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We Build Alaska

The Sunday Minefield – September 10, 2023

I am writing this column from aboard the MS Noordam in Whittier! I went on a cruise last year on the same ship form Whittier to Vancouver (thanks Scott McMurren for advertising that great deal for Alaskans). If you ever go on a cruise, make sure to get a bit loose in the casino and then you will get tons of great offers like the one I am using right now. Shout out Holland America for being so awesome. We depart 8 pm!

Fall is definitely in the air in Whittier. Termination dust has appeared and snow will be here before we know it. The big political news this week was the lawsuit filed against the Municipality of Anchorage and Mayor Dave Bronson (see this week’s Loose Unit for more on that). The Biden administration abruptly canceled AIDEA’s oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). President Joe Biden will give remarks on the anniversary of 9/11 tomorrow from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER). Governor Mike Dunleavy (R – Alaska) made two big appointments this week. And another big name will jump into the Anchorage mayoral race this week.

A friendly message and reminder to all our readers. The Landmine is made possible by myself and a team of awesome Alaskans. I recently got back from Juneau for my fifth session in a row reporting on the Legislature. If you enjoy the content we provide, please consider making a one time or recurring monthly donation. You can click here to donate. We have a donation system that makes it super easy. We would really appreciate it. And thanks to everyone who has been supportive!

ANWR Leases Cancelled

President Biden’s Department of Interior Sectary Deb Haaland abruptly announced the cancellation of AIDEA’s ANWR oil and gas leases, obtained in 2020. This comes months after they approved ConocoPhillips’ Willow project. It was likely done to appease radical environmentalists and progressives who lost it over the Willow project approval.

Truth be told, AIDEA is not going to explore for oil in ANWR, they don’t have the knowledge or money. And most oil companies are not that interested in ANWR anyway. So while cancelling the leases in itself it not a major deal, the signal it sends is not good.

In a press release, AIDEA says they plan on suing over the decision. “Interior’s action leaves AIDEA one choice, we have to go to court to protect our rights in the ANWR leases. This time, we will ask the court to allow us to conduct discovery that could include taking the deposition of Biden’s messenger, Secretary Haaland and possibly other administration officials involved so the real motives are made public.”

Other Happenings

President Biden will be giving remarks about the anniversary of 9/11 at 12:15 pm Alaska time from JBER. You can watch it here on C-SPAN. He will be flying in on Air Force One, a 747 that requires jet fuel that comes from oil. Lots of irony there after cancelling the ANRW leases.

Governor Dunleavy named Transportation Commissioner Ryan Anderson to the Permanent Fund Board of Trustees as one of the board’s commissioner spots. He replaces Jason Brune, who held a commissioner spot when he was Environmental Conservation commissioner. Two spots on the six-member board must be held by department heads, one of which must be the Revenue commissioner. After Brune resigned as Environmental Conservation commissioner, Dunleavy appointed him to one of the board’s public seats.

Dunleavy also named Steve Colligan to the University of Alaska Board of Regents. He replaces Tuckerman Babcock, who unexpectedly resigned early last month. Babcock had replaced Bethany Marcum, who the Legislature rejected. Colligan is a good pick who will have no trouble getting confirmed. He has a background in IT, GIS, and unmanned aircraft. I’ve dealt with him over the years, mostly buying political maps. He’s extremely smart and professional.

Congrats to Grace Kubitz on her new job in D.C. with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R – Alaska)!

Bill Popp, who served as president and CEO of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) since 2007, will be filing to run for Anchorage mayor this week. Popp has long been rumored to run for mayor, and he left AEDC this week to “pursue other opportunities,” according to a press release from them. Jenna Wright, who has served as vice president since June 2022, has been named interim president and CEO while the “Board of Directors conducts a national recruitment effort for a successor to longtime President and CEO Bill Popp.”

Popp will join a field that includes Mayor Bronson, former Assembly member Suzanne LaFrance, former Representative Chris Tuck, and perennial candidate Darin Colbry. The filing deadline is not until January, so expect more people to file. Ballots will go out in March for the April 2, 2024 election. If no candidate gets 45% plus 1, there will be a top-two runoff. I would bet big money there will be a runoff, but the question is who will the top-two be?

This Week’s Loose Unit

This was one of those week’s where the designee was super obvious. This week’s Loose Unit is former municipal manager Amy Demboski. Buckle up because this is loose. Demboski recently filed a lawsuit against Mayor Bronson, the Municipality of Anchorage, and two John Does for wrongful termination. Who could they be?!

Demboski was fired by Bronson in December after calling Purchasing Director Rachelle Alger a “fucking cunt” during an official meeting. Talk about maximum loose behavior. If a political appointee can’t get fired for that, then they can’t get fired for anything.

Demboski’s lawsuit is something else. She alleges a hostile work environment and accuses Bronson of corruption, malfeasance, retaliatory behavior, incompetence, allowing a culture where his appointees can engage in sexual relationships with subordinates, and the list goes on. Demboski tries to portray herself as a victim and whistleblower, which is laughable. Right up until she was fired, Demboski was all on board with Bronson. She would still be there if she was not fired. Demboski is a classis megalomaniac.

Update: Read her complaint here. Very loose!

We don’t have to go back far to understand Demboski’s megalomania. Remember when she tried to cut the feed during the wild Assembly meetings over the mask mandate? Or when she dismissed police and security at one of those meetings. Or early in his term when Bronson said Demboski was really running the city? Demboski claims all this shit was going on WHILE SHE WAS MUNICPAIL MANAGER! That is fucking loose. Demboski’s lawsuit is really just a smear campaign by a disgruntled ex-employee. And it’s also a shake down as she is asking for cash. 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 jeff@alaskalandmine.com.

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rod
8 months ago

Jeff, why do you call we who opposed the Willow project “radical” environmentalists? What’s “radical” about being worried about climate change/global warming? Are the pro-Willow people radical developmentalists?

Marlin Savage
8 months ago
Reply to  rod

The earth has been in flux since day one. The Ice Age glaciers melted and retreated without human intervention. In fact, our ancestors nearly went extinct 900,000 years ago. A new technique analyzing modern genetic data suggests that pre-humans survived in a group of only 1,280 individuals.

Marlin Savage
8 months ago
Reply to  Marlin Savage

Down voting of factual statements is rather telling.

Areal Bilk
8 months ago

I love how right-wingers characterize people who are anti-drilling in the Arctic Refuge as “radical environmentalists” while simultaneously acknowledging that there was zero interest from the industry. Which is it?Maybe the oil industry is against drilling in the refuge because they’re radical environmentalists? The executive order was largely symbolic – only AIDEA held leases in the refuge – and the sole purpose of their leases was to challenge the federal government (and secure millions of dollars in funding from the AK legislature in order to do so). Cancelling these leases will save Alaskans millions of dollars (note that AIDEA was… Read more »

Martin
8 months ago

Jeff, are you still a registered Republican? You have been drifting farther to the extreme right over the past two years. Case in point: “He will be flying in on Air Force One, a 747 that requires jet fuel that comes from oil. Lots of irony there after cancelling the ANRW leases.” Cancelling the ANWR leases that nobody wants anyway is a political fob by both sides. But you forget that throughout his long career in the U.S. Senate, Biden commuted to Washington via Amtrak, a smaller energy footprint than most senators. Your “irony” is misplaced. The President will, by… Read more »

Taku
8 months ago
Reply to  Martin

So, if you commute via Amtrack at some point in your career, then it’s okay to leave a bigger carbon footprint in one flight than most people do in a lifetime? If he was really interested in his carbon footprint, he could make the speech from the White House lawn. And maybe own only one house. Or take an Amtrack train to New York and give the speech at the Twin Towers site. Or take a short drive to the Pentagon and give his 9/11 speech at the crash site there. But an unnecessary flight burning more fossil fuels than… Read more »

Areal Bilk
8 months ago
Reply to  Taku

Biden was in Vietnam yesterday. Air Force One refueled at Elmendorf which is why he gave his speech in Anchorage. its difficult for the president to give a speech on the White House lawn when he isn’t there. 🙄

Taku
8 months ago
Reply to  Areal Bilk

And that trip to Viet Nam was necessary? Because carbon footprint doesn’t matter when important people are doing important things in far away lands?

You see the irony? When one guy tells you not to use fossil fuels, yet flies to the other side of the planet in a 747 to do something that could have been a phone call?

I hope he flew there to tell them not to use fossil fuels. Because that would offset the fossil fuels and CO2 emissions that he produced to get there.

Areal Bilk
8 months ago
Reply to  Taku

It was the G20 summit. And yes it was necessary for the US president to attend.

Taku
8 months ago
Reply to  Areal Bilk

What would the consequences be if he weren’t to attend?

Nunya Bidnaz
8 months ago

Jeff doesn’t seem to think Amy D could be both a victim and a perpetrator. How come?

If anything, it seems MORE likely that someone who perpetrated those sort of strong arm tactics against the Assembly would find themselves on the wrong side of unethical workplace behavior. I hope Bronson countersues and they both trash the other as publicly as possible; those are two political careers that really deserve to be sunk, if they take one another out, it means they can both go out at the pinnacle of their careers!

Floridawoman
8 months ago

Jeff,
I know you would like be considered a journalist and even claim press credentials. However, when you use name calling like Downing, you might not be spreading lies, but you might as well be. Why not just stick to investigative reporting and leaving the name calling to the politicians? Everyone who you disagree with cannot be a radical environmentalist operative megalomaniac…the math just doesn’t add up. If it were not for “radical environmentalist megalomanic” Rachel Carlson we’d likely all be drinking and breathing toxic air. If that is what you mean by radical, then sign me up.

Shelia
8 months ago

Glad to see all of the climate people reading this blog. Do they know that we have only measured temperature for the last 100 years or so? Or that the planet was much warmer in 1000AD or so when the Vikings first put a colony on Greenland, which was named that because it had greenery? The earth goes through temperature phases without much help from humans. But when Black Rock execs get behind the climate change movement and tell the Biden Administration no more fossil fuel, well then that is another matter. Amazing how money acts. We also never hear… Read more »

Floridawoman
8 months ago
Reply to  Shelia

Shelia,
I know it sounds awesome to say good-logical science is being censored because it differs from accepted norms of state media. How about some actual examples of sound scientific manuscripts being censored?

Dan
8 months ago
Reply to  Shelia

Interestingly, 50 years ago it was true to say that “the planet was much warmer during the Medieval Warm Period than now”. That statement isn’t true anymore. We’ve approximately caught up to the MWP as well as the end of the last ice age and must look back to the warming that ushered in the Late Pleistocene (125,000 years ago) to see temperatures that are confidently warmer than today. Most models expect us to reach even those temperatures in my lifetime. We are truly in unchartered waters. Nobody really knows what to do about it, or what the long term… Read more »