parnell has taken a $26,000 pay raise for himself and has approved of another pay raise this year.

“With his reckless fiscal policies, Parnell puts the Permanent Fund and the entire Alaska economy at risk,” said Mike Wenstrup, Chair of the Alaska Democratic Party.  “The only way to clean up Parnell’s fiscal mess is by repealing his Oil Giveaway and electing Byron Mallott.”

Highlights of Gov. Parnell’s Fiscal Disaster:

  • Parnell rejected $2 billion for federally-funded expansion of Medicaid for 41,000 Alaskans, giving up billions of dollars in investment and 4,000 jobs.

  • The Republican legislature is spending $33 million on posh new offices for legislators in Anchorage, increasing monthly lease costs by 500%.

  • While Republicans expand their own offices, Parnell is squeezing state employees from offices into small cubicles.

  • The Republican legislature spent $74,000 on an enclosed smokers lounge in Juneau that is reserved for use by legislators only.

  • Governor Parnell supports a $6,000 raise for himself, even though he already received a $26,000 pay raise in 2011.

  • Since Governor Parnell last raised his own salary, 600 public school teachers and support staff have been laid off while Base Student Allocation education funding has been cut 7% (inflation-adjusted).

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Parnell’s plan to delay gas taxes also delays pipeline. Walker calls it all ‘maddening.’

To the surprise of some, and maybe the amusement of others, Gov. Sean Parnell announced on Tuesday that he’s not planning to introduce natural gas tax legislation to be considered in the upcoming legislative session. Currently, natural gas is taxed at roughly the same rate as is oil, but it’s only worth a fraction of what oil is.

Parnell says he’s not doing so because the companies that have the lease rights to the natural gas, and who would build the line that would carry the gas from the North Slope to tidewater, haven’t met all of the benchmarks he set out for them in his 2013 state of the state address.

Apparently, Parnell’s refusal to introduce gas taxes signals some sort of punishment. What kind of punishment, however, is unclear. What is clear is that the world is awash in natural gas, and other projects —  potentially more profitable projects —  await the companies.

Another thing that’s clear: Parnell’s announcement signals another delay in the decades-long dream of getting a large diameter natural gas pipeline.

Bill Walker, who is running as an independent candidate for governor, had a visceral reaction to Parnell’s statement. He said that Parnell is just playing into the hands of the producers. “It’s perfect for them,” Walker said. He has been an advocate for an LNG project for more than a quarter of a century, and has long advocated that the state get tough on the companies by either building the line itself or negotiating with the companies that are willing to do it.

“Parnell is trying to get tough. He’s trying to be a negotiator. But they’re just laughing at us,” Walker said. “They’re just on the floor rolling.” He said that the producers want the delay so that they can work on other projects and wait out Alaska as oil production declines, as the state’s coffers shrink, and as the state becomes increasingly desperate and increasingly willing to negotiate.

Walker ran for governor in 2010. He came in second place in the Republican primary, winning more than 33 percent of the vote on a campaign primarily advocating the construction of a gas pipeline project.

Since the 1970s, Alaska has tried to entice, and at various times demand, that the lease holders of the vast reserves of natural gas on the North Slope build a pipeline to get the gas to market.

The market for natural gas is a fickle one, however, say nothing of Alaska’s political climate. And throughout the years, every time it looked like it might actually begin to materialize, the market either crashes, or the political winds change, or a governor tries to flex his or her muscles and punish the companies, which happen to be the among the largest, most powerful, private companies in the world.

“It’s maddening,” Walker said, expressing a sentiment shared by many who have followed the long, illusive gas line story.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Get your meatballs here! This week in fundraising fun.

15163349_mAre there more fundraisers in Alaska than elsewhere? It sure feels that we’re awash in them and that if you really wanted to, you could spend all your evenings, for eternity, eating meatballs and celery sticks while men who use hair products talk about how they’re going to redecorate their new Anchorage legislative offices that they never use while bureaucrats discuss their ever-bulging mileage accounts.

Sound fun? Welcome to my world. Anyway, there may be others, but here’s  what’s going on just this week:

On Monday night, Gov. Sean Parnell attended a campaign event in Kenai held at a private residence. More than 50 people showed. Tuesday at noon, Parnell will be attending a fundraising luncheon in Anchorage that is reportedly already over-subscribed. And in case you’re just coming fresh from a root canal, on Tuesday night, Parnell will be having a fundraiser at the appropriately named Advanced Pain Centers on Abbott Road from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The public is welcome.

Independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker will be having an event on Tuesday evening as well. It is hosted by, among many others, Wayne Anthony Ross. WAR doesn’t use hair products or talk about redecorating anything, except perhaps his own private shooting range. (P.S. I’ve missed that guy.)

Also on Tuesday evening Dan Coffey is expected to announce his candidacy for mayor of Anchorage at the residence of Bill and Michelle Bittner, and that election isn’t until 2015.

If you’re in D.C. and feeling left out of the fun, DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan will be attending an early evening event supporting his candidacy with several prominent and well-known hosts from the Bush White House. And Mead Treadwell is in D.C. at a fundraiseron Monday night hosted by tea party braintrust Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform.

On Wednesday evening, the Alaska Senate Democrats in conjunction with the Alaska Young Democrats are hosting their Fall Fiesta and Chili Cook Off from 5:30 – 7:30 pm at 3333 Denali Street. Everyone is welcome and anyone can participate in the contest. Bring your best chili. The chili judges are Senator Bettye Davis, Anchorage Assembly members Pat Flynn and Tim Steele, and AK Young Democrats’ president Joe Samaniego. The price tag for this event is whatever you’d like to give all the way up to $5000.00.

And if you still have any interest or money left in your checkbook, there is an event Thursday evening at La Mex off Diamond for Speaker of the House Mike Chenault and uber fundraiser Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux who are both seeking reelection.

If you know of others, email me at the address below.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com