Monthly Archives: April 2014

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


Picture of the day: Anchorage sixth grader Alys Korosei’s winning doodle

google doodle

Sixth grader Alys Korosei of Bowman Elementary School in Anchorage is Alaska’s winner in Google’s annual Doodle contest, where school kids from across the country “doodle” their inventions to make the world a better place. “If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place, I would invent a machine that turned garbage into fuel. This way we could use less natural resources and have no oil spills,” Korosei wrote about her doodle. Now, the public votes on the winner from each of five grade groups. Cast your vote here.


Halcro ‘mad as hell’ that U.S. Chamber enters Alaska Senate race

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has entered the Alaska state Senate race in support of GOP candidate Dan Sullivan. The ad, shown below, will begin airing tomorrow.

Anchorage Chamber President Andrew Halcro was “mad as hell” when he heard about the ad. When the U.S. Chamber recently told him in a conference call that it was thinking about getting involved, he implored them to stay away. The Anchorage Chamber is nonpartisan, and this puts it in an “untenable situation,” Halcro said. Besides, he’s “sick and tired” of third-party money coming into the state. Such ads “don’t add any value to the discourse, and suffocates any solution to the problems,” he said.

Halcro said that he spent all morning answering concerns from his group’s membership.

The Chamber is also involved in five other tight races across the country. It hasn’t yet filed with the FEC, so it’s unknown how big the ad buy in Alaska is. Sullivan’s brother, Frank Sullivan, is one of 128 Chamber-board members.

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Christians respond to Palin’s baptism-by-waterboarding comment

Speaking to the NRA, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said on Saturday that if she were in charge of the country, our “enemies,” would “know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.” The line drew huge applause from the audience and is now also drawing condemnation from Christians on both sides of the political spectrum. Below are a few responses to the comments:

From Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition:

For anyone to confess Christ as their savior and to compare one of the means of God’s grace to a reprehensible act of torture is reprehensible. I hope members of Gov. Palin’s local church will explain to her why her remarks denigrate the Christian faith. Such remarks bring shame on the Body of Christ and to our witness in the world…

From Rod Dreher of the American Conservative:

Not only is this woman, putatively a Christian, praising torture, but she is comparing it to a holy sacrament of the Christian faith. It’s disgusting — but even more disgusting, those NRA members, many of whom are no doubt Christians, cheered wildly for her…For us Christians, baptism is the entry into new life. Palin invoked it to celebrate torture…What does it say about the character of a person that they could make that joking comparison, and that so many people would cheer for it. Nothing good — and nothing that does honor to the cause of Jesus Christ.

From Hollis Phelps, in Religious Dispatches:

As a sacrament to many Christians, baptism signifies regeneration, the rebirth of the individual as “a new creature” in Christ. So understood, baptism is a work of grace; it is, as Gregory of Nazianzus says, “God’s most beautiful and magnificent gift.” To equate it with torture is, in this sense, not only unthinking, but borders on the sacrilegious.

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Loose Lips: Walker loves caterpillars, the inimitable Eledge, and weather in Dubrovnik


    • A rather limited survey was released on Monday by The Liberty Foundation, a small organization whose plan is to work through the states to promote free markets and “competitive federalism.” The poll found that in a general election matchup, U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan beat Sen. Mark Begich by 5 points. The survey didn’t ask about the other GOP primary candidates Mead Treadwell and Joe Miller. President of Liberty Foundation, Matt Mayer, said that the other names were omitted because they only had a limited number of questions, and it assumed, given the amount of money raised, that Dan Sullivan was the leading candidate. That, however, is a big assumption. The only other public poll recently released was by Rasmussen Reports, which found in March that Mead Treadwell was the only candidate who beat Begich in the general. None of the candidates, including most tellingly Begich, have released poll numbers.
    • If laughter and applause was any indication, independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker was the winner in the Anchorage Chamber’s forum on Monday, where all three major candidates answered questions about oil, the economy, and education. Although he’s not necessarily the smoothest talker, and he always has more to say than time allows, Walker’s passion and humor made up his faults. The best of the forum was when he was talking about the federal government’s decision to take into account the animals when it decided not to allow for a potentially life-saving road between King Cove and Cold Bay in rural Alaska. “I like animals,” he said. “My favorite is a caterpillar,” he said referring to the yellow tractors. He also said he liked deer, as in John Deere.
    • The GOP’s state convention is this weekend, and the convention program has been released. It features a montage of Republican political pins on the front, including a Bill Walker for Governor pin. Oops! The program also lists every Alaska Republican Party chair since forever, except for the two very colorful and short-lived chairs between Randy Ruedrich and Peter Goldberg. You remember, the chairs who were drummed out of the party, one of whom locked the doors to the party headquarters behind her before skipping town.
    • Sources say that the inimitable Judy Eledge will be putting her name in for party chair.
    • Senate Bill 21: Sense and Nonsense — ISER’s Dr. Scott Goldsmith will present his recent findings on the controversial oil tax overhaul that will be on the primary ballot this Thursday at the Resource Development Council meeting held at the Dena’ina Center at 7:30 am.
    • Two Super PACs have filed with APOC to get involved in the Alaska governor’s race by boosting the candidacy of Democratic candidate Byron Mallott (Mallott-One Alaska PAC) and independent candidate Bill Walker (Walker for Alaska’s Future). To date, no one has yet created one to support Gov. Parnell’s campaign.
    • Democrat Clare Ross, who was running against Rep. Lindsey Holmes in West Anchorage, has decided to run for state Senate in that district leaving Matt Claman to take on Holmes. Ross will now be running against Rep. Mia Costello for the seat being vacated by Hollis French. I don’t have anything to go by but a gut, and mine tells me that running against Costello is going to be more difficult than running against Holmes. In 2012, the very flawed candidate Bob Bell nearly beat French. Costello is a much better candidate than Bell.
    • For those keeping track of Rep. Lora Reinbold’s birthday trip, the weather in Dubrovnik has been a bit rainy and in the upper 50s to mid-60s.

Contact Amanda Coyne at

The original story said that there wasn’t a McCain-Palin pin on the GOP convention program. That’s wrong. Don’t you worry. She’s there. 


Parnell responds to his handling of allegations of sexual abuse in the Guard

After a candidate forum on Monday, Gov. Sean Parnell answered questions about his administration’s handling of allegations of sexual abuse in Alaska’s National Guard, something that appears to have plagued the Guard for years. The problems in the Guard were reported in the media last October, and were revisited in a Sunday column by Shannyn Moore. More is likely to be revealed about the issue. For now, however, below are the allegations that I questioned Parnell about, followed by his response.

  • Allegation: Parnell waited for four years to act on allegations of a widespread culture of abuse in the Guard. In 2010, three chaplains had a meeting with Parnell to discuss the culture. Republican Sen. Fred Dyson called on Parnell three times to take action. However, it wasn’t until March 2014 that Parnell called on the federal government to conduct an official investigation into the allegations.
  • Response: Parnell said that the allegations lacked the specificity that he needed to take action. He said he met with now Adjutant General Thomas Katkus about the issue. He said he reviewed charts and spreadsheets that documented the allegations, and saw that the appropriate ones had been referred to the Anchorage Police Department and the troopers. On February 26, Republican Sen. Fred Dyson brought forth a “specific person who was able to make specific claims about what went wrong,” Parnell said. Parnell himself talked to this person, and within 24 hours, called on the feds. That investigation is expected to be complete in May. A report will follow likely sometime late summer.
  • Allegation: Parnell’s deputy commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, McHugh Pierre, tried to get a sexual assault investigator to stay quiet and not talk to legislators about the issues in the Guard by having her sign a letter saying she wouldn’t do so. He then tried to get the Guard chaplains to sign the same letter.
  • Response: Parnell said that he was “surprised’ by the accusation. But when he looked into it, it was “less nefarious than what had been reported,” he said. Indeed, the letter in question, which you can read here, is one that went to other department employees. It says that employees should not give official statements without prior authorizations, and that although, according to the letter, “the mandate does not mean that an employee cannot reach out to one’s legislator to address a personal situation,” such contact had to take place during personal time using personal resources.

Finally, Moore reported that Mike Nizich, Parnell’s chief of staff, was using his personal email to correspond with the chaplains about the issues in the Guard. Personal emails are not subject to public information requests. Parnell said that if those emails were about state business, they should be forwarded to Nizich’s state account and will direct him to do so.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Parnell administration under fire for allegations of sexual abuse cover-up

Generally speaking, Gov. Sean Parnell’s loyalty is admirable. So is his unwillingness to act impulsively and be deliberative in trying to gather the facts before he makes a decision. But like all qualities, those can go horribly awry, which appears to be the case in his failure for four years to address a culture of sexual abuse that’s permeated Alaska’s National Guard.

On Sunday, Shannyn Moore added on to a story first reported by McClatchy’s Sean Cockerham about the abuses. At last count according to Cockerham’s October article, 29 cases of alleged sexual assault have been reported to local law enforcement. So far, no one has been charged or prosecuted.

As these things go, the details and timeline can get confusing, but what is clear is that Parnell himself was told by Guard chaplains and at least one other member of the Guard about the abuses in 2010. Parnell appeared to have taken no meaningful action. He passed the issue onto his chief of staff Mike Nizich. He also subsequently promoted Thomas Katkus, who was implicated in the complaints, to adjutant general of the Guard.

According to Moore, the chaplains were directed to communicate with Nizich on his personal email, which members of the administration are known to use when they don’t want their communications subject to public information requests. That was in 2011.

Only when Republican Sen Fred Dyson got involved did Parnell take action. Still it took months and it took three visits from Dyson. According to Moore, Dyson first approached Parnell about the issue in early fall of 2013. It wasn’t until March, 2014 that Parnell took the unusual, and possibly telling, step of calling on the feds for help.

It gets worse: Parnell’s deputy commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, McHugh Pierre, appears to have threatened, or attempted to intimidate, a sexual assault investigator into staying quiet and not talk to legislators about the issues. He then tried the same thing on the chaplains. Enter their outspoken Republican lawyer Wayne Anthony Ross. Enter a big mess.

That was nearly five months ago. Pierre still has a job.

This is clearly the biggest potential scandal that Parnell has yet encountered and could be devastating politically, as it should be, if the facts bear out what’s so far been reported.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


Goodbye To All That: Condoms, Egg Timers, and Pregnancy Sticks in Juneau.

Last week was supposed to be my last column, this time around, about the Alaska Legislature. So imagine my surprise, touched with dismay, that for five days after they were supposed to have left, some sort of strange stasis overtook the bunch. Until Friday, that gavel was tucked away in a drawer somewhere, perhaps next to House Speaker Mike Chenault’s cattle prod and Sen. Cathy Giessel’s egg timer, behind Fred Dyson’s condoms, atop Pete Kelly’s pregnancy sticks, embedded in Sen. Hollis French’s croissants. Sacre Bleu!

The House blamed the Senate and the Senate blamed the House and everyone was fuming that Rep. Lora Reinbold skipped town on Monday to spend her 50th birthday in Dubrovnik. For one, had she been in Juneau, she probably could have gotten them out of there on Thursday, saving the taxpayers another $30,000, and perhaps saving KABATA, which as of Friday is all but KAPUT.

Secondly, where in the world is Dubrovnik?

But it’s all good. The five extra days in Juneau cost only about $150,000, and what’s another $150,000 between friends with great government-funded benefits? After all, it’s only oil money. And if the state has learned nothing else since Prudhoe began to gush in 1968, it’s that oil money comes and oil money goes.

Lately, it’s been going. Deficit spending began in fiscal year 2012 and hasn’t stopped. The state’s officially blown through one-third of the money that was amassed during the peak oil prices of the Palin years, when maybe not coincidentally, the Senate majority was a bipartisan one, of which Hollis French, among others, was a member.

This is French’s last term in the Legislature, where he’s been since 2002. He’s now going to run for lite gov. Sometimes, as smart people will, he comes across as condescending and pedantic. But he’s always working for the people. He’ll be missed. Also leaving is Sen. Fred Dyson, and Reps. Alan Austerman and Peggy Wilson.

Adieu from all of us.

And now that the session’s over, the real fun begins! Enter stage right: once-and-always Senate candidate Joe Miller, who kicked off his campaign in Wasilla on Monday. I didn’t go to Mead Treadwell’s kickoff, but I saw pictures and a video clip. I did go to DNR Dan Sullivan’s, which was very nice, very polite, and unlike the Miller gathering, everyone appeared well shaved.

If a Hollywood producer wanted to film a Tea Party candidate kickoff, he couldn’t have done better than Miller’s. Liberty. Guns. God. American. Balloons. Banners. Amens. Whiskers.

Perhaps Miller’s reputation is too damaged from his last run to make a mark. But if Monday is any indication, people will have fun trying.

More fun, if you’re wired that way: GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan spent the weekend as Lt. Col. Dan Sullivan as he headed out for Marine Reserves training. As he did, Treadwell’s whisper campaign about Sullivan being soft on guns is turning into a buzz.

In an op-ed in the Peninsula Clarion, former legislator Gail Phillips, who’s on Treadwell’s advisory committee and whose daughter works for the campaign, reminded readers that Sullivan didn’t support the Stand Your Ground bill that passed last session. You remember, the proposal to let you shoot someone in the back as he’s trying to get away. Next target, I’m told, is Sullivan’s support for Brazilian waxes, I mean Brazilian biofuels, when he served in the U.S. State Department.

More election fun: The Dems are pulling out the stops for retired Col. Laurie Hummel, who’s challenging Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux. A packed Wednesday fund-raiser at the home of Tom Begich, brother of Mark, brought big-time D supporters like Rocky Plotnick, Nick Moe, Kay Brown, Tim Steele and a few Begich staffers. Hummel’s campaign treasurer, Paula Delaiarro, didn’t tell me how much she brought in, except to say the event was “wildly successfully.”

A Jeopardy question worth $800 asked on the show Wednesday: “This State’s Only Representative In The House Is Don Young — Who Hails From Fort Yukon.” You know you’ve arrived when you’ve made Jeopardy.

From the Whittier borough: City managers have it rough in the town dubbed the “strangest” in Alaska. Two have come and gone in the last few years. Both were pretty much drummed out of town, along, most recently, with the mayor. Chalk it up to isolation. To long, snowy winters. To an overly politically involved citizenry where nearly everyone lives in one of two buildings. The latest manager, Don Moore, is only temporary but he has high hopes for the time he’ll be there. Moore is a hired gun city-manager. In the past few years, he’s worked for Dillingham, Wasilla and Cordova. He’s been in Whittier for three weeks, and is already appreciating the town.

“It feels like when you go through that tunnel, you leave everything behind and nothing in the world matters except for Whittier,” Moore said.

Perhaps the same thing happens when you walk through the fortress walls of Dubrovnik?

This piece was first published in the Anchorage Daily News. Contact Amanda Coyne at



Loose Lips: We’re off to the races edition


  • Rep. Sam Kito III, the newest member of the Legislature who was appointed to serve the remainder of Beth Kerttula’s term, got something special for his birthday: adjournment sine die.
  • Republicans will be gathering this upcoming weekend in Juneau for their state convention. The meetings will be held at Centennial Hall, and unlike the convention of 2012, the Ron Paul/Joe Miller factions aren’t expected to make a scene. This is because it’s expensive to get to Juneau. This, by the way, isn’t a coincidence. I’ve been told that one of the main reasons that it was held in Juneau was to keep them away.
  • Miller is expected to show, however. He, along with fellow GOP candidates Mead Treadwell and Dan Sullivan, will participate in a candidate forum. But I’ve heard that   the choice of moderator, Ben Brown, isn’t making Miller very happy. Not sure what the problem is. From what I’ve heard he’s polite and well spoken. In fact, maybe that’s the problem.
  • There’s a kind of sort of new political consultant in town. Former legislator Tom Anderson has hung out a shingle offering political consulting services. You can expect that he’ll likely be involved in at least one statewide campaign and several legislative races in Alaska this cycle.
  • Rep. Peggy Wilson announced her retirement as the legislative session shut down. She has served in the Legislature since January 2001. Already Republican Patti Mackey has announced her candidacy. Mackey is the president and CEO of the Ketchikan Visitors Board. She also serves as a board member on the Alaska Travel Industry Council. She ran in the primary against Wilson two years ago.
  • With the legislative session behind us, politicians are wasting no time swinging into full-throttle fundraising mode. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott hosted an event on Saturday at his Juneau campaign headquarters from 3 to 5 p.m. And Gov. Sean Parnell, who is leading in the grab for campaign cash among the three gubernatorial candidates, will be having a fundraiser this Tuesday evening at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Anchorage.
  • The Anchorage Chamber will be hosting a gubernatorial forum on Monday. All three candidates—Gov. Sean Parnell, independent Bill Walker, and Democrat Byron Mallott—will be there. (Bonus drinking game: take a slug of water each time Parnell says “fiscal discipline,” Mallott says “communication” and Walker says “gasline.”)
  • The buzz from local broadcasting outlets is that California-based Target Enterprises is making inquiries and starting to place media for Gov. Sean Parnell’s campaign. The likely connection between this firm and Parnell is Nick Ayers, who is a partner at Target Enterprises and served as campaign manager for former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s 2012 presidential campaign, as well as executive director of the Republican Governors Association.
  • Speaking of fiscal discipline, Parnell’s campaign has so far been pretty good at it, employing only a campaign manager full time. Now he’ll be gearing up. Luke Miller, a member of the governor’s press office, is expected to resign his position and become the chief spokesman for the Parnell campaign. Prior to becoming a state worker and part of the governor office’s press operation over a year ago, Miller worked for Rep. Don Young in D. C., where he actively reached out to reporters and tried his best to avoid the bunker mentality that seems to beset political spokespeople. It’s a mentality that, if put into dialogue, would go something like this:

Spokesperson “Most of the press don’t like us, so we’ll try to only talk to those who do.”

Media: “They won’t talk to the press so they must be doing something wrong.”

Spokesperson: “We can’t get a break because they constantly are suspicious of us.”

Media: “They’re hiding something and I’m going to get to the bottom of it.”

  • This, in dialogue, is the mentality of a good spokesperson:

Spokesperson: “Most of the press don’t like us, but we’ll continue to try to work on them, mostly through their egos because, aside from legislators and lobbyists, they’re the most egotistical bunch of people alive.”

Media: “They must be doing something wrong, but at least they’re trying!”

Spokesperson: “These poor, penniless people are such tools.”

Media: “I’m such a good reporter that the spokesperson talks to me!”

Contact Amanda Coyne at


GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan’s first broadcast TV ad

I don’t think anyone would say that GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan’s ads so far have been as good as Sen. Mark Begich’s. The one released today–Sullivan’s first broadcast ad– is better. At least he’s talking to the camera with some conviction.

As to the ad’s veracity: Sullivan claims that Obama has gone to “war on American energy.” But domestic oil production has surged since Obama took office. In 2013, the United States was the world’s top producer of hydrocarbons, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia. In Alaska, however, the major undeveloped fields are on federal lands, and the Obama administration has been sluggish to open those.

Begich’s campaign swiped back, and pointed to his work in what is poised to be the first commercial oil produced out Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve. Sullivan is ignoring Begich’s “solid record of delivering for Alaska’s oil industry,” his campaign said in a statement.

However, Begich did campaign in 2008 on opening ANWR, which was as far fetched then as it is now.

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It’s a Wrap: Sine Die

Speaker of the House Mike Chenault’s departure gift. The toilet is full of golf balls. This will be Chenault’s sixth consecutive year as speaker, which is unprecedented. Word is that his colleagues might vote him in again.
sine die


Two parodies of Mark Begich

Why do they think that “authentic” and “conservative” often means talkin’ “country” while using lots of references to a particular private part? Or, more to the point, who thinks that the video below, made by an unknown conservative group, is funny?

Particularly compared to this from Alaska Robotics.

Full disclosure, Roll Call also compared the two in a recent blog post.
Continue reading


The mess of Oregon’s state health care exchange

Those, including me, who have used Oregon as a model for a state health care exchange to criticize Gov. Sean Parnell’s decision to turn Alaska’s over to the feds, must now say our mea culpas. So, mea culpa. Oregon is on the cusp of nixing its nonfunctioning exchange and going all federal. It’s a mess. From The National Review:

The $305-millionfiasco” left several state health officials in its wake, leading to several resignations and removals since October. Democratic governor John Kitzhaber also got some heat for his role in overseeing the program; in January, he walked out of an interview with KATU when asked about Cover Oregon. The situation escalated to the point that the FBI investigated the program for fraud in misleading the federal government in the state’s progress.


Loose Lips: The birthday in Dubrovnik edition


  • The big news on Wednesday night, the 93rd day of the session, was the House’s failure to concur with the Senate’s version of the Knik Arm bridge. The House needed 21 for concurrence. It was shy one vote. Both Reps. Bob Lynn and Lora Reinbold were excused. Lynn’s wife was sick and he needed to be with her. Reinbold has been absent from Juneau since Monday, when she left town to head to Dubrovnik to celebrate her 50th birthday. It’s a trip that she had been planning for a year and is more important, apparently, then education or KABATA. This is is only her second session of her first term, so perhaps she, unlike others in her position, doesn’t know yet to not plan anything for a few weeks after session is supposed to be over. Eight majority members voted against the bill, including surprisingly Eric Feige, who is a member of the Mat-Su delegation, and Mia Costello, who is close to bridge booster Bill Stoltze, who is also House Finance co-chair.
  • A Jeopardy question worth $800 asked on Wednesday:


    • My money is that the Legislature will wrap up and finish on Thursday, the 94th day.
    • The state Senate today, passed an amendment to HB 306 keeping the state’s film tax credit alive until 2018. The legislation originally had the tax credit expiring in 2016. Only three senators — Sens. Charlie Huggins, Anna Fairclough and Fred Dyson, voted against the amendment.
    • Alaska Department of Administration hosted a town hall meeting Monday evening for state workers and retirees to discuss their problems and concerns with their health care program that is now being managed by Aetna. Approximately 300 people showed up to complain, causing the state to be even more unhappy than they already are with Aetna. A similar scenario played out on Tuesday in Fairbanks, where about 250 people came out.
    • Sarah Palin hits the campaign trail this week: On Thursday, April 24, she’ll be in Tulsa, Okla., joining Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee to support constitutional conservative candidate T.W. Shannon’s senatorial bid.  On Friday, April 25, she’ll be in North Platte, Neb., joining Sen. Mike Lee and Governor Kay Orr to support conservative U.S. Senate candidate Ben Sasse.  And on Sunday, April 27, she’ll be in my little sister’s town of Des Moines, Iowa. (Hi Charity!) She’ll be joining Sen. Deb Fischer, Governor Kay Orr, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, and U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst for the “Heels On, Gloves Off” Rally hosted by ShePAC.
    • GOP Senate candidates Dan Sullivan, Mead Treadwell and Joe Miller gathered today for the first time together at a KTUU Channel 2 news forum, moderated by Steve MacDonald. It’ll be aired on Friday at 7 p.m. Early word has it that it was relatively tame. No knock out punches. Not even any heated debates, which doesn’t bode well for ratings. But for me at least, it’s either that or Gavel to Gavel, wondering if Reinbold is having fun in Dubrovnik.
    • Word is that the tourism lobbyists left Juneau before the Legislature passed a bill that would create the Alaska Tourism Marketing Board, which is important to the tourism industry. Perhaps they’re taking a tour of Dubrovnik?
    • Report cards are usually given after work is done. Right? Well, Rep. Scott Kawasaki thought that he might get a jump on things, apparently. On Wednesday, before the Legislature gaveled out and before the education bill passed, he gave the leadership an “F.” For fail.
    • Days before the general election: 195.

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