Friday in the Sun (Oct. 13): Planned Parenthood’s favorite Independent

Friday in the Sun is here

Speculating on rumors and gossip surrounding Alaska politics is a time-honored tradition best done with a heaping helping of salt. It’s time for our weekly trip through the grand, gross, weird, wild and wonderful world of Alaska politics. (Also if you feel like you have something good, you can always shoot me a tip via email at matt at midnightsunak dot com.)

Another job in the administration

The rumors about Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development Commissioner Chris Hladick’s new job appear to be true. Word is the former Unalaska city manager will be taking over as the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 10 director around the end of the month.

It’d be another appointment of an Alaskan to a high profile role in the Trump administration. As the EPA Region 10 director, Hladick would oversee environmental rules and regulations on Alaska in addition to Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

Planned Parenthood’s favorite Independent

On Wednesday, a group of conservative leaders called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to resign the position for failing to implement the Trump agenda in a scathing four-page letter. The group makes the case—somewhat convincingly—that McConnell has failed to drain the swamp, enact the conservative agenda and support truly conservative candidates.

Included in the laundry list of failures are the continued existence of Obamacare, funding for Planned Parenthood, few judicial appointments, a record that’s not nearly as good as the Gipper’s legacy on taxes and his support of not truly conservative candidates.

That includes his support “for Planned Parenthood’s favorite Independent candidate, Lisa Murkowski over GOP nominee Joe Miller in Alaska in 2010.”

[PDF: Letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell]

Weekend wedding

While not getting accused of everything that’s wrong with Congress, Sen. Lisa Murkowski was busy this past weekend officiating the Cordova wedding of Rachel Kallander, a former Murkowski aide and daughter of the late Jim Kallander, the former Cordova mayor, and Casey Pape.

The wedding was reportedly the hottest scene in Alaska with a who’s-who of Alaska politicos, including Beth Kerttula, Lance Pruitt, Steve Wackowski, Bryan Schroder and plenty of other staffers from congressional and legislative offices.

The music was provided by the Alaska political scene’s favorite band, Spank the Dog. Murkowski filled in on tambourine for “Great Balls of Fire.”

He’s baaaack

Uh oh.

Crime time

It appears that, mercifully, cooler heads are prevailing on Alaska’s crime problem. Despite the justifiably angry crowds’ attention focused less than justifiably on Senate Bill 91 as the root of all problems, the Legislature and Anchorage Assembly are putting more attention on other issues.

There was little interest for Assemblywoman Amy Demboski‘s resolution calling to scrap SB91 at the group’s meeting this week. Instead, the Anchorage Assembly is sending a resolution to legislators asking for a slate of reforms on Senate Bill 91.

“I think this is a strong resolution, a strong message to the Legislature, that we want you to take this step, pass SB54, and then let’s talk about other issues as well,” Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar said, according to Alaska Public Media. “Let’s talk about staffing, let’s talk about treatment, let’s talk about the bail schedule.”

The House is set to continue its pre-special session hearings on criminal justice reform with a House Judiciary meeting on Senate Bill 54 on Monday. If they’re as thoughtful as the one held last week, understanding that there’s far more than SB91 contributing to recent crime trends, then the state should be on good footing heading into the October special session to get something done (though there’s still not a lot of hope for the revenue measures).

That still hasn’t changed the opinion of the House Republican Minority. Word is some of its folks were spotted taking real-deal crime scene photos recently. It ought to at least make for an interesting mailer.

Departure

Longtime Anchorage Democratic legislator Sen. Berta Gardner announced over last weekend that she would be retiring from the Legislature after this year. The current senate minority leader has long served as a progressive voice of reason in the capitol building and proved to be an effective deal-maker on key issues like women’s health and education.

She’ll likely be replaced on the Democratic ticket (we humbly apologize to anyone who thought by writing a blog post we were in any way overriding the will of the voters. We’ll be more careful about how we wield our ultimate power over the election system in the future), as The Midnight Sun speculated earlier this year, by former Anchorage Assemblywoman Elvi Gray-Jackson, who updated her blank letter of intent this week to indicate she’d be running for the Senate.

Mine time

The Trump administration is breathing new life into one of Alaska’s most controversial resource development projects, Pebble Mine, which announced this week it’s adding new technical expertise to pursue the project. Elections have consequences!

Legislative fundraisers

Legislative fundraisers are on the calendar next week, hosted by the Alaska House Democrats and the Alaska Republican Party, which is fundraising for Senate Republicans.

The Democrats will be meeting in Fairbanks on Tuesday with draws like Reps. David Guttenberg, Scott Kawasaki, Adam Wool and Democratic candidate Kathryn Dodge. The Republican fundraiser is in Anchorage on Thursday and includes Sens. Click Bishop, John Coghill, Mia Costello, Cathy Giessel, Pete Kelly, Anna MacKinnon, Kevin Meyer, Peter Micciche, Bert Stedman, Gary Stevens, Natasha von Imhof and David Wilson.

Follow the filings

Rep. Adam Wool has also filed to run for reelection. His 2016 opponent, Aaron Lojewski, won a seat on the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly this week.

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