In today’s lesson about gossip and rumors from the Alaska political world, we learn that being a foul-mouthed jerk, a less-than-honest “serial entrepreneur” or MAGA memelord are enough to land you a job with Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy as long as the dirty ol’ blogosphere (and mainstream media) doesn’t pick up on it. It’ll be a fun four-plus years.
As always, take everything with a grain of salt and in the mean time be kind to each other and, please, continue doing what you’re doing to make Alaska a better place.
Have a nice weekend, everyone. See y’all Monday (or Sunday if you’re coming over to watch the Royale Rumble).
After all these days
The impasse over organization in the House will continue into its third week after the House adjourned without doing anything beyond introducing guests at its Friday morning session. With most legislators already on their way out of Juneau, they’re set to be back at the crack of 11 a.m. on Monday.
There is, however, some optimism that things might soon get underway and it sounds like after all this time that Gail Phillips and Kay Brown were really onto something with their Jan. 7 editorial suggesting a power-sharing agreement for the House. Yep, we’re talking the possibility of a co-everything.
The details relayed to us about the current talks, which still sound sketchy and subject to change (probably pending whatever latest stunt Rep. David Eastman has dreamed up): Each side would keep their caucuses intact with an agreement for co-chairs of committees—including the powerful Rules Committee—and, yes, co-speakers.
The session is already effectively under a co-Rules Chair arrangement with the staffing agreement signed off on by the House last week requiring approval from both House Bipartisan Coalition Rules Chair Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux and Republican “Majority” Rules Chair-pick Rep. Cathy Tilton for additional hires.
The proposal put forward by Phillips and Brown outlined an arrangement what would have the co-speakers passing the gavel back and forth throughout the session. We’re not sure if this would be the layout in the House, but it would certainly make things interesting.
It sounds like legislators would go into this knowing full well that it’ll be clumsy, but it beats the alternative of continuing to sit idle and stare each other down.
The concept of committee co-chairs would make for particularly good Gavel Alaska coverage (though we can’t quite say the same for the legislative process): Just imagine a House Health and Social Services Committee co-chaired by Reps. Ivy Spohnholz and David Eastman. OK, maybe not that fun.
There’s really been no progress we’ve seen of either side successfully picking off members from either side. The moderate members of the House Bipartisan Coalition have already pledged to stick together (probably helped by wonderfully botched attempts to pick members off) and the simple fact that the party-line Republican caucus is still the largest caucus with 20 members.
Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Kenai, has stood by his support for a 50/50 bipartisan coalition in an editorial published in the Peninsula Clarion this week (he’s also pushing for the caucus to agree not to touch oil and gas tax credits, taxes in general and to minimize personal legislation).
With Knopp’s driving concern being a functioning, stable House, it’ll be interesting to see if such a plan—a split caucus of the whole—can get his seal of approval.
The whole thing sounds dicey, but still it’s better than nothing.
The Quick and the Dead or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Speedo
Alaskans (at least those outside the third floor of the capitol) owe a big thanks to Jeff Landfield this week, who hiked up his speedo and waded into the muck that was Art “Hey, Dumbfuck” Chance’s social media presence as well as getting the ball rolling on the accusations that brought down Commissioner-designee John Quick. The Alaska Landmine was the first to run with either story and both men were out of the game by Thursday night.
But in all honesty, neither men should have reached that point when the damning details of their conduct were so easily uncovered. It was legislative staffer who thought to double check Quick’s job references and a few screenshots of Chance’s social media activity that uncovered everything.
The scrutiny of Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy and his appointees should and cannot stop with the resignation and withdrawals of these two men especially with the Senate seems hell-bent on burning through commissioner appointment hearings so quickly—and at least in a few cases without an opportunity for the public to offer their testimony in a public setting.
Especially when Chance’s own comments are starting to poke holes in the story that it was his decision to decline the job.
— Andrew S. Kitchenman (@kitchenman) January 25, 2019
Speaking of which
Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy has a long list of other concerning appointments, including the appointment of one of the folks behind a failed measure to outright ban already-operating marijuana businesses in Fairbanks to the Alaska Marijuana Control Board (Alaska is sure open for business, huh?).
But the one whose raised the most immediate red flags with our readers is the appointment of Tammy Randolph to the University of Alaska’s Board of Regents. Randolph, daughter-in-law of constitutional “reform” adviser Dick “Long-time Opponent of Alaska’s constitution” Randolph, has her own inflammatory series of posts to Twitter under the handle @TammyR99705.
The account has since been deleted or protected, but screenshots of QAnon conspiracy theory posts, posts belittling Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, posts calling former First Lady Michelle Obama a “he,” and one directing Democrats to vote the day after the 2014 general election live forever:
A foul-tongued politico poised to work within Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration declined his job offer late Thursday after a caustic trail of profanity-laden, racist, sexist and homophobic Facebook comments surfaced authored under his name
Bravo, KTUU Twitter headline writer, bravo.
That’s the fine “Families for Alaska’s Future” recommended by the staff at the Alaska Public Offices Commission called for what they found to be an “obviously manipulated audio disclaimer” at the end of one of the pro-Dunleavy independent expenditure group’s radio and television ads.
Have a listen:
The group raised more than $2.8 million in contributions (mostly from national Republicans groups, but also a $2,500 contribution by now-Attorney General Kevin Clarkson because why not).
“The average person should not have to record an ad and listen to it several times to try to discern the required information. Disclaimers should be read in a manner that’s easily heard each time the ad is played,” Michael Schwahn, an APOC investigator, told the committee.
The complaint was initially brought by now-former Rep. Les Gara and was doubled up with a complaint launched by APOC itself. Gara, rightly, argued against the $900 fine, arguing that it’s essentially chump change to the group.
The staff took it under advisement.
Also, there’s this:
APOC Executive Director Heather Hebdon comment to Commission on Dunleavy’s upcoming budget. “I will say that I have major concerns. There’s talk of major cuts. Historically we have been a big target.” #akleg #akgov
— The Alaska Landmine (@alaskalandmine) January 24, 2019
Brace for the budget
Details are still ultra-scant on just what will happen with Gov. Michael J. Dunelavy’s budget when it’s introduced on Feb. 13, but we’ve been told it’ll likely be a horror show. Given that Dunleavy also has line item budget power over whatever the Legislature approves, things could get heated.
Speaking of an agenda
We’ve heard a lot of complaints from state employees that when Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy was demanding state employees sign onto his agenda or get fired the biggest problem is that just what is his agenda? You know, beyond locking up criminals and paying out PFDs.
Well, he sent out this helpful update this week:
Dear State Employees,
Below is a link to my first State of the State address which outlines both my priorities and vision for state government and Alaska. I hope you will take a moment today to read or watch it.
I look forward to working with you to:
- Reduce crime in Alaska
- Protect the PFD
- Balance our budget
- Grow our economy and put Alaskans back to work
- Restore Alaskans trust in their government and leaders
I thank you for your service to Alaska.
Governor Michael J. Dunleavy
A not-so-Alaska State of the State
In case legislators somehow missed out on Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy’s State of the State address, he went ahead and had the speech printed up in these handy little manuals.
— James Brooks (@AK_OK) January 25, 2019
And thanks to cursory glances by folks on Twitter, it’s been pointed out that, hey, his pamphlet prominently includes Mt. McKinley and, even worse, that totem doesn’t appear to be by Alaska Native carvers. It’s likely from a Vancouver, British Columbia carver.
Hey, at least with a 23-minute speech he’ll be saving on printing costs.