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May 15, 2021

Juneau in the Time of Coronavirus

TALL TALES from Juneau Eyes on the Dunleavy Disaster Despite the slow-down in activity across the state, things have been hopping in Juneau. And as usual, most of the activity centers around the budget, the PFD, supplemental funding, and what to do with the limited funds we have. We’re cleaning up after a summer of natural disaster, and heading into an uncertain future of pandemic. And floor sessions in the House are the same old bare-knuckle fight we’ve become used to. This is because the minority wants you to know something. They want you to know that they really really…

High Drama in the Legislature!

TALL TALES from Juneau Eyes on the Dunleavy/Babcock administration HIGH DRAMA in the Legislature This may, or may not be an actual photo of Lora Reinbold ACT 1 – The House Today the House voted to rescind their previous vote, and in one final last-ditch effort managed to cobble enough votes together to pass a capital (construction) budget, and a “reverse sweep” to re-fund all the accounts that had been drained at the end of the fiscal year on June 30th. The governor can still line-item veto items in the capital budget itself, but programs re-funded by the reverse sweep…

Legislators AWOL while Alaska burns

TALL TALES from… Juneau Wasilla? Eyes on the Dunleavy/Babcock administration     3 RINGS OF DYSFUNCTION Well the “special session” in Wasilla was every bit the circus you may have imagined. The gymnasium was set up like the two chambers of the legislators and everyone had a name card. Spectators sat in the bleachers, and Sen. Mia Costello and Rep. Lance Pruitt were the ringleaders. Inside, rogue legislators received adulation from supporters. Outside, we asked this guy what the flag stood for and he said it was a Belgian flag, but he brought it because it looked scary. A bunch…

Hey, Alaska! Stop being Big Oil’s Giving Tree.

TALL TALES from Juneau Eyes on the Dunleavy/Babcock administration THE END OF THE ROAD -ish   SINE DIE The first of at least two legislative special sessions is over. They have gaveled out “sine die” which is Latin for “without day,” meaning “without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing.” Most people pronounce it “SY-nee DIE” which is completely wrong. If you want to impress your friends at a post-special session barbecue or cocktail party this weekend you can tell them it’s actually “SIN-uh DEE-uh.” So, now that we’ve got our obscure procedural Latin phrases in order, here’s…

Transparency? You can’t HANDLE transparency.

Let’s talk about why some Republican Senators actually said right out loud that the public should be kept in the dark about ethical issues surrounding legislators who may be voting despite a declared conflict of interest. Let’s just say for a minute that you work for a candy manufacturer. Pick your favorite. Mine is Butterfinger, so we’ll use that here. So, there’s a big Butterfinger factory somewhere in Alaska, and you work there. And let’s also say you’re a member of the Alaska legislature – a senator. Butterfinger is happy to let you work 7 or 8 months of the…

Anti-Net Neutrality? Follow the Money.

It’s time for a field trip! Before we take a special excursion to the Political Olympics today, let’s try a little experiment. Listen carefully. “Net neutrality.” Did your eyes glaze over? Are you checking your phone? Hey, you in the back of the bus – eyes forward! It’s a problem. And I’m going to resist the temptation to slip into wonkiness and lose you. Because it’s too important of an issue to lose you and there are plenty of places you can go if you want to get into the weeds of net neutrality. The bottom line is that your…

Epic Non-Apology for ‘Serious Retaliation’ from Wasilla Senator

You’ll all be pleased to know that the Alaska legislature is still the best reality show on the internets. And as per history, Wasilla Republicans continue to deliver the goods. For those of you who need a little background, I’ll try to make this as quick and painless as possible. Senator David Wilson (R-Wasilla) was outed on the AK Landmine for committing a weird and distasteful display of vulgarity and all-around inappropriate creepiness to a well-respected high-level staffer. We’ll call her Ann Smith [not her name]. The bottom line is that Wilson was trying to get a listen to a…

Alaska Needs a Hostage Negotiator

Relationship counselors get a bad rap. Probably because it’s too late by the time one person insists it’s important to do. Oh, you go along, and at some point the therapist looks at you and rolls his eyes and tells you you’re nuts to stick around for more crazy town. OK, maybe that was just my experience, but it’s going to take more than a fancy talker with comfy sofas to help what’s going on in Juneau. They need a hostage negotiator. A terrorism expert. I’m talking Bruce Willis in “Die Hard” caliber. I’m sure some precious snowflake lawmaker is…

Capitol Couches Could Be Killing You

I rarely like to print press releases but the title of this one was too good. Sent by Senator Wielechowski’s office through the Senate Democrats e-mail list the press release below discusses the pervasiveness of a certain hazardous chemical that might be in children’s foam products and Juneau’s Capitol buildings couches. – Zach Capitol Couches Could Be Killing You Sen. Wielechowski Announces Results of Testing of Couches in the Capitol Building for Toxic Chemicals Senate Bill 111, legislation proposed by Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) and recently moved to the Senate Judiciary Committee, would limit the amount of a certain category of harmful…

GOP Parasite TransCanada Finally Shed

The divorce between Alaska and TransCanada became final this week. The Legislature voted to buy TransCanada’s share of a prospective natural gas pipeline from the North Slope. How the state ended up in that shotgun marriage is a lesson in corporate power and Republican legislators’ willingness to kowtow to it. Our story begins with Gov. Sarah Palin’s attempt to encourage a natural gas pipeline. It wasn’t a terrible idea to try to get an independent pipeline company directly involved in the project. When the Legislature passed the Alaska Natural Gasline Inducement Act in 2007, the idea was to incentivize a…