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September 22, 2021

Governor Arsonist/Firefighter is ready for your praise

TALL TALES from Juneau

Eyes on the Dunleavy Disaster

ABOUT FACE!

 

 

THE GOVERNOR LAST WEEK

THE GOVERNOR TODAY


A CONVERSATION

Remember the “unapologetic” governor, who two weeks ago all but assured us he’d re-veto his terrible budget cuts despite thousands of Alaskans showing up to testify, writing, and calling to oppose them?  Apparently, he doesn’t exist anymore.

The shiny new governor that made an appearance this week is now furiously walking back everything he’s said about how necessary these cuts are and how everyone knew exactly that this would happen when they voted for him. SPOILER: Neither of those things is true.

The governor announced that he will accept the Legislature’s recommendation to reverse cuts to senior benefits and Pre-K. So why the sudden change?  If you believe the governor, what he wanted all along was just … to talk. The vetoes, he says, were simply the vehicle to “force a conversation about what Alaskans value most.”  But Alaskans never had to be forced. A conversation has been possible since the beginning. The governor’s “Budget Road Show” which was paid for entirely by the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, and driven by his hired Outside Budget Director Donna Arduin could have been that, but instead it was a scripted explanation of what was going to happen, and only took pre-approved screened questions in writing. But a conversation also requires listening, and the governor and his administration nodded like bobble heads but proceeded to ignore everything they heard from Alaskans that didn’t fit the Koch Brothers’ agenda.

And if you don’t believe the governor (which I suspect most Alaskans don’t), the sudden turn-around has everything to do with a massive recall effort that saw a third of the necessary signatures for the first round of that process gathered in less than a day. The internet trolls went from “haha” emojis calling the recall effort a “total joke” – to emoji silence.

Make no mistake, the budget vetoes have already had impacts that can’t be reversed. The Governor has already put our most vulnerable citizens at risk, terrified our elders, caused people to lose or fear losing their jobs, panicked kids who are about to attend the university, thrown the stability of that university and its research into grave doubt, put rural Alaska into a tailspin, and made single parents wonder who was going to watch their kids while they work. People have left, contracts have been canceled, and Plan Bs have been implemented.

 

IT’S THE CONSTITUTION

Despite what you may have heard in the comments section from Dunleavy’s rapidly-dwindling cadre of supporters, this recall has exactly zero to do with not liking the budget or his vetoes. It has everything to do with the four actual reasons listed on the back of the recall petition:

His terrible policy decisions shouldn’t be forgotten of course, because we have no reason to believe he’s had some kind of political/spiritual awakening. He’s still leaving in place a huge number of cuts that affect seniors in the Pioneer home, pollution monitoring programs, homelessness services, emergency shelters for women and children, addiction treatment facilities, earthquake monitoring, and a host of other programs and services. And he’s already said that we can expect the same level of his original cuts next year – likely more. Alaskans will not be so easily duped into forgiving or forgetting.

 

BEHIND THE LEARNING CURVE

“What became pretty clear, I think to everybody, is that Alaskans value our elders, our seniors,

and we value our children, our youngest. And that’s our future.”

Became? It became clear to everybody? … We weren’t quite sure if we cared about our preschoolers and grandparents, but now because of the vetoes we’ve really had a chance to think about it and we decided – yeah! This is what Dunleavy said about deciding not to again veto Pre-K and senior benefits. The governor has apparently just recently gotten the memo about children being our future, and respecting our elders. Don’t forget, Mike Dunleavy sat in the state senate for 5 years and listened to all of this before. He was also a member of the Senate Finance Committee where these things were debated. Republicans have repeatedly attempted to cut senior benefits, and early childhood education. They were smacked down hard every time because Alaskans would not stand for balancing the budget on the backs of our most vulnerable populations. It appears Senator Dunleavy was sleeping in class for five years, and thought that using our money to subsidize the oil industry while taking basic care from preschoolers and seniors was going to be wildly popular.

And when the governor talks about next year, he doesn’t say we need to eliminate oil tax credits and restore our historical average in what we keep from our resource development. Nope, it’s still going to be kids and seniors that are going to have to sacrifice for the bottom line – not the CEOs in London and Houston.  Perish the thought! But somehow the governor is expecting a parade for restoring a few of the vetoes he made in the first place. In Alaska’s giant house fire, he’s seeking praise for being both the arsonist and the firefighter. That’s not how it works.

 

EXTORTIONIST IN CHIEF

What about that other contentious veto – funding for the University of Alaska?

Dermot Cole is ALL over that. Basically the governor is overstepping his authority by meddling in the university’s affairs, and has said they better sign this “compact” or the original cuts stand. The Governor’s office posted an agonizing 22-second video of he and UA Board of Regents chair, John Davies, signing this “agreement” that you can see HERE. The event looks like a hostage situation where the hostage has to sign on camera “of their own free will” that they’re being treated just swell and having a great time, or risk the backlash when the cameras are off.  But the hostage manages to send a secret coded message (see the UA Strong button) to let us know this is under duress. Again, it’s time to question what exactly the Governor’s Communications Director, Mary Ann Pruitt (wife of Republican House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt #TeamWasilla) is thinking.

A moment of mutual understanding and camaraderie captured by
Mark Thiessen of the Associated Press

 

 

A PIECE OF CAKE

The truly remarkable thing about this governor’s ability to mess up is that in just a few short months, he’s managed not only to alienate those whom you would expect, but also his own hard-core base. Many of the full-PFD activists who stood by his side through all the budget cuts, have suddenly realized that when the governor promised them a full PFD, it was something he couldn’t deliver. It was never his to give. It’s been up to the Legislature since he was IN the Legislature, but that didn’t stop candidate Dunleavy from promising not only a full $3000 PFD, but back-payments from previously-vetoed PFDs bringing the amount of his promised payoff-for-votes to $6780! And now that it’s looking like the best we can achieve is a $1600 PFD, his base is not amused.

He’s like the kid that runs for class president by promising everyone free ice cream at lunch. Sounds good, may get votes from people who don’t think about it, but in the end it’s a good way to tick people off when they figure out it was all bluster. One frustrated Dunleavy voter said that in light of his reversal on some of the vetoes that unless the governor managed to pull a full PFD out of his hat, he was going to be next in line to sign the recall petition. Ok, he didn’t say “hat” but you get the meaning.

 

ARDUIN’S FOLLY

The good news about all of this is that it’s pretty clear that Alaskans are not buying the governor’s “death row conversion.”. Fool us once, shame on you – fool us twice, shame on us. it’s becoming more and more evident by the huge number of groups that oppose the governor’s agenda and support the recall – from left to right on the political spectrum – that this governor is likely ‘one and done.’ Whether it’s LESS than one remains to be seen, but the momentum is astounding and doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Nor should it.

Donna Arduin’s indiscriminate and disastrous hatchet jobs may have gone right through in other states, but as we like to point out, “Alaska is different.”

 

This article is reposted with permission from the Alaska Democratic Party

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