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September 18, 2021

When it’s quiet in Juneau…

Any parent of a toddler knows that feeling when you’re going about your business, and suddenly you realize… it’s been quiet for a while. Welcome to this week. We’re in between special sessions 2 and 3 (TBA) and a hush has fallen. Enjoy the quiet because pretty soon we’re going to discover WHY.

TAKING IT TO THE PEOPLE

Since deciding that the press is mean and fake (wonder where he came up with THAT?) Dunleavy has decided that he’s now going to just deliver the real news to the people directly from the government. That’s how it’s supposed to work in a liberty-loving society, right? The press is just getting in the way… In doing so, he’s come up with some bizarre messaging and videos, and amateurish attempts at a slick communications program. We cannot help but ask ourselves WHY he is paying his Communications Director $15,000 a month to do this to him. It probably has nothing to do with the fact that Mary Ann Pruitt is married to Lance Pruitt who just happens to be the House Majority Leader and directing traffic for the lemmings in the House minority. Nothing at all.

 

 

STATING THE OBVIOUS

Remember the big 200+ mile-long private mining road that the state wants to pay for with public dollars? The one the public won’t be allowed to USE, even though they’ve paid for it and it is designed to cross both state and federal land? Well, as you can imagine the reception to the idea of that road is not enthusiastic. There was a hearing on Tuesday, the first in a series of statewide public meetings on the subject. Apparently both hunters and conservationists are not pleased. The road would link Fairbanks to the Ambler mining district. You can read more about that HERE.

 

 

TONE DEAF

Yesterday was 9/11 and while the nation reflected on the past 18 years, the changes we’ve seen, the lives lost, the families and first responders who still suffer, many took note of the tone deafness of the current administration and criticized posts like this:

Here in Alaska, on 9/11, former UA head Mark Hamilton who is now Executive Vice President of Public Affairs at the Pebble Partnership had some comments too. When he was questioned about the Mt. Polley mine disaster in Canada which saw a mine just like the proposed Pebble Mine undergo cataclysmic dam failure dumping millions of gallons of toxic waste into the ecosystem… he proceeded to say, “since this is the day” (fully acknowledging that it was September 11), and then compared the dam failure to flying planes into the twin towers. You can hear a couple minutes more of his staggering commentary on The Alaska Landmine which you should go listen to. Jeff Landfield starts the article: “Mark Hamilton, the Executive Vice President of Public Affairs at the Pebble Partnership, went full Loose Unit tonight at a meeting of the Russian Jack Community Council. The meeting took place in the library of Wonder Park Elementary School. Pebble has been doing the community council circuit lately.” Yes this is the same Mark Hamilton who is the past president of the University of Alaska. Once again an overpaid PR professional hired for his connections, is out there making it worse for their employer. The rest of his talk was all ranting against the EPA, environmentalists, and Obama. Wow.

 

 

STILL ALIVE

The governor and various folks in the administration have tried to candy coat some budget cut reversals brought about by massive public outcry (and the recall effort). They’ve been “pleased to announce” the restoration of funds to senior programs, the university, and others like the industrial hemp pilot program. But there’s no denying that the original cuts, even though some didn’t stick, have had calculable damaging results to some programs. Just ask the Alaska Plant Material Center in Palmer. It had to literally cut down plants because the people who cared for them lost their jobs. Fortunately, they managed to save a few samples of each variety “just in case” and now they’ll be used to repopulate the program. We should all be glad that this new and growing industry isn’t literally dead on arrival, but wouldn’t it have been nice not to have to start over at square one? The industrial hemp program, by the way, has broad bipartisan support and was originally spearheaded by former Democratic Senator from Anchorage, Johnny Ellis, who passed the torch to current Republican Senator from Palmer, Shelley Hughes.

 

 

DEAD

Not as fortunate as the industrial hemp program is Fairbanks’ local KUAC public television and radio station. They just announced they will have to eliminate FIVE radio and TV channels starting in October. It’s all because of a double-whammy – budget cuts directly to public broadcasting, and budget cuts to the university who also provided funding, and will now have to scale back. One of the channels facing termination is 9.9 – a station which broadcasts 360North and allows the public to watch the legislature in session. For hard-core legislative nerds with good cell coverage or wifi, they’ll still be able to watch the livestream on their phones or laptops, but the days of clicking on the TV to watch the skulduggery in real time are gone.

 

 

NOTHING TO SEE HERE

Remember when Tuckerman Babcock’s “resignation” was announced late on Friday of the Labor Day Weekend so no one would notice? There was something else announced that day that got even less attention that definitely deserves mention. Our perhaps soon-to-be governor, Kevin Meyer is attempting to stonewall an initiative put forth by a group called Alaskans for Better Elections, headed by former Rep. Jason Grenn. Here’s a good explainer for why you should care from Sen. Bill Wielechowski:

Meyer told the group to whittle down the initiative, or take it to court. They’re taking it to court and an agreement was reached that the group is free to gather signatures so that if the court rules in their favor, they haven’t wasted a bunch of time waiting around, and they can hit the ground running. Stay tuned for more on this one. And if you’re not fed up with Kevin Clarkson yet, there’s also this:

 

 

BUT WAIT… WHAT’S THAT?

 

I always try to leave you with a bright spot in the desert of bad news. In this case, it’s Ethan Berkowitz and Team Anchorage who have managed to emerge from the devastated moonscape of Alaska’s credit ratings, blooming like a rose. The credit ratings agencies who have been busy downgrading the state and university (thanks to the Dunleavy budget fiasco), Mayor Berkowitz had this to say. “With the recent downgrade of both the State of Alaska’s and the University of Alaska’s bond ratings, the reaffirmation of the MOA’s positive bond rating demonstrates that doing things the Anchorage way brings strong economic opportunities to investors and residents,” he said in a prepared statement. “Despite the tumult at the State level, our city continues to inspire confidence in professional and individual investors—that’s what it means to be open for business.” Can we all stand and have a nice long slow clap for Mayor Berkowitz?  This is what sound leadership looks like, by the way. Just in case you forgot.

 

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

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2 Responses to “When it’s quiet in Juneau…”
  1. Zyxomma says:

    That’s a lot to process. Thanks.

  2. Paul Maguire says:

    Thank you!

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