Loose Lips: New commissioner buzz. Paging Whitaker. Will Halcro really file?

Loose LipsThis Loose Lips is coming to you from Iowa, where all the nieces and nephews are good looking, and the siblings are above average, and where their U.S. senators might castrate pigs, but as far as I know, do not do things like jump into frozen waters, wearing a skirt. By now, many have seen and some have commented on the rather unflattering image that the Dispatch chose to use of Sen. Lisa Murkowski preparing to jump into those freezing Goose Lake waters last Monday to raise awareness of the Special Olympics. But the good news: she got more flattering coverage of the event on NBC’s Today Show Monday morning. And, according to TVEyes Media Monitoring, the local market viewership was 78,283 which amounted to a local publicity value of $4,516.75 for the thirty second spot.

Walker Administration buzz: Word is that former ACS executive Sheldon Fisher will be tapped to be commissioner of Administration. The appointment is expected to be announced on Monday. Fisher ran to the right of Rep. Don Young in 2010, in large part running on a family values platform. He got 24 percent of the primary vote. (Watch him at his home then here.) Most recently Fisher’s been a COO at Bob Gillam’s money firm McKinley Capital Management. In 2010, he and Gov. Bill Walker hosted a fundraiser at Walker’s home to raise funds in support of Alaska Family Council’s Parental Rights Initiative. Currently former DMV director Amy Erickson is acting commissioner.

People are also saying that Bill Popp, the CEO of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation, has been interviewed for Commerce commissioner.

If Popp and Fisher make the cut, that’ll make a gaggle of men and only two female commissioners. Not that we’re counting or anything, but Gov. Sean Parnell at one time appointed five female commissioners.

Perhaps Fisher can help Walker’s COS Jim Whitaker set up his voicemail on his new cellphone so commissioners and the like can leave him a message. And perhaps Popp, who’s had some experience in the private sector, can give Whitaker a lecture on the importance of returning people’s phone calls after the voice mail is set up.

Former Gov. Steve Cowper, AKA the “High Planes Drifter,” is said to be drifting around these parts again, rustling up a spot in Fairbanks. If Cowper runs into Whitaker, perhaps he can tell him about how he fired his first COS Pete Jeans for not returning phone calls.

U.S. congressional candidate Forrest Dunbar has joined the law firm of Stoel Rives in Anchorage.

Word is that Andrew Halcro really is going to file to run for mayor after his contract expires with the Anchorage Chamber on Thursday. In the meantime, mayoral candidate Dan Coffey, who’s been at it for a while, will have raised $200,000 by year’s end. Unless Halcro self funds, the only person who could conceivably catch up to him in the fundraising department is Mark Begich, who has been uncharacteristically quiet about his intentions.

The Board of Marine Pilots has elected Tylan Schrock as the Chairman of the Board, replacing the vacancy created by the resignation of Curtis Thayer.

Bethany Markum, a former staffer to Sen. Mike Dunleavy, will be returning to Juneau this session to work for her old boss.

Former staffer to Sen. Fred Dyson and former City of Kenai Police Chief Chuck Kopp is said to be joining Sen. Peter Micciche’s office.

Lauren Rasmussen will be joining Sen. Lesil McGuire’s staff this session.

Katie Bruggeman, the development director for the Alaska Democratic Party, will be leaving her job to work for Sen. Berta Gardner.

Former Fairbanks state legislator Glenn Hackney celebrated his 90th birthday this past week on December 22.

Former Rep. Bill Thomas is likely to be seen spending more time in the state capital this year. Word is that he’s going to be lobbying again and that his hometown of Haines is one of his new clients.

Sounds like about 200 Alaskans are heading to D.C. to witness the swearing in of the 114th Congress. Since new senators are allocated only 18 gallery passes for the swearing in, it can create a dilemma as to who gets tickets, especially when you have a huge family like Sen.-elect Dan Sullivan. My intel is that the only non-family members invited to the gallery are Gov. Bill Walker, Sen. Click Bishop and Sen.-elect Bill Stoltze.

How much is Sarah Palin worth these days? Apparently not enough to help her brother put together a coffee-table book about Alaska. Chuck Health Jr. has resorted to asking the public for help on Kickstarter, and they’re being none to generous either. As of Sunday night, he’s only raised $1,835 of the $30,000 he says he needs to complete the project.

Judy Eledge’s new twin grandbabies are so cute, they have to be liberal Democrats:


This should be fun: From the Alaska Democratic Party: “Please join us for our ADP 2015 Kickoff Party, featuring live music from Tom Begich and Chris Tuck!  Tom will be on the guitar and bongos, with Chris on the sax and recorder.”  Where:  IBEW 1547 Hall, 3333 Denali Street, Anchorage. When:  Saturday, January 3 at 7pm.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


21 thoughts on “Loose Lips: New commissioner buzz. Paging Whitaker. Will Halcro really file?

  1. LysanderSpooner

    Nice revisionist history. Maligning the messenger in a transparent attempt to cast doubt on the message will never change the well-established truth about Chuck Kopp. Considering the embarrassment the situation cost her, it is laughable to think Palin would’ve dropped him so quickly solely because of unsubstantiated rumors.

    Perhaps Kopp has learned from his lapses in judgment and is a better person for them. But make no mistake, he engaged in inappropriate behavior during his Kenai days.

  2. Billiam

    GR350/fv: I read this column for pure enjoyment–I rarely get my news here. Yes, I’m a Governor Walker supporter–proudly.
    Your comments about ME make me laugh. When people have nothing better to say, they attack the person. That’s OK–you’re part of my entertainment.
    Have a Happy New Year.
    See you on the other side.
    xoxox Billiam.

  3. Billiam

    AKMom: I agree. There is a group of naysayers who want to disparage Governor Walker and his team for being “Slow” or “uninformed.” Their complaints have no merit. The Governor was sworn in less than a month ago. He’s appointed half of his cabinet and he’s made some policy decisions. He’s got 12 years of Murkowski, Palin. Parnell crap to dismantle and fix. I have faith he’ll be fine.
    I’ve been closely watching state government for 20 years. I’ve seen many Governors come and go. This one is doing just fine. Ignore the naysayers and have a Happy New Year! It will be good with our new team.

  4. akmom

    Seriously? The guy has been in office less than one month. He has certainly done more this month than I have. How about you? Did you solve the fiscal crisis and forget to tell anyone?

    Parnell working on the AK National Guard scandal for 4 years is probably the gold standard for slow.

  5. Robin

    Wasn’t Jacko also Rick Halford’s main guy who happens to be close to Walker. Laughing at what the Dems are finding out about their dear sweet unity leader.

  6. Jenn Jett

    This new administration is slow. Like in they don’t get it. Poor Walker, no experience and a mountain of a fiscal crisis in front of him. Commissioners are being selected at a gglacial pace (without global warming). Whittaker, the gov’s C-O-S appears clueless and absolutely unprepared for the job. Unfortunately for Walker and the rest of us, Whittaker’s ego is too big to admit to his short comings. At this pace, we’ll rue the day we kicked Parnell and Nizich to the curb.


    The Village idiot is back ! Like many of your other readers have pointed out, your commenter known as Forecast is beyond the spectrum of dumb ! Stop, not so fast. Is he ? I don’t think so. I actually think he might be a smart guy having fun pretending to have all these stupoid ideas. Wish I knew who he was. At work today, we were actually laughing at his comments on past stories and it hit me that no one that dumb would be a regular reader of this site and must be having fun screwing around with his “so-called” dumb comments getting people worked up. Hilarious when you think about it from my perspective. Keep em coming Forecaster.

  8. Forecastd

    Let’s see… A typical Chief Of Staff gets about 200-300 phone calls per day when a team is being assembled in the first chaotic, formative first few weeks. Maybe some bloggers should not get their panties in a twist when they do not get called back immediately. State business is more important than providing fodder to a glorified gossip column.

    If Whitaker had been listened to- we’d have cleared out the Corrupt Bastards Club LONG before the FBI came in and arrested ten Republican legislators who were selling out their constituents to the highest bidder. If Whitaker had been listened to we might be building a large diameter gas line today- instead of having wasted years studying gas line proposals that made no sense. I suspect, too, that Whitaker would not be giving away the oil and creating $3.5 billion dollar deficits.

    So far Gov. Walker has picked a very, very good team.

  9. GR350/fv

    I also want to comment on Billiam. Obviously, he’s a Walker supporter. No problem there.

    Curious why he reads this blog. There aren’t many pictures for him to see and it’s written above a third grade reading level. Amanda, you should offer Billiam his only column titled “Never A Deep Thought” by some dufus named Billiam.

  10. GR350/fv

    To Publius – Kopp is NOT regarded as one of the top Juneau staffers. He may not be horrible but even the sugggestion of him as top tier is ridiculous. I think anyone really in the know would know this. If there was more to the story related to the allegations that came up on the Palin era they certainly were never addressed. Hell, with such a rousing endorsement from you, I’m surprised that Walker hasn’t replaced Whittaker with him. I also talke issue with the comment that Whittaker was a well-respected legislator. Nice guy, relatively liked is plausible. Well respected? Not.

  11. Crude is Rude, Gas is Groovy

    Nobody in Alaska is perfectly qualified to do the ugly job of cleaning out your outhouse…
    …and being a govt-commish is just as messy as hauling your honeybucket.
    I have indeed seen some wildlife that could do a better job than many of the past performers in the Alaskan Gong Show…
    …like that moose that lured that grizzbear chasing his butt into that duckblind full of armed hunters.
    That moose knew exactly what he was doing.

    We should produce the Alaskan Gong Show for educational entertainment,
    and hopefully Juneau will be a smashing success the next 4 years,
    especially if we all tune into the same wavelength & vibes of Bill&Byron.

  12. AH HA

    Just what the State needs in a commissioner,

    1. Former chief executive of a failed communications company…

    2. Closely tied to Bob Gilliam… (remember him?) this is the guy who employed Disgraced Former Senator George Jacko…..

  13. Publius

    Dilly, I urge you to attend the comedy show that is session! You may learn a thing or two about how different reality is apart from televised media portrayals. Its funny how wildly foolish “investigative journalism” can truly be and the rash conclusions they draw without truly looking at the evidence. I remember Palin dropping him too but reality is much further from story time.

    Chuck Kopp is one of the most respected staffers in Juneau. I would wager that perhaps the allegations of impropriety/harassment were made to slander or defame Mr. Kopp’s reputation as a law enforcement officer in order to influence a case. I cant be 100% sure because I dont know Mr. Kopp personally but believe it or not, slander and defamation through allegation is actually common practice in today’s world. I have spoken with Mr. Kopp on a few occasion regarding criminal justice bills.

    Mr. Kopp has an outstanding track record with orchestrating offices for bills on the criminal justice system. Most of these bills have been lauded with unanimous votes in both houses (yes, even the Hollis French and Bill Willy-cow-ski types gave them thumbs up). What more could you ask for from a state employee in the legislature? Dont you worry, Peter Micciche made a solid move picking up Chuck Kopp because I guarantee you that there was a laundry list of Senator and Representative suitors.

  14. Billiam

    Jim Whittaker is certainly qualified to be the chief of staff. He’s well respected as a former legislator and Mayor. Just because he doesn’t return lobbyist phone calls doesn’t make him unqualified. Maybe he’s prioritizing–the number of calls he’s probably getting right now from job seekers and others wanting special attention must be over whelming. Give him time to do his job.

  15. Rick T.

    I like the personnel announcements and transitions that you cover in your Loose Lips columns. Great and useful information. Our new Governor seems like a decent guy. However, I’m worried based on some of his key staffing.

  16. Anonymous

    Brothers Tom and Mark, and Father Tuck engineered a run at a House seat here in Juneau but they failed by a wide margin, and in every way. In doing so they certainly put up some great targets for this time of fiscal imbalance. Stupid of them. Let the fun begin.

  17. FFBV

    Happy Birthday Mr. Hackney !!!
    You are truly an inspiration and asset to our community. Your civic commitment and volunteerism with the Food Bank is meritorious. I hope your birthday was as marvelous as you.

  18. Dilly

    Is this the same Chuck Kopp who was Palin’s pick, for anout 27 hours, to be her Public Safety Commissioner ? I think so. I think she dropped him like a hot potato because of allegations of some impropriety/harrassment. Surprised that Micciche wasn’t concerned about this. When he was first elected, people thought he was the real deal and had statewide potential; however, he was mostly a flash in the pan and people don’t seemed wowed by him at all anymore so it probably doesn’t matter to him now. Politiics is funny stuff.

  19. Quatro

    What qualification does Jim Whittaker have to be Gov. Walker’s COS. From what I remember, he was a rather lackluster legislator. As a businessman, I understand that he failed. To me, it sounds like he specializes in medicrity abd failure. Hardly traits we need at the highest level of state government. This, coupled with an already developed reputation of not returning phone calls, suggests that maybe Walker ought to follow the footsteps of Governor Cooper.

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