It’s been a week. If we don’t have to read another court filing for the rest of November, we’ll be happy.
Anyways, welcome to our weekly column making sense of this week in Alaska political news, rumors and, in this week especially, court chatter.
As always, be skeptical and keep watching the skies.
Hey, sometimes we know what we’re talking about and sometimes we just stumble into having a point by dumb luck. But last week’s #LV2LSE (Love to Lose, in license plate style) edition of Friday in the Sun turned out to be pretty prescient when this week Attorney General Kevin Clarkson delivered his boss three losses.
Sure, one of those losses is just technical, having to do with the timing of when the Alaska Supreme Court will hear—and, let’s be honest, likely reject—the state’s attempts to spike the election reform initiative, but the other two are significant.
First, the state was dealt another loss on its anti-union lawsuit and in the process Anchorage Superior Court Judge Gregory Miller sure made it look like the state’s not getting much out of its $600-per hour Outside attorneys.
“The state’s arguments are not well founded,” wrote Miller, in explaining why a half-assed filing by the state didn’t make a convincing case for why the state should actually win after losing its initial filings and why the case should just be wrapped up so they could push on to the U.S. Supreme Court (more on that later).
The big takeaway from that case is that the Alaska State Employees Association will get to move into discovery, which is always a fun time. The ASEA is questioning whether the state is being honest about employees wanting out of the unions.
The most major defeat came late Thursday night and is the culmination of the forward funding of education lawsuit. Again, Juneau Superior Court Judge Daniel Schally didn’t appear to think much of the state’s case, writing that Dunleavy and his administration “have violated their duty to faithfully execute the law.”
Too bad you can’t update a recall petition.
And, hey, it looks like LV2LSE is still available!
Quid pro quo?
Given the state’s financial situation and the Department of Law’s apparent aversion to spending money on cases it thinks it’ll lose—at least when it comes to Alaska hire laws—it’s been striking that the state put out an RFP this week seeking to spend an additional $500,000 to $600,000 on taking its anti-union case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Of course, none of this is all that surprising but it has given way to some speculation that the administration is working to do some deep-pocketed national groups a favor by footing the bill for a test case attacking public sector union.
And remember that thanks to the recall not being a traditional candidate vs. candidate race, Dunleavy can personally solicit unlimited campaign contributions for Standing Tall with Mike from individuals and companies. Is it precisely some Trump-style quid pro quo? Hard to say, but we certainly wouldn’t be surprised if his union-busting lawsuit didn’t come a few times on his right-wing media junket.
The Dunleavy Fairness Doctrine
Given the governor’s grousing with the media’s fairness, saying in one of his recent media appearances that “Fairness would be out of 10 articles, are five and five balanced? It doesn’t appear to be,” we propose a new legal concept called the Dunleavy Fairness Doctrine:
For every five negative court rulings, the court MUST give him five positive rulings.
Hey, given the track record so far it couldn’t hurt to try, right?
That’s when the Recall Dunleavy group and the state are set to meet in court to figure out the schedule for arguments on the state’s appeal of the recall rejection. They were set to meet in court this morning, but the hearing got bumped.
Unlike initiatives that must have their signatures submitted before the start of the legislative session, the deadlines for the recall is looser. The group can turn in their signatures at any point except for the tail end of the governor’s term and trigger a special election in the following 60 to 90 days.
Still, the group is arguing for a fast turnaround arguing that Alaskans deserve to have a chance to vote for a new governor (who’d be Republican Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer) before the next round of budgeting.
That might be some wishful thinking, but it never hurts to try.
Still, wishful thinking will have to go up against what appears to be shaping up to be some extremely deep pockets for the pro-Dunleavy groups following his national right-wing media campaign. The latest being that someone foot the bill for a focus group up in Fairbanks.
And one of those focus groupers turned around and leaked the details of the meeting to none other than Libby Bakalar, who turned around and posted it to Facebook. It appears that the main purpose of it was figuring out what kind of legislative policies might help Dunleavy save himself from his record.
According to the tipster, much of the conversation seemed to about testing messaging as well as a potential plan to—GASP!—reduce the PFD or potentially implement a tax! Shock and horror!
The tipster laid out a potential to recalculate the payout from the permanent fund to a 50-50 split between state services and the dividend, which would conveniently align with some recent softening we’ve seen from the hardline PFDers in favor of a compromise on the dividend.
The talk of a 4.5 percent sales tax is new but generally it seems to be the favorable route for conservatives when push comes to shove on taxes. Recent looks into it weren’t super stellar on what it might do for the state’s bottom line, though.
We’ve heard talk that the governor could be shopping around his own version of an oil tax bill that would be similar-ish to the oil tax initiative (and therefore would knock it off the ballot), but that didn’t appear to come up during the focus group the tipster attended.
Here’s the post.
Instead of taking silly potshots at people for signing the recall, Twitter data nerd Will Muldoon did some really interesting work to break down the data from who signed the recall petitions. The group boasted that an unprecedented 95 percent of the signers were eligible voters.
Both Juneau and Fairbanks ranked high on the list of support with multiple precincts, particularly the larger ones in Fairbanks, having around 25 percent of registered voters signing onto the recall petition.
His breakdown of the party registration also ought to put to rest the dishonest claims that it’s a Democrat-driven effort. Nearly 17,000 undeclared voters, nearly 15,000 Democrats, nearly 10,000 nonpartisan voters and 3,000 Republicans signed on.
Of course, a lot of people signed on knowing that they’d be trotted out publicly to be shamed by a certain conservative website. We know of quite a few Republicans who didn’t sign but would probably check the box on a secret ballot.
See all the details of the Muldoon’s work over at willmuldoon.com/recallmap/
That’s the deadline for applicants to file the seat vacated by Sen. Josh Revak (still getting used to writing that). The Alaska Landmine, with its great intestinal fortitude, is following it with this being the latest rundown:
Sources confirm that Forrest Mcdonald, Brian Webb, and Mel Gillis have applied for the vacant District 25 House seat. Mcdonald moved into 25 last fall. Others may have also applied. The deadline to apply is today by 5 pm. Stay tuned for a Landmine article on this. #akleg
— The Alaska Landmine (@alaskalandmine) November 8, 2019
You just can’t win ‘em all
With everything going on in Alaska’s courts, we haven’t had much bandwidth for anything else. Luckily a favorite reader of ours alerted us to this account of some recent statements from Dear Ol’ Donald Trump.
Dang! I’m sure she’s heartbroken and they used to get along so very well, too.
And with that, have a nice weekend y’all (oh, and there should be a comic coming this weekend).