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Governor/Koch Brothers’ Roadshow Ends. Alaska Shows Up.

TALL TALES from Juneau

Eyes on the Dunleavy/Babcock Administration

The End of the Road(show)

That’s all, folks! The Dunleavy/Americans for Prosperity/Koch brothers’ roadshow hit the end of the road. Let’s just say it didn’t go quite as the sponsors or the governor had hoped. After a giant protest and a RECALL DUNLEAVY banner in Anchorage, and a schooling in civic engagement in Nome, the roadshow had its final stops in Fairbanks and Wasilla. There were notably zero stops in Southeast where the governor plans to gut the Marine Highway system.


Fairbanks was having none of this roadshow nonsense. About 400 showed up in the streets with signs, and there were LOTS of agreement honks from passing cars. The crowd protesting outside outnumbered the attendees. And two polls have shown that this overwhelming disapproval mirrors the sentiments of Alaskans in general. One measured those who “strongly oppose” this austerity budget at 55 percent, compared to those who strongly approve – only 15 percent.


In Wasilla, where you would expect the governor to have the strongest support, the feelings were decidedly mixed, despite the assortment of yummy snacks and full-color printed brochures telling people how to think. And as in all the other events, armed security guards made sure everyone felt welcomed and comfortable. <- sarcasm

Reading material

Americans for Prosperity caprese skewers!

The welcoming committee

The House Majority held similar events across the state (minus the onerous rules of attendance implemented by Americans for Prosperity, and the catered snacks) and they measured the response with a sobering 6:1 disapproval rating.




But don’t be so quick to judge what you see in front of your eyes, says the governor. If you believe him, all those people who showed up at the House events don’t really represent… you know, REAL Alaskans. On a Talk of Alaska program last week he explained:

“I think a lot of the folks you see coming to these meetings are associated with many of the reductions that we’re talking about. I talk to folks every day, average Alaskans that don’t have the time to take off work. They’re in the private sector. They are supportive of us getting this budget under control. They are supportive of the reductions. There’s 730,000 people in the state of Alaska,” he said. “There are hundreds of people going to these meetings. That’s a small number compared to the overall population. We keep talking to folks, average person on the street, we’re getting support for where we’re going.”

“Folks associated with the reductions?” Let’s make a list. That would be anyone associated with public education from Headstart through university, everyone in rural Alaska, everyone in Southeast Alaska, everyone whose local property taxes will skyrocket, anyone who likes public broadcasting, the 1 in 5 who rely on Medicaid, local farmers, state and transportation workers, teachers, healthcare workers… I could go on.

If you believe the internet trolls (the remaining ones who haven’t gotten state jobs), and the regurgitated talking points of the administration, the people who are affected by these cuts all represent “special interests.” But when everyone is a special interest, then there are no special interests – just Alaskans who are not happy.

Remember remaining Dunleavy supporters, if you lose your job, think how much money you’ll save if you live in a box, sell your car, and don’t send your kids to college. Now THAT’s fiscal responsibility!


Speaking of money and fiscal responsibility, here’s a moment of levity in these trying times. Kara Moriarty, CEO of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, thinks that reworking our current system of oil and gas taxes and credits would be very bad for Alaska. Very, very bad. Sooooo very bad.  She even wrote a compass piece about the badness called “Oil tax changes aren’t the right answer to the budget problem.” She does NOT want us to stop handing our valuable resources away to the most profitable companies in the world. Remember, if we weren’t throwing $2 billion a year at them, we wouldn’t have to cut education, and the university, and meals on wheels, and health care, and senior benefits, and the ferry system, and all those other “hard choices” that we had to make. But Kara Moriarty says that things should stay as they are, otherwise the big oil companies will be sad and feel insecure. She says that those billions are better off in the pockets of Conoco and BP and Exxon. “We understand oil tax policy is complex and hard,” she says as she pats us atop our little heads. The encouraging thing about her op-ed is that for once, you might actually want to read the comments. Alaskans are waking up.


They are not amused

If you thought that the quickie no-bid contract to privatize the Alaska Psychiatric Institute using a company that just changed its name and has ties to Budget Director Donna Arduin sounded a little hinky, your spidey-senses seem to be working properly. The House State Affairs, and Health & Social Services Committees had a joint session. And they had questions – like why weren’t decision-makers informed about lawsuits, litigation, and deaths in other facilities that the contractor was involved with. “That would have been helpful information to have,” said the state’s chief procurement officer. And why are we now in a multi-year, $225 million contract with Wellpath, when locally-established Providence showed interest in taking on the project. You can check out the video HERE and get a detailed breakdown of the meeting HERE.


If you were around in 2010, you may remember a controversial appointee to the Board of Game named Al Barrette. A video circulated showing him skinning a wolf and quoting the Bible about how God gave us dominion over animals. A biologist, he’s not.  And he even got some national attention (video at the link) before the Alaska Legislature rejected him. He was rejected by a Republican Majority House and Senate during the Parnell administration due to conflict of interest and qualification among other things. But heck, why not try again? Here’s a great summary of the latest controversial appointee from Matt Buxton at the Midnight Sun. How about next time someone who uses science to set policy?  Just a thought. And if you thought there was only ONE controversial appointment this week, read on.


Another appointee who’s looking like she may implode is Top Cop Amanda Price. Well, she’s not really a cop, but Dunleavy does want her to be the head of the Department of Public Safety. But there’s one small problem. Rumors are swirling about the reasons she was let go from her position in the Walker administration, one of which is the allegation that she plagiarized white papers. Not a good look for a law enforcement commissioner. Jeff Landfield of the Alaska Landmine is trying to get answers, and seems to be getting the runaround. This could become interesting tomorrow (Thursday 4/4) at 3:00pm when she is scheduled for a confirmation hearing before the House State Affairs Committee. There will be public testimony.


We know that this administration is keeping Alaska’s political reporters extremely busy these days. So, let’s just take a moment to appreciate not only the work they do, but also the incredible work this session being done by a new and new-ish crop of blog reporters whose work is at the least a necessary supplement, and at best revelatory investigative journalism. If these folks are not on your daily reading list, make it so. They’re smart, perceptive, and dogged – and they each have their own inimitable style which makes for a great banquet of complementary and entertaining news.

The Midnight Sun– Matt Buxton

The AK Ledger– John Aronno/Craig Tuten

Reporting from Alaska– Dermot Cole

The Alaska Landmine– Jeff Landfield

[insert standing ovation here]



And speaking of daily reading lists, if you’re not on our PRESS CLIPS mailing list, you can sign up HERE to not only keep up with the local news and blogs, but also get a smattering of the national news, opinion, and a list of what to see and when on Gavel Alaska. Just enter your info HERE to get it in your inbox each weekday morning.


[This article is reposted with permission from the Democratic Party]



4 Responses to “Governor/Koch Brothers’ Roadshow Ends. Alaska Shows Up.”
  1. mike from iowa says:

    Thanks for mentioning eyebrows, Really. Some look like a silent tribute to PI Day. Long time, Zyxomma. 🙂

  2. Zyxomma says:

    It’s hard for a New Yorker to conceive of such a huge state, with such a small human population, but you do make it easier, Jeanne. Thanks.

  3. Really? says:

    Thank you Jeanne for paying close attention. I’ve been receiving your press clips, thank you. The information you mention is right on and it makes it easier on folks to have someone like you help understand some of our issues”. I also appreciate the links to our Alaskan Reporters. Since I’m one of those Alaskans with a lot of special interests, I want you to know how much your colorful stick figures are appreciated.( love those eyebrows). Love and peace to you.

  4. mike from iowa says:

    Be still my heart. Are my eyes deceiving me or did I just read through some of the finest stick figures ever, in living colour even? Could it be true? Tell me these are Jeanne devon deluxe stick figures. Oh please. please, please! I can die happy- maybe.

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