People In The Sun
Where The Money Is — It sounds like the U.S. Department of the Treasury is getting its Alaska on. Alaska kid Nathan Zencey started this week as a Special Assistant in their Office of Business Affairs and Public Liaison. There he’ll be joining another Alaskan, Jackson Spivey who has been working as a Special Assistant in Legislative Affairs since January.
Moving On — Proclaiming it would be her last day as a government employee, Shalon Harrington left her position as Policy and Program Director at Municipal Light & Power last week. Ms. Harrington has a long history working in Alaska politics in the administrations of Mayor Dan Sullivan, Governor Sean Parnell, and as Chief of Staff to Sen. Lesil McGuire. It will be government no more as she packs her bags and moves on over to ASRC as their new Government Relations Director..
Mull It — While Rep. Craig Johnson continues mulling whether he wants to fight to be the Speaker of the House in the next legislature or run for the Senate seat of retiring Lesil McGuire, his wife Nancy Johnson was just inducted into the Alaska Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Her induction video is worth a watch.
Les Is More — Over in Rep. Les Gara’s office he’s picked up Kevin Prestegard who worked last session as a UAA intern in Rep. Scott Kawasaki’s office. He must’ve done a good job as he will now be Gara’s guy on House Finance Committee issues.
Wishing Well — When you have a minute, take the time to add Kodiak State House Rep. Louise Stutes to your thoughts and prayers as she continues her fight against cancer. Word is she is finishing up her chemotherapy and is doing well.
Midnight Sun On The Air!!!!
Master of Morning Radio Rick Rydell (AM 650 KENI) has asked us to come on every week and share Friday in the Sun with his audience. So listen for our inside scoop every Friday morning at 7:35.
Fun in the Sun
Gasline Drama — Doesn’t it seem like everywhere you look on television there is an Alaska based reality show? With the state facing huge budget shortfalls how is it that no one has pitched the million dollar idea of turning Governor Bill Walker’s gasline efforts into a TV show, Ã la The Office. You can just see Dan Fauske razzing Chief of Staff Jim Whitaker about being “assistant to the Governor.”
With all the drama of the Governor reshuffling his team, I’m hearing Dan Fauske, and aids Miles Baker and Joe Dubler will all be out within the next few days. Look for Fauske to be replaced by Marty Rutherford. Changes likely won’t stop with staff. Word is the Governor will be replacing AGDC Board President, and Parnell appointee John Burns with newly former Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins. Both are Fairbanks guys so the switch would maintain the regional politics of the seat and frankly Hopkins now has the time.
Burns removal and Hopkins appointment has now happened
Why So Quiet — I know everyone has saved every ouch of their indignation for some aspect of the Syrian refugee dust up, but did anyone notice the relative calm surrounding Governor Bill Walker’s handling of the Department of Corrections scandal this week? There were no shrill comments from the Alaska Republican Party (no, seriously, there weren’t), no blasts from House Republicans, and Senator McGuire even issued a statement saying “I appreciate that the administration has taken serious measures to investigate what appeared to be very concerning matters.” It would appear the Governor had a problem brought to his attention, he looked into it, and took decisive action. The silence from from the Governor’s harshest critics tells you that while they would love to hang a National Guard type scandal around his neck, they have to agree.
Falling Flat — Speaking of the Syrian refugee issue and the Alaska Republican Party, has anyone noticed the resolution the party was floating opposing refugees coming to Alaska never materialized? Monday night the party’s Communications Director Suzanne Downing sent an email to central committee members asking them to vote on the resolution via email and begging for quick action saying, “the rules state there is a 48 hour time period for an email vote, but obviously time is of the essence.” But then nothing happened. 48 hours went by, then another 24 hours went by, and now another 12 hours has gone by, and no press release or online posts about the party taking a position. Instead, the Party Chairman Peter Goldberg issued a statement of his, and only his beliefs on the matter.
Quote of the Week — The Alaska Municipal League (AML) held their Local Government Conference downtown this week. During a panel on how to create affordable housing the Anchorage Director of Economic and Community Development Chris Schutte offered his thoughts on why Alaska communities need to move to denser urban environments, enhance walkability, and discourage automobiles by punctuating his thoughts with this ditty “The Mayor has issued an edict that we outlaw all surface level parking lots.” Um, ya, the assembly is progressive leaning, but I don’t think they are that progressive, but hey, good luck with that.
Events In The Sun
Big Night — Thursday night was a big night in political events. There was the Rasmuson Foundation’s 60th Anniversary Event, the AML conference mixer, the Alaska Democratic Party “How to be a delegate” event, the Mike Gordon for State House District 18 campaign kick-off, and the Hilary Morgan for State Senate event. Given the weather, I could only make one, so I chose the Hilary Morgan event. I was curious to see just how serious a challenger to Sen. Cathy Giessel the Democrats think they have. Giessel is a well established incumbent and conservative and that district includes the seriously conservative Hillside neighborhood, so you would have thought Democrats would have at best a measured view about Morgan’s chances. That clearly isn’t the case. Democrats showed up in force to the event including Midtown Assemblywoman Elvi Grey-Jackson, Sen. Johnny Ellis, Sen Berta Gardner, Rep. Harriet Drummond, and former Sen. Hollis French. Not only that, they presented Morgan with a $5,000 check from the party and declared her their “Star candidate.”
Fly Into The Sun
If you have morsels you’d like shared in this column please email me at [email protected]. If it is interesting and true-ish, I’ll put it out there.
It’s Thanksgiving week, so there aren’t a ton of political events the next seven days, but here are some that are coming up soon: