This video which is supposed to illustrate the Anchorage Legislative Office deal showed up in my inbox last week. I’ve asked around, but nobody is taking credit for it. It looks like it’s professionally made, but the facts are a little off. Rep. Mike Hawker and Rep. Bill Stoltze are named as the pigs in the video. The wolves are developer Mark Pfeffer and Bob Acree. To be fair, Stoltze had no more to do with the deal than did Democrats Rep. Max Gruenbert, and Sens. Lyman Hoffman and Dennis Egan. Other Republican House members who signed off on the deal include Craig Johnson, Lance Pruitt and Peggy Wilson. Senators included Kevin Meyer, Lesil McGuire, Dennis Egan, John Coghill, and Peter Micciche.
A bill that would put public notices online, and would decrease the ad revenue of newspapers, has gotten an inordinate amount of attention. It’s become such a hot-button that the bill was pulled off the floor and sent back to House Rules, where bills like this go to die.
A little background: As it is, state agencies and some local governments are required to publish some legal notices, such as meetings, foreclosures, and certain court notices. They do so often in their local newspapers. A bill introduced by Rep. Mike Hawker would allow certain notices, such as housing foreclosure notices, to be put online. Legal notices from state agencies would not be affected, but some of those agencies would be allowed to put some reports, like annual reports, online instead of in print. Allowing Anchorage to put foreclosure notices online would save the city about $20,000, the muni said. Annual reports cost the state about $1.6 million in 2011. Both Anchorage and the Alaska Municipal League wrote letters in support of the bill.
It’s pretty innocuous on the face of it. However, if it passed and worked well, it would likely lead to all state agency notices bypassing newspapers. Then, the situation wouldn’t be so innocuous and it would very much effect the revenue of newspapers.
At a press conference, Anchorage Daily News reporter Rich Mauer accused Hawker of introducing the bill in order to seek retribution on the paper for its coverage of Hawker’s roll in the Legislative Office Building. Hawker called the charged ludicrous.
Rep. Ben Nageak of Barrow, who also supported the bill, was also accused of trying to get retribution on the Daily News, something that he denied also. Jenny Canfield, a Juneau Empire reporter got caught in the mess and was fired.
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