Tag Archives: mayor dan sullivan

More on Alaska’s lieutenant governor forum

Last night I wrote about Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan’s comments about union membership and slavery at the lieutenant governor’s forum on Monday sponsored by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. Below are a few more tidbits from the forum, which featured Democrats Alaska state Sen. Hollis French and Wasilla teacher Bob Williams on one side, and Republicans Sullivan and state Sen. Lesil McGuire on the other.

    • Despite public opinion polls that show broad public support, all four candidates said they were against legalizing marijuana.
    • French, Williams and McGuire oppose right-to-work legislation. Sullivan adamantly supports it.
    • The two Dems, as expected, are for repealing the oil tax legislation passed in 2013. Both Republicans were against repeal.
    • On prioritizing the three big projects: both McGuire and Sullivan put the large natural gasline first, the Knik Arm Bridge second and the Susitna dam last. French put the Susitna dam first, a bullet line second, and the Knik Arm Bridge last.

Best lines of the event:

  • From Bob Williams about the Anchorage Legislative Offices building:  “Never before have we seen such a disconnect between our values and our actions… When we’re talking about a legislative palace…spending $1 million for furniture, $100,000 to design a furniture theme. My dad was a logger: We can do a furniture theme for 10 bucks. But when it comes to education, we say we don’t have the money…”
  • From Mayor Dan about where he sees the state in five years:  “Lesil McGuire is back in the state Senate where she sponsors the Sullivan Teacher Initiative…President Rand Paul opens ANWR, armed with a Republican House and a Republican Senate….The Knik Arm Bridge is being built.” And the natural gas pipeline is under construction.
  • From Sen. Hollis French on where he sees the state in five years unless there’s a change in leadership: “In five years, there will be three or four half-built projects when we run out of savings.”
  • From Sen. Lesil McGuire on right-to-work legislation and the tension between Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan and the unions: “What we’ve seen at the local level — what’s happened — it’s been somewhat of a disaster here in Anchorage. When you go so far and start pushing almost a war, if you will, against the working men and women in this state.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Alaska Republican candidates make questionable remarks related to race

Republican candidates have made questionable remarks related to race at two different candidate forums in the last few days, including comparing union membership to slavery.

The first one was after a GOP Senate forum on Saturday, when candidate Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell used the widely disavowed Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy as a symbol for government overreach. He told Anchorage Daily News reporter Nat Hertz that although Bundy was problematic, he was “like Joe the Plumber.”

For a short time, Bundy was a hero among those who have fought against such overreach. When the federal government tried to make him pay for the 20 years that his cattle had been grazing on federal land, his supporters rode in on horses and brought guns. Fox News loved him. Right wing radio sang his praises. Then he began talking about his world view, including of race, and people didn’t love him much anymore. This is where he got “problematic.”

This is a truncated version of what he told a New York Times reporter about “the Negro:”

And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do? They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.

Hertz asked Treadwell about Bundy because of an allusion that Treadwell made about him in a speech at the forum. The racist comments got bigger headlines than Bundy’s original war against the feds. However, Treadwell, who had been following the story, told the ADN reporter that he wasn’t aware of the racist comments. “I don’t know what he said about race issues, and I don’t support that,” he told Hertz.

In a follow-up interview, Treadwell again said that he didn’t know about Bundy’s comments about race before referring to him, and that he didn’t support the rancher, but that he was nonetheless a symbol of a “sage brush rebellion” that’s brewing in the country over federal control of lands. If he were elected to the Senate, Treadwell said, wresting that control from the feds and putting it back into the hands of the state would be one of his top priorities.

Then, on Monday at a lieutenant governor’s forum, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan compared being in a union to slavery.

In response to an audience question about right-to-work legislation, Sullivan said that he adamantly supported it. “We ended slavery a long time ago,” he said.

In an interview after the debate, Sullivan clarified his remarks. He said that when someone has to pay to get a job, referring to union dues, it’s “economic slavery.”

Right-to-work laws vary in the 24 states that have such laws, but they generally mean that employees can’t be required to join a labor union and pay dues to get a job that has been negotiated through labor agreements.

None of the three other candidates in the forum—Republican state Sen. Lesil McGuire, Democratic state Sen. Hollis French, and Wasilla teacher Bob Williams—support the legislation.

In the past few years, conservatives have likened slavery from everything to affirmative action, to abortion to social security. And they often get reminded that it’s an offensive comparison. Most recently Sarah Palin made headlines for comparing the national debt to slavery.

In any case, the comment indicates that Sullivan plans to take his battle with the unions with him on his statewide campaign. Anchorage-based Republican consultant Marc Hellenthal said that it’s a battle that will likely help him in the Republican primary, but could hurt him and Gov. Sean Parnell in the general.

As the Alaska Democratic Party pointed out in a press release, Alaska has the second-highest rate of union participation in the country.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


State suspends grant money that includes funding for tennis courts

Scott Ruby, a director at the Department of Commerce, sent a letter to Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan telling him that disbursements for the $37 million grant which includes funding for Anchorage tennis courts has been suspended pending “resolution” of issues surrounding the grant: namely the use of the grant money to build new tennis courts.

Ruby wrote that the department is “taking this action in response to a legal concern raised by the Legislature’s Legal Services Division.” Ruby said that the action was “unfortunate,” and he hoped for a speedy resolution.

Alaska state Sen. Lesil McGuire alerted the division to the legal services opinion in a letter she wrote to the department and to Gov. Sean Parnell.

Last year lawmakers added the funding for the courts to a larger package in the state capital budget earmarked, “Project 80s Deferred and Critical Maintenance.” The money was originally intended to support renovations to aging facilities like the Dempsey-Anderson Arena, Sullivan Arena and the Ben Boeke Ice Arena.

Sullivan and Rep. Lindsey Holmes pushed for the tennis court money to be part of the appropriation, a push that has since captured the public’s attention and has turned into a symbol of murky government process.

Hilary Martin, the legislative lawyer Ruby is referring to, wrote on April 2 that the law says that a condition of a grant is that the grantee will “spend the grant for the purposes specified in the appropriation or allocation.” New tennis courts “would not likely fit with the purpose of the appropriation,” Martin wrote. Nor would they fit the definition of deferred and critical maintenance of buildings built in the 1980s, she said.

McGuire is running against Sullivan in the lieutenant governor’s race. She recently asked the Senate Finance Committee to re-appropriate the tennis court money and put it into the library instead.

The Committee voted against doing do.

McGuire denies that she’s pushing the issue for her campaign, and welcomes a rewrite of the grant to fit the stated purposes. One of her main goals, she said, is for the public to be aware of the fact that the Legislature didn’t authorize tennis courts when they allocated the money.

“This is precedent setting,” McGuire said. “When you’re asking for public money, you should be clear what you’re asking for.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Mayor Dan defends tennis court appropriation

Give Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan credit for responding to stories about his administration. Below is his response to the Friday story on this site about Sen. Lesil McGuire’s attempt to re-appropriate money slated for Anchorage tennis courts:

The indoor public courts were requested by the Alaska Tennis Association so that all kids could have an opportunity to play the lifetime sport of tennis without having to be rich enough to afford the Alaska Club. All the high schools will use the facility for their regular season and regional tournament, as well as teams from around the state for the state competitions. The need became essential with the pending sale of the Alaska Club North, which has 5 of the 9 private indoor courts in town.

The first location considered was in south Anchorage (in Lesil’s district) but because of poor soils the current site was proposed. It does not matter to me where the location is, because I will continue to be a member of the Alaska Club, as I have been for nearly thirty years, because there is a wider variety of exercise options and amenities.

As for investing in our public facilities before building new ones, my administration has invested over $650 million in our parks, trails, public facilities, etc., over the past five years, the largest amount ever invested in our public infrastructure in Anchorage history.


McGuire requests Senate Finance re-appropriate tennis-court money

In a rather gutsy move, Anchorage Sen. Lesil McGuire has officially entered into the controversial tennis court debate by requesting that the Senate Finance Committee, which drafts the capital budget, re-appropriate the $7 million dollars to be used for courts. She wants that money to go to the Anchorage Loussac Library instead.

The tennis court project has been pushed by Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan. Both he and McGuire are running to be the GOP nominees for lieutenant governor. It’s unclear who, or if, any of the senators on the committee will offer the amendment. Protocol would dictate that either Anchorage Sens. Hollis French, Anna Fairclough, or Kevin Meyer do so.

One thing is clear: it puts the project back into the public glare. Also, McGuire is chair of the Senate Rules Committee, which wields a tremendous amount of power.

The tennis issue has “drawn a great deal of criticism, divided the Anchorage Assembly and served to drive a wedge into our community,” McGuire wrote in a memo to the committee. She also blamed the controversy on failure of the public to vote on an April 1 library improvement bond measure.

The $7 million is part of a $37 million appropriation that was intended to be used on “critical and deferred maintenance” on buildings built in the 1980s. Sullivan has pushed to have the $7 million go to a new tennis court, to be built in the Turnagain neighborhood, where he lives.

McGuire said that the money is “necessary to protect the State’s original investment in this facility.”

Read the full memo here.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Group questions fate of Assembly if Mayor Dan wins lt. governor’s race

United for Liberty-Alaska, a group run by Alaska Libertarian Party chair Michael Chambers, sent out the following “action alert,” in response to the Tuesday Anchorage Assembly elections:

We do not know the final results of the recent election completely but based on preliminary results, the left and unions will have control of the Assembly. Given this scenario, if Republicans vote to send Mayor Dan Sullivan to Juneau as Lt. Governor, Anchorage will experience Dick Traini as the interim Mayor!! We will have an Assembly dominated by the left and Dick Traini with his hands on the reigns. The consequence of 20% voter participation.

Sullivan is running for lieutenant governor against Alaska state Sen. Lesil McGuire.

The real win for unions would be if, after absentee ballots are counted, Pete Petersen’s 336 vote lead holds over incumbent Assemblyman Adam Trombley.

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Weekly roundup: Aloha moderate malarkey flu

aloha It’s still very early in the election season. The sun is still low and coy, objects hidden under the snow haven’t even begun to think of stirring, and most Alaskans haven’t even begun to think about who they’re going to vote for in the upcoming elections.

It feels a lot like Joe Miller time.

I know that many of you common-sense conservatives have written Miller off. But common-sense conservatives have never been accused of being commonly sensitive enough to feel the fury of that small group of primary voters, the ones that Sarah Palin awoke from their long slumber and the ones that are now gathering during these long winter nights to plan for a Miller win, much like they did in the early days of 2010.

Word is that the meetings are happening with increasing frequency, particularly in the Mat-Su Valley, where there’s something in the water which makes everyone feel dispossessed. The meetings are revivalesque, I’m told. In other words: those people vote.

In the meantime, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell , who also tries really hard to act like he’s dispossessed, is plugging along, sending out press releases accusing Begich of being soft on energy and not “enthusiastically” supporting Murkowski’s bid to end exports on oil. I say be careful of what you wish for. Any more enthusiasm from Begich and he’ll be knocking at your door, using that soon-to-be-grating,  folksy voice to try and convince you that he’s as “independent as Alaska.”

And he’ll keep going until you agree.

Speaking of Begich. How’s this for his new moniker, a la Art Hackney: “Malarkey Mark.” And isn’t it interesting that the national Republicans are bashing him giving a speech in Hawaii rather than being in D.C., voting to extend unemployment benefits? Maybe they’ve been employed for so long that those same Republicans forgot they don’t like the bill?

Besides, in addition to attending fundraisers and giving a speech, Begich likely spent the rest of his waking hours in Hawaii convincing Alaskans that he’s as independent as they are. Indeed, you can’t throw a stone this time of year in Hawaii without hitting an Alaskan. Former Mayor Tom Fink is reportedly there, giving lectures to anyone who will listen on laissez faire economics and school choice. Rep. Les Gara is riding a girl’s 10 speed bike around Oahu. It was the affordable one available, he said.

From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.

Speaking of throwing stones, neither of the two Republican candidates running for lieutenant governor showed at the first state-wide candidate forum in Anchorage on Tuesday night. Mayor Dan Sullivan had other plans, so he declined immediately. Sen. Lesil McGuire called in sick right before it started. Malarkey? Who can blame her? I’d be sick too if I were a moderate Republican in that crowd, in this state, where to win statewide office, you have to get at least a handful of those Valley folks to cast their vote for you. Maybe the remedy is in the Valley water.

Anyway, because no Republican showed, the show was left to Democrats Sen. Hollis French and Palmer teacher Bob Williams, and independent Craig Fleener. As expected, Gov. Sean Parnell took a beating.

Sen. Hollis French, as usual, was like, “au contraire Parnell!” He was like, “Oil companies j’en peux plus!”

I don’t know Craig Fleener well enough to poke fun at him. He seems really nice, smart. Besides, he’s a former Marine.

But the line of the night belonged to Bob Williams.

Bob Williams? I hadn’t heard of him either, and yet he has blue eyes and even comes with props! On Tuesday night, there was a red cup, yellow cup and green cup, and some sort of piece of cloth all of which represented something important enough to warrant them. I can’t remember what it was, however. (My dog ate my notes, and then I suddenly came down with the moderate malarkey Republican flu.)

What I do remember, perhaps the only thing I remember, is when Blue Eyes called Parnell a wimp.

That got the requisite, snide, liberal chuckle. But Williams wasn’t done. Because it’s so uncool in school to call anybody a name, he went on to explain what he meant was that Parnell is “Wildly Inaccurate, Misleading, and Partisan.” It doesn’t quite work as an acrostic, but nobody, least of all Parnell, is going to challenge him.

What else is going on out there? Mayor Dan hired his buddy, high school friend and chief-of-staff Dan Kendall to run ML&P. His qualifications for running one of the state’s largest electrical utilities? For 30 years he was a corrosion technician for ENSTAR. For 30 years, he did nothing but drive around in his truck, getting a big union paycheck to check for cronyism. Oops! I mean corrosion.

Whispers of Eagle River Rep. Lora Reinbold, and Valley Rep. Wes Keller organizing what’s being called a “conservative caucus” in the House to push out the moderates. Because, you know, Alaska’s Republican dominated House is so full of moderates. Must be something in the water.

And there’s lots of talk about the good bureaucrats at Revenue and DNR, who could probably use a chug or two of Valley water, trying to untangle the state from the very last vestige of the Palin regime. Next session, the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, or AGIA, will be likely be a goner, taking its hundreds of millions with it, and one of the countless big dreams of a big natural gasline. Aloha AGIA.

As William’s might put it: “Alaska Gets It in the….Abdomen again.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com