Next holiday season, the U.S. Capitol will have a tree from Alaska for the first time. In 2015, the tree will be chopped down from the Chugach National Forest, unless the environmentalists get involved, of course.
Andrew Halcro has thrown his hat into what is turning into an exciting Anchorage mayoral race. He’s a big personality, as is the frontrunner Dan Coffey. And it’s made all the more interesting that Halcro’s father, Republican booster Bob Halcro, donated $500–the max– to Dan Coffey’s campaign shortly before the first of the year.
The Legislature has a new public website! Click here for information about past and current legislators, bills, floor schedules, and links to live streaming of hearings. This is the first redesign of its webpage since 2007.
Monique Martin from Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium has joined the DHSS commissioner’s office as the Deputy Director of Health Care Policy. This job was previously held by Josh Applebee.
Why is Matt Mackowiak still listed as a state employee? Mackowiak, the relentlessly self-promoting Republican communications consultant from Texas was hired by former Gov. Sean Parnell to provide “communications” advice, coincidentally during the campaign. We all know that it’s against ethics laws for a state employee to work on a campaign on state time. I’m sure that Mackowiak and Parnell and Parnell’s adviser Cindy Sims were all very careful to keep the two separate.
Speaking of Parnell: One of the big political mistakes of the his administration was its lack of inclusion of a member from organized labor on the Alaska Gas Development Corporation’s (AGDC) board of directors. With the Walker administration’s termination of three of AGDC’s board members, there’ll be some open slots and it’s probably a safe bet that the new governor won’t be dumb enough to make the same mistake as Parnell. Any bets on who it might be? Rick Boyles of the Teamsters? Laborers’ Joey Merrick? Or the AFL-CIO’s Vince Beltrami?
Political fortunes can turn in an hour, sometimes even less. Last year, Speaker of the House John Boehner was in Alaska and a fundraiser was hosted in his honor. (I can personally attest to the fact that Boehner cried in front of his Alaska audience.) Back then, the former president of the Anchorage Women’s Club, Judy Eledge, was all aflutter, eagerly trying to pose to get her picture taken with the speaker. This past week, she’s been on a tirade on Facebook against Boehner, applauding and hero-worshipping those Republicans who voted against his bid for speaker.
The institution commonly known as the Bob and Mark show is now missing a Mark. Apparently, there were irrevocable differences:
Also, rumor has it that Joe Miller will be hosting his own talk show on KOAN, the home of Dan Fagan, Glen Biegel, Tom Anderson, and Eddie Burke.
Lacey Wilcox, who was on the third floor during the Murkowski administration, and then went to the Department of Revenue, will be moving back to the third floor of the capitol where she’ll serve as the governor’s deputy legislative director. Cue the Hotel California.
Bob Penney and DC lobbyist Jack Ferguson hosted a dinner on Tuesday evening, after all the congressional swearing-in brouhaha. Rumor has it that each of the guests, about 25 – 30, raised their wine glasses and each made a toast to someone that inspired their life. Ted Stevens was off limits because of his iconic status. Hugh Ashlock toasted Anchorage furrier Perry Green and Jack Ferguson toasted attorney and former state Senator Cliff Groh. With the exception of Lisa Murkowski, no one remembered Groh, which is a reminder to all of us about how soon we all forget and are forgotten.
Rep. Don Young’s new executive assistant and scheduler, Paula Conru, is accomplished in her own right, but she’s also Kip Knudson’s wife. Knudson is director of the Alaska state office in D.C. He was hired by former Gov. Sean Parnell and many have been wondering if Gov. Bill Walker will keep him employed.
Also on Tuesday night in DC, Saltchuk’s Harry McDonald, Alaska lobbyist Kris Knauss and Sen. Charlie Huggins were spotted at the BLT Steak House on I Street sitting next to a table where former governor and White House COS John Sununu was holding court. The ever amiable Knauss is said to have engaged the former governor in conversation.
A tip from me: If you’re in D.C. make sure you grab a cupcake from Baked and Wired in Georgetown, if nothing else so you can say that you grabbed a cupcake in D.C.
And I’m disappointed that no one spotted me having breakfast Thursday morning at the Old Ebbitt’s Grill with Obama’s former COS Pete Rouse, who has ties to Alaska and worked for Lt. Gov. Terry Miller in the late 1970s and early 80s.
Speaking of me: I have some news. This will be my last post. AmandaCoyne.com will become inactive. I’ll be joining Sen. Dan Sullivan’s D.C. office as a senior adviser and speechwriter.
I’ve been hammering away at this blog for two years now. It’s been exhilarating, humbling, and exhausting. But what made it all worth it was the readers. The blog was premised on the theory that I could attract quality readers if I did my level best to report and to think and to write to the best of my ability. Sometimes, depending on my energy level, I was better at it than others. But if the blog is to be judged by the fruits of my labor—the number and quality of readers–then I guess I’d have to say it was an overall success.
I had to think long and hard about where my talents would be best served. I chose to work for the senator because of his intelligence, integrity and honesty. He has the potential and desire to be great for Alaska, and I think I can do at least a little to help him.
I will miss this blog keenly, though, and all of those who urged me along. Lynn Willis, who many know through this blog, has been an amazing support to me. I’ll miss his insights and his and Jon K’s epic battles. I’ll miss AH HA’s common sense and Garand Fellow’s plain-spokenness and Andy’s probing questions. I’ll miss Forecaster’s Walker-boosterism, and Straightlaced Radical setting us all straight. I’ll miss Tom Bodett turning the light on for us, and Crude is Rude’s strange rants. I’ll miss Mayor Dan Sullivan’s brave defense of his role in helping to build a dynamic city, which we all love. Thanks to all the readers, including the advertisers, particularly to the two longest ones: Geneva Woods and GCI, two great companies who took a risk in me. Thanks to Dan Fagan, Rick Rydell and Dave Stieren for all the shout-outs. Thanks to the always aggravating Ashely Reed, who was also always unfailingly encouraging. My father, the brilliant writer. who himself was a speechwriter for Presidents Nixon, Ford and Vice President Agnew, and the block off of which I’m a chip, has been the best editor and father than any girl can ask for.
I’ll miss Alaska state politics so much. I’ll miss all the very smart state workers who I talk to regularly, and those who I have never talked to but hear a lot about. I’ll miss the very many smart lawmakers and legislative staffers, many of whom are working so very hard to do what’s best for the state. I’ll even miss Rep. Lora Reinbold’s war again Common Core, Rep. Les Gara’s loquacity, and I’ll miss Sen. Cathy Giessel, egg timer and all.
I’ll still be in and out of the state, and anything can happen. So it’s not goodbye — something more like au revoir, as Hollis French might say.
Contact Amanda Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org