Storm on the Horizon
I said last week I would try to focus more on affairs of the state, you know, because the whole world has seemingly lost their collective minds. I’ve spent some time watching Gavel to Gavel and listening to assembly meetings so you don’t have to. It may seem like a small thing to many of you, but clearly you haven’t spent an hour screaming at your computer because of local political antics. You’re welcome. Pro tip: Be careful if you’re playing a drinking game that requires a shot when the words “body” or “member” are said.
In the big square off between the Kenai Peninsula Borough and the ACLU over appropriate prayermanship, there’s been some lawyering up. Borough attorney Kevin Clarkson is now flanked with pro bono lawyers from Arizona. The Alliance Defending Freedom has worked with Clarkson before. In 2012 they came to Alaska to stir up some old-fashioned religious war fodder in the parental consent ballot initiative. Remember how fun that whole campaign was? I called it the Papa Pilgrim Dream Law. Oh, it was found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Never let the Constitution get in the way of shoving your lifestyle choices down the throats of the public, Mr. Clarkson.
In Juneau, there’s a great debate over conflict of interest brewing. If there were irony police, newly elected Chuck Kopp would be in cuffs. He argues that Alaskans really want our legislators to vote on things they will personally benefit from because otherwise they wouldn’t have elected them. Bingo! We elect people to help themselves first, and if we can get some crumbs that fall off the table at which they feast — BONUS! It seems Kopp is willing to see the conflicts as a potential issue on the floor, but in committee “one vote can be really significant.” Really, buddy? You just made the argument for why ethics really matter — because votes have consequences.
As it stands now, municipalities are required to vote on conflicts of interest. Yes. Your local representation has to declare and vote on conflicts, but in the halls of Juneau, not so much. Higher standards for mayors and assembly members than your senator or house member. There’s a new bill that actually establishes what is a conflict, not just letting lawmakers call it when they want and ignore it when they don’t. Alaska is the only state that requires unanimous consent for a legislator to abstain. Yes, even among states that have legislators who don’t get paid. Let that one sink in.
People are still smiling about the Women’s Marches held all over the state. The pictures from the Haines march went viral and looked like they’d been taken in a Siberian snowstorm. Way to go Fairbanks! Minus 15 degrees! It really was heartening to see more than 15 gatherings in our state. In Homer, about 30 percent of the town showed up. So did a couple of pathetic losers to “coal roll” the marchers. Coal rolling is driving a Compensator model truck near people and black smoking them out. This was done to women and children. When confronted on Facebook, one of the truck passengers wrote, “Ain’t nobody but y’all mad … Me and my other Trump supporting friends had a great time showing our support for our great president.” Nice guys. Oh, here’s a hint: Don’t drive your dad’s construction truck with his logo on it if you’re going to harass your neighbors.
I am really trying, people. Mikhail Gorbachev is trying. This week he wrote — What? Yes. He’s still alive. Anyway, he said, “It all looks as if the world is preparing for war.” Strangely, his article in Time magazine made me feel better. Not because, oh baby, I’m so ready for a fresh war. That Afghanistan one is just so 2002! But because he makes me feel like I’m not overreacting to what fresh hell presents itself on Twitter every morning. Thanks, Gorby!
Well, it looks like a Zamboni spent the better part of the morning on the outhouse trail. Last week’s snow has turned to medevac potential. It’s time to put the sexy back in cleated boots, turn off the news for a few hours and spread some ashes. Take care, slow down and stay safe.
Shannyn Moore is a radio broadcaster.