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Ghosts in the Political Machine. No, really. Ghosts!

TALL TALES from Juneau

Eyes on the Babcock/Arduin/Dunleavy administration

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Kelly Tshibaka, Gov. Dunleavy’s replacement pick for Commissioner of Administration (after first pick, Jonathan Quick, the “yogurt entrepreneur” was found to be lying on his resume) is certainly qualified for the job on paper. Nevertheless, she has some ideological issues which ought to raise serious concerns for someone wanting a position overseeing a very large and diverse government workforce. In 2002, Tshibaka (under her maiden name Kelly Hartline) wrote the following in the Harvard Law Record about “National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day”: If you or people you know are homosexual, this day is for you. Share the message of hope. There is a way out of the homosexual lifestyle. There is no reason to be controlled by the ‘once-gay-always-gay’ rhetoric used to advance political agendas. On this day, begin your journey out of homosexuality.”The article is also peppered with references to homosexuality as a “sin” against God, a “choice” and “a struggle” to be overcome and “renounced.”

She may believe that homosexuality is a choice, but according to another article she authored her own political leanings are not. “Some would say I was born conservative — it’s not a choice.” And what does being a genetic conservative mean to Tshibaka? “…Big government is a big problem. Abortion cannot be justified. There is no wall of separation between church and state… And we are bound by an overarching moral code that even the Supreme Court can’t legislate around.” To sum this up, our nominee says she is bound to her own religious code of conduct, which supersedes even the highest court in the land and its laws.

This seems to demand a simple question about how someone’s strongly held religious beliefs to which they give more weight than laws established by the government, and the belief that homosexuality is a sin that is used for some kind of “political agenda” might affect how that person does their job, and how they view members of the workforce who report to them. Seems reasonable, and necessary, right?

Rep. Zack Fields (D-Anchorage) asked just such a question in an interview with Tshibaka, and he said she answered that question to his satisfaction. But here’s where things went off the rails. This seemingly amicable exchange got brought up in her confirmation hearing, when Fields was blindsided by Tshibaka who said Fields, merely by asking that question, entered into“unconstitutional lines of inquiry that violate my civil liberties.

And then, the very next morning, Rep. Lance Pruitt leapt to her defense, giving an impassioned floor speech about religious liberty and “protected class.” Pruitt’s wife Mary Ann just happens to be the governor’s communications director. Not saying she helped her husband with his homework, but she not only makes a cool $185k promoting Dunleavy’s agenda as his communications director, but is now under scrutiny for conflicts of interest in her side-hustle consulting business. Don’t think about that stuff, says Mary A… err… Lance Pruitt, because Religion is Under Attack!



Ghosts. Ghosts are under attack also. Dunleavy’s pick for an appointment to the Violent Crimes Compensation Board (who was described as a “small-business owner, reformed burglar, and ghost hunter) got a chilly reception from Sen. Lora Reinbold (R-Eagle River) who demanded to know if he had experienced anything paranormal, because that would be a “red flag.” John Francis spent the bulk of his phoned-in testimony defending his ghost hunting, and explaining that “most” ghost visits aren’t really ghosts, and when pressed about his belief in the paranormal that he did believe Jesus rose from the dead, and … you just really need to read the entire account HERE. <–Yes, that’s the New York Times. At the end Reinbold said she would be a no vote. Later she posted this to her Facebook page.




Speaking of paranormal experiences, apparently a guy named Al Wall, the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services can see in to the future! Sounds crazy, right? But check it out. Mr. Wall, as evidenced by his own email, seemed to have knowledge in advance, that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services were going to uncover an assault at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute before the investigators even started investigating! AND, he wrote about what they would find in the past tense in an email written a full week before the investigators’ finding was made. Eerie, huh? This sounds like it needs some kind of explanation, especially since it led to the highly-controversial no-bid contract to the private for-profit company Wellpath Recovery Solutions, that coincidentally has ties to none other than Donna Arduin, Dunleavy’s out-of-state appointment to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Maybe in order to figure out this paranormal experience, we need to follow money, not ghosts. Matt Buxton at The Midnight Sun did an outstanding job laying this all out HERE.



For Harry Potter fans, the proper analogy for this story would be that Rep. Sarah Vance (R-Homer) just went full Dolores Umbridge on a group of Homer High School students. It seems that students don’t like the idea of education being cut to the bone with the potential of losing teachers, staff, and school activities. It hits them close to home. So a group of these students got together and decided they would write post cards to their newly elected representative, Sarah Vance, to express their dismay. Vance thought it would be a good idea to respond with a Facebook Live video, accusing them of using school resources (stamps) which they didn’t, accusing teachers of being involved (which they weren’t), and admonishing them for the fact that nobody addressed her as “Representative Vance,” “Not one!” She also took a passive-aggressive dig at Homer High and public education to bemoan their lack of proper letter-writing skills. She even read several letters aloud to show how awful they were. Vance invited them to keep in touch as long as they did it properly next time. This went over as well as you may imagine. After Vance was treated to a torches and pitchforks constituent meeting the week before, and now is being thrashed for her helpful instructional video, she might consider… how would she put it… “taking this opportunity to improve upon her constituent relations skills.” The video has now been deleted, and replaced with a US News & World Report statistic that Homer High is in the top 5% nationwide, and she’s super proud of that. We give her an F. Maybe she can improve next time.



You might reasonably think that all Alaskans are horrified by the governor’s proposed budget which guts K-12 education, the ferry sytem, health care for needy people, and the university sytem. BUT, you would be incorrect. Let’s go local for a second. We managed to find someone who thinks it’s all just swell, AND she happens to be running for office for the Eagle River seat on the Anchorage Assembly.

Crystal Kennedy (clearly no relation to John F., or Bobby) had this to say on Facebook.

Apparently if Ms. Kennedy’s job suddenly cut her wages by 80%, she’d sell the house and the car, stop paying for healthcare for grandma, and say “aww, that’s too bad” when her kids ended up with 50 in the classroom for every one teacher. The thought of … FINDING A WAY TO REPLACE HER LOST REVENUE… would not occur to her in her own household, it seems.

The good news is that running against her is an awesome candidate for the Assembly named Oliver Schiess. You can go check out his website here, or his Facebook page here. Donate, and support his campaign… and definitely spread Ms. Kennedy’s opinion of the state of things with all those you know in Eagle River.

That’s it, and don’t forget to send in those ballots next week!


This article was reposted with permission from the Alaska Democratic Party



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  1. […] resigned this year to run for the Senate. During confirmation hearings for the commissioner seat, she was asked about her views that homosexuality is a sin, and she condemned the legislator that asked the question, claiming the topic was an […]

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