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.
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.
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?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org