Friday in the Sun (July 21, 2017): ADN sale nearing, filings and media moves

Friday in the Sun is here

Speculating on rumors and gossip surrounding Alaska politics is a time-honored tradition. It’s time for our weekly trip through the grand, gross, weird, wild and wonderful world of Alaska politics.

Dispatch sale nearing

The long-running rumors and talk about Alaska’s biggest six-day newspaper’s troubled finances appear to be coming to a head, and owner Alice Rogoff could be near to selling the Alaska Dispatch News. Possibly sooner than most people expect, but there’s also doubt about the financial stability of the potential buyer—whoever it is—because whoever takes over the ADN will also take over the loans used to buy the paper from McClatchy. If things work out, expect things to move quickly.

It also sounds like Morris, which owns the Juneau Empire and the Alaska Journal of Commerce, is no longer in the running as the possible purchaser. Rumor has it that the company has its own financial troubles and could be looking to sell off some papers, too.

David Wilson debacle

Sen. David Wilson‘s surprising entrance into and baffling exit from the lieutenant governor’s race is, well, baffling a lot of Alaska politicos.

The freshman legislator and alleged slapper said it was an accident that he filed for the position, which is also baffling because he’s not up for reelection until 2020. It’s likely someone told him to come to his senses.

Though his departure leaves deprives Alaska of a killer campaign slogan: “Reasonable? Fair? … There we go.”

Also, his skills would probably come in handy when one of the lieutenant governor’s main jobs is protecting the state seal.

Other filings

There have been just a handful of filings to the Alaska Public Offices Commission. Presumably these ones are all earnest.

What stands out is that the day after Mike Dunleavy announced he’d be running for office, the far-right conservative Rep. David Eastman filed an open letter of intent. Talk is Eastman is likely to make a bid for Dunleavy’s seat, though Rep. George Rauscher who’d also be eligible to run for the open seat has also filed an open letter of intent.

News-Miner departure

Alaska’s largest seven-day newspaper is losing its opinion editor, Tom Hewitt, to the local television stations. Hewitt announced this week that he’ll be leaving the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, where he’s been since 2014, to take over as the news director of KTVF, channel 11, and KXD, channel 13 (Fairbanks has weird telecommunications rules because it’s a small market). Hewitt came to the News-Miner from KTVF.

I worked with Hewitt during my time at the News-Miner, spending many a hour discussing Alaska politics and local news. He’s a smart and talented journalist who’s most importantly dedicated to Fairbanks.

The job posting is already up. Those are big shoes to fill.

Defamation suit tossed

Speaking of the News-Miner, a legal challenge against the paper claiming defamation has been thrown out by the Alaska Supreme Court. The case stems from a 2010 story on home invader, Gregory Giocondo, who allegedly lied about being a plumber to get into woman’s home and exposed himself. Giocondo doesn’t dispute the fact that he entered the woman’s home and exposed himself to her, but that he didn’t lie about being a plumber because he was a licensed plumber at the time.

He asked for published retraction, apology and $2.2 million in damages from lost earning potential. His suit also asked for an additional $500,000 in emotional harm caused to his daughter for, as the Supreme Court wrote, “presumably by (the article’s) insinuation that her father was not a licensed plumber.”

The Supreme Court didn’t touch that issue, but instead found that Giocondo didn’t have grounds to sue because the statute of limitations had already ran out on the case and his excuses for filing the lawsuit in 2015 didn’t pass muster.

Midnight Sun marriage

Former editor of The Midnight Sun Casey Reynolds got married this week. Congratulations, though I’m told Amy’s definitely the better half in this union.

Capital budget progress

A deal—or close enough to a deal—has been reached for legislators to make plans to return to Juneau. No special session has been announced, but legislators are talking about returning to Juneau on Wednesday to take up and pass the budget in a few days. The legislature also can call itself back in. The big items to watch for will be tax credit payments, supplemental payments to the dividend and the University of Alaska’s deferred maintenance budget.

If last week’s negotiation on House Bill 111 is any example, the both sides will have to give up some. You know, how negotiations and compromise have always worked.
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