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May 18, 2021

Primary Post Mortem

Alaska’s primary election night is over, but the election itself is not quite done. About 14,000 absentee ballots remain to be counted, and the final results will not be known for days. That said, it will be a tough hill to climb for the passage of Ballot Measure 1, which would reinstate the ACES oil tax system put in place by former Governor Sarah Palin and a bipartisan coalition in the Alaska legislature. Sean Parnell, former ConocoPhillips lawyer and lobbyist, and Palin’s former Lt. Governor dismantled ACES with Senate Bill 21 which would give billions from Alaska’s treasury to the…

Critical Oil Tax Debate Wednesday!

As we wind up to the primary and general election, Alaska Common Ground is sponsoring a must-attend series of forum discussions on four ballot measures. The first in the series is coming up, so clear your evening Wednesday night and see both sides discuss the upcoming oil tax referendum – Ballot Measure 1 (SB21). Forum on the Oil Tax Referendum (SB 21) Wednesday, July 23, 7-9 pm Wilda Marston Theatre, Loussac Library Moderator Gunnar Knapp is Director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at University of Alaska Anchorage and a Professor of Economics at UAA. He has…

“Silencing Alaskans Act” Likely to Return

House Bill 77 Sought to Deny Citizens a Voice in Resource Development Alaska is defined by our natural resources – spectacular wildlife, abundant fisheries, vast reserves of oil, gas and other minerals, and endless acres of forests, wetlands and water.  Under our constitution, these resources belong to all Alaskans for our “common use.” They are protected through a sensible set of laws that protect the public’s interest and ensure our resources are developed prudently and sustainably for the maximum benefit of all Alaskans. Because of the tremendous value we put on these resources, Alaskans were outraged when Governor Parnell and…

Social Media Wins & Fails of AK Politicos

ANCHORAGE, AK— There are two types of Facebook stati: those providing the reader with value of some sort—informational, cautionary, or even just escapist entertainment value—and those benefitting only the writer: appeals for sympathy or money, self-congratulatory piety, boastful one-upsmanship, you know all the flavors. The second type is never in short supply, but here are three examples of effective social media use by public officials which—while of benefit to constituents and the public, indeed for that very reason—will also pay dividends when the candidate makes an ask around campaign time. The Feedback Loop Fairbanks Rep. Scott Kawasaki’s approach highlights an…

Alaskans! Run!

The recent boondoggle with the Anchorage legislative office remodel is appalling enough by itself. However it also represents a much greater issue with this legislature. Members of that body are elected and sworn to act in the best interests of Alaska. Currently, they don’t. In negotiating a disastrous lease, they have Alaskans paying for an extensive remodel to a building we don’t own, and then a fivefold increase in rent, and finally locking us into a decade-long lease. This is a bad deal all the way around for the state, and a dreadful misappropriation of funds. Meanwhile, the lessor, a heavy campaign…

Parnell Stacks the Deck for Oil. Again.

The muck-raking writer Upton Sinclair once said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” He wrote that after running for governor in 1934. It would seem the business of politics was even more messy than the meat packing industry he exposed. I’d go a bit further than Sinclair. It’s difficult for someone to continue getting a salary if he does understand some things and still acts on them. It’s a bit of a long story, but I’ll give you the skinny. Most of us are familiar with the…

Oil? Bloated. You? Shrinkage.

The numbers have been crunched. The “Big Five” oil companies – BP, Exxon-Mobil, ConocoPhillips, Shell, and Chevron saw a combined profit of $93 billion last year. Profit. Billion with a B. That’s $177,000 every single minute, of every day last year. Profit. Outrageous! The poor babies… Despite what any reasonable person might think about the money pouring in to the most profitable companies ever to have existed on the face of the earth, they would still like to keep their tax breaks, please. And in Alaska, their best buddy in the governor’s office would like Alaskans to keep subsidizing this…

Pruitt – Medicaid Recipients Like “Children” With “Toy”

You may remember House Republican Majority Leader Lance Pruitt. You may not want to remember him, but there he is anyway. He’s the one who, on the floor of the legislature last session said it was important that we not let the American people believe that the United States Supreme Court was the final word, judicially. (let that sink in) Rep. Max Gruenberg, an attorney and person-who-must-have-taken-a-Government-101-class, gently informed him that YES the United States Supreme Court DOES, in fact, have the last word. Now, Pruitt has once again put his foot in his mouth – this time in an…

Alaskans Call Out Bully Governor

About 80 people gathered in the spirit of righteous indignation today outside the Anchorage office of Governor Sean Parnell. Protesters called on Parnell to drop the administrations campaign to recoup legal fees from a lawsuit involving the proposed Pebble Mine project in Bristol Bay. He’s demanding a million dollars from 88-year old Vic Fischer, an original framer of the Alaska Constitution, and 80-year old former First Lady of Alaska, and others. The stalwart bunch fought the state and sued unsuccessfully for the public’s right to know about exploration work at the mine site. And if you’re wondering about the answer…

Walker & Wielechowski – Alaska First

It’s summer. I don’t watch TV in the summer. I fish. So I first heard about the Domino’s ad, “powered by pizza,” with its slam on halibut, by reading the Mudflats blog. Yes, I know, Domino’s “thought halibut was a funny word.” The ad shows a lonely man in a dark room spitting halibut into a pie plate as the announcer says, “No one ever had a world-changing idea over halibut. NO way…” Having just returned from my hometown, the “Halibut Capital of the World,” Homer, Alaska, I had almost 20 pounds of fresh halibut fillets on ice. (Thanks, Pop!)…