This Loose Lips is coming to you from the Big Island, where I’m currently holed up alone, ostensibly engaging in “deep thoughts” which will lead to “serious writing.” It’s been three days and I’ve entertained long, deep thoughts about a sample of macadamia nut cream pie that I had at the Waimea farmer’s market the other day. There’s love, there’s hate, there’s dread in those thoughts, say nothing of deep regret that I didn’t buy at least a slice. In fact, it has the makings of the great American novel. But I will never write the great American novel because for one, I don’t have the talent and secondly, I’m constantly interrupted by phone calls, emails and texts about Gov.-elect Bill Walker’s transition team, and potential bodies in his cabinet, which has elicited a fascination heretofore unseen by me. (By the way, I just read that Walker is also in Hawaii. So is Anchorage lobbyist Jim Lottsfeldt. And heaven help me Judy Eledge is coming this way. Say what you will about the three of them: they would have bought the whole damn pie.)
Anyway, here’s what we know for sure as of Sunday night: Ana Hoffman, president of Bethel Native Corp., and former Sen. Rick Halford have been named co-chairs of the transition team and that there are going to be 17 transition task forces named to make policy recommendations.
Here are some rumors that are of the mostly solid variety: Former Juneau Mayor and Knowles’ AG Bruce Bothelo, who knows a lot about government, is playing a significant role with the Walker-Mallott transition (thank God); Koch Brothers’ Jeff Cook from Flint Hills Refinery and chair of Fairbanks Memorial Hospital will head up the Department of Health and Social Services transition task force and former ASHNA president and Knowles’ DHSS commissioner Karen Perdue along with Elizabeth Ripley of the Mat-Su Health Foundation will serve with him, among others, on the task force.
Macadamia nut pieces and Mai Tai quality rumors: Former Fairbanks Mayor and legislator Jim Whitaker will be named the governor’s COS. Ralph Kibby, Joe Thomas and Mike Kenny are under consideration to be Department of Labor commissioner. Former Lt. Gov. Stephen McAlpine is a possible candidate for attorney general. Craig Fleener for Fish & Game? Under consideration for the top job at Department of Natural Resources is former Fairbanks legislator Joe Paskvan, and Marty Rutherford who formerly served as deputy DNR commissioner under multiple administrations and was a Valdez schoolmate of Bill Walker’s. Supposedly, former Wasilla mayor Vern Rupright has expressed interest in the top job at Department of Transportation and is said to be under consideration.
If Jim Whitaker is Walker’s COS, he’ll have to contend with a certain op-ed that he wrote in 2006, calling Reps. Mike Chenault’s, Mike Hawker’s, and Kevin Meyer’s vote on oil tax legislation “unconscionable” because they all three had conflicts of interest. Chenault is now Speaker of the House. Meyer is Senate President and Hawker will be chair of the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee.
A fax sent from the Clarion Suites with 24 names who could serve as Fish and Game transition members went viral in the last few days. It’s raised hackles all over because it’s heavy on Dems and on commercial fisherman. (Read it here.) Walker’s campaign spokesperson said that it didn’t come from them and they had no idea who put it together.
One of the big positions that I haven’t heard anything about is who is going to be director of the Office of Management and Budget, which is pressing considering that Walker’s budget is due for submission two weeks after he takes the oath of office.
Typical transition protocol suggests that the gov-elect asks the incumbent to request letters of resignation from all of the exempt employees in state government, however, Walker supposedly told a trade group this week that he wasn’t going to make that request, which some might find solace in.
Speaking of transitions: Rep. Lynn Gattis’ office is in the process of hiring Tyson Gallagher and Steve Ricci. Gallagher most recently worked for Parnell’s unsuccessful campaign. Prior to the campaign, he worked at OMB and DOT. Ricci worked the past two legislative sessions for Sen. Dunleavy.
Rep. Craig Johnson has hired Robert Ervine who currently works for retiring Rep. Lindsey Holmes.
Legislative staffer Daryl Breeze seems to follow the money. He’ll be moving from Finance chair Rep. Bill Stoltze’s office to incoming Finance chair Rep. Mark Neuman’s office.
Kathlene Rowell is the executive director of the Sullivan for Senate transition.
Is Mark Begich ever going to officially concede? Does it matter if he doesn’t?
The Kenai Boys and Girls Club had their most successful fundraiser ever on Saturday night. Companies like Udelhoven, Peak Oilfield Service Company, BP, Arby’s, MagTec, PRL Logistics, All American Oilfield, Wells Fargo, Carlisle, Tesoro, Stanley Ford, ConocoPhillips, and Hillcorp all showed up in a big way to support the event. About
250 400 people showed. Spotted: Kenai Borough Mayor Mike Navarre, Speaker Mike Chenault, Sen. Peter Micciche (who was the auctioneer) and wife Erin, Paul Quesnel, former Kenai school superintendent Donna Peterson, Joe and Sara Reese, Tim Navarre, Tom and Mary Rhyner, Dave and Mary Kay Knudsen, XTO’s Ryan and Heidi Tunseth, Misty Peterkin, Lou and Stacey Oliva, Jake Arness, Blaine and Margaret Gilman, and Ron Hyde.
Amy Demboski is hosting her campaign kickoff for Anchorage mayor on Thursday, Nov. 20 at the Crowne Plaza from 5 to 7 pm.
The Associated General Contractors held their annual 49ers dinner at the Quarterdeck on Thursday evening. Between 80 – 100 people attended. Some of the folks spotted at the dinner included: AGC Executive Director John McKinnon and his bride Sen. Anna Fairclough; Robbie Capps; Sen. Cathy Giessel and her husband Richard; Dave and Dana Cruz; AIDEA Deputy Director Mark Davis and his wife Rep.-elect Liz Vazquez; Dana and Deanna Pruhs; Rep.-elect Cathy Tilton and her husband Berkley; and Reps. Gabrielle LeDoux, Craig Johnson and Max Gruenberg.
The sold-out, star-studded annual Jewish Gala, which is the social event of the year, was held at the Dena’ina center in Anchorage on Saturday night. In past years, this event is known to get a little wild, but either it was very tame this year, or people are closed lipped. Some of those attending: Gov. Sean and Sandy Parnell, Mayor Dan and Lynnette Sullivan, Bill and Michelle Bittner, Arliss Sturgelewski, Perry and Gloria Green, Mel Sather and Diane Kaplan, Troy and Janice Weiss, Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, Drs. Michael and Laurie Bleicher, David and Shani Green, Sen. Lesil McGuire, and Hugh Ashlock. Sen. Lisa Murkowski was recognized and received an award proclaiming her a Woman of Valor.
Speaking of valor: On November 1, 1921 Major General Commandant John A. Lejeune declared November 10 a Marine Holiday, which is now celebrated across the country on or around that date with Marine Corps Birthday Balls. In Anchorage on Saturday, more than 300 gathered at the Sheraton in Anchorage on Saturday night for the ball. It was, I’m told, an extraordinarily touching event. The Marines ranged from 18 year-old new enlistees to WWII vets, wearing multiple Purple Hearts, Bronze and Silver Stars. One of the Marines present, Bob Thoms who lives in Wasilla, was awarded all of the medals listed above for his heroic role at the Battle of Hue where more than 5,000 lives were taken. Thoms is now a counselor, helping veterans who have come back from wars. Dan Sullivan is the first politician he ever supported, and Thoms was one of the first supporters Sullivan met with after he announced. (Read more about Thoms’ and the Battle of Hue here.) Thoms and his lovely wife along with veteran Marine Rep. Bob Herron and his wife Margaret, Becky Hultberg, Col. Otto Feather, Tom and Terri Gimple, and Ashley Reed were among the guests of Senator-elect Lt. Col. Dan Sullivan and his wife Julie. Others spotted in the crowd of dress blues: MSgt. Daniel Juarez, LCpl. Shane Bertram, Chuck Achberger and his wife (former Hickel administration COS) Nancy Usera, Maj. Jordan Rogers, Sen. Cathy Geissel, and GySgt. Ben Rigney.
From the event’s official dedication: “…So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as ‘Soldiers of the Sea’ since the founding of the Corps.”
Spoiled women angst-ridden over writing and pies come and go. Governors and their staffs and legislators and their aides come and go. Galas will happen, or not. The Marine Corps is eternal. Semper Fidelis.
Contact Amanda Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org