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May 14, 2021

Alaska’s Fiscal False Choice – Don’t swallow it!

TALL TALES from Juneau

Eyes on the Babcock/Dunleavy Administration

Open up!

FALSE CHOICES ARE YUCKY

In case you haven’t noticed, Republicans are holding your nose and trying to shove a spoonful of false choice down your throat. And the false choice goes like this:

Would you rather have:

  1. A full PFD, and a state with sub-par education, a crippled university, devastated health care and no viable transportation in southeast Alaska, OR
  2. A state you want to live in, and give up part of your PFD.

But imagine if you will, a different choice, perhaps something like this:

Would you rather have:

  1. A full PFD, a small progressive state income tax, a state you want to live in, and no massive tax credits to oil companies, OR
  2. There is no b.

There is no b, because there doesn’t need to be. Yes, FULL PFD (!!!), an income tax to help garner some smart painless revenue from the many folks who work here and profit here but live Outside, and reclaiming the more than $1 billion we’re handing out to oil companies in various ways. Do that and guess what happens? POOF! Balanced budget, livable state. Why then is hardly anyone talking about this? Because we are, despite collective ownership of the resource, behaving like an oil colony, with many legislators beholden to that special interest.

So, what can you do? Start TALKING ABOUT it! Talk about it to your friends, your legislators, your social media accounts – start leaving comments on newspaper and blog articles. Change the conversation. And if you doubt that Republicans are doing exactly what I just said, go check this out. It’s a video from Sen. President Cathy Giessel practicing how they’re going to message this.

Listen to it, understand it, and don’t buy what they’re selling. And don’t get mad at the PFD either. Many Republicans think of the PFD as a “socialist entitlement program” that needs to be eliminated, but the PFD is a great equalizer that keeps 20,000 Alaskans out of poverty and off of other state services every year, boosts the economy and local businesses with an influx of cash, and according to Institute of Social and Economic Research, it’s the LAST thing that should be cut if we want to keep our state healthy. And while many folks think of the PFD as a nice little pot of mad money they can blow on a big screen TV, to many Alaskans the PFD is health care, heating oil, rent, or even food. Now go forth, and let ’em have it! Oil taxes/tax credits first, PFD last = livable state.

 

HE’S EVERYTHING YOU THOUGHT HE’D BE

The governor’s new Attorney General nominee is working his way through the confirmation process. If you don’t know Kevin Clarkson, take a few minutes on the Google and check him out. Of particular interest is his appearance in a very special issue of HateWatch from the Southern Povery Law Center. The article is titled Local anti-LGBT extremists join forces with hate group to gut nondiscrimination law in Alaska. As an allied attorney to the Alliance Defending Freedom (an anti-LGBT hate group), Clarkson has donated over 10,000 pro bono hours to them and was rewarded with its “Golden Service” and “Silent Watch” awards.

But no worries, Clarkson assured the House the other day that “only 10 percent of his work” has been related to controversial social issues – like fighting reproductive rights, and persecuting gay people. In school, 10% is the difference between an F and a C. In the case of fighting to restrict Alaskans’ constitutional rights, it’s the difference between an AG we want, and one who should stay at the back of the class. Like he did in 2016 when he applied to replace the retiring Dana Fabe on the Alaska Supreme Court. He scored 2.7 out of five from the Alaska Judicial Council. It was the lowest ranking of all the applicants.

Rep. David Eastman (R-Wasilla) asked Clarkson if he’d be comfortable prosecuting Gov. Dunleavy if he found out he was breaking the law. Clarkson said, “I have every confidence I’m not going to face that problem… I believe he respects the law.” Which brings us to a super-awkward headline that was making the rounds last week – Legislative attorneys: Parts of Dunleavy’s budget may be unconstitutional. Oops.

 

PULLING A NEASTMAN

In some much needed good news, the newly organized, Democratic majority House created its first-ever Special Committee on Tribal Affairs. “Collaborating with our federally-recognized tribes helps bridge historical and political divisions while elevating opportunities to shape policies and programs that incorporate local and traditional knowledge,” Chair Tiffany Zulkosky (D-Bethel) said. “I am eager for the opportunity to chair this historic committee and pursue opportunities to move Alaska forward together.” The committee was created by a vote on a resolution during a House floor session. The vote was almost unanimous. ALMOST. A look at the vote board shows that David Eastman (R-Wasilla) is still out there on the wrong side of history with his one no vote, and also why this pattern of lone dissent has been dubbed by political bloggers as “pulling a NEASTMAN.”

 

THE TRAIN HAS LEFT THE STATION

And the ever-growing train of sketchy political hirings (and firings) in the Dunleavy administration continues. Dunleavy’s new Communications Director is none other than Mary Ann Pruitt. Last name sound familiar? Yes, she is the wife of House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt. In these times of woe and want when we don’t have two pennies to rub together, she’ll be pulling down $185,000/year to message this train wreck. That’s almost as much as the $195,000/year going to the temporary Budget Director from the Lower 48, Donna Arduin, who’s busy creatingit. Another to add to the stack of Republican retreads back in office is Mike Nizich – Palin and Parnell’s Chief of Staff. More coming on that soon.

And Dave Donley who currently sits on the Anchorage School Board ($23,000/year) was also appointed as Deputy Commissioner of Administration making $157,000/year, which is more than the actual Commissioner, and more than the governor! If you’re wondering when Donley plans to step down from the School Board, you can stop wondering. He doesn’t plan to. He might be that guy at a party who dips the chip twice because double-dipping financially doesn’t appear to cause him any ethical distress at all. Here’s a great piece that lays it all out and why it’s an unbelievable conflict of interest.

And on the firing side, former Democratic State Senator Hollis French, confirmed by the legislature to Chair the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, was dismissed this week “for cause,” following an investigation which resulted in an opinion that he should NOT be dismissed, and that firing people for political leanings sets a dangerous precedent. Here’s more on that. The governor’s story is that French worked too much outside the office (after a hostile coworker started literally keeping a secret journal of his comings and goings). Which reminds me – the governor himself hasn’t been seen around the Capitol much these days… Maybe someone ought to start keeping a journal of that. You know, just for the sake of consistency.

 

HE’S ALLL MAN

One out-of-the-office moment happened yesterday when Dunleavy met up with President Donald Trump while he was refueling at JBER. The president said that he sat in the plane and thought about whether he wanted to get out, because he didn’t have to, but that Alaskan soldiers were so awesome that he decided to grace them with his presence and a prepared speech. He also said that Dunleavy “was one of the greatest governors” which explains a lot, and that he was big. “Look at this man. He’s all man. Look at him.” Weirdness Level 10.

 

DO YOU EVER WISH YOU HAD A MINION?

Are you finding it impossible to keep up with all the skulduggery and news you need to know? Do you wish you had some kind of minion who could get up early, scour the papers, blogs, and websites, and put together a concise reading list with little excerpts included and email it to you every day? I AM THAT MINION! All you have to do is click the link HERE and sign up.

 

WOULD YOU BUY US COFFEE?

Everyone here at the Democratic party is working diligently to #1) keep you informed and engaged, and #2) build a network of up-and-coming candidates who will hit the ground running for 2020 so we can derail this crazy train before it does irreparable harm. We need a Senate Majority, and we need a larger majority in the House. We need great school boards, and municipalities and boroughs across the state populated with good people. And we need to shoot big and mount vigorous campaigns against the entrenched powers at the top. This is a big job and we need resources behind it. So please, if you can, help support our mammoth efforts because all this takes resources. We’ve been hearing a lot lately about revenue streams, and we’re hoping you’ll jump into ours by giving what you can, and even better, a monthly donation so we can plan big plans without overextending ourselves. You can support us by clicking HERE. And you can get TALL TALES in your inbox every time by subscribing to our email list HERE.

Thanks, and hang in there!

Jeanne

*This article is reposted with permission from the Alaska Democratic Party

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