Friday In The Sun (Oct 2)

Friday in the Sun is here

People In The Sun
Short Commute  Gabrielle LeDoux office has a new staffer.  Kalyssa Maile will switch from working for Democrat Sen. Bill Wielechoski to Republican(ish) Rep. LeDoux, but they share the same East Anchorage turf so at least the constituents will be the same. LeDoux is chair of the Judiciary committee and I’m told that is the work Maile will be doing. 

Did They Have To Go There? The Alaska Democratic Party’s new communications director, Jake Hamburg, started Monday. He has some big shoes to fill replacing outgoing Travis Smith. I’ll tell you more about where he’s headed next week. As for Hamburg, he says he’s a Fairbanks guy, which is a bad sign, but Democrat insiders tell me he’s an impressive young talent and it was a coup for the party to get him. Still, a Fairbanks guy, really?

Not Sure Why The new Director of the Alaska Division of elections Josie Bahnke started on Thursday. I still haven’t heard a good reason why former director Gail Fenumiai was replaced. Everyone not named Joe Miller seemed to think she did a pretty good job. The Lt. Governor’s office said Bahnke will focus on “the ability for Alaskans to register and vote.” That means for materials in a variety of native languages and, well “other stuff” I guess.

As The Lesil Turns  Last week we helped you follow the ongoing saga of the amazing meltdown of State Senator Lesil McGuire over extravagant travel by legislators and staff. This week the meltdown was no less spectacular, just less public. You probably heard McGuire fired one of her staffers, Genevieve Wojtusik, but you probably didn’t hear that McGuire did not do it in person. Word is Ms. Wojtusik heard of her dismissal via media reports on twitter and spent the rest of the day waiting to hear from her boss. Now I hear the other McGuire staffer involved in the flap, Amy Saltzman is gone too.  

Part 2  Don’t think there is no honor among legislators. I’m told leg staff papa smurf, oh and chief of staff to the speaker, Tom Wright has declared Lesil’s entire legislative agenda dead whenever it hits the house. That is payback for Lesil’s publicly tortuous treatment of two highly respected staffers and throwing house majority caucus member Mark Neuman under the bus during the whole flap. It would seem that much like baseball and hockey, in the legislature sometimes you gotta let the players police the game.  

Part 3 It isn’t clear if Lesil telling Rep. Craig Johnson she won’t be endorsing him for the seat she is vacating played any role in her agenda’s death, but maybe a lil bit.

Take A Deep Breath I’m hearing former state legislator and UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers is the Governor’s choice for the open Permanent Fund CEO job. Mr. Rogers announced his retirement from his university job in April saying “the stress of the current issues and decisions is taking a toll on my health.” I’m just wondering why Mr. Rogers thinks the roller coaster ride of running a $54 Billion investment fund almost everyone in the state is emotionally invested in and state legislators are trying to crack into will be any less stressful than a college gig?

Midnight Sun on the Air!!!!  
Master of Morning Radio Rick Rydell (AM 650 KENI) has asked us to come on every week and share what we know with his audience. So listen for our inside scoop every Friday morning at 7:35.

Fun In The Sun
Who, What, Where, What? Governor Bill Walker held another meeting this Tuesday of his business roundtable to discuss state fiscal issues. I was told the Governor’s somewhat secret political advisor Jack Fergusson was telling people the meeting was open to “whoever shows up.” I was wondering if the Gov was pitching the business pros on his plan or if they were pitching him their ideas, so I asked if I could be one of the people who just showed up. I was told “no, the meeting is closed to the media.” That was odd because I noticed the attendee list included the ADN’s Alice Rogoff who kind of IS the media in Alaska. The Gov’s office said publishers didn’t count in the media ban. I was also curious why a group like the Alaska Miners Association would be invited but apparently broader trade groups like AOGA, RDC, and the State Chamber of Commerce were not. That remains a mystery.

Maybe 2nd Times The Charm? I hear the Rasmuson Foundation has been in the field with a new poll of how the state should deal with its fiscal issues. You’ll remember the Rasmuson foundation has been pushing a fiscal solution predicated on new revenue sources and released polling in August they claim shows “tapping the excess earnings of the Permanent Fund and capping the amount of the annual dividend were the most popular revenue options.” I guess my first question would be at what point does earnings of the Permanent Fund become “excessive.” In any case, you can read our article showing those polling results don’t hold water. Maybe their new polling will get it right.

3 Way The West Anchorage assembly race will officially be a three way when Eric Croft officially kicks off his campaign on October 14th. Wow, look at that flyer. It kinda screams “I’m the democrat so anyone else wanting those votes needs to get the hell out of the race. I’m looking at you Ira Perman.” Maybe it screams it a bit too much. The campaign website is already up at if you wanna check hiIra E-mail version-2 (1)m out for yourself.

Game On Cudos to the Ira Perman campaign for knowing how to play the game. I had already written the previous paragraph when Ira emailed me this flyer late Thursday night.  Cuomo, Hensley, Claman? It feels like a direct response to Croft’s flyer with Ira saying “I got my own Dems so step off.” Snap. Snap. Snap. Boy, boy, crazy boy, keep cool, boy.  Ira will get that.

Has It Really Been That Long By my count next Thursday marks the 100th day of the Berkowitz administration. Dems are gathering to celebrate on Monday at available-for-everyone’s-event home of former Governor Bill Sheffield. Th11080404_973836162674948_620781063496152798_oe new administration is nothing if not big on diversity, and nothing says diversity like an event that includes a range of thinkers from Johnny Ellis to Les Gara. We truly are a melting pot.  

Fly Into The Sun
If you have morsels you’d like shared in this column please email me at [email protected].

More from TMS

8 Comments on "Friday In The Sun (Oct 2)"

  1. Anyone know if Josie Bahnke related to Melanie Bahnke the CEO over at Kawerak?

  2. Casey Reynolds | October 2, 2015 at 8:18 am | Reply

    I do not know, but I’ll ask around

  3. But… Ira has Nick Moe.

  4. Even though I didn’t vote for her, my state representative (Lora Reinbold) crossed Tom Wright Chenault (the actual Speaker of the House) so her legislative agenda has also died; therefore, all you voters in Senate District L welcome to the disenfranchised club even if one step removed from the House of Representatives. I suppose by extension if you dare vote for Von Imhof the vendetta will continue. Better cosy up to Craig Johnson, who although he is one of the original big spenders who has created this fiscal mess, he can be depended upon to not rock the caucus boat.
    And don’t worry about legislative staffers. They are like the front posts on a military open rifle sight – they all perform the same function so you just put them where you need them to make the shot.

    • Lynn – that whole causcus deal seems as if it’s made for nothing more than “doing nothing”. Seems like more inaction and back-patting goes on more than any real movement on legislation that might actually get something productive moving in this state.

      • Arctic Top,
        The word “caucus” does not appear in either the State Constitution nor the Joint Legislative Uniform Rules yet the permanent standing caucus is the foundation of the the Alaska Legislature. The permanent caucus rewards toady behavior, compensates for ineptitude, and especially rewards seniority through the assignment of committee chair positions thereby granting those chairpersons defacto veto power over legislation by allowing them to simply refuse to act of bills referred to their respective committees. That defacto veto power is what Bill Allen was purchasing in room 604 of the Baranoff and I suspect it is still for sale.
        Also, don’t fall for their argument that refusing to hold a hearing is a form of “acting ” on a bill because bill actions require the signatures of committee members and until they collectively decide to refuse to hold hearings that argument won’t hold water.

  5. “Snap. Snap. Snap. Boy, boy, crazy boy, keep cool, boy. Ira will get that.” = WEST SIDE Story.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.