I hope everyone enjoyed the awesome weekend! It was probably the best one yet this summer. This week’s column is a day late due to weekend enjoyment. It was another slow week in Alaska politics. Governor Mike Dunleavy (R – Alaska) met with his cabinet in Fairbanks. And Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson is already facing off with the Anchorage Assembly over his homelessness plan.
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Governor Dunleavy’s cabinet met in Fairbanks this week. His commissioners held meetings with “stakeholders” and then the cabinet met in person. Even Lieutenant Governor Kevin Meyer (R – Alaska) was there! Dunleavy will be holding another cabinet meeting in Kenai. He has not yet filed for reelection, but based on these cabinet meetings being publicized, my bet is that he files by the end of summer. Interestingly, the only person so far who has filed to run for governor is Libertarian Billy Toien. He’s quite the character. Kevin Meyer has filed for lieutenant governor, but under the new voting system the gubernatorial candidate chooses his/her running mate.
Today, my cabinet reconvened in person as a unified force looking toward fiscal stability, better connecting with Alaskans, and establishing priorities for the forthcoming legislative session. https://t.co/tYNWctF3KB#akgov #alaska #akleg pic.twitter.com/gpT3UUgGA3
— Governor Mike Dunleavy (@GovDunleavy) July 15, 2021
Representatives Matt Claman (D – Anchorage) and Mike Cronk (R – Tok/Northway) filed letters of intent this week. Neither indicated an office, meaning they can raise money for any office until they officially declare with the Division of Elections. Due to redistricting, all the districts are going to change next year.
Members of the Redistricting Board met last week in Salt Lake City at the National Conference of State Legislatures Redistricting Seminar. Fun fact, in most states the legislatures draw the new lines. Imagine if we did that… Once they board receives the census data, they have 30 days to produce preliminary maps. It looks like they should receive the data by the end of August. It would have been sooner but COVID delayed it. After the maps come out there is a 60-day public comment period. When that is done, the board has to produce a final map. Then there is a 30-day period for people to file legal challenges. If the census data comes out at the end of August, a final map will be out by the end of November. Then it’s up to the courts. There will definitely be legal challenges.
Speaking of the Redistricting Board, Juli Lucky left her job as a staffer to Senator Natasha von Imhof (R – Anchorage) and is now working for the Redistricting Board. Congrats, Juli!
Things got contentious at the Anchorage Assembly meeting last week. After Mayor Bronson nixed the Assembly’s plan to purchase the Alaska Club on Tudor, he failed to get the three members necessary to introduce his plan to build a homeless shelter in East Anchorage. In fact, the only person to support introducing it was Assemblymember John Weddleton. Really loose. Bronson is getting a crash course in politics. This does not mean either plan is dead, they are now working on a unified path to move forward. Keep in mind, the temporary shelter at the Sullivan Arena is set to lose some federal funding at the end of September.
The Anchorage Daily News editorial board put out this editorial after the Assembly meeting, “The real cost of Assembly inaction on homelessness.” It includes:
The Sullivan Arena has been in operation as a mass shelter for nearly a year and a half, and in a matter of weeks, funding for its continued operation is set to run out. Inaction — the course that the Assembly has charted for more than a year — is no longer an option. Continuing with the Sullivan as a mass shelter despite its obvious shortcomings and significant expense is similarly irresponsible.
They should have mentioned that ADN President Ryan Binkley is part owner of the new Anchorage Wolverines hockey team that will be using the Sullivan Arena, and therefore has an incentive that it is not used as a homeless shelter.
The Legislature’s fiscal plan working group met in Anchorage on July 14. If you missed it you can watch any budget presentation before either of the finance committees going back two decades. Nothing has really changed except the people. They have another meeting scheduled tomorrow at 3 pm at the Anchorage LIO.
If you want to see a place where the state could generate more revenue without adding new revenues, check out the Indirect Expenditure Report. This report is a “provision of state law that results in foregone revenue to the state to serve a certain public policy purpose.” So, this is money the state would get but does not get because of things like Cook Inlet royalty reductions, free hunting/fishing licenses for seniors, and discounts on alcohol tax for breweries, to name only a few.
This Week’s Loose Unit
Some weeks are easy. This was one of those weeks. This week’s Loose Unit is U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka. On Thursday, Tshibaka posted a campaign video at “fish camp” with her family. But there was just one little problem. She was at a commercial set net site owned by former Alaska Lieutenant Governor Loren Leman. But that is just the beginning. In the video, Tshibaka can be seen pulling fish out of a net and throwing them in a brailer bag. I sent a records request to Fish and Game to see if she holds a commercial crew license, or any fishing license. The fish in the video are then sold to a tender. The owner of the tender in the video, the Anna Lane, did not give permission to be in the video. And he said if they would have asked he would have said no because he supports Lisa Murkowski! Extremely loose. This Landmine article explains the whole thing.
There’s loose, and then there is staging a “fish camp” campaign video at a commercial set net site two years after coming back to Alaska after living in D.C. for nearly two decades loose. By the way, the reason the video includes over two minutes of b-roll is so PACs can take the video and use it in their own ads. This is a trick campaigns have figured out.
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 protected]