I am writing this week’s column from the Bay Area in California. A friend and I are down here visiting a buddy who moved here last year. The timing is awesome considering the current blizzard in Anchorage. I spent Saturday checking out Alcatraz. Someone took a pic of me and some friends, zoomed in on just me, and sent with the caption, “This is what happens when you don’t sign the Dunleavy loyalty pledge.”
One major difference between Northern California and Alaska is definitely fashion. Check out the pants and shoes of this couple I saw on the ferry over to Alcatraz!
Governor Mike Dunleavy (R- Alaska) made some more appointments this week to the Department of Fish and Game. They included longtime conservative talk radio host, Rick Rydell (whose real last name is Green), Ben Mulligan, and Eddie Grasser. Green was named special assistant to Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang. Green’s appointment triggered Democrats and progressives all over the state. His last radio show was this week. He will be missed by many, including me. KENI, call me maybe?
Mulligan, who I have never met before but loves to tell people how much he hates me, was named Deputy Commissioner of Fish and Game. He comes from the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce. Mulligan looks like the guy in college who really wanted to be in a fraternity but couldn’t make it through pledge week. I’m sure he will fit in just fine. See below pic.
Eddie Grasser was named Director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation. Grasser is from the Valley. He has been involved in fish and game issues for many years. He applied to take Dunleavy’s senate seat after Dunleavy resigned to run for governor. What the Dunleavy administration left out in their announcement is that Grasser is Mulligan’s uncle. Drain that swamp!
Stand for Alaska, the group that opposed and absolutely slaughtered Stand for Salmon, held their big victory party this week in Anchorage at the Captain Cook. It was a fun, packed event with all the usual resource folks in attendance. They even had an open bar! I’m sure they had a few extra dollars left over from the campaign to spend.
The Dunleavy administration released their budget this week. It was basically the same as Walker’s budget but with a real nice kicker, a $3,000 dividend instead of the $1,800 Walker proposed. Still no word on the back pay of the previous dividends Dunleavy promised… The extra money for the dividend adds nearly $800 million to the deficit. This is just the initial budget though, it will be changed and altered over the course of the next session. Let the cutting begin, Donna!
Campaign season for Anchorage’s April municipal election is getting under way. Five of the 11 Assembly seats are up.
- Chugiak – Amy Demboski, who recently resigned to take a job with the Dunleavy administration, will soon be replaced by the Assembly. That person will serve out her term.
- West Anchorage – Eric Croft has announced he won’t run. Word is he is now living downtown. Former Anchorage School Board member Kameron Perez-Verdia has announced he will run for the seat. Croft has endorsed him.
- Midtown – Dick Traini is termed out. Megan Zalatel has filed to run for the seat. I don’t know her but I hear she is very progressive.
- East Anchorage – Forrest Dunbar is up and already campaigning. So far no one has filed against him but there surely will be.
- South Anchorage – John Weddleton is already hitting the doors and going hard. So far no opponent for him either.
The Anchorage Assembly will take up Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s controversial alcohol tax at their Tuesday meeting. If it gets eight votes it will appear on the April ballot, where it will require a majority of voters to pass. The Landmine broke the story this week that Brown Jug sent a letter to Berkowitz supporting the tax. Click here to read about it. Drinkers beware – if this passes the cost of that adult beverage is about to go up. If it appears on the April ballot, look forward to a very intense campaign.
This Week’s Loose Unit
This week was a no brainer. This week’s Loose Unit is Eagle River Republicans. If you hadn’t heard about the meeting they held in Eagle River on Tuesday (12/11/2018), you definitely missed out. The main goal of the meeting was to decide on three names to send to Governor Dunleavy to replace former Representative Dan Saddler, who resigned last week to take a job with in the Department of Natural Resources. The real reason he resigned was so Republicans could get names to Dunleavy to pick someone to replace him, who they would have argued would have been the same person that would replace Representative-elect Nancy Dahlstrom, who Dunleavy appointed Commissioner of the Department of Corrections. Her appointment created an odd situation for House Republicans, who needed that seat to have a majority, which they had at 21. But then Representative Gary Knopp (R – Kenai) bailed from the Republicans the day after Saddler resigned. What the hell is going on in Eagle River? That was all very loose but things got way looser after all of that.
Before the meeting happened, a copy of the agenda got in the hands of labor leaders. There were some labor and education resolutions that really pissed them off. They sent out an action alert about the meeting. It was shaping up to get real loose. The meeting was packed with Republicans. When I walked in some guy thought I was union boss Vince Beltrami. I think he wanted to fight me. They ended up tabling everything on the agenda, except choosing the three names to send to Dunleavy. Now it started to get real loose.
Saddler represented District 13. Oh, they also decided they were no longer replacing Saddler, just Dahlstrom. The seat will remain vacant until then. Eagle River Republicans have some kind of deal where they have a joint District between Districts 13 and 14. According to Saddler, this happened years ago for normal business purposes because they could not get enough people to meet. A bunch of people from District 14, including Representative Lora Reinbold (R – Eagle River) wanted a say in the names District 13 sent to Dunleavy. So loose. The meeting had more than double the number of people from District 14 than District 13. The arguing about whether District 14 people could have a say started immediately.
There was a motion to only let people from District 13 have a say in the three names to send to Dunleavy (there were five candidates). That was heavily debated. Then someone introduced an amendment to the motion that said District 13 would vote, and then there would be a combined vote, and then both of those vote totals would go to Dunleavy. So loose. Even Alaska Republican Party Chairman Glenn Clary was against District 14 having a say. He said this would be resolved at the next central committee meeting. Nonetheless, that amendment, and the original motion failed. So the votes of the names to send to Dunleavy to replace Dahlstrom, from District 13, came from people in Districts 13 and 14. Loose!
From there it got much more entertaining. One of the candidates, Craig Christensen, who ran in the primary against Dahlstrom in August actually had the proxy vote for Lora Reinbold. You can’t make this stuff up. Another candidate, Bill Cook, who also ran in the August primary, opened with, “It’s great to be in a room with fellow deplorables!” Sharon Jackson, who ran for lieutenant governor, was very vocal about District 14 people having a say in the vote. Ken McCarty was calling in from Costa Rica via Skype. He was actually on a computer screen that was placed where he was supposed to be sitting. The best part about him was he was calling in from Costa Rica where he was getting a hip replacement. He was talking about how great the healthcare is there and how much cheaper it is. He was also railing about Medicaid in Alaska. Does he not realize Costa Rica has universal healthcare? So loose.
The entire meeting was extremely entertaining and extremely loose. So much more happened but it would take another thousand words to explain it all. I live tweeted the whole thing if you want to read more about it. My Twitter handle is @JeffLandfield. The three names they decided to send to Dunleavy were Sharon Jackson, Craig Christensen, and Clayton Trotter. I think they should have a special election to decide. After all, the person is going to serve for the entire term. The whole thing is one hell of a loose situation.
I will be taking the next two weeks off for Christmas and New Years. Happy New Year! See you all in 2019. And don’t forget, if you like what we do at the Landmine, considering buying an ad or supporting us with a financial contribution. It takes a lot of work to keep this thing going. If you want to contribute, click the Support menu item above.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.