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The Sunday Minefield – March 4, 2018

This has been a busy week, more so for Anchorage than Juneau. The Anchorage mayoral race is heating up, Fur Rondy is underway, the Iditarod started, and the Anchorage Caucus met on Saturday at UAA.

The Legislature

It’s no secret that Representative Dan Ortiz (I – Ketchikan) loves Ketchikan High School, like a lot. He is famous for being able to magically take any topic and make it about Ketchikan High School. This week is no different. The Alaska House Majority tweeted this out on 3/2/2018:

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Union Yes

The only mention in the newsletter about the Marine Highway System regards Ketchikan High School students’ trouble getting to a Juneau music festival. Ortiz was able to find a solution! Not sure how that “details issues” with the Marine Highway System but hey, at least the kids get to go to the music festival. I think Ortiz has a lobbying job locked up when he is no longer in the legislature.

 

The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony this week on a bill allowing judges to issue protective orders and take guns away from crazy people. Let’s just say it is everything you think it would be.

You can watch the entire thing here.

Check out Representative Justin Parish (D – Juneau) meeting with some constituents. Presented without comment.

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Union Yes

An NBC report this week said the Russians hacked into the election systems of seven states, including Alaska. I’m going to say that is very unlikely. If the Russians hacked Alaska’s election, I would have definitely been their guy. Many of my campaign videos featured Russian women. Senator Natasha von Imhof (R – Anchorage) beat me, badly. Wait a minute, did the Russians get mixed up when they heard the name Natasha?

Lobbyist and Midnight Sun financer Jim Lottsfeldt was in Juneau this week. Word is he was making the rounds telling anyone who would listen that a lot of people want Mark Begich to run for governor. If Begich does decide to run, I wonder which Democrat would end up on the ticket as lieutenant governor? My money is on Senator Bill Wielechowski (D – Anchorage).

If you ever watch the house or senate floor sessions on Gavel to Gavel, a website that provides video stream of meetings of the legislature, you know how long the introduction of guests takes. They can’t pass a budget on time but they sure can spend hours a week introducing people who have nothing to do with the proceedings. Sad!

Overheard in the Capitol this week regarding the addresses of Senator Lisa Murkowski (R – Alaska) and Senator Dan Sullivan (R – Alaska) to a joint session of the Alaska Legislature:

Person 1: When does Don Young give his address?

Person 2: He doesn’t.

Person 1: Wow, that’s rather rude.

Person 2: It’s Don Young.

Young had a weird week. Basically every media outlet reported on his comment about how if more Jews had guns they would have been able to survive the Holocaust.

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URSA Optical

What Would Trump’s Nickname Be

We all know how Trump assigns nicknames to his political enemies. This got me thinking, what would he call Alaska’s legislators? We will start featuring several a week until we get through all 60. If you have any ideas, send me an email at jeff@alaskalandmine.com

Senator Cathy Giessel – Condescending Cathy

Senator Peter Micciche – Snowflake Peter Micciche

Senator Bill Wielechowski – Baby Face Bill

Representative Les Gara – Whiney Les Gara

Representative Gabrielle LeDoux – Goofy Gabby

Other Happenings

Jonathon Taylor, Governor Bill Walker’s Deputy Press Secretary, announced he was leaving his job to take the position of Communications Director for the Department of Public Safety. Congrats on the new role Jonathan. I’m standing by for a full debrief on the inner workings of the Walker administration…

Assemblyman Felix Rivera might have a busy summer. He is considering running against Representative Chris Birch (R – Anchorage) for the senate seat Kevin Meyer (R – Anchorage) is vacating to run for lieutenant governor. Rivera ran against Meyer in 2014 but it wasn’t pretty, he lost 70%-30%. But since then he has been elected to the Anchorage Assembly. If he does decide to run, look for the Democrats to put money into that race.

Many are speculating that Jesse Kiehl will run for the senate seat currently occupied by Senator Dennis Egan (D – Juneau). Egan recently announced he is retiring and will not seek re-election. Kiehl, a Democrat, is on the Juneau Assembly, and also works on Egan’s staff. If he decides to run, he will need to quit his legislative job.

Sources tell me that Sean Parnell is actually thinking about getting into the governor’s race. Parnell previously said that he is focusing on his law practice and has no desire to run for office again. But now it sounds like he may be reconsidering. Sean, take my advice, stay away from it buddy. The filing deadline is June 1. It will be nice when the damn field is set so we can all stop speculating.

The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce held a mayoral candidate forum on Monday (2/26/2018). It was quite the bizarre event. This Landmine article sums it up:

Anchorage Chamber Mayoral Candidate Forum – Truly Bizarre

Let’s just say we have some real characters in Alaska politics. My favorite part is when it was suggested we build a zip line between Anchorage and Point Mackenzie to get people back and forth.

On Friday (3/2/2018) the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce board voted to support the ballot proposition for the sale of Municipal Light and Power (ML&P) to Chugach Electric. Word is some board members had concerns precipitating a long discussion before the vote. The proposition authorizes the sale but does not mandate it. A final sales agreement would need to be negotiated and the deal would still be contingent on approval by the Anchorage Assembly, Chugach Electric board of directors, and the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.

Some unlikely politicos have come out against the sale of ML&P to Chugach Electric. Mostly because Mayor Ethan Berkowitz proposed it and, well, this is politics. If a conservative mayor had promoted the deal, I guarantee these same people would be all for it.

Candidate for state house Anthony Lekanof, a 21-year-old Republican, had a rough week. He posted this on his Facebook page on Monday (2/26/2018):

I’m sure his opponent, Representative Harriet Drummond (D – Anchorage) will have some fun with this closer to the election. A mailer comes to mind “This guy is DEFINITELY ready for Juneau!”

Check out this Craigslist post from Homer. What do you think this “responsible individual” is looking to do in the boat? I doubt it’s to read.

McGinley’s Pub in downtown Anchorage caught fire this week. I happened to be down there and did a Facebook live video. The Landmine’s got you! The road was blocked and there were multiple ambulances and firetrucks present. Luckily no one was hurt. Not sure on the extent of the damage but it didn’t look good. Former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan is a part owner of the bar. He was definitely not a friend of the unions. This comment won the internet this week:

Mayor Ethan Berkowitz held a fundraiser on Wednesday (2/28/2018) at the very awesome downtown home of Zack Fields and Khailal Withen. The food and drink game was strong and it was a packed house. Anchorage Assemblymen Chris Constant, Pete Petersen, and John Weddleton were all in attendance.

The Anchorage Caucus met on Saturday at UAA. The caucus is made up of all Anchorage legislators. The Landmine will post an article with more information about the event soon. But a few things are worth noting. One, several legislators were absent. Two, this year the caucus was broken up into legislative districts rather than having all the legislators together in one room to hear from Anchorage residents. I prefer the old format. It allows everyone to express their anger and embarrass the legislators in a large group setting. It’s much more entertaining.

This Week’s Loose Unit

This was another tough week to choose, as again, there were several deserving candidates. Appointing a daily Loose Unit would definitely be doable. This week’s winner is Representative Lora Reinbold (R – Eagle River). It was only a matter of time. During the House Judiciary Committee hearing on a bill allowing judges to issue protective orders taking guns away from crazy people, things got weird. Unusually, Reinbold took it upon herself to question numerous members of the public testifying in support of the bill, including high school students.

Committee Chairman, Representative Matt Claman (D – Anchorage), had to continually tell Reinbold to actually ask a question because she kept going off on pro-gun rants. You can see and hear how mad Claman was getting. He was noticeably irritated about her making statements and not asking questions. At one point he allowed her to ask a follow up question to a high school student but told her, “You may disagree with his perspective but get to your question.”

The best part was when a high school student testifying in favor of the bill stated that metal detectors are not a good solution. Reinbold disparagingly asked the kid if he had done any research on the effectiveness of metal detectors. Turns out he had! He referenced a study on the TSA in which they missed 95% of threats. He also mentioned how we have to take our shoes off because they missed the shoe bomber and called it security theater. But Reinbold was not done. She started talking about a recent self-defense course she took and her new “heightened awareness. “The student responded by saying he understands the need for heightened awareness but that he should not have to worry about someone coming in and shooting him while he is in school.

The interaction continued! Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D – Sitka) asked a follow up question and the student had to be called back. When he was done answering, Reinbold asked if she could ask yet another question. Claman let out a three second sigh, to which Reinbold angrily said, Yes or no?” He allowed her, but asked that she not turn it into a constitutional debate. Then she asked the student his thoughts on judges being able to diagnose mental health issues. Keep in mind this dude is still in high school. Damn, what a Loose Unit.

You can watch the entire interaction by clicking the link below. It’s definitely worth watching.

Reinbold questions high school student

If you have a nomination for This Week’s Loose Unit, or if you have any political news, stories or gossip (or any old pics of politicians or public officials) please email me at jeff@alaskalandmine.com.

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