Loose Lips: Will Biden join the love caucus? Will Lester Lunceford star on the silver screen? Will LeDoux and Keithley Eskimo kiss and make up?

Alaska memories are short. So for those who weren’t around, let me tell you all about the love caucus. Actually, scratch. That would take too long. This is what you need to know: it involved soon-to-be House Majority Leader Charisse Millett, and then Rep. Kyle Johansen, both of whom fell on their swivel sticks for love and got kicked out of the majority. Was the VP commiserating this week? Was Millett recruiting? Where’d she get that necklace? Was Biden a good Eskimo kisser? Maybe we can all ask her when she gets back from one of several of her recent junkets.

charrise eskimo kissing

As I mentioned in my last column, that junket is in D.C., where a group of legislators and staffers are visiting for the National Council of State Legislators forum. Registration fees are between $425 and $500 per person and that doesn’t include airfare, hotel or meals. That junket followed another junket in Alabama. Outgoing Rep. Eric Feige, who was beat in the primary, hopped on that one, because what’s another free trip among friends? Maybe someone in power, like, I don’t know, a governor, should call for an end to all non-essential travel. And maybe for morale, mandate Eskimo kissing for those in opposite parties while he’s at it.

The governor isn’t traveling far for a dinner with Hollywood. On Thursday night, Gov. Bill Walker and his wife Donna were dining at the Alyeska Hotel with producers Scott Lumpkin and Jamie Marshall. Also there were the folks from SprocketHeads and lobbyist Jim Lottsfeldt, along with the GM of the Alyeska Resort and the resort’s lawyer. The topic of conversation? A possible new movie that might be shot in Whittier called, “Hunter Killer.” Does the plot have anything to do with the formation of a Unity ticket? Well, kind of. It’s about a Republican lawyer submarine captain who teams with labor Navy Seals to rescue the lieutenant governor Russian president, who has been kidnapped by a dying Democratic Party rogue general. The movie has been bouncing around Hollywood for a while now and has gone through numerous directors. The latest out of Hollywood is that Martin Campbell, the director of Casino Royale, is talking about directing. As for me, I’m buying a ticket and standing in line to watch the residents of Whittier greet Hollywood. Let’s hope that former Mayor Lester Lunceford gets at least a cameo.

Word is that Rep. Lance Pruitt did a mini-version of a Howard Dean scream at the Alaska Republican Party State Central Committee last weekend. His overly-emphatic rant? Gov. Walker’s appointees, displaying particularly dismay over the appointments of Marcia Davis and Ken Alper.

Transition Buzz

Former Fairbanks state Sen. Joe Thomas is rumored to be under consideration for commissioner of the Department of Labor. Now, a new rumor has popped up that he’s considering a run for Fairbanks Borough mayor. Thomas is smart and well-liked. Expect him to show up somewhere soon.

Former school district superintendent Bob Doyle has filed for the Mat-Su borough Assembly. Will he be appointed to Jim Colver’s seat when he resigns to take his seat in the Legislature?

Leg staffer Josh Walton who was with Rep. Mia Costello’s office, then Rep. Craig Johnson’s office and now, this upcoming session will be found in newly elected Rep. Liz Vazquez’s office.

Word is that Ryan McKinster is no longer with Rep. Mia Costello’s office and won’t be following her to the Senate.

Linda Hay, who has been a longtime fixture in the state Capitol both as an aide to Gov. Murkowski and several legislators, will be leaving Rep. Eric Feige’s office and joining Rep. Bob Herron’s office.

Rebecca Braun, formerly with the Alaska Budget Report, is joining the Walker administration where she’ll serve as a policy adviser.

Former Parnell spokesperson Sharon Leighow has become a special assistant at the Department of Labor, and Parnell special assistant Michael Lesman has become a special assistant at the Department of Public Safety.

Chris Ashenbrenner, director of the Division of Public Assistance under Gov. Tony Knowles, has been hired by Val Davidson, the new commish of the Department of Health and Social Services.

If it’s true, this will make the oilies’ toes curl: Environmental lawyer and former Sam Cotten, Ethan Berkowitz, and Hollis French staffer Lisa Weissler is said to have been hired by the Walker administration.

A while ago, I reported that it had been rumored that Albert Kookesh is being considered to be the governor’s rural affairs adviser. Still no official word.

Rumors abound about who Gov. Walker might select as his legislative director. The list I heard includes: Kelly Huber, Bret Huber, Paul Fuhs and former Rep. Bill Thomas. Are there others?

In Other Matters

On Tuesday evening, the Walkers and the Mallotts hosted the annual Governor’s Mansion holiday open house. Juneau turned out in droves to welcome the new First Family to the Capital City. Like in past years, the governor’s cabinet and staff served up some holiday cookies and cheer. However, unlike in past years, organized labor rep Tom Brice from the Laborers Union and ASEA’s lobbyist Fate Putnam were said to have acted like elves and passed out treats. Some are hoping and wondering if lobbyists Hans Neidig from Exxon Mobil and Michael Hurley from ConocoPhillips can be next year’s elves.

The Alaska Railroad Corp. is going to take another hit in this year’s revenue stream due to the closure of Flint Hills Refinery. And then there’s a federal mandate to upgrade its safety system, which is expected to cost the railroad another $70 million atop of the roughly $20 million that it got last year in state money. In other words, it’s in trouble. But just like there’s always enough money for legislators to travel, there’s always money for holiday parties. This past week, the railroad has hosted two. Last weekend there was one for employees at the airport terminal (the one that’s closed to us mere mortals.) Then on Tuesday evening, it plied about 100 guests with wine and shrimp, served by caterers, at the railroad headquarters at Ship Creek. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but it’s the only state corporation or agency not under the Executive Budget Act, meaning that the Legislature has no say over the railroad’s expenditures. I’ve been told that other agencies and corporations will be enjoying their holiday parties by passing around the green Jell-O dishes at potlucks.

After a long, soul quenching trip to California, Hollis French is all très bien and is back with us in Anchorage. Does he have any plans? Like, any plan to announce a mayoral bid before the first of the year? Nope. He’s got the luxury of time, he said. And he can’t work for the Walker administration for a year, so that answers that.

How much did Brad Keithley’s state super-PAC spend trying to defeat LeDoux?

Keithley facebook

Talk about a deserving award: Wayne Jensen was given the Citizen of the Year Award by the Juneau Chamber of Commerce for his advocacy in maintaining Juneau as the Capital City as current chair of the Alaska Committee. Wayne also is the architect of the renovations to earthquake-proof the Capitol.

 Sen. Peter Micciche really wants you to know that he’s not trying to supplement his income. From a recent Facebook post:

FYI…If you received an e-mail that seems like it came from my Gmail account, I can promise you that I have not gone into the hair removal or male enhancement business.

Sympathies to Rep.-elect Jim Colver and his family, who lost family matriarch Della Berry Colver. A service honoring her life will be held at Central Lutheran Church, 1420 Cordova St. on Saturday, December 13, with a potluck reception to follow. From a tribute by Elstun Lauesen:

Della was a walking history book and, if you were fortunate enough to hear her story, you would be filled with images and spirit of the territorial and early statehood days when Della’s generation shaped the character of Alaska. Della’s husband, Warren Colver, was U.S. Attorney for Alaska from 1961-1964 and then served as Attorney-General for Alaska’s first governor, William Egan from 1964-1966.

Della and her husband raised their children in Alaska and the rawness and beauty of this state were always a part of Della’s memories. My best times were sitting down with Della for tea and listening to her narrative. My greatest regret is not recording those conversations. Della was a proud liberal and Democrat and was fierce when she confronted a politician when he would try to mealy-mouth his way through a question she would ask at, say the North Star Community Council which she always attended.

Her mind remained sharp and clear to the end and her sense of humor and that twinkle in the eye was always present. Harriet and I will both miss our neighbor and our friend. We are feeling a sense of profound loss. Bye, Della…we love you so much…

Sixteen years ago May Moreland stole my heart and she hasn’t given it back. Happy birthday May, May.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


21 thoughts on “Loose Lips: Will Biden join the love caucus? Will Lester Lunceford star on the silver screen? Will LeDoux and Keithley Eskimo kiss and make up?

  1. Mag

    Keithley is intellectually smart. Politicallt he’s proven himself very inept. Then again, hiring the likes of Casey Reynolds and some off the other dummies he has hired speaks mountains about his lack of political understanding and sophistication.
    Casey was a good talk show host. He’s out of his element now.

  2. Twig

    Billiam, you are 100% wrong. With line item veto, the Governor could potentially significantly reduce the legislature’s travel budget. A. Hell would probably break loose. Then again, maybe that would be good. It’s time to seriously cut back the travel. Lame duck losers’ travel should be halted immediately.

  3. POW Pete

    Urbanophile, Thank you for your objective, balanced and balancing comments. You’re right that no one gets after male legislators (and all D’s – coincidence no doubt) for getting his girlfriend preggers, another ditching his wife for Tlingit Barbie, and another hiring a very young bikini squeeze to manage a campaign, etc. etc. It is a double standard, and Charisse has been at least an OK legislator – possibly even above average.

  4. Tom Bodett

    You would think Mr. Keithley is smart enough to realize he is getting trolled. He probably is, but Casey Reynolds and the rest of Keithley’s minions apparently are not. Funny move by the LeDoux folks.

  5. arctic urbanophile

    Alright let’s be real, being a legislator hardly forces one into a life of celibacy. She didn’t run for Mother Superior.

    Also, Amanda Representative Millett has had a long record as a sensible elected official. There is a reason her caucus felt she would make a good majority leader. It’s a shame that people have the need to smear a woman’s accomplishments based solely on her sexual agency. I haven’t seen anyone report on the sleazy behavior of Chris Tuck or the predatory behavior of Rep Kowasaki. So many of the men in this very post are recognized on their professional accomplishments, yet are well known lechs. How is it “disgusting” to be a champion of the handicapped or Alaska Native language preservation? Rep. Millet is being held to a double standard–akin to slut shaming–and I find that disgusting.

  6. oh please

    Oh please, this is just a goofy picture. Also, it’s 2014, and it’s time to get over the fact that some political leaders lead adventurous personal lives, you know, like the rest of us.

  7. oscar

    Kookesh rumored as rural advisor and the crude and crass Bill Thomas as possible legislative director? Hopefully the Walker administration will look to Alaska Natives other than Southeast although he does have Comm. Davidson. Please get some new blood in there.

  8. Joe

    Rep. Millett is disgusting. First she breaks up the marriage of Kyle Johanson and now she’s dating someone half her age. And she’s caught flirting with the VP in an inappropriate way. Is this floozie the best we can do in the legislature? She’s a former flight attendant with no college degree. And now she’s majority leader? What a joke! Check her travel budget. She’s never in the state. When’s the media going to do its job and investigate this?

  9. Karen Dischner

    Della Barry was a good friend to the Dischner family and we will miss her. Rest in peace, dear Della.

  10. Andy Mattoon Scott

    Wow….holy lip lock Batman ! What’s up with Lisa inviting Cherisse to DC anyway? Maybe
    she is hoping for some more bush support in the upcoming primary / election ? Is she the new femme du jour for future Alaskan politics? If so I hope she has a bit more decorum in the future, cuz the camera is always rolling.

    Oh well, you have to admire Joe for being a player at his age, I guess those man pills are working. Of course its all free to him, just because. I did hear that he is looking for a
    party coordinator for the next round of elections.

    Instead of saying “Eskimo kiss”, which is now PC inappropriate, perhaps it should be known as a sycophantic smooch. We suffered through her sordid affair with what’s his name who
    lost his election, then a rebound fix-all- the- hard- feelings sponsorship of a plethora of official languages, and now rubbing up against the enemy. I hope he soaked his dentures that day.

  11. AH HA

    In case nobody can recall,

    In 2010 a legislative review found Kookesh to be in violation of state ethics policies following allegations that he used political influence to keep The Craig city council from opposing a lands bill pushed by the Native corporation by which he is employed. To wit: Senator Kookesh attended a Craig City Council Meeting and not only made the threat but, did it on the record…

    While the Senate only looked at the one incident, Word around southeast is that he had recently visited several other community and offered the same threat to them…


  12. AH HA

    In case nobody can recall,

    In 2010 a legislative review found Kookesh to be in violation of state ethics policies following allegations that he used political influence to keep The Craig city council from opposing a lands bill pushed by the Native corporation by which he is employed. To wit: Senator Kookesh attended a Craig City Council Meeting and not only made the threat but, did it on the record…

    While the Senate only looked at the one incident, Word around southeast is that he had recently visited several other community and offered the same threat to them…


  13. AH HA

    Are you kidding? Come on Amanda you cannot be serious… Al Kookesh? The Former Senator Al Kookesh? That One?

    Just what we need.

  14. Lynn Willis

    The “center of gravity” to these party and travel loving legislators is access to the money that pays for this waste. Take away that access and all this waste will end immediately.
    The Alaska Legislature will not discipline itself. You might remember when the FBI had to place some of them in handcuffs. Now, again they need adult supervision.
    Governor Walker has, by state constitution, the power to “strike or reduce items in appropriations bills.” Somewhere in state budget was the specific appropriation that paid for Representative Millet to rub noses with the Vice President and to pay to send the lame duck Representative Feige to that conference in Alabama.
    I would expect Governor Walker to send a memo to Speaker Chenault and Senate President Meyer explaining to them that in the next state budget they can expect a line item veto equivalent to the travel and perdiem expenses for legislative travel that cannot be completely justified. This money will be removed from funds appropriated for legislative support.

  15. Billiam

    Don’t be silly. The Governor can’t tell the Legislature they can’t travel. It’s called the separation of powers. The Legislature has to discipline themselves. HAHAHAHAHA. I crack myself up sometimes with crazy ideas.

  16. Tufts

    Why does the governor and legislature allow the ARRC to act independently and so irresponsibly?
    The railroad use to argue that they should be let alone because they don’t come to the state for money. Well, times have changed. In recent years, they beg for money annually and appear to be planning to do so in the future. To continue to give them state funds without any budgetary controls is being fiscally negligent. I know that smart legislators like Mike Hawker, Steve Thompson and other like-minded business types in the legislature recognizes the need to change things. Let’s hope they have the political courage to do something about it. I know these guys and believe they will. They are solid, good Republican legislators.

  17. Charity

    Let’s all hope real hard that Brad Keithley and Rep. LsDoux do make-up and become an “item” that Amanda can report on. It would be sooo fab!

  18. Howard

    Mr. Lausen has provided a wonderful and loving tribute to Della Colver. His words are touching. Thank you.

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