You Can’t Fire a Fetus & Other Lessons from the Alaska Legislature

TALL TALES from Juneau

Eyes on the Dunleavy/Babcock administration

It’s been a week since the marathon joint session convened and voted on Governor Mike Dunleavy’s appointees to boards and commissions – and there have been a few developments with some of the rejected nominees.

“EAGLEXIT”

First, there was Mike Tovaliero. He was the one rejected from the Board of Realtors for several reasons including: his seeming lack of understanding of which board he was nominated for;  his losing interview strategy of being belligerent to legislators and not forthcoming when asked questions; and his problematic Twitter feed which featured both original and retweeted posts categorizing all Muslims as terrorists, and straight-up calling for violence against them.

Not to be kept down for long, Mr. Tavoliero reemerged in the news this week as the Chair spearheading a group which calls for… “Eaglexit” – the secession of Eagle River from the Anchorage Municipality. Their website cites “common demographic, economic and political interests” which they feel are underserved.Those demographic and political differences include a less diverse racial makeup and more conservative voters. Also “the main Anchorage bowl demographic has maintained a monopoly on the School Board.” Here’s an article in the Chugiak Eagle River Star if you want to read more about how they plan to “DETACH NOW.”

 

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY

Then there was Karl Johnstone, the highly controversial nominee for the Board of Fisheries. Hundreds testified on his nomination, and many opposedit, sharing incidents of intimidating behavior, both toward members of ADF&G staff, and also to members of the public.The usually-neutral United Fishermen of Alaska even opposed Johnstone’s nomination.

The governor’s blogger is all a-flutter because (so the new framing goes) his nomination went down because of unsubstantiated, last-minute, witch hunting and bogus claims of sexual harassment. This stems from Rep. Ivy Spohnholz speaking to her own objections to Johnstone which included the fact that she was contacted by multiple women about Johnstone’s inappropriate behavior. The vote on Johnstone was tabled to give him the opportunity to speak to these accusations, but then later it was un-tabled when it became clear that Johnstone’s nomination was going to fail ANYWAY – regardless of the allegations. The United Fishermen of Alaska, which does not usually oppose or endorse Board of Fisheries candidates, had made a point to oppose Johnstone’s nomination because of his record on issues, “disregarding science,” “back room arm-twisting” and insulting behavior.

This media coverage takes the cake, though – the right-leaning Alaska Journal of Commerce came out with this title on a story posted today:

“Reps apologize after last-minute charges sink Johnstone nomination”

Those “last minute charges” would be the concerns expressed by Rep. Spohnholz. The story features a picture of now-retired Sen. Berta Gardner (who wasn’t even in Juneau this session) and Spohnholz “sharing a laugh.” Because… hahaha our evil plan has worked?! Only deep in the article is the following mentioned, that refutes the entire premise of the post. (my emphasis)

“However, according to UFA’s tracking, [the allegations] didn’t change the ultimate outcome. Political organizations regularly keep track of how legislators have said they would vote in a record called a chit sheet, and UFA’s chit sheets made before the joint session showed that Johnstone would have been defeated anyway…”

So, no, AK Journal.  “Last minute charges” did not “sink Johnstone nomination” even according to the very article underneath the inflammatory headline. What sank Johnstone’s nomination was Johnstone himself, and his long history of inappropriate and intimidating behavior.

Spohnholz, Wednesday, made a speech on the floor to address the difficulty in dealing with situations like this, and to remind the legislature about its sorry record of dealing with sexual harassment claims. “It’s my intention to make a request to the Legislative Council that we create a working group that would work on a policy to would allow for executive sessions to be undertaken if a member of the public wants to bring forward a claim that would allow for both the person making the claim and the person the claim was about to be treated fairly and to have due process,” she said. “We don’t have that process currently, but we should develop one.”

 

 

GOVERNOR WILL NOT EXTINGUISH POT BOARD – YET

The pot prohibitionist Vivian Stiver, who Dunleavy tried to insert into the Marijuana Control Board, was rejected narrowly by the legislature because she doesn’t even believe the board she was appointed to should exist. The governor says he won’t appoint a replacement this session. Nor will he attempt to eliminate the board altogether as he had proposed, not because he realizes that this is an economic driver which puts money in our coffers and is encouraging entrepreneurs from agriculture to retail… Nope. It’s because he ran out of time. So, put that on your calendar for next year.

 

 

CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS

We’ve been waiting for numbers on Gov. Mike Dunleavy and his “we have to destroy the state to save it” budget plan. Last week we mentioned Alaska Survey Research which came out with a tracking poll that showed the governor’s positive and negative lines in a collision course with the negatives gaining speed and heading uphill. This week, a different survey from Lake Research paints an even bleaker picture for Dunleavy & Crew. Now granted, the questions in this survey contained more information than the straight-up “Do you like the governor’s budget” questions from ASR last week. But what this tells us is that while Alaskans on the street with no information are increasingly unhappy, Alaskans on the street who are presented with information (like what is actually being cut) are even MORE unhappy. And since information has the tendency to spread, we can assume that as the budget dealings move to the final phase, and the red pen comes out, those numbers will come into even sharper focus.

 

 

YOU LIKE ME!

In an effort to feel the love in the face of this dwindling popularity, the Governor and his entourage have gone on a mini-roadshow hitting some of the few places in the state where they’re all about the “cut cut cut” and “no new revenues” theory of economics – a church in North Pole, a steak house in Delta Junction, the visitor’s center in Tok, and the high school auditorium in Glenallen. Basically, nowhere within a hundred miles of the coast.

 

 

YOU CAN’T FIRE A FETUS

In an effort to circumvent the seemingly endless series of local ordinances that add gender identity and sexual orientation to non-discrimination policy, HB84 was conceived to cover the whole state. The State Affairs Committee was assigned to hear the bill and a string of testifiers called and showed up in the committee room. Many callers were from the Fairbanks area where a similar non-discrimination policy passed the Fairbanks City Council, only to be vetoed by the Mayor who thinks that the public should get to decide whether people get to exercise their civil rights. Apparently, he believes that the majority will come to the right conclusion about legislation that affects a traditionally oppressed minority population. Or perhaps he doesn’t want them to. Either way, the Supreme Court of the United States has just decided to take up a similar case. So, will it be legal in this country to fire someone for being gay? One way or the other it will be decided law.

Back to the committee hearing. Sarah Vance proposed an amendment to add “pre-born status” to the non-discrimination policy. We’re not entirely clear about how the pre-born could be denied public accommodations, get fired from a job, or be asked to leave a store because they are pre-born. And if you were thinking that Vance supports non-discrimination and just wanted to take it further, no. After her amendment was voted down 4-2, she decided the post-born people in that bill didn’t need equal rights. Laddie Shaw (R-Anchorage) is the other one who voted for the “pre-born” amendment and no on the bill. If you’re keeping score. [More here]

 

 

THE RED PENS UNSHEATHED

As much as the Senate and House have been wrangling over the budget, fashioning their own versions which cut less than the governor’s budget but still substantially, the unescapable fact is that the governor will have the final say on much of it utilizing his chosen weapon, the red pen. Dermot Cole sums it up well in a small but mighty opinion piece today. Here’s a chunk, but you should read the rest.

”It’s become pretty clear during the last couple of months that most legislators—but not all of them—want to prevent the Dunleavy Disaster.  And right about now many Alaskans may be telling themselves that the ferry system, K-12 schools, the University of Alaska and the health care system will survive because there are legislative alternatives in the works. The House made some cuts to the current level of state spending. The Senate will make more. In the end, they will settle on a package that is not the Dunleavy Disaster. But the governor has veto power and has threatened to hold public services hostage unless he gets his way on constitutional amendments to limit the ability of legislators in the future to change the dividend, raise taxes or maintain services. He wants his stamp on the Alaska Constitution.”

Cole rightly notes #NotAllLegislators oppose these draconian cuts. Sarah Vance wanted to make sure her district knows exactly where she stands regarding Dunleavys red pen veto power. Here she is on the House floor, proudly displaying her collection. If one red pen runs out of ink from cutting, there are always more on hand.

Blurry screen shot, but… quiver of pens

 

 

IT’S THE BEGINNING OF THE BEGINNING OF THE END… SORT OF

It’s day 101 of the legislative session which means 20 days remain until the Constitution says we’re done. Anything after that will require a “special session” of the legislature to convene and deal with the matters at hand.

Want to keep up with the madness with the help of a carefully curated list of the important stories of the day? Subscribe to our weekday PRESS CLIPS with the latest and not-so-greatest from across the state and the nation, a smattering of articles about the upcoming 2020 primary candidates, plus some bloggy goodness, opinion, and how to watch the drama unfold in real time in Juneau.

If you’ve gotten TALL TALES from a friend, or are viewing online on social media, you can get your very own copy rolled up and tossed from our virtual bicycle to your virtual doorstep. All you have to do is go HERE and fill out the blank fields. You’ll get TALL TALES about once a week.

 

More next week. Stay strong.

Jeanne

Alaska House Republicans are Off the Rails

TALL TALES from Juneau

Eyes on the Dunleavy/Babcock Administration

The House Minority goes off the rails


*Quick refresher:

The House Majority is made up of a coalition of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents who came together because they shared the desire to get something accomplished, and together they represent the majority of legislators who couldn’t abide the thought of the far-right types running the show.

The House Minority is made up of the leftovers (all Republicans) who think Dunleavy’s budget is super great (or doesn’t go far enough), that moderate Republicans are “traitors,” and Democrats are all socialists who are out to destroy the state, the country and the woooooorld. There might be a reasonable outlier or two in the minority, but they lack the spine to defect so we’re just lumping them in.

 

GOT MILK?

Well, the home-town Wasilla Republican governor and his supporters are now gleefully throwing Mat-Su dairy farmers under the bus. Food stability, local milk, and folks who’ve been salt-of-the-earth Mat-Su colonists since the colony began are the latest victims of the Dunleavy budget. For the want of a government inspector, the Havemeister Dairy will die. Why? According to Republican freshman Kelly Merrick from Eagle River, (pay attention here) businesses shouldn’t need government support. Businesses should be able to pay their own way, and if they can’t, “Perhaps that business should not have opened,” she snipped. Representative Merrick didn’t say how she feels about the more than $1.5 billion in subsidies that the state is currently handing over to oil companies from our treasury at the expense of everything else we’re cutting. I guess she thinks Alaska should be milk-less anyway – just to prove a point. That is, unless former Anchorage “Mayor Dan” steps in.

Hmmm. A completely inexperienced and incompetent regulatory agent who doesn’t know what he’s doing – for half the price! Sounds like something straight out of the Republican play book. We should probably pass on that offer.

IRONY ALERT!

Kelly Merrick may want the government’s dirty mitts out of your dairy inspections, but she welcomes government control over your most personal medical and religious decisions. It looks like she and others refuse to learn lessons about what is constitutional and what is not in the State of Alaska. A bill she supports seeks to keep Medicaid funds from paying for medically necessary abortions. Spoiler Alert: We already know how this is going to turn out because we’ve been down this legal road before. This, like all the other attempts to keep poor women from accessing the same medical care as non-poor women, will be ruled unconstitutional by the Alaska Supreme Court, and my guess is that we’ll be on the hook for more than it would take to keep the Havemeister Dairy open for business.

 

A PLAGUE OF AMENDMENTS

Strategery

David Eastman continues to plague the House floor. His latest irony was a long, repetitive, rambling speech about how the legislature can “save time.” He’s also mad that he can’t be the sole NO vote on citations, because they are voted on in a bloc – up or down. Citations are the little nods that legislators give to constituents like ‘Thanks to Jane Doe for starting a farmer’s market’ or ‘Happy anniversary to the Girl Scouts’ – that kind of thing. Rep. Eastman would like to single out some of the people getting citations for his personal scorn and individual vote of “no.” And we had to hear about it. Even the normally unflappable Speaker Bryce Edgmon (I-Dillingham) had had it. After the smug diatribe, in which Eastman said it was unfortunate that he had to vote no on ALL the citations, rather than just making it a point to vote no on two particular citations, Edgmon simply said, “Representative Eastman, just when I think I’m amazed…” I’m sure there’s more amazement to come.

Eastman’s wasting of the time he said he wanted to save continued with a long string of amendments on the first day of deliberations on the budget. They had literally no fiscal impact. They were, instead, all about “intent language” which basically means Eastman gets to grandstand on the TV. Even after Eastman got an epic smack-down from fellow Republican Tammie Wilson in which she (co-chair of Finance) said he didn’t know what he was talking about, his core cabal still voted for his amendment. The names of these folks, in case you want to make note:  Josh Revak (Anchorage), Ben Carpenter (Nikiski), George Rauscher (Mat-Su/Interior), Sharon Jackson (Eagle River), Mark Neumann (Big Lake).

Finally Speaker Edgmon, after going through eleven amendments of intent language from Eastman, shut down his remaining similar 3 amendments calling them out of order, and citing Mason’s Manual and a rule which basically says you’re not allowed to talk, and waste everyone’s time on the floor to be “annoying.” And there was much rejoicing from both sides of the aisle.

And then this <3 from Republican Rep. Gary Knopp on Twitter. He’s the one you can thank for holding out for a House Majority that does NOT include David Eastman – saving us ALL a bunch of time.

 

TREND LINES

Alaska Survey Research has been tracking the popularity of the governor since his campaign, and the newest set of numbers is in. Here’s the graph.

Sarah Palin’s positive/negative lines didn’t cross until she quit, but Dunleavy is coming perilously close and he hasn’t even pulled that red pen out of his pocket yet.

 

‘THERE REALLY WEREN’T THAT MANY PROTESTERS’

If you’re interested in learning a little more about Donna Arduin, the temporary budget director hired from the Lower 48, there’s a great podcast from Pat Race (Alaska Robotics) and Matt Buxton (The Midnight Sun) called Hello Alaska, which contains the interview and analysis. Here’s one part that lays out the fact that she just doesn’t get Alaska.

Race: (talking about the protests during the “Budget Roadshow”) It sounded like there were hundreds of people at some of them. The story of Melanie Bahnke standing up in Nome sounded like a powerful experience…What was it like for you sitting on the stage looking out at those people?

Arduin: So, first of all, there really weren’t that many protesters. Anchorage had the largest, sort of, organized crowd. Otherwise it was handfuls of people.

Race: In Fairbanks?

Arduin: Yeah.

Race: ‘Handfuls’ in Fairbanks? It sounded like there were hundreds.

Arduin: I’ve seen so many more, I mean… on the lawn of the California Capitol in Sacramento, or in Lansing Michigan almost on a daily basis no matter what the legislature’s taking up, there are hundreds of people out on the lawn, so… I’m so used to so many more people being engaged.

Race: We don’t havemany more people…

Arduin: But the protest at least that I saw in Anchorage was organized. It was organized by labor, so you know… we’ve seen that before. So you know, that’s sort of ironic that you have a special interest group criticizing us for working with interest groups.

Race: I don’t think it was entirely labor, was it? I mean, there were…

Arduin: I mean there were people there protesting climate change. So, like I said I’m used to seeing that on state Capitols every day of the week.

 

 

A MAN OUT OF TIME

Did you ever think to yourself, “I was born in the wrong time?” I wonder if Rep. Lance Pruitt doesn’t sometimes secretly wish he’d been a rep during the McCarthy era… Check out this quote from a gleeful press release sent out by the House Minority after two leaders at the Human Rights Commission left their positions over the ‘bumper sticker controversy” which you can read about HERE.

“While we’re happy to see that Ms. Buscaglia will be moving on from the position, we’re still very concerned about the culture that was created under her at the Commission for Human Rights,” Pruitt said. “If her leadership and values, in any way, allowed for the systemic suppression of rights, we’re going to do everything we can to root it out.”

Maybe if Pruitt (whose wife Mary Ann is making $185,000 a year working for the Governor as his Communications Director) is interested in “rooting out” first amendment violators and their culture, he could look no further than his wife’s employer. Strangely enough, Dunleavy (who was also outraged by this assault on the first amendment) fired two successful Assistant Attorneys General, literally 15 minutes after being sworn in, because they tweeted critically about Donald Trump. One of them even successfully litigated a case for the State of Alaska before the Supreme Court. And they are now suing over it. So, if Pruitt is suddenly worried about retaliation by the government in suppressing political speech, maybe someone could point that out to him. It would be a great place to start “rooting.”

“Anyone who enables this sort of civil rights violation, as the Commission did by retaining Buscaglia in the first place, has breached the public’s trust and need not be serving in government,” added Rep. Colleen Sullivan-Leonard. Does this mean she’ll be supporting a Gov. Mike Dunleavy recall?

 

THE DIRTY DOZEN

Not to beat a dead horse with litmus tests on the House Minority, but here was another vote in which they stood out. These folks voted for an amendment by David Eastman (which actually did have fiscal impact) to make even DEEPER cuts to the budget, namely to public radio and public health nurses:

In addition to the hardcore 6 we mentioned before (Revak, Carpenter, Eastman, Jackson, Rauscher, and Neuman) there are six more: DeLena Johnson, Colleen Sullivan-Leonard, Dave Talerico, Cathy Tilton, and Sara Vance, Homer worth remembering.

 

MEANWHILE IN THE MAJORITY

When the Republican House Minority wasn’t busy with all this nonsense, the Majority got some good things done. They restored half of school bond debt reimbursement, to prevent a large tax hike on home and business owners. And they voted down an amendment to eliminate full funding of education. If that amendment had passed, it would have allowed the governor to line-item veto education funding at his whim. For more details on why this is gearing up to be a full-fledged battle, check out this piece just posted by The Alaska Landmine. Yikes.

 

THIS JUST IN… WE HAVE A BUDGET IN THE HOUSE

After lots of wrangling and speechifying, the House has (as I write this) passed an operating budget which as expected went along caucus lines. It cuts over $200 million from last year’s operating budget but falls short of the draconian $1.6 billion in cuts wanted by the governor. The yes votes included all Democrats and Independents and 8 Republicans. Two were excused.

YES: Claman (D), Drummond (D), Edgmon (I), Fields (D), Foster (D), Hannan (D), Hopkins (D), Johnston (R), Josephson (D), Knopp, Kopp, Kreiss-Tomkins, LeBon, LeDoux, Ortiz, Spohnholz, Story, Stutes, Tarr, Thompson, Tuck, Wilson, Wool, Zulkosky

NO: Carpenter, Eastman, Jackson, Johnson, Merrick, Pruitt, Rasmussen, Rauscher, Revak, Shaw, Sullivan-Leonard, Talerico, Tilton, Vance

EXCUSED: Lincoln (D), Neuman (R)

Today the Senate will take its final day of public testimony on the operating budget from around the state. Then it will be time to see what the House and Senate can agree upon. Then it all goes to meet the governor’s veto pen. And with 3/4 of legislators necessary to override any vetoes, it seems likely at this point that gubernatorial vetoes will stand. More on that to come.

 

GOVERNMENT ISN’T A BUSINESS, IT’S A FAMILY

If you’re left feeling disheartened (which isn’t my goal, but is sometimes an inevitable outcome of talking about the state of things) you might want to read this – Government shouldn’t be a business – it’s about people, not profits.

It’s good.

 

[This article is reposted with permission from the Alaska Democratic Party. To receive TALL TALES in your email, join their email list HERE].

Walker or Begich? The Moderate’s Dilemma.

Alaska voters, we need to have a conversation. And I know this may hurt a little. It’s about Bill Walker and Mark Begich, the two “moderates” in the 3-way race for Alaska governor – the first, a former Republican and incumbent, the second, a Democrat and former US Senator. The third player in our little melodrama is Mike Dunleavy, a former Republican right-wing conservative state senator from Wasilla who quit in the middle of his term. In the end, your vote is your choice and yours alone, but I can’t let you step behind the red, white, and blue curtain and fill in the oval without speaking my piece. If Dunleavy is truly the guy for you, then you can punch out and go home now. It’s the others I need to talk to.

First, I want you to think back to The Unity Ticket of 2014 – an Independent ticket with a Republican for Governor and a Democrat for Lt. Governor. It made us feel pretty awesome, and kind of mavericky. It felt right for Alaska, and we wanted that feeling to go on. I know I did.

But then something happened. Lots of somethings happened.

  • The governor who said he was going to be tough on oil not only refused to even entertain the notion of restructuring oil taxes back to their historic rates (which would all but wipe out our huge budget deficit), he fought to bond for $1 billion to bail out a bunch of Texas billionaires who got mad they weren’t getting their oil tax credits paid back fast enough.
  • Instead, the governor who said he would protect and defend the PFD decided to unilaterally cut that money that goes right into the pocket of every Alaskan, the great economic equalizer that keeps more than 20,000 Alaskans out of poverty every year. Almost a billion dollars a year never made it into the Alaskan economy. And he also opposed inflation-proofing the fund. But don’t worry, Conoco-Phillips is fine.
  • The governor swore he’d keep his extreme social conservatism out of the state’s politics. Then Alaska joined a brief to uphold bans on same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court. The brief said that same-sex marriage would “cause incalculable damage to our civic life.” Thankfully we lost that effort, but not without a public shaming reminder from the governor that “marriage is between a man and a woman.”  With the US Supreme Court now in transition, and Roe v. Wade potentially on thin ice with decisions left to the states, will Walker’s extreme anti-choice beliefs come into play? They very well might.
  • Candidate Walker said he was a friend to fish. “Fish first,” he said. Since then, his administration has authorized more than 80 bore/test holes for the disastrous Pebble mine project, and just a few days ago his administration killed the Chuitna Citizens Coalition’s 9-year fight to preserve waters for salmon instead of giant coal strip mining projects right across Cook Inlet fromAnchorage. “In my 23 years working on salmon habitat permitting issues in Alaska, I have never seen an abuse of power like this,” said Cook Inletkeeper’s Bob Shavelson. “Today’s decision means that Alaskans have no more pro-active tools to protect salmon streams.” Fish first, indeed…
  • Candidate Walker, when negotiations were being made, said he was only interested in one term.
  • But wait, there’s more. Millions in education money vetoes, appointing pro-voucher candidates to the State Board of Education, policies that weaken national parks, and put Denali wildlife in jeapordy… I could go on for a long time.

The right likes to pound the table and say that Walker is a Democrat, but I’m here to tell you that after two years working in the Capitol in Juneau, he is no Democrat. I worked for Democrats; I know what they look like. Democrats in 2014 removed their own candidates, made one Lt. Governor under Walker, and threw the other under the bus. Actually, Hollis French, volunteered to jump under the bus for what he believed was the good of the state. Walker, by the way, was perfectly happy to let Democrats step aside for him – promising all sorts of things, including that laundry list above, in order to win.

The Democratic Party even fought a lawsuit to allow Independent candidates to appear on the Democratic primary ballot this time. But this time we didn’t have to settle. We had a Democratic candidate running who could win. And Walker knew this as well as anyone. So, when Mark Begich got on his party’s OWN primary ballot to run a fair fight against Walker for the Democratic nomination – guess what? Walker changed plans and jumped ship. Why? Because he knew he would lose. Simple as that. Now, after deserting that hard-won space on the primary ballot, he will slip right on to the general election ballot and turn it into a 3-way race.

Moderates are now apoplectic. A 3-way race will divide their vote and assure a Dunleavy victory, they say. Surely, Bill Walker knows this risk. He’s not stupid. He’s crunched the numbers. So why did he put his foot on the scale for Dunleavy and turn it into a 3-way race?

Two reasons:

  1. He’s counting on Democrats to turn on their own. Why shouldn’t he? We’ve done it before, right? Remember when Democrats and Independents bypassed US Senate candidate Scott McAdams (D) to write in Republican Lisa Murkowski (R) so the extreme right-wing candidate Joe Miller would lose? Remember that? Yeah, D’s and I’s voted for a Republican and got what we voted for. And Walker’s first term was the same. We tossed our own candidates to get a Republican in the Governor’s office… because he was a less awful Republican than the one we had. And now, that less-awful Republican wants us to YET AGAIN throw a Democrat under the bus to keep himself in office.

Well, I’m not sure about you, but I’ve had about enough of that. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. And for those of you who are about to get fooled a THIRD time? Consider yourself smacked in the face with a nice fresh salmon. While we still have them.

2. He’d rather have Mike Dunleavy as Governor than Mark Begich. Walker donated the maximum allowable amount of money to Dunleavy’s Senate campaign at a time when far right-wing Republicans were pushing to break up the Alaska Senate bipartisan coalition.  So, we can safely assume if Dunleavy wins, Walker will be sleeping better at night than you will.

And is Walker “nice?” Sure he is. Dunleavy’s “nice” too, as a matter of fact. They are both soft-spoken and personable, folksy and occasionally even charming. I’ve had lovely conversations with them. THAT DOESN’T MATTER. Policies matter. Promises matter. Governance matters. So get your heads out of wherever they are (for the sake of decorum, let’s just call it “the clouds”), splash some cold water on your faces and wake the hell up. I’m sorry to be brusque with you. It’s not normally my way, but it has to be done.

And finally, the numbers. Walker’s approval ratings hover around or below 30%. In political speak, this means he’s pretty much unelectable. And just like he knew he couldn’t beat Begich, he knows he can’t win a 3-way race. So he has “encouraged” Democrats to sign an actual petition asking Mark Begich to step aside – asking the most hyper-qualified Democrat in the state to quit his own primary so the less-awful Republican who doesn’t keep promises can have the supposed win. Again. That takes some nerve, I’ll give him that.

I know you want to fight against Mike Dunleavy. I get it. But ask yourself, what are you fighting FOR? If Dunleavy does win, he’ll win because people whose values align with Begich got scared and panicked and voted for a non-viable candidate they didn’t really want.

There’s an old Turkish proverb that goes, “However far you travel down the wrong road, turn back.”

It’s ok to change your mind, and it’s ok to be wrong! I was! I not only supported Walker personally, and gave him my vote, I urged others to do so, and The Mudflats endorsed his candidacy. There’s no shame in believing someone, there’s only shame in believing them twice after they show you who they are.

Democrats and Independents brought Walker to the dance, and then for four years we watched him slow dance with every Republican in the room while we drank our punch awkwardly in the corner. Now the phone is ringing again, and we’re being asked on a second date, and can we drive? I don’t know about you, but I have other plans.

There’s a viable candidate on the ballot who mostly matches up with my values. And I’m going to donate to him, and vote for him. It’s how Democracy is supposed to work. One person, one conscience, one vote.

Photo by Zach D. Roberts

 

 

 

Awkward Kid Explains Oil Taxes

Totally confused by Prop 1 on Tuesday’s ballot, or just want to see an awkward kid totally own the oil companies. Either way, here’s a coffee break treat!

We love this kid. And this video (especially the sign part). The oil companies have spent millions of dollars to confuse you, and make you think it’s all just sooooo complicated.

It’s actually not that hard to figure this whole thing out. This kid sure did.

The numbers are close, Alaskans. And to keep from sending our treasury to big fancy glass offices in Houston, and London, we need to do one thing. VOTE.

This is a midterm primary election. Nobody ever votes in those. So each vote you make has superpowers of mega-strength. It’s not legal to vote lots of times, but this is as close as you’ll get because every vote will count A LOT!

BREAKING: Guy Smarter Than Big Oil

The oil tax bill SB21 (paid for by BP, ConocoPhillips, and Exxon) is designed for “Alaska’s future” (according to BP, ConocoPhillips, and Exxon). Here’s what Alaska’s future has to say about it.

This guy gets it. And he is awesome.