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The Sunday Minefield – April 15, 2018

Today (4/15/2018) marks the 90th day of the “90-day” legislative session! They have once again failed to finish in the voter mandated 90 days, but don’t expect them to go too much longer. After all, many of them have to go campaign. They are constitutionally allowed to extend to 120 days. The Landmine predicts they will be out on day 109.

Also, it’s April 15, folks! Also known as tax day. But don’t worry, the deadline this year is April 17. So you have two more days to file those taxes, slackers.

The Legislature

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Darden

The legislature held a joint session this week to vote on Governor Bill Walker’s appointees to various positions. All but one of his 99 appointees were confirmed. Kenni Linden of Palmer was rejected. Walker appointed her to the Board of Certified Direct-Entry Midwives as its public member. Many conservatives were not happy that she once worked for Planned Parenthood. What a shocker! She failed to be confirmed by a 32-28 vote. Bill, if you are looking for someone to fill the seat, call me maybe?

One interesting confirmation vote on a commissioner was 59-1. See This Week’s Loose Unit below for more info on that.

Representative David Eastman (R – Wasilla) went full Eastman regarding the appointees. On his “Representative Eastman’s Alerts” Facebook page (yes that is real) he posted the name of every appointee along with their picture and resume. He asked people to comment and let him know what they thought. Creative but also kind of weird, David. Check out his profile pic on that page. Intense.

The senate passed an operating budget this week. It went over to the house for concurrence, which passed an operating budget a few weeks ago. Because the house did not agree with the changes, which is common, it will now go to a conference committee. This is made up of members from both bodies. They produce a final operating budget, which is then voted on by both bodies. This is an up or down vote.

The issue to watch will definitely be how the legislature plans to fund the deficit. Both bodies voted to take $1.7 billion out of the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve to help fund the deficit. But only the senate voted to take money out the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR). A draw on the earnings reserve only requires a simple majority while a CBR draw requires a 3/4 vote. That means 30 in the house and 15 in the senate. The House Majority is currently at 21 (also see This Week’s Loose Unit on that) and the Senate Majority is at 13. The CBR is almost tapped (good fiscal planning, legislators) so the earnings reserve is the only other place to easily get money. Watch for the dividend people to lose their minds in the coming weeks.

Senator Anna MacKinnon (R – Eagle River) got extremely emotional on the senate floor last week while speaking about the budget. She spoke of the role of the minority, tough fiscal decisions, division in our state, and the lack of a fiscal plan. She went on to say how tough it is being in the majority. Boo hoo. She really lost it while talking about the dividend. She was so emotional they actually had to take an at ease to allow her to compose herself. She also said the majority needs the help of the minority on a bill. Alienating them for the last several years was probably not the best way to get them to jump up to help out. What she left out of her speech is that she has been in the majority in both bodies over the last ten years and literally voted for every single operating and capital budget during that time. Some of them were WAY larger than the current one. Maybe she finally realized the decisions she has made over the years has helped get us in this mess. Check out the whole thing here:

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Stand For AK

Senator MacKinnon speaking about the budget 

There has been more drama this week on the bill to name the “dating violence” part of the Alaska Safe Children’s Act as Bree’s Law. After a mini mutiny in the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, the bill was moved out of the committee to the senate floor for a vote. Well it was supposed to. Senate President Pete Kelly (R – Fairbanks) decided instead to refer it to the Senate Finance Committee, even though the bill has no fiscal component. Rumor is some legislators are unhappy with how Butch Moore has been interacting with them, but they aren’t willing to say it publicly. Butch is the father of Bree, who was murdered by her boyfriend in 2014. The only thing we know for sure is how bizarre the whole thing is. Senate – just pass the bill.

One thing you can always count is conservatives turning on their own. After the Senate Judiciary Committee drama last week, Senator John Coghill (R – North Pole), one of the most conservative members of the senate, made some enemies. A “Recall Senator John Coghill” Facebook page was recently started and it already has 277 likes, many of them from very conservative folks. This about sums it up:

There was a going away party this week for Senators Berta Gardner (D – Anchorage) and Dennis Egan (D – Juneau). Both are retiring and not running for re-election. Best of luck to both of them. Representative Geran Tarr (D – Anchorage) seems to be counting down the seconds until they are gone.

Jeremy Price, the State Director for Americans for Prosperity, was in Juneau this week advocating for some legislation. Check out this pic of him testifying:

Not sure what’s up with the tie. This is common to see in the wind or in urinal while taking a piss, not so much while testifying before a committee. Jeremy, I can set you up with a fashion consult with my man Andrew Halcro if you’re interested. I know you are a big fan! Let me know.

Other Happenings

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Stand For AK

Presented without comment. Ok, just one. Oh Dear God

Fashion aficionado Andrew Halcro, Executive Director of the Anchorage Community Development Authority, spoke this week at the Anchorage Chamber’s ‘Make it Monday’ forum about the Downtown Transit Center redevelopment and other downtown initiatives. He opened by commenting on the recent election results, and said how happy he was to still have a job that Mayor Ethan Berkowitz was elected to another three-year term. As the weather warms up there are lots of innovative options for recreation on top of select parking garages, as well as the food trucks at K Street Eats. However, as one disgruntled Easy Park customer remarked, you can shoot hoops and ice skate on top of a parking garage but I still can’t pay my damn bill online. Yikes. On a more positive note, my man was looking fly as hell. That turtleneck tho!

If you have been around politics at all, you know there is always some drama surrounding political signs. The first incident of the 2018 election season happened this week. Anchorage mayoral candidate Nelson Jesus Godoy posted pictures and a video on Facebook of one of his 4X8 signs. Someone covered it up with a Walker/Mallott sign. Judging by his post, Godoy was very upset about what happened.

Someone tagged me in one of the posts and nominated Walker for this week’s Loose Unit. I had a hard time believing the altered sign was malicious. Later in the week, Godoy posted on Facebook that Walker had called him to apologize about the mix up. Godoy also included Walker’s cell phone number in the post. Very classy, Nelson

I spoke to the Walker campaign and they explained it was a mistake. They also confirmed Walker had called Godoy to apologize for the mix up. They have an arrangement to purchase the sign stands of some municipal candidates, which is common (I sold all my 4X8 stands to another candidate after my campaign). One of their volunteers mistakenly used one of Godoy’s signs. Godoy tried to make this something way bigger than it is. Which probably partially explains why he only got 445 votes, or 0.58%. Perennial candidate and guy with the most memorable signs, Dustin Darden, got nearly four times that. And his signs are way cooler.

Longtime Republican Sharon Jackson finally filed to run for lieutenant governor on Thursday (4/12/2018). Rumors about her running have been swirling around for the past month, but she was working for Senator Dan Sullivan (R – Alaska) and probably wanted to wait to file until she left that job. This makes five on the GOP side in the lieutenant governor’s race. This race is ripe for Landfield to jump into! It could sure use some energy.

Representative Jennifer Johnston (R – Anchorage) picked up an opponent this week as Democrat Amber Lee filed to run against her. According to her website, “Amber Lee has lived in Alaska for the past 25 years. Originally from Ohio, Amber Lee has made her home in Anchorage, where she’s a successful business woman and doting mother to two boys.” Look for more people to file for office as the June 1 filing deadline is fast approaching.

What’s Going on in Sand Lake

Looks like the President of the Sand Lake Community Council, Nikki Rose, still has it out for former SLCC president, now Representative Jason Grenn (I – Anchorage). In a series of Facebook posts this week she thanked all elected officials in the Sand Lake area for their help on a project—everyone except for Grenn. Funny thing is Grenn was SLCC President when work on the project began. He is even in the photo montage on her thank you post. SAD!

Apparently his work as SLCC president only counts when she can write something negative, because later that week Rose identified Grenn by name as the cause of an old community council website issue. When a Sand Lake resident emailed her with a correction to her post she doubled down and refused to correct the post or remove his name.

Rose previously was a signer on an improperly filed recall petition against Grenn. After he was elected to the house the council was taken over by several conservatives who rarely (if ever) attended prior meetings. The council’s vice president is Hans Rodvik, the guy responsible for the guns on campus bill while interning for Senator John Coghill (R – North Pole). Former Representative Liz Vazquez, who used to hold Grenn’s seat, and is currently running as a Republican for the seat, is the Neighborhood Crime Watch Chair. While comparatively normal Sara Rasmussen, who is running against Vazquez in the Republican primary, serves as secretary.

The council has shown a pattern of rude and aggressive behavior towards Grenn. They’ve hung up on him after his call-in reports from Juneau so he couldn’t participate in the rest of meetings, and Q&A sessions have become contentious, especially compared to treatment of other elected officials in the district. Then there’s the recall. Back in July, a group, which included several community council members, filed a recall petition against Grenn that accused him of incompetence, lack of fitness, and neglect of duties. Problem was they filed it with the Municipality of Anchorage and Grenn is a State legislator. You can’t make this stuff up. Talk about incompetence! One Sand Lake resident told me they weren’t planning on voting for Grenn but are now after witnessing, “How these absolute psychos in the community council operate.”

Word is Rose is preparing to run for municipal office in the next couple of years. If this week is any indication, she’s sure to provide the Landmine with tons of material. #LooseUnit

This Week’s Loose Unit

This Week’s Loose Unit has had a rough session in Juneau. He was nearly the Loose Unit a few times already but was narrowly defeated in each instance. Not this week! This Week’s Loose Unit is Representative Sam Kito (D – Juneau). You may recall when Kito got angry about some chairs outside his office earlier this year and flipped them over in protest. He has also managed to grow an epic beard this session. The erratic behavior has continued. Earlier this week, Kito was the lone vote, 59-1, against confirming Leslie Ridle as Commissioner of Administration. That alone is pretty loose, but what makes it even more loose is that they have been friends for nearly 25 years. My guess is they are probably “friends off” for a while. Kito has long been upset about a decision to reduce the per diem amount for Juneau legislators. Word is he partly blames Ridle for the decision, although she had nothing to do with it.

And we are just getting started. Kito walked out of a House Rules Committee meeting this week after Rules Chair Gabrielle LeDoux (R – Anchorage) refused to hear public testimony on a smoking bill. Soon after, he announced he was not just leaving the committee, he was also leaving the House Majority altogether! Damn. This leaves them at only 21, the minimum needed to have a majority. Classic Loose Unit move. Kito has been at odds with the majority for much of the session and announced earlier this year that he won’t run for re-election. Kito could definitely use a long vacation after his time in the in the legislature is done. Sam, if you want to go to Vegas just let me know buddy.

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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