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September 27, 2021

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Shenanigans & a Secret Stalker!

It’s a shortened week because of the holiday, the legislature has gaveled out for now, and it seems that most of the political world was quiet during the fourth of July weekend. With one major exception.

THE GOVERNOR DID SOMETHING GOOD!

No, you don’t need to clean your glasses, he really did. Okay, granted, it was totally by accident and not what he intended to do at ALL, and he tried to worm out of it once it was done, but none the less.

Last Thursday, Dunleavy made the big announcement that he was going to veto a proposed $4 billion deposit into the ‘corpus’ of the Permanent Fund. The corpus is the part that can never be touched – the really permanent part. The ‘earnings reserve’ is the part everyone is fighting over because that can be spent – for PFD checks, and the cost of running the state (which we now need to do since oil prices crashed and Republicans refuse to implement any kind of new revenue and also refuse to stop throwing dump trucks full of cash to wealthy oil companies).

So, legislators decided to make a giant transfer of money into the $61 billion corpus which would sit there forever and ever, earning interest and growing the earnings reserve. And no legislature would ever be able to spend it. There was a huge amount of discussion over this transfer, but it passed with bipartisan approval in the legislature and was sent to the governor with the rest of the budget. 

The governor then said he was going to veto that $4 billion transfer, along with a host of other things like foster care, and legal assistance for domestic violence victims, and child welfare compacting, and pre-K, and getting Real ID to villages, and public health nurses, and ferries. You know, like last time.

We’ve all been to this rodeo before – the GOP plan to: defund critical services, privatize what can be privatized for the benefit of cronies, and strip the rest away from victims, sick people, rural Alaskans, and children in crisis who can’t fight back, is still in full swing from last year, even without Tuckerman Babcock in the driver’s seat.

But here’s where it gets weird. The next day when everyone looked at the budget, with all the lines through it and the stamps and initials… the $4 billion transfer was still there. Not crossed out. Not vetoed.

He forgot.

Well, he says he didn’t forget. It was just a mistake. A 4 BILLLLLLION dollar mistake. But hey, stuff happens, you know? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage) summed it up well. “Someone screwed up, and I believe it’s for the benefit of Alaskans.”

Dunleavy panicked of course, and tried to take it back. His communications team said it was just a “scribner’s error.” 

If you are a bookish person, you may already be thinking that “Scribner’s” is a publishing house in New York City that represented such greats as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edith Wharton and many others to whom the governor’s comms team could not hold a candle. A “scrivener’s error,” however, is generally a little oopsie in a document that is then corrected – and is probably what they meant. But this GIGANTIC oversight was in fact signed, sealed and delivered by the governor. Still, the governor announced it would be corrected shortly.

It was not corrected shortly.

“I’m sure they didn’t do it on purpose. But that’s just the way it is,” said Bert Stedman, the Republican who co-chairs the Senate Finance Committee. “The rules are set up and the structure set up intentionally to have a fair political process, and this is the process you have to follow. You can’t just modify things … after everything, and your documents are signed and stamped and done. That’s not how it works.” He was backed up by legal opinion.

Bottom Line: Dunleavy said oops after it was too late, and the legislature said “no backs.” 

After being told he was out of luck, the governor announced that he would “allow” the transfer to happen. Then he said that it didn’t really matter anyway, and the transfer wouldn’t affect what he wanted to do.

Let the record show there was no “allowing.” He messed up, won’t admit it, wasn’t allowed to change it, and then pretended it was no big deal anyway.

Thanks Gov. Dunleavy, and we can’t wait until someone else is in your seat who can do good things for Alaska on purpose!


[TANGENT>>>>] SPEAKING OF WHICH

Former long-time Democratic Representative from Anchorage, Les Gara, in a press release announcing his intent to form an exploratory committee for a run at the governor’s seat had this to say:

“I want a state that provides real opportunity for people, that creates jobs, and that offers students and workers the skills and quality education they deserve. We should help people succeed because it’s right, because it will help end our recession, and because it will grow our businesses with Alaska workers.”

There was a Senator a long time ago who had a great quote about this kind of thing… Who was it again? Oh, that’s right!


DOWN TO THE WIRE

In a surprise move, 48 hours before the onset of a repeat constitutional crisis like the one he had last time a Supreme Court vacancy presented itself, Gov. Dunleavy decided not to break the law again and chose a Supreme Court Justice from the list of three highly-qualified women given to him by the Alaska Judicial Council instead. 

Dunleavy’s nose was bent out of shape because his less-qualified, lower-scoring, more-partisan guy wasn’t on the list, so he wrote a pouty letter asking for them to reconsider. That worked about as well as you would expect.

The editorial board of the Anchorage Daily News had a thing or two to say about it, wrapping up their clear-eyed analysis of the governor’s dysfunction by making some parallels between the governor and… King George III. Oof!

Congratulations to the eminently-qualified Judge Jennifer Henderson for her new appointment.


THE BRONSON AGE

Things may be slow in the legislature, but the Municipality of Anchorage is charging ahead into a new mayoral era by approving (or not) Mayor Dave Bronson’s nominees to run the Muni. Here’s a link to the schedule, including who’s on deck. The fun starts today.

One nominee who got some attention from the ever-watchful eyes of The Blue Alaskan is Sami Graham. After recently losing her Anchorage School Board race, she’s now been picked by Bronson to be the new Municipal Librarian. Just one little problem…

She’s not a librarian.

Also from The Blue Alaskan, a bit of a bombshell report about who was actually funding a giant chunk of Bronson’s campaign under the organization ironically named, “Alaskans for Change.” These “Alaskans” are two guys from Florida/Kentucky who have a vested interest in keeping certain hotels in Anchorage away from those who want to make sure their employees are fairly treated, and compensated for their work.Anti-union Columbia Sussex properties in Anchorage are so bad that boycotts are in effect until conditions improve. 

Here are those “Alaskans for Change” who bought the new mayor. Pretty sure they were the stand-ins for Mortimer and Randolph Duke in the ’80s classic, Trading Places.

William Yung, “Alaskan” and Thomas Drake, “Alaskan” who probably both prounounce the L in salmon.                            

[Amirite?]

If you’re an Anchorager and haven’t followed The Blue Alaskan, please do. They cover (and uncover) all the local shenanigans.

***And if you want to irritate those two^^, you could attend the PRO Act rally coming up on July 20th at 4:30pm. Keep your eye HERE for details. The PRO Act will ensure that workers everywhere have the right to organize and collectively bargain.



EVERYONE CELEBRATES DIFFERENTLY

Democratic Party staff spent the long weekend rejuvenating, remembering why we do what we do, becoming inspired to continue making positive change, rededicating ourselves to the work ahead and dreaming of the time when Americans and Alaskans can come together for the good of the everyone, with nobody left behind.

We also spent the holiday (little did we know) living rent-free in the head of Rep. Mike Cronk! He copied and posted The Alaska Democratic Party’s very own Facebook cover to his own page! We’re flattered that the Republican from Tok is stalking our social media during his precious down time. Maybe he’ll even learn something!

*This newsletter is reposted courtesy of the Alaska Democratic Party

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