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Friday, January 28, 2022

Alaska: Hand Out, Finger Up


The State of Alaska has one hand out palm up, and the other raised with one finger prominently extended — again.

The upcoming “Federal Overreach Summit” to be held at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage seemed like a tea party function. I don’t have a yellow flag with a snake on it or a three-cornered hat, so I didn’t pay much mind.

Until this week.

An email found its way to me from a Department of Natural Resources employee.

Karrie Improte signed an email announcing the “very interesting news; on page 1 there is an announcement on the Commission sponsored ‘Federal Overreach Summit’ scheduled for August 12 and 13 in Anchorage, more information will be posted to our website as it becomes available” with Citizens’ Advisory Commission on Federal Areas with a Fairbanks address.

I was confused. I wondered why a state employee would be so brazen about using her work account for her extracurricular activities. Karrie was just doing her job. I wish to heaven it wasn’t true.

Sure enough, there was that middle finger posted on DNR’s website.

The commission is appointed by Gov. Sean Parnell and other elected members of our Legislature. You know, the same people who apply for flood relief and fly to Washington, D.C., to beg the Pentagon to not move military installations out of Alaska and could we please have a new airport at any number of places.

I held my breath. The director of the commission is Stan Leaphart. He was a featured speaker at the Deltana Liberty Rally last month. Other featured speakers included tea party celebs, and I’m sorry I missed “Law of the Sea Treaty — UN takeover of the seas” and, even more, “Civil War Truths and The Flags That Were Flown.” All under a giant yellow flag with a snake on it.

According to, Leaphart was paid $98,484 for his work in 2012.

Initially I was thinking this was some weirdo tea party group. Then I found out it was state-sponsored. Then I found out it was both!

Who are the “citizens”? Mark Fish, the chair of the Libertarian Party who had to withdraw his name from a second term on the state Human Rights Commission after he blogged that “radical” feminists are out to “eliminate men from the face of the earth.”

Or Board of Game member Ron Somerville, who gave a lame “if you were offended I’m sorry” apology after he said Natives who were absent from a meeting were off drinking beers. The Alaska Native Brotherhood had opposed him in 2010 being the state’s second choice for commissioner because “he has a long and hostile history toward indigenous people of Alaska.” They said, “We consider the forwarding of Ron Somerville by the Joint Boards of Fisheries and Game a direct slap in the face to the Native community.”

So is it less of a slap that he’s now on a citizens’ board? Seriously!

Also on this board:

Sen. John Coghill, who is obsessed with controlling women’s bodies.
Rep. Wes Keller, who is the state chairman for the American Legislative Exchange Council — a clearinghouse for bills written by corporations.
Kathleen Liska, who runs the 907 Pray Contact Act website for “prayer warriors.”
Warren Olson, who years ago formed the Alaska Constitutional Legal Defense Conservation Fund to sue the federal government pitting urban against rural Alaskans for hunting.
Rod Arno, from the Alaska Outdoor Council, who hasn’t met an animal he wouldn’t shoot from a plane. Well, I’m guessing that last part but he’s big on predator control.
When you read the notes from the CACFA it reads like a bunch of lazy hunters who moan about not being able to drive their four-wheelers wherever they want to shoot whatever trophy they are missing from their collection.

The commissioner of DNR, Dan Sullivan, is in Afghanistan serving with the military. His commander is President Obama and he is working for America. At home, his department is staging a campaign against the federal government.

I can’t take the hypocrisy.

The notion that Mr. Sullivan or Gov. Parnell really just want smaller government for the citizens of Alaska is disingenuous. In 2011, when the Lake and Penn Borough citizens passed a ballot initiative (it’s called democracy) to have a say on the Pebble mine, the governor jumped in front of the foreign mining companies to sue the borough.

What’s next — a “Local Overreach Summit”?

The tea party takeover has happened with board appointments. If that’s the finger we want to point at the federal government, we need to put the outstretched hand back in our pocket.

This article is cross-posted at the Anchorage Daily News



19 Responses to “Alaska: Hand Out, Finger Up”
  1. COalmostNative says:

    Fine with me; Colorado will gladly take all the federal largess Cap’n Torpedo and his crew aboard USS Doofus publicly say they don’t want- we’ll put it to good use. Roads, sewers, health care…jobs 😉

  2. mike from iowa says:

    Democracy and its cornerstone,the right to vote unemcumbered,is the only known antidote to rw venom. Slithering around on their bellies is rilly good for looking up women’s skirts, not so good for identifying and solving myriad problems created by short sighted nutters. Unfortunately these silver tongued serpents can convince certain peoples that black is white,night is day while making them forget about forked tongues. Had enough cliches? Every two years nutters shed their skins and are essentially blind and savage until their new skins(re-elections) are in place. Smakes are essentially deaf,but extremely conscious of the sound,smell and feel of greenback dollars.and the 1%. They create controversy to regulate their body temps,because,afterall,they are reptiles with beady eyes,forked tongues,cold-blood and venom. Have a care-they will be crawling through a woodpile near you soon. p.s. they don’t play well with others and they eat their own,young and all.

  3. thatcrowwoman says:

    Oy, vey.
    and something about lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon-rut, also, too.
    If they don’t want us to tread on them, they should get out from underfoot, eh?

  4. Zyxomma says:

    If I remember correctly (I’m too lazy, or it’s too late, for me to look it up right now, but one of you will know and correct me if I’m wrong), Alaska gets back from the federal government $1.87 for every $1.00 collected (taxes, fees, etc.). In 2012, Alaska was the #1 state for federal spending (military bases, infrastructure projects, pork), despite having a population the size of a small city (San Diego comes to mind). Federal overreach??!!! OVERREACH????!!!!!!!! And this is a project of state workers? Alaskans, you seriously need to get out the vote, every primary and general, every year. These unfunny clowns need replacement, as soon as possible.

    Yes, yes, I know. I live Outside, on an island off the coast of the other side of the continent. But (again, my memory may be faulty, and it’s too late to look it up) MY state, to the best of my recollection, is #2 in contributions to the federal budget, and we don’t get a hell of a lot of return on that investment (though we don’t complain about it, because we like things like highways, bridges, airports, education, and medical care for the indigent). That’s why, when we DO need help from the Fed, we get so irate with RWNJs saying they’ll only sign off on federal aid after Hurricane Sandy if the federal budget is trimmed by an equal amount (out of the mouths of babes, elders, and unfortunates, of course, corporations need our help). Why does anyone who isn’t obscenely rich vote Republican? Why? Oh, yeah, I forgot — guns, gays, abortion. Well, I’m going to sleep now. Wake me up when the nutjobs decide to join the rest of us in the 21st century.

    • mike from iowa says:

      Memory serves you quite correctly. You’re the WINNER!!!. Most excellent article again,Shannyn.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      As well as Shannyn’s hand-out-finger-up describes a piece of the mindset amongst Cap’n Torpedo and his ilk, the federal dollar dealie is more complicated than merely toting up the dollars per capita.
      The federal government owns 60 percent of Alaska- a fact which torches the shorts of many Alaskans well beyond the reasonable frustration one might have with a ponderously slow conveyance procedure for lands still slated to move to state ownership.
      In those per capita numbers are federal employee’s paychecks, civilian and military, payments to Native health entities ( who contract with the fed under Medicaid to provide their own health services these days as opposed to the old BIA Indian Health Services setup. America has an overall Native population of about 1 percent, Alaska has 15-20 percent depending on how you count) , and similar other expenditures which would have to happen regardless of what our state population was- be it the approx 800K it is , 8 million, 18 million, whatever.
      The federal government has a responsibility to manage its lands, facilities, and duties in all of our names. The per capita dealie blurs that important line by comparing local population’s input into the pot with responsibility to pay for federal stuff.
      I live surrounded by the Tongass NATIONAL Forest. (There is nothing some of these federal-overreach doofs would like better than to have that land move to state ownership) While some great benefits accrue locally because of that, I find it difficult to swallow that we should be held responsible for ponying up all the dollars necessary to management of that federal property just to balance some goofy notion of tax parity per capita.
      Similarly, I see no real reason we should pay any more for federal oversight off our coast of federal waters in the EEZ which all of America owns than you or anyone else does- particularly since the bulk of benefit of commerce there goes Outside.

      Of particular nasty angry (still) concern to the federal overreach crowd :
      Long and involved and multiple battles still rage over ANILCA even though it has benefitted the state overall.

      • Zyxomma says:

        You’re probably aware that I know it’s complicated. I am aware that most of your beautiful state is owned/managed at the federal level, and I assure you that national forests, national parks, national recreation areas, and national seashores are all among the things I love. I’ve visited national parks from coast to coast (and beyond, some of them were in HI). I’m a hiker, climber, and sailor, and pristine wilderness is something I can’t get too much of.

        I was just venting because of the hypocrisy (or is it ignorance?) on display. Personally, I wish MORE of my federal tax dollars went to supporting the natural world, scientific research, and sustainability, and fewer of those dollars went to maintaining a zillion overseas military bases, the militarization of urban police forces (including NYC’s), and other programs whose end goals I can’t support morally.

        It just grates on me that this is supported by state workers.

        • Alaska Pi says:

          This is what they say they are doing. Code words and phrases anyone?

          Some of the names won’t mean a thing away from here but there are some glaring examples of anti-fed and/or state’s rights types here as well as the cast of usual suspects whenever development for development’s sake gets on the agenda.

          I don’t see any responsibility being taken by the state as regards the deteriorating relationship with the fed either in the objectives statement or the agenda listings.
          I don’t see any responsibility being taken by the state to meet federal requirements for rural subsistence preference nor any of the myriad of similar crap the state won’t back down from in its banty rooster BS routine. They gonna discuss Native voting problems? They going to discuss the Legs’ stoopid nullification law? They gonna take any responsibility for any of their collective horsepunky? Oh hell no.
          THAT is where the hypocrisy lies.

          Some of this bunch would gladly see the fed gone and the state in control… course then they wouldn’t actually have a state, would they? 🙂

          • Alaska Pi says:

            Zyx- here’s a piece of recent history which gets hold of some of the tensions :


            I actually disagreed with the author’s last line because Alaska also misjudged the patience of the American people with timber sales which didn’t even recoup project costs so a few hundred locals could keep their jobs ( a few hundred IS a big deal here though not away from here) at public expense and it also misjudged the patience of those had been working for compliance on water pollution issues tied to pulp production- water which supports our collective fisheries .
            This latest bunch of yahoos is the same as the last batch- in so many ways.

            • Zyxomma says:

              Thank you, Pi. It’s good to get a thoughtful answer from someone who lives and breathes surrounded by the Tongass, which I hope to visit one day.

        • COalmostNative says:

          Ditto! Grr….

    • Alaska Pi says:

      One of Cap’n Torpedo and the overreach doofs’ major complaints has to do with federal jurisdiction of navigable waters

      “Under U.S. law, bodies of water are distinguished according to their use. The distinction is particularly important in the case of so-called navigable waters, which are used for business or transportation. Jurisdiction over navigable waters belongs to the federal government rather than states or municipalities”

      • Alaska Pi says:

        and the ability of the EPA to have some say:

        Our doofus Rep Young introduced language to strip the EPA of oversight of navigable waters… hasn’t gone anywhere yet/still but is a big part of the overreach argument.
        Pebble anyone?
        Waste in the waters, mining contamination or other types, anyone?
        State rights folks think they can do an end run around the EPA whilst allowing our own coastal plan to expire so locals actually have less say?
        Big business interests anyone?
        Return to days of being a resource colony instead of a state folks?
        Pffft! on Cap’n Torpedo and these doofs.

  5. JBG says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you get what you vote for. Put these idiots in charge and they will appoint idiots of a like mind. We have the same problem here in uber-conservative and right-wing religious Colorado Springs. If you have a “R” after your name it is automatic that you get elected. But my Dad had a sage expression that came true every time. Eventually somehow someday they’ll all crap in their own messkit. Too bad they do so so many time in other’s messkits before the masses rise up against their tomfoolery.

    • beth. says:

      “you get what you vote for.” — I think people understand that.

      But what they utterly fail to comprehend is: You get what OTHERS want When. You. Don’t. Vote!

      That is the message they’ve GOT to understand…the message they’ve GOT to have drilled into their wee little heads so they will speak THEIR want, every. single. time. anything is up for a vote.

      In my family, it’s always been a ‘rule’ that if you don’t voice your opinion when plans are being made, you can’t bitch about the results of that planning not being to your liking. Ever. Same thing with voting: If you don’t vote, you aren’t allowed to bitch about the outcome. Ever. I think it’s only fair. beth.

    • COalmostNative says:

      *waving * to you from Littleton… Arapahoe County is almost as bad, but at least we aren’t trying to recall our politicians because they voted for reasonable universal background checks. (Local grassroots, my patootie- I’ve seen the nasty ads by Carl Rove’s Americans for Prosperity- funded by the Koch Brothers)

      • Zyxomma says:

        Wow, COalmostNative, I had no idea you were from Littleton. I’m sure you know that it appears on TV, where it’s called South Park.

  6. Alaska Pi says:

    and it appears Mr Somerville will be speaking about ANCSA and ANILCA?