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May 13, 2021

Bonfire of the Insanities

“IT’S UNBELIEVABLE”

This is perhaps the best way to sum up the confirmation hearing for Alaska’s third Attorney General under Gov. Mike Dunleavy held in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week – a post from the Chair herself.

Reinbold, unsurprisingly, spent the bulk of the time complaining about having to follow rules, “drilling down” on the nominee’s opinion on separation of powers, the executive branch overreaching on civil liberties, and the governor’s mandates on “cloth face coverings” in government buildings. “As you know in the building we have negative tests but we still have to wear these,” she said. And technically, yes, there are negative tests in the building but there are also POSITIVE tests in the building.

She took issue with much of the COVID guidance coming from the state, including the recommendation to wear a mask when talking to clergy, and “directing churches on what they can and cannot do.” “In my church you had to have face coverings on. It was ridiculous in my mind because to me it violated religious liberties. So, I left the church actually over that,” she said. 😳

After a while, Sen. Shelley Hughes (who has recently been pointing out when Reinbold is wrong, much to Reinbold’s dismay) wanted it on the record that none of those things were mandated. Reinbold shut it down with, “We can see things differently. It was mentioned a lot.” 

The relationship between Hughes and Reinbold has become noticeably icy (at least on Reinbold’s part) since Hughes “reluctantly” voted with the majority to require that Reinbold follow the rules about masks in the Capitol like everyone else. Reinbold went on to complain that if alcohol or marijuana businesses can stay open why are they “shutting down” churches. “There’s so many things in these mandates, it’s unbelievable.”

Unbelievable, perhaps, because there are NO MANDATES.

Reinbold also spent most of the meeting “over-nosing” and putting on a display of how difficult her new CDC-approved face shield is to wear compared to the old non-CDC-approved one. At one point she warned that she might have to switch to the old one (shown in her hand above) because she can’t “tolerate” the approved one very well. This was all for the benefit of Senate President Peter Micchiche, the enforcer of the policy, who sat in the committee room waiting for a bill of his to be heard. [SPOILER: He never got the chance]

She asked Taylor if he believed that the proclaimed emergency powers of the governor are compatible with the Constitution. Taylor said yes, that emergency powers are meant for exactly the purpose they are being used for.

“We see that differently and lots of lawyers see that differently,” Reinbold responded.  “I founded the Constitutional Freedom Fighters, and I found tremendous amounts of constitutional violations! I think that’s important to get on the record.”

Let the record reflect. 

“Constitutional Freedom Fighters” in case you’re wondering is basically nothing but another site in which Reinbold shares posts from her own page. So, I guess that makes her a constitutional scholar. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Reinbold also cited more than once an “airport meeting” with Taylor, when she basically blindsided him at the airport. She sussed out from the “airport meeting” that he had been one of the pair of eyes on the scathing letter she received from Dunleavy a couple weeks ago, made Taylor say confirm that on the record, and stated that she wasn’t sure what he could do as AG but she wanted the letter officially retracted.

“Understood,” said Taylor, who clearly didn’t want to go down this path.

It was pretty much an hour and a half of venting her spleen, airing grievances, and trying to get the nominee to say things he wasn’t going to say. In the end, despite telling everyone else to keep their comments “tight,” Reinbold talked so much that the committee ran out of time and will have to have Taylor back again when Reinbold said she’ll be grilling him about crime and his inexperience with criminal law.

Senate President Peter Micchiche (R-Kenai) sat waiting for a bill of his to be read, but they never got to it. Nobody should be sad about that because it meant that he had to sit there through almost the whole meeting and witness live in person what he allows to happen in this committee and to the Republican Majority caucus, day after day, week after week. Yes, it’s an entertaining can’t-look-away slow-motion train wreck from a distance, but Reinbold using her committee as a self-indulgent play toy every week is gumming up the legislative process in very real ways. The entire Republican Senate Majority could stand to think about that.

MAYBE NEXT TIME

This memo from Dunleavy’s former Chief of Staff (now working for Conoco Phillips), purported to give Ed Sniffen the powers of Attorney General during AG Kevin Clarkson’s “absence.” The absence, if you recall, was a secret 30-day paid leave which was Clarkson’s punishment for sexually harassing a junior staffer, and texting her hundreds of times with kissy face emojis and inappropriate messages that the governor hoped no one would find out about.

Well, one problem with granting those temporary powers to Sniffen. It’s not legal. This tweet is from former Associate AG, Libby Bakalar about the memo.

So what did happen to Ed Sniffen, aka “the guy Ben Stevens appointed?” He resigned in disgrace after it was revealed that he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year old high school girl while he was her coach. 

And note in that red circle above who was copied on that memo and said/did nothing, allowing this highly illegal action to happen. Yep, Treg Taylor was in on the whole thing. 

Maybe someone will ask about this at the next installment of “Let’s Drill Down” in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

More on this from Dermot Cole.

BONFIRE OF THE INSANITIES

Back in the day, people who disliked knowledge burned books. Now, apparently, we’ve moved on to something else.

Earlier this year at the Anchorage Assembly meeting, an anti-masker attempts to set a surgical mask on fire in the Assembly chambers.

Mask burning seems to be the next protest against a problem that doesn’t exist. This event was set up and posted to the Save Anchorage Facebook group, which seems to be a petrie dish of dangerous conspiracy theory stretching all the way to the Capitol insurrection.

If you are wondering if the Sears Mall (now the Midtown Mall) would allow a mask burning, or even knows about it, here’s your answer.

THEY SAID WHAT??

We’re in the last days of the Anchorage Municipal election and everyone who lives in the Muicipality should have received their ballot in the mail by now. Go through that big stack of mail on the table and find it STAT!  

Anchorage elections are all by mail, so voting is easy and convenient. Mike Shower’s voter suppression bill (SB39) that seeks to limit voting by mail isn’t law, so hopefully it will stay that way.

Alaska’s largest city will be electing a new mayor, and four members of the Anchorage School Board this cycle. Remember, candidates who win local elections often go on to higher office so it’s in everyone’s best interest to pay attention and make your voices heard.

The kind of candidates we DON’T want? 

Meet Judy Eledge, a candidate for School Board, via a montage of offerings on her social media platforms. 

What can we tell about her from all this?

  • She is “always behind” and has support from the Eagle River Assembly member who defends Nazi license plates.
  • Public safety measures in the middle of a pandemic are really just liberals hating women and wanting them to wear burkas and never speak.
  • She takes her mask off to sneak selfies on Alaska Airlines flights while the flight attendants aren’t looking.
  • She thinks it’s a laugh-worthy good time to insinuate the school board needs someone who’s willing to whack some knuckles with a ruler. Corporal punishment. Hilarious.
  • For someone who asks people of color “why the focus on color?” she sure focuses on color. 
  • The article she shared with the work-worn hands about how white privilege doesn’t exist says this:

“Conservatives describe this rhetoric as neo-Marxist ideology, cancel culture, utopian socialism, race warfare and reverse racism. They argue that in today’s America opportunities abound for nearly everyone, and they deny accusations of “white guilt.” Conservatives argue that progressive activists, in an attempt to remove economic and racial barriers, actually built a trap and are now responsible for the breakdown of our traditional moral values.”

At this point, if people don’t understand the concept of white privilege, it’s because they don’t want to. But here it is one more time for those in the back.

As for the right-wing’s golden boy running for mayor, check out this article about Dave Bronson.

The article quotes Bronson’s many instances of testimony and published opinions over the years which can only be described as shockingly homophobic. But listen for yourself to his three minutes of testimony before the House State Affairs committee in 2007. And then call everyone you know and remind them to mail in their ballot.

These are the kinds of people who get elected when Democrats don’t send in their ballots.

Not sure who to vote for? 

Candidates with the Anchorage Democrats stamp have been endorsed by the Anchorage Democrats

IF YOU HAVE NOT RECEIVED YOUR ANCHORAGE MUNICIPAL BALLOT, CALL 343-VOTE!

GOOD THINGS

Did I make you do a double take? Yes, there are some good things happening in Juneau!

  • The double-dealing dastardly DMV-destroying duo of Dunleavy/Tshibaka have been thwarted! Massive public pushback and a firm stance from Democrats on the finance subcommittee that deals with the Department of Administration’s budget gave a big thumbs down to the “public private partnership” of DMVs that stood to gouge Alaskans for basic services. And the administration backed down. Not today Dunleavy/Tshibaka!
  • Also due to public pressure, Mike Shower’s voter suppression bill is undergoing a “rewrite.” It’s taking a long time. It’s likely to come back better than it was, but we can’t be complacent. No voter suppression is good, and Republicans have introduced hundreds of these bills across the country because they know that they can’t win with their message, so instead of changing the message they are changing the rules so fewer people vote. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp just passed a horrifying bill into law which limits voting locations, restricts the time polls are open, allows county voting apparatus to be taken over, and even criminalizes giving water to voters waiting in line. There is no question why these laws exist, and Shower’s bill is no exception.
  • Alaskans are leading the way with rates of vaccination. Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky (D-Bethel) has a great piece in the Anchorage Daily News reminding all Alaskans of the critical role that tribal health organizations have played in making that happen.

“Since December, tribal health organizations have been quiet champions — working diligently to calculate complex logistics, charter flights, carry vaccines over frozen ice roads and ensure not a dose of vaccine goes to waste. As early as the second week of January, tribal health organizations across the state began using its Sovereign Nation Supplement of COVID-19 vaccine to expand eligibility criteria, efficiently offering vaccination to teachers, frontline essential workers and residents at large regardless of IHS eligibility, well before the state was able to. This supplement has expanded Alaska’s access to COVID-19 vaccine by adding more than 92,000 first doses to what the state is receiving from the federal government, which will save lives, protect families and escalate Alaska’s timeline as we work to reach herd immunity.”

So, here’s your homework: Roll up your sleeve as soon as you possibly can, don’t burn masks, and tell everyone you know in Anchorage to return their ballots!

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