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May 15, 2021

Alaska Republicans Get What They Wish For. Aaaand it sucks.

 

TALL TALES from Juneau

Eyes on the Babcock/Dunleavy Administration

 ‘Take it easy there, big fella’ Edition

 

REPUBLICANS, BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU TELL EVERYONE YOU WISH FOR

We’ve been hearing for years now from Republicans in the legislature (after Parnell gave away the farm to the oil companies, and signed budgets that drained our billions in savings) about how we need to cut. Cut, cut, cut our way to prosperity, they said! The budget was cut by 40 percent, and STILL they said more cuts! Well, guess what? Republicans now have that balanced budget they’ve been yelling about, and now that Alaskans see the dystopian future of an Alaska with 45 kids to a classroom; healthcare cuts to the elderly, sick, poor, and disabled; a shell of a university system with entire campuses shuttered; a southeast hobbled by the decimation of the ferry system, and rural Alaska bearing the brunt of most everything – suddenly they’re all, “Whoa! Hold on there, big fella! We didn’t mean THIS!” This rapid-onset enlightenment is accompanied by requests from various Republican lawmakers to hear from constituents about how they feel regarding this budget. That’s code for “we need an excuse to appease our base who thinks this budget is just fabulous and doesn’t give a fig about the future of our state, but who we still need to vote us back in.” So, email them. Tell them that the things that were important to you in all those previous years are still important. And let’s try to crawl out of this box they’ve gotten us into. Senators’ contact information is HERE, Representatives’ contact information is HERE.

 

MUST-SEE TV – BEST DRAMA/REALITY PROGRAMMING

 

“Honey, ‘The Ship of State’ is on!”

 

Put the pause on your Netflix binging for at least this week. The hottest must-see TV is the Senate Finance Committee. The previously mentioned budget is the topic of conversation, and both sides of the aisle are having none of it from temporary out-of-state budget director Donna Arduin. She’s made a career of bouncing from Republican state to Republican state and eviscerating budgets for cash. Dunleavy is paying her $195,000/yr. to hack ours. Easy money, especially considering she’s said it’s “not her job” to understand how the cuts actually affect people. At least one Juneau-ite has expressed to Ms. Arduin that they are not pleased, and of course the GOP is now screaming about “harassment.” Ms. Arduin clearly expected Alaska to be another Florida, or Illinois, and had no understanding that it’s impossible to hide in Juneau. The governor can’t do it, legislators can’t do it, and cabinet members can’t do it either. Welcome to the bubble, where you’re actually accountable to the people of Alaska for what you do. The GOP mouthpiece blog is also taking the opportunity to accuse senators of “mansplaining” to Ms. Arduin when they question her about her shocking lack of understanding or interest in the consequences of budget cuts. Since Sen. Natasha von Imhof (female) today did her share of scoffing at the talking point “unleashing entrepreneurship” to beach the Alaska ferry system and wipe out support for rural airports, we propose the terms “moralitysplaining” or “Alaskasplaining” instead. You can try to look at Arduin’s bio on her firm’s page. Maybe you’ll have better luck than we did.

 

ELEPHANT ON ELEPHANT VIOLENCE

 

Speaking of Republicans, as expected, the dropping of this budget separated the intransigent zealots from those who are willing to put party aside and work together for the good of the state. Rep. Gary Knopp (R-Kenai) was the one who (at times more skillfully than other times) held back the insanity that would have been an extremely narrow Republican majority. He saved us from having David Eastman & Co. (which now seems to include freshmen Republicans Josh Revak and Sharon Jackson) from gumming up every single vote (which requires 21 to pass) so they can bask in the klieg lights and play rebel on TV. And Knopp sure paid a price for it. There was a town hall meeting in Kenai where the hard-line “don’t even talk to Democrats!” lobby were out in force – not only from his own district, but also nearly a third of attendees from Homer and the Mat-Su. Yes, these folks DROVE to Kenai to harass someone else’s legislator. Here’s the video if you want to cringe your way through it. They called him names, yelled at him about abortion for some reason, and accused him of not being Republican enough. Nice bunch. And we’ve learned conclusively that Sen. Peter Micciche’s (R-Soldotna) vote (sent by proxy via Kristie Babcock, wife of Dunleavy’s Chief of Staff and former Republican Party Chair Tuckerman Babcock) was the vote that tipped it at the District 30 meeting that asked Knopp to resign. So much for Kumbaya. Babcock’s iron fist and purity tests still rule the day. For now.

But despite those efforts, we have a multi-partisan coalition including some surprises – all 15 Democrats, Independent Dan Ortiz, Undeclared Bryce Edgmon as Speaker, and Republicans Stutes, LeDoux, Kopp, Knopp, Johnston, Thompson, LeBon, and Wilson. In the last election, Babcock tried to excommunicate every Republican who worked with Democrats. The list is growing longer, which is a good sign for governance, and a bad sign for Babcock.

 

CATHARSIS

 

 Primal scream therapy and breaking stuff have gone out of vogue, but if you need a really good cathartic moment, check out the letter written by the mayor of Valdez to the governor.  The letter was posted on Facebook but here’s the gist: “The nightmare proposal of SB 57 is a State power grab, wrapped in a malignant cost shift, wrapped in the age-old government fallacy of ‘we know what’s good for you, better than you do.’ You would expect such tactics from extremists who ultimately turn their citizens into beggars. Mr. Dunleavy, never in the history of our state has this worked. Creating a structure of massive losers to fill budget gaps, creates division, implants fear, and hurts everyone.” Yes, Mayor, you would expect such tactics from extremists who ultimately turn their citizens into beggars.

 

SUPER-WONK INFO

Remember, if you want to know what committee meetings are happening when, you can always find the schedule and what will be covered in the meetings HERE. And if you’ve just been dying to read the rules by which the legislature operates (theoretically), you can find a link to the Uniform Rules HERE.

 

THE SENATORS SPEAK

 

This week, both Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan address the legislature. Murkowski’s turn was today, and you can read her speech here. Here first big applause line was about avoiding another government shutdown. But not all legislators applauded. No, no. Right up in the front row, Reps. Colleen Sullivan-Leonard (R, sister of Mayor Dan) and David Eastman’s new sidekick, Josh Revak (R) were actively and obviously NON-applauding at avoiding a shutdown. Thanks, you guys. Alaska appreciates it. Dan Sullivan, who is slated to speak Thursday, seems to have made it a full-time project to do whatever he has to do to be Donald Trump’s BFF, so we’ll see how that goes. There are fewer and fewer who want that inauspicious designation, but your junior senator is one of them. Expect lots of talk about the military, his safe space. You’ll be able to watch both addresses live on 360north.orgor in the archives which you can find on the drop-down menu. Sullivan will speak Thursday at 11am.

 

FIGHT BACK, STAY SMART

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That’s it for now. Stay engaged, and speak up.

 

*This post is reprinted with permission from the Alaska Democratic Party

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Comments

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Comments
2 Responses to “Alaska Republicans Get What They Wish For. Aaaand it sucks.”
  1. ina puustinen-westerholm says:

    Spot-on! Now..do not try posting it/printing it..to others who are already..enlightened..BUT..find a person you feel who is able to deal with..expanded news/information/deepdiving..into issues. Get them to give you..12 min..to heat up the ol portable comp.(which you have wisely carted WITH you)..under you arm..and have them..jot themselves notes/questions..talking points. A wise..society..actually TALKS..to each other. Each of us..must..do the walk, and..the talking. Best scenario..a person who has not yet..’budged’ idiologicaly..in ages. Any..ship of state..cannot be ‘righted’..by a simple..turn. We have to roll, recover, hang on…and feel the oncoming..rolls..and always..looking out..for the horizon line..as newness..is forming. The republicans..did not mean..to screwup..but..they need to look forward..at history..’cause this lil ‘dust-up’..has never been..the whole game. History..has their rumps..in a vise. At 81..i watch..waiting for them to figure out..where the pain..is coming from.

  2. akbright says:

    I had just taken a bite of potato salad when the photo of Sullivan and (I still like beer) Kavanaugh appeared. Needless to say, that morsel of spuds didn’t make it down.

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