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Gov’s Koch brothers-sponsored road show hits rough road

TALL TALES from Juneau

Eyes on the Dunleavy/Babcock Administration

In which the governor meets Alaska

Knock, knock. It’s Anchorage!

(Photo courtesy of John Aronno, AK Ledger)  

1-2-3 JUMP!

What a week. I suppose we’d better just jump right in to the deep end of the pool. The governor has without a doubt violated his oath to uphold the Constitution of the State of Alaska. And he’s still doing it right now. He had 45 days to appoint a Superior Court Judge to a vacant seat in Palmer. See Article IV, section 5.  And he didn’t. It wasn’t an oversight. His spokesperson Matt Shuckerow (who used to work for Don Young in that capacity, so he can pretty much say anything without flinching) said that the governor “doesn’t want to be constrained.” Then, the chief justice of the supreme court of Alaska said that obviously the governor doesn’t understand the constitution because the constitution doesn’t care that the governor doesn’t want to be “constrained.” And that yes, the governor was in violation of his oath of office to uphold that constitution. Then the governor threw down, and sent a letter to members of the Alaska Judicial Council (who are constitutionally tasked with sending the list of names from which the governor is to choose), saying he would “not be selecting a second candidate from this truncated list.” Then, he appeared on Talk of Alaska and said that he agrees he needs to choose a name from the list, but he just wants a bigger list that includes the guy he wants pick. Or he’s not picking. And that he was going to meet with the Chief Justice to ‘govsplain’ how that was all going to work. Then the meeting happened. The governor emerged from the woodshed saying that the meeting “provided important clarification” and he would be following the constitution after all. How about that.

Constitution: 1
Dunleavy: 0


The governor had a lot to say on his Talk of Alaska appearance this week. When asked about the highly-controversial series of public (read private) town hall meetings (read lectures from Americans for Prosperity), he said he didn’t see anything wrong with them. He said that he’s just trying to save the state money and he’d allow “any and all” groups offering to foot the bill to do so. Oh, reeeeeally… Did you hear that Planned Parenthood, and Sounds like you’ve got an invitation! Come on up! But be aware, Americans for Prosperity offered lecture-goers celery sticks and cheese cubes, so you better bring some game. And saving money is nice, but it didn’t seem to bother the governor to spend $9000 in state money on anonymous radio ads encouraging his own supporters to come to these lectures. But then again, remember that the governor has increased the budget for his own office, so I guess if you’ve got money to burn, why not? He also wasn’t interested in saving money when Senate Democrat Donny Olson offered to pay for the venue in Nome himself, so the presence of AFP could be eliminated, and his constituents could feel more comfortable with the process, and not have to sign up for a lifetime of AFP junk mail among other things. His offer was ignored. Olson noted that the governor wanted “a crowd controlled by stipulations that allow for no public input.” That about sums it up. But hindsight is 20/20, and Dunleavy really should have taken Sen. Olson up on his offer, because Nome had surprises for him. More on that in a moment.



Reports from Kenai said that protesters of the event there had to stay a quarter mile away from the building, behind a fence, with a state trooper INSIDE the locked gate on the private property to make sure nobody busted in who wasn’t on the list. And anyone who’s a friend of education on the Kenai Peninsula, listen up. Your Borough Mayor has something to tell you about the potential closure of SIX borough schools, and the elimination of sports and extracurricular activities. “Embrace it!” Yep. Check out 1:22 on this video if you doubt. Kenai, we know you guys are swimming upstream, but you definitely have the best signs! #winning



In Anchorage, the masses protested a lot closer to the building, and there were hundreds of them! The governor was snuck in, out of sight. Those inside were allowed to ask questions only if they wrote them down on index cards so Americans for Prosperity could decide which ones the governor wanted to answer. Someone did try to ask an actual question, but they were shouted down by a stagehand with a mic. There were, by report from an insider, half a dozen private security guards armed with pistols who apparently need to work on their people skills. This from an attendee:

“I arrived late and was told it was at capacity and I was not let in. Apparently it’s not at capacity, so I drove back and told the security guard I thought it was unfortunate that he had to lie to me, that I understand there are lots of open seats. He said that’s what he was told to say by the event director and he didn’t care what I said he wasn’t going to f***ing let me in.  (and I thought I was being nice). Then the event director came out and I told her I thought it was too bad they had to lie about being at capacity and she said she had to go to the bathroom and left me with my friend the security guard.”

And then something happened the likes of which we have not seen since the good folks of Homer held up a “Worst Governor Ever” banner on the dock when another former Wasilla Governor was to make an appearance there in 2009.

Homer, 2009

Anchorage, 2019

(photo courtesy of Matt Buxton at The Midnight Sun)


But none of this compared to the powerful scene that unfolded in Nome. It started out with a woman named Brenda Evak at the airport wearing a “Defend the Sacred” shirt to show opposition to oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She used a “loud and assertive” voice saying “What do we do when our lands are threatened? We stand our ground!” Multiple witnesses say she was not threatening, and backed away from the governor as he approached. She was arrested outside the airport and is awaiting a court appearance. The social media outrage took off like wildfire, and Sen. Donny Olson whose district encompasses Nome and a wide swath of rural Alaska said, “All Alaskans and Americans have the right to free speech. It is outrageous that an Alaskan expressing an opinion to the Governor is treated this way. Alaskans are angry, and they feel like their voice is not heard. I hope Governor Dunleavy takes the experience from this event to understand the impact his budget is having on all Alaskans and uses it to finally start governing this state on behalf of its people.”

Brenda Evak after speaking truth to power

Inside the event, the Americans for Prosperity folks and the governor thought this was going to be a meeting like the others. Not so. The first half went as they had anticipated, but then President/CEO of Kawerak, Melanie Bahnke, raised her hand. And she didn’t stop. And then others in the room started pointing at her as she sat with hand up. The Nome Nugget reported that she “blazed the trail to open the meeting for public comment. Members in the audience pointed to Bahnke holding up her hand until the AFP and the Governor could no longer ignore the silent request to be heard.”

“There is a saying, ‘When in Rome…’ and I’d like to use that,” she said, “So, ‘When in Nome’ the protocol typically is not to be exclusive of who’s allowed to come access our elected officials… And also about your process of having to address you through these cards, if you truly want to have a dialog, that’s not how to go about it. That’s not typically how we do things in Nome.” And after talking about the budget, she had a reminder for Donna Arduin, the temporary Budget Director. “This comment is for you, Donna. While you were allowed to speak for a little bit, you used the word ‘our.’ And with all due respect, you may have a job for 8 years but our descendants – and I’m not just talking about the Alaska Native community here – we are going to be here for another 10,000 years. So please don’t use the word ‘our’ when referring to our state’s people or issues.”  You can see her whole testimony here.

Then Samuel Johns spoke. “This whole setting right here… I feel like you’re acting like a king right now. Like all I did was raise my hand and try to say two things and I had three officers start walking towards me. That seems like dictatorship to me… It does.” He went on to chastise the governor for not acknowledging the youth who were outside holding signs supporting education. “Any good man would have gone out there to greet them… Those kids are the future. They will surpass you.”  And when the governor left, he walked out, right between the rows of children chanting “we are the future” with their homemade signs – and he never acknowledged them. Not even eye contact. That video is on the Nome Nugget’s Facebook page  here.  And Johns’ entire statement is here.

Hats off to all those in Nome and everywhere who showed up to speak truth to power, even when power wanted them to be silent. Today the road show moves to Fairbanks (where a recent poll showed 55% strongly oppose the budget and only 15% strongly support it). It should be an interesting evening!


It’s clear that Alaska is reaching the point of activism. And that is a very good thing. Sometimes it takes staring into the abyss to make us all realize how important it is to fight for what we love.

Don’t ever forget how the votes of the corrupt bastards were bought for a few hundred dollars by oil companies a dozen years ago. Let’s not sell our souls for celery and cheese cubes. K?

Ok, people… go make some noise!




3 Responses to “Gov’s Koch brothers-sponsored road show hits rough road”
  1. mike from iowa says:

    Dunleav-Babcock sounds like one of them there things like Dunning -Kruger effect to ‘splain why goofy people do goofy things.

  2. mike from iowa says:

    Good to see yer name on articles again, Ms Devon. I will pay more visits more often for more insights from your mighty wit and insights.

  3. mike from iowa says:

    Under what hummock was Dumblevee born? Alaska voters apparently can’t get enough abuse from wingnuts. They keep electing them. Imagine an iowan feeling sorry for the good folks of Alaska. That is correct, my congressweasel is a white supremacist scumbag who has zero accomplishments in what seems like a hundred terms and my junior sinator is a female, former KGB agent with the ability to castrate pigs named Ivana Kuturnutzov, and I feel sorry for you.

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