It’s mid-July and while a large portion of the United States is experiencing extremely hot temperatures, much of Alaska remains cold and rainy. So much for a great summer after the winter we had to go through. Republican Nick Begich announced he will again challenge Representative Mary Peltola (D – Alaska) for Alaska’s sole House seat. The Anchorage Assembly and Mayor Dave Bronson continue to try and do something to improve the serious homelessness issue. The Alaska Railroad celebrated their 100th anniversary this week in Nenana. And several politicos are on the move with new jobs.
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Alaska Railroad Turns 100
The Alaska Railroad celebrated their 100th anniversary in Nenana on Saturday. On July 15, 1923, President Warren Harding drove a ceremonial golden spike in Nenana to officially open the 470 mile railroad from Fairbanks to Seward. The State of Alaska purchased the railroad from the federal government in 1985 and has run it since.
Several elected officials rode up on the train for the large event. One person in attendance noted that many of the tourists on the train looked confused when they got to Nenana. Speakers included Governor Mike Dunleavy (R – Alaska), Senator Dan Sullivan (R – Alaska), Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson, Fairbanks Mayor Dave Pruhs, and Railroad President & CEO Bill O’Leary. Several legislators presented the railroad with a legislative citation.
Politicos on the Move
Several politicos are on the move, most with new jobs in Alaska or D.C. And one is headed to law school!
- Joe Plesha left his job as a legislative staffer to become Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (R – Alaska) new D.C. based communications director. He replaces Karina Borger, who had the job for eight years. The question is will Plesha continue to rock his mustache in D.C.?
- TJ Presley also has a new job in D.C. He was hired as the director of government affairs for the ANCSA Regional Association. Presley ran the Walker/Drygas campaign last year, and prior to that was a legislative staffer.
- Josh Walton is leaving his job as a legislative staffer to Representative Laddie Shaw (R – Anchorage) to run Nick Begich’s second campaign for U.S. House. Walton has worked as a staffer for several for several legislators since 2011. He will be missed at skits!
- Corey Allen Young and Hans Rodvik are both leaving their communication roles for Mayor Dave Bronson and moving to the Anchorage School District. A statement they released said they are not leaving until August or September so replacements can be found.
- Emma Potter left her job as a legislative staffer to Senator Matt Claman (D – Anchorage) to attend law school at the University of Arizona. Good luck, Emma! She has worked as as legislative staffer since 2021. She says she plans on coming back to Alaska after law school.
The anti-ranked choice voting group has an extremely weird Twitter account. If you desire some entertainment, I highly suggest reading some of their tweets. Here is a recent one where they compare their efforts to the American sinking of the battleship Yamato during WWII. You can’t make this shit up.
These multi-millionaire backed Pro-RCV groups remind me of the arrogance of the Japanese Empire during WWII, both the Germans and Japanese built the most powerful battleships ever built. Yet they did not think about all the potential issues like air bombardment, which ultimately…
— Alaskans For Honest Elections Bill 22AKHE (@907Honest) July 16, 2023
This is interesting. Former Judge Margaret Murphy was indicated by a grand jury for perjury in May. The state refuses to give any information about why she was charged. Murphy, who hired a lawyer, should have the information from the grand jury about why they charged her with perjury, but has also not shared it. Now she has filed for a protective order against a man named Matthew Smith. The whole thing is very strange.
Former Judge Margaret Murphy, who was indicted by a grand jury for perjury (that the state or special prosecutor refuses to provide any information about) recently filed a protective order against a man named Matthew Smith. Short term was denied. No decision on long term. #akleg pic.twitter.com/mb2rpGMDDq
— The Alaska Landmine (@alaskalandmine) July 14, 2023
Check out this video where Congresswoman Summer Lee (D – PA) asks a Department of Defense official about how much they spent on Alaska king crab in 2018. DOD must really like Alaska king crab!
Me: How much did the Department of Defense spend on snow crab and Alaskan king crab in 2018?
DoD: I don’t have that amount
Me: $2.3 million. Do you know how much Pgh spends each year on our unhoused folks? Only $1.2 million & they’re not being served gourmet seafood. pic.twitter.com/TxpmvOlCpX
— Congresswoman Summer Lee (@RepSummerLee) July 13, 2023
This Week’s Loose Unit
This week’s designee became apparent during Tuesday’s Anchorage Assembly meeting. This week’s Loose Unit is Assembly member Meg Zaletel. During debate on allowed homeless camps (it got changed from designated to allowed for whatever reason) in Anchorage, things got very loose.
In response to a comment from Assembly member Kameron Perez-Verdia about who should be leading this effort, Assembly member Daniel Volland read from a report from the Allowed Camps Task Force, which the Assembly accepted earlier in the meeting. Volland seemed annoyed that Perez-Verdia either discounted or was not familiar with the report. Volland read from a long list of individuals and groups that participated. These included Assembly members, community council members, legislators, the Anchorage Health Department, RuralCAP, many others, and… the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness, of which Zaletel is the executive director.
Zaletel immediately interrupted Volland, saying she earlier stated they were not involved. Volland said, “You’re listed here. Somebody showed up! Maybe you want to correct the record.” Zaletel then requested a break so she could figure out whether or not they participated. Very loose. If they did, she said she would have to recuse herself from the debate and vote.
After a long break, Zaletel came back and said it turns out that not only one, but two employees of the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness participated in the task force! Very loose. She even threw one under the bus, saying they were not given any direction by the coalition to participate. Keep in mind Zaletel is the executive director of the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness. How is she not aware of what her staff are doing? And yes, she recently took a mental health break in Europe. But if she had bothered to read the report, which the Assembly already accepted, she would have seen the name of the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness employee who participated. Classic Loose Unit behavior.
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 email@example.com.