Friday in the Sun!!! (December 23)

Friday in the Sun is here


Uber Political — Our eyebrows raised recently when we saw two members of the Americans for Prosperity – Alaska (AFP) crew, Jeremy Price and Ryan McKee, show up to testify in favor of the taxi industry ordinance the Anchorage Assembly passed this week. Since that ordinance is seen by many as a first step to bringing Uber into the Anchorage market, we asked Price if AFP was formally organizing to make that happen.

Here is his very interesting response:

“We’re in the process of building a coalition of support for legislation that will allow ride share businesses to come to Alaska. The rest of the country is moving forward while Alaskans are being held back. We’re advocating for a bill that will take the place of SB 58, which passed the Senate with near unanimous support, before former Rep. Kurt Olson carried the water for the taxi cartel and let the legislation die in his committee. Alaskans are eager for innovation and greater transportation choices. As you saw this week, the Anchorage Assembly is embracing change.”

Darwinism — Earlier this week we posted a story about the Governor’s office making it very clear Legislative Director Darwin Peterson’s job is safe. It sounds like he’ll have new company in the office, however, as former Deputy Legislative Director Lacy Wilcox is being replaced by Emily Gaffney, and Assistant Legislative Director Natasha McClanahan, who is moving over to be the Legislative Liaison for the Department of Corrections, will be replaced by Rep. Cathy Munoz staffer Nicole Gorle.  

Perennial Rumor — It seems every time Rep. Don Young wins another election, we hear some form of this same rumor, but we’re hearing it from multiple sources now, so here you go: The rumor is Young is once again taking meetings with potential successors. Word is he wants someone young enough (not a pun) to accrue seniority in the seat and someone with strong ties to the Native community. This time around we’re hearing ASRC big-wig Tara Sweeney is the apple of his eye.  

The question that always goes along with this constantly reoccurring rumor is still true this time: Will Young ever find someone he likes more than another two years of himself? We don’t know if that day will come, but we are pretty sure it isn’t today.

Days Until The Next State Election684

Days Until Muni Election102

Ketchikan CongratsU.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan announced yesterday they’ve jointly hired Chere Klein as their Ketchikan Delegation Representative. Klein will serve constituents in Ketchikan and other communities in the Southern Southeast region by helping them with specific concerns and problems with federal agencies and offices. Klein replaces Penny Pederson, who served in that role for two years.

New Rule — The new House Majority has put a big lump of coal in their staff’s Christmas stockings. This memo was sent out by new Speaker (errrr, I mean Rules Committee Chair) Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux about legislative staff pay allocations. It says in order to save money in these tight times, every legislative office, minority and majority, will have one less pay range to offer staff. That means someone in each member’s office is going to be one pay range lower than they would have been last year.

More interestingly, in the memo, LeDoux says all legislative salaries will be capped at a range 22. That will be quite a hit to several Republican staffers who were well above that last year.

But the rule that isn’t as absolute as the memo makes it sound. LeDoux tells us there are a “select few” staffers for majority leadership who are being allowed over the cap. She couldn’t say who or how many, just that it is less than the previous majority had.

If you’re interested, here is the House staff salary list for the last session. You can see for yourself who is likely to take a big hit under this new rule.

Taking Our Advice — Rep. LeDoux read our article on the need for the Governor and legislators to show some leadership by offering to cut their own pay. She tells us the House Majority is planning to offer legislation to do just that. We’ll be watching for it.

Let’s Get Ready To Rumble — Continuing with LeDoux news, she’s already come under significant media scrutiny (including from us) for setting up her own personal PAC, Gabby’s Tuesday PAC. If she was hoping that attention was going away anytime soon, she was wrong.

Sen. Kevin Meyer will be dropping a bill soon to make it illegal for sitting legislators to form such groups. The Senate will almost certainly pass the bill, allowing them to use the issue to beat up on LeDoux and her House Majority friends for their fundraising activities.

PS — Last Thursday, LeDoux’s PAC held a joint fundraiser with Rep. Paul Seaton, who set up a similar PAC to Gabby’s called the Sustain Alaska Fund, and several Democratic and Independent House candidates looking to retire some campaign debt. According to an APOC filing, Gabby’s Tuesday Pac brought in $4,075 that night.

Fun Fact — Both LeDoux’s and Seaton’s PACs are registered with APOC using the “Special Interest Group” designation. So we now have the House Finance Committee and Rules Committee controlled by special interests, literally.

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.

Unclassy-fied — You know what we like about the Alaska Journal of Commerce? They are one of those respectable news outlets that stays classy and professional regardless of their personal feelings on the news:

Felix Navidad —  There aren’t a ton of Anchorage Assembly candidates jumping out of the fundraising gates strong just yet, but Midtown progressive candidate Felix Rivera is an exception. He held his campaign kickoff fundraiser last Thursday and we’re told he brought in just over $4,000.

If you are a Felix fan or think you could become one,  you can get some face time with him at this event this week.

Dem Hire — Last Friday the Alaska Democratic Party hired a new Executive Director, Jay Parmley. Mr. Parmley has a bit of a past, but we won’t go into that here. If you want to know more you can listen to The Midnight Sun The Podcast this week when Casey Reynolds and Forrest Dunbar will discuss that, and much more, with outgoing Executive Director Kay Brown.

The podcast should be available by noon on Saturday.

C’mon Man — For the love of God, someone HAS to tell Kevin Kastner his race against Sen. Bill Wielechowski is OVER. It is just sad he can’t move on.

So Tolerant — A lot of people have been losing their mind over what they see as Islamophobic actions by Anchorage Assemblywoman Amy Demboski. How could Demboski or any other Assembly member be intolerant towards Muslims when they just passed a resolution this week saying they aren’t? She even voted for it. 

Back To The Future — The Alaska Republican Party has been making a lot of noise and playing videos on Facebook about how young and multicultural they are now. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to apply when they recruit candidates. The one young conservative of color who was running for local office in Anchorage, Terre Gales, looks like he has dropped out. That leaves conservatives with a slate that includes blast-from-the-past names like Dave Donley (School Board), David Nees (School Board), and Don Smith (Assembly-Midtown). Maybe it’s just us, but that roster doesn’t scream young, fresh, or diverse. It’s more like old-ee, white-ee and dude-ee.

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


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