Monthly Archives: October 2013

Maximizing the resources for all: The State of Alaska is a landlord to a strip club

strip club In the Kenai Peninsula, Good Time Charlies boasts the only strip club within 120 miles. In the summer, it has 55 entertainers who dance on stage or if you prefer, on your table, either topless or nude. They do this in a building in Soldotna, off the Sterling Highway, atop a parcel of land owned by the State of Alaska.

Surprisingly, the State of Alaska is the landlord to a strip joint.

The Alaska state Department of Transportation bought the .79 acre parcel of land in 1991, when it planned to widen the highway. It paid $249,000 for it then (now it’s only assessed at $123,400) and instead of kicking the property owner, Charles Cunningham, off of the land, it chose to lease it to him for $2490 a year.

That’s less than $210 a month.

DOT spokeswoman Jill Reese admitted that it was an “unusual situation,” but that DOT wanted to err on the side of fairness and not put someone out of business, no matter the type of business, before the land was needed.

Until 2007, the State of Rhode Island also owned a building that housed a strip club called Desire. Desire’s rent was $7,000 a month. Rhode Island DOT thought it was getting a good deal for tax payers. The public, however, didn’t think that it was healthy for the state to be benefiting from sin quite so blatantly. The state forced it to move out shortly after it made the news.

In Alaska that probably won’t happen anytime soon. We don’t have as much of a puritanical strain up here. And we’re an “owner” state that is constitutionally mandated to maximize the resources for all.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Alaska GOP chair on police and firemen: ‘I don’t buy the argument that their job is dangerous’

Via Casey Reynolds, below is a controversial letter from Peter Goldberg, the chair of the Alaska Republican Party, to Assemblyman Bill Starr about the upcoming vote on Tuesday to repeal Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan’s controversial labor code rewrite. The rewrite, among other things, limits raises, duration of contracts and eliminates bonuses.

Word is that before the letter, there might have been just enough votes on the Anchorage Assembly, including Starr’s, to repeal the law. Now, with Goldberg’s letter in circulation, the repeal is probably a slam dunk. In other words, the letter is likely backfiring in a big way.

Goldberg wrote that the rewrite was the mayor and assembly’s “greatest achievement,” in recent history. Municipal salaries, he says are “absurd,” which is a view that probably aligns with many in the city. However, he then goes on to write “police and firemen are WAY overpaid.”

”I don’t buy the argument that their job is dangerous. Their pay dwarfs that of the average soldier who is far more likely to be shot at,” he wrote. Goldberg’s words are sure to raise the ire of police and fireman everywhere.

After the party leadership was hijacked by a combination of tea party/Ron Paul supporters, Goldberg, a retired Army colonel, took over to provide some sanity.

Here’s the letter:


Why are you changing your mind on the bill that reined in the unions? From my personal perspective, that was one of the greatest achievements of the Assembly and the Mayor in recent history. The salaries that some of our municipal employees receive is absolutely absurd. In particular, the police and firemen are WAY overpaid. I don’t buy the argument that their job is dangerous. Their pay dwarfs that of the average soldier who is far more likely to be shot at. Some of our police have retired pay that is much higher than military colonels and generals.

I suspect that you’ve gotten a lot of pressure from the unions, but I can’t believe that the population of the city as a whole wants to give in to them.

Please go back to your original position.

Peter S. Goldberg
Chairman, Alaska Republican Party
Colonel, US Army Retired

Contact Amanda Coyne at


GOP shutdown damages party and slows fundraising

gop_brokenWe all know that the public mood can change on a dime. And Republicans better hope that it does, and fast. Polls are coming out nearly daily showing the abysmal public perception of the GOP in the aftermath of the government shutdown.

A Washington Post-ABC poll released on Monday shows that the party’s image has sunk to an all-time low. About 32 percent of the public says that they have a favorable image of the party, while 63 percent say they have an unfavorable view. Further, a CNN poll finds that 54 percent of the public say it’s a bad thing that the GOP controls the House, and only 38 percent say it’s a good thing.

The Post-ABC poll also finds that only 25 percent of the public has a favorable image of the tea party, which is the lowest rating ever in that poll.

Congressional Democrats aren’t doing that great either. More than six in 10 disapprove of how they handled budget negotiations, and the party’s unfavorable ratings is at a record high of 49 percent. However, all three federal Democratic congressional committees outraised their Republican counterparts in September.

According to The Hill, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $8.4 million, more than $3 million above the National Republican Campaign Committee’s $5.3 million.

The Democratic National Committee raised $7.4 million. The Republican National Committee raised $7.1 million.

And the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee outraised the National Republican Senatorial Committee by about $1 million, $4.6 million to $3.4 million.

As expected, the Alaska Democrats also did better on federal fundraising than the Republicans. In September, the party raised more than $41,000 while the Republicans raised $11,425. For the year to date, the Dems in Alaska have raised $348,418 to the Republicans $64,821.

This money doesn’t include money raised by either party for state candidates, only to help federal candidates. For the Dems, most, if not all, of that money will go to getting U.S. Sen. Mark Begich elected. The Republicans still have to choose their candidate. After the primary in August, the national committees will assess the viability of their candidate and transfer money accordingly.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Quote of the day: Gov. Chris Christie drops challenge to same sex marriage

“Although the governor strongly disagrees with the court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people, the court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law. The governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court.”

Statement by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on dropping his administration’s  legal challenge to same sex marriage. 


Lisa Murkowski announces that she’s running in 2016

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski put to rest persistent rumors that she wasn’t going to run again in 2016, when her seat is up. “Yes, I’m running,” she said on Friday, where she was attending the first Alaska Women’s Summit at Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage. “I guess I’m announcing on,” a fact which she and others in the room found amusing.

She did admit that she gets frustrated with her job, but then she thinks about all the work that went into her 2010 write-in campaign to make sure that Joe Miller didn’t take her seat.

“I didn’t work so darned hard to give it up,” she said.

The rumors were perpetuated in large part because she hasn’t been fundraising in the state. She said she wasn’t doing so to allow other Republicans who are running for office in 2014 to raise money. She said she’s doing her fundraising outside of the state.

Indeed, it’s tough for federal candidates to raise money in the state. The only state or territory that gave less so far in the federal 2014 cycle is Guam and Vermont.

Murkowski, a moderate, will likely face a challenger for her seat, and she’ll have to get through another grueling primary. And while she has gained a great deal of respect nationally for her role in ending the shutdown, many say that her stances, particularly on social issues such as gay rights, is going to make it very difficult for her to win the Republican primary.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Don Young is now the longest serving Republican in the House

The man who made his way to Fort Yukon in the state’s first year of statehood. The man who won his first House seat in 1973. The man who brandished a walrus penis on the House floor, who threatened to bite a political opponent “like a mink,” who stuffed a transportation bill “like a turkey,” who called Hispanics “wetbacks,” and who is the congressman for all Alaskans except for Sheila Toomey, is now the House’s longest serving Republican.

Florida Rep. Bill Young, who was elected in 1970, had that distinction. He died on Friday while being hospitalized for a back injury. He was 82 years old.

Alaska’s Don Young is 80 years old. He is running again for the 22nd time. He’ll likely win by a large margin, as he’s done so many times in the past.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Begich far outraises Treadwell in quest for U.S. Senate seat

Money Alaska U.S. Sen. Mark Begich raised $813,000 in the third quarter, which runs from July 1 to Sept. 30, according to a filing shared by his campaign staff. He has $2.4 million cash on hand. All told, Begich has raised $4.8 million this election cycle.

Begich does not have a Democratic challenger in the primary, so the real heat in the race belongs to the three Republicans who have so far filed to run against him: Joe Miller, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, and Dan Sullivan. Miller did not respond to a request to share his file. Sullivan wasn’t running this past quarter and didn’t have to report.

Treadwell raised less than $200,000. He has about $155,000 on hand. In total, Treadwell, who announced his plans to run in June, has raised only $340,000.

His campaign called it “tremendous” but it has to be a disappointment. Candidates in other races who are challenging in what are considered vulnerable Democratic Senators have done much better.

In Arkansas for instance, Rep. Tom Cotton outraised Sen. Mark Pryor $1.07 million to Pryor’s $1.04 million.The Republican favorite in Louisiana, Rep. Bill Cassidy, raised. $700,000. In North Carolina, GOP favorite Thom Tillis raised $800,000.

As everyone knows, despite its geographic size, Alaska is a small state demographically, making fundraising more difficult. Also, there isn’t a contested Republican primary in these other states.

Even so, the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee is watching closely, and it won’t throw the full weight of its support behind a candidate who can’t raise more than 25 percent of what his opponent raises.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Obama administration’s terrifying lack of knowledge about ObamaCare

From Peter Suderman in Reason:

“The deadline to apply to enroll in health coverage and not pay a penalty next year is not the same deadline as the end of the open enrollment period, March 31. It’s actually February 15. Which means that while you can still enroll after February 15, you’ll have to pay the penalty for going uninsured if you finish your application after that date. What’s terrifying isn’t the earlier date itself, but the facepalm-worthy fact that the administration, including the Internal Revenue Service, seems not have known about the earlier date until very recently.”



Hey Sarah Palin: Your tea cups are cracking.

tea cup It was not a good week for many Republicans, particularly the roughly half of the party’s current House members who were elected in 2010 or 2012, and marched into Washington with tea cups balanced on their heads. And it certainly wasn’t a good week for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who helped get many of them elected.

In fact, it probably is on the list of her three worst weeks. The first being the week she quit her job. Second, when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, on Palin’s “crosshair” list, was shot. And then this week, a candidate in New Jersey that she had fought hard for, Steve Lonegan, lost his bid for Senate against Cory Booker, who, in Palin’s words, is a “celebrity stand in” for Obama. Whatever that means.

The “celebrity stand-in” thrashed Lonegan, 54.6 percent to 44.4 percent.

And then, of course, the end of the shutdown on Wednesday night. It was something that she and her tea party brethren fought hard against. They lost with nothing to show for it except for mammoth cracks in those tea cups.

People have been predicting Palin’s demise, and what she represents, since she took the national stage in 2008. I haven’t gone along with them until maybe this week, when the business community finally wised up to the fact that their once beloved fiscal conservative tea partiers not only don’t care about them, but seem intent on destroying them.

As the Washington Post put it, the shutdown exposed the fissures between powerful business interests and tea party lawmakers and activist groups like the Heritage Action and the Club for Growth

The Post quotes Dirk Van Dongen, longtime chief lobbyist for the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, as saying, “I don’t know of anybody in the business community who takes the side of the Taliban minority.”

For any lobbyist to speak so brazenly about the tea party is perhaps the best indicator yet that the movement is caving in on itself.

On her Facebook page, Palin promises that she isn’t done yet. “We’re going to shake things up in 2014. Rest well tonight, for soon we must focus on important House and Senate races,” she wrote. “Let’s start with Kentucky – which happens to be awfully close to South Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi – from sea to shining sea we will not give up. We’ve only just begun to fight.”

According to the Washington Post, however, the lead trade associations are talking about helping candidates who will challenge the tea party congressmen, the ones that Palin helped elect.

On this one, I’ll bet on the business interests and trade associations, whom Palin and her ilk call “crony capitalists” and have vowed to destroy. I’ll bet on the backbone of America, which is really who those associations represent, the ones who have finally woken up and are ready to fight.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Alaska State Chamber of Commerce’s legislative priorities

The Alaska State Chamber of Commerce held their annual meeting this week in Fairbanks where they adopted their state and federal legislative priorities for 2014.

Their top three state legislative priorities are:

  • Opposition to the repeal of SB 21 – Alaska’s new oil tax law that will be on the 2014 primary election ballot
  • Medicaid expansion as provided under the Affordable Health Care Act
  • Comprehensive workers’ compensation reform.

At the federal level, the group’s top three priorities are:

  • Supporting oil and gas exploration and development in the Arctic
  • Opposing locking up more federal lands in Alaska
  • Supporting 8(a) preferences in federal contracting for Native corporations.

While the Chamber adopted dozens of other resolutions indicative of their support of specific issues, the organization extensively advocates only on behalf of their top priorities.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Quote of the day: Murkowski on Speaker Boehner’s decision to allow for vote

“This should not be about someone’s speakership. This should not be about the next election. This should be about, really, the future of our country. It ought not be about the politics of the game or whether or not someone keeps their leadership. I want to support John Boehner in any way that I can, but we need to be pragmatic. This is not going to be a Republican solution or a Democrat solution. This is going to be a solution that is good for the country.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s response to a question on NBC’s Today Show.


If you were a House stenographer, you might become unhinged too

Just when you thought that it couldn’t get any crazier, there goes a stenographer for the U.S .House of Representatives. As the House was finishing up the vote Wednesday night to reopen the government, the woman began yelling about Freemasons and God and had to be dragged out by security.

“The greatest deception here is that this is not one nation under God. It never was. It would not have been,” she yelled. “The Constitution would not have been written by Freemasons. They go against God. You cannot serve two masters. Praise be to God. Praise be to Jesus.”

It should be noted that Rep. Don Young, who knows a thing or two about spontaneous outbursts on the House floor, voted to end the shutdown.

Contact Amanda Coyne at 


Democrats rally for Byron Mallott

byron mallottIn front of a crowd of about 80 people, Byron Mallott held a rally in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday to officially announce his entrance into the 2014 governor’s race. If he wins the Democratic primary, which is likely, he’ll be facing Republican Gov. Sean Parnell in the general, along with independent candidate Bill Walker.

He was introduced by Democratic activist Jane Angvik as well as Alaska state Sen. Hollis French, who also announced his run for lieutenant governor. French had planned on running for the top of the ticket, but he said that he’s “taking a step back for the team because Byron Mallott can win the election.”

Indeed, there was an air of optimism at the rally. It’s been a long time since the Democrats had such a strong candidate and certainly the first time in a long time that they have had one with such wide-ranging experience, a phrase that Angvik used repeatedly throughout her introduction.

Mallott is a young 70-year-old and brings a unique understanding and perspective to both government service and the private sector, as well as to the rural/urban divide that plagues Alaska. At 22 he was the mayor of Yakutat. He was commissioner of the Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs under Gov. Bill Egan. He served as mayor of Juneau before becoming the executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund. He was the CEO of Sealaska Corp, president of the Alaska Federation of Natives, and has served on the board of many corporations, including Alaska Airlines and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. He’s clan leader of the KwaashKiKwaan clan of the Raven tribe of Yakutat. His wife Toni is a retired elementary school teacher.

While Mallott is accomplished, he also has a reputation of being volatile. But if that’s true, he kept that tendency at bay during his understated and humble announcement speech, the theme of which was about unifying the state.

Mallott said he wants a place where future generations can say that it “reached out to the least amongst us,” a state where its citizens worked to turn it into a “laboratory to those things that were unique to it,” a place that helped every child born into it.

After his speech, Mallott, in contrast to Dan Sullivan’s Senate announcement on Tuesday, spent some time with the media answering questions. Mallott’s nothing if not adept at wrapping answers in platitudes. However, when asked directly if he would personally vote to repeal SB 21, the controversial oil tax bill passed last legislative session, he said he would.

He pointed to the more than 50,000 Alaskans who signed the petition to repeal the bill as evidence that something isn’t right with the new tax law, and that if it weren’t rewritten, it would “color everything.”

“We still need to work for the best balance,” he said, noting how important oil is to the state’s economy and how he would work with the companies and the citizens to create that balance.

The repeal effort is likely to take center-stage in the upcoming race. The oil companies and companies which depend on oil industry revenue—including some Alaska Native Corporations– will likely spend millions of dollars to make sure that the repeal doesn’t happen, and will likely try to make sure that a candidate who supports the repeal isn’t elected.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Ted Cruz: The best thing that’s ever happened to the Dems

Is Republican Sen. Ted Cruz really a sleeper agent for the Dems? Via Washington Posts’ Ezra Klein:

“Democrats managed to get the budget conference they’ve been pursuing for six months. They got a CR of the length they wanted and ending before the next sequestration cuts rather than six-month CR that Sen. Susan Collins proposed. They got a debt-ceiling increase all the way into February…[T]he strategy Ted Cruz managed to force on the GOP was so suicidal that Democrats felt comfortable forcing Republicans to cave completely.”

Perhaps Brad Keithley should take notes. Joke!