Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Picking and Choosing

SOL avoids watching TV and now that the Citizen's United ruling permits unlimited secret money to be dumped into election ads, I'm sure most of you can't wait for the election to be done and the return of the normal TV ads that try to get you to buy things you don't need. I hope you all read Alan Boraas's OpEd piece in the ADN about how our government is a plutocracy. 

Since I am working out-of-town, I already voted using the state's new electronic voting system. As long as my vote is actually going to be counted, it was a very easy process. But isn't it sad that here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, it's also the land of the corporate rules and corrupt politicians? Can one be sure an electronic ballot is actually counted?

Anyway, here's what I was thinking as I cast my vote.

Governor - How can anyone vote for Parnell? The AK National Guard scandal should be enough to make him resign. His refusal to turn over emails related to when he was notified indicate that he chose to ignore the rapes and corruption that were happening.  But that's Parnell's MO - public business is conducted in private. I don't agree with everything Walker has to say, but I do think he is basically an honest person and that is enough a reason to vote for the man.

US Senate - Let's see, Dan Sullivan is against the EPA, so he is OK with polluting our air and water. He filed the state lawsuit to overturn native subsistence rights - crazy! He knows nothing about commercial fishing. He claims MD as his place of residency to avoid taxes. He would be the best candidate the Koch brothers could buy. Begich is a centrist and has done a world of good for Alaska. I'm glad he voted for Obamacare. 

US Representative - Really, how can anyone vote for Don Young? He's racist, ignorant, hateful, corrupt and arrogant - and those are his best qualities. Forrest Dunbar is smart, open-minded and energetic. Read this piece from Stonekettle Station for a well-written take on Dandy Don.

State Senate District O - Peter Micciche is evolving, but he is still a tool for industry and a fool to his own ego. On the plus side, he does support good causes and at least shows up to events where he might not be Mr Popularity. I don't know too much about his opponent, Eric Treider, but I think a vote against Micciche is vote for a good change.

State Representative District 30 - Shauna Thornton has been a refreshing and engaging candidate that has been tireless in her effort to give the central peninsula honest and accountable representation. Her opponent, Kurt Olson is Mike Chenault's Mini-Me. Kurt tried to ramrod HB 77 through, gave himself a back-door payraise where he keeps money that was suppose to go to office supplies. 

Ballot Measure # 2 - just legalize it. Read Marijuana Prohibition is Immoral from the Fairbanks NewsMiner

Ballot Measure # 3 -Raise the minimum wage. There's no reason not to do this. Try living on minimum wage for a year if you think it shouldn't be raised.

Ballot Measure #4  - I actually have mixed feelings on this one. I'm certainly opposed to the Pebble Mine, but who wants politicians involved in decisions that should be made by regulatory agencies and policies already in place?

Please get and vote. All of the candidate choices are between those who support the interests of the rich and powerful over the interests of ordinary people. It matters!









Friday, September 26, 2014

Bear(up) With Me


Tom's Dirty Laundry (Maricopa Monitor)
Like many of you, I know very little about Tom Bearup, Mike Navarre's opponent in the upcoming Kenai Borough's mayoral race.  A quick little search on the internet was revealing.

The most interesting thing was that Tom served as the right-hand man of Sheriff  Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona.  Yes, THAT Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of posse fame that targets brownskin individuals, that has been investigated for corruption, that has had prisoners die in his custody and etc. Tom was instrumental in building up the reputation of Arpaio, but then there was a falling out between the two men, Bearup apparently couldn't take the various abuses that Arpaio had alledgedly committed. Tom ran for Sheriff  against Arpaio and was spanked by Joe. Curiously, Tom was endorsed by the Arizona Tea Party, but to no avail.  You can read more about the dealing between Bearup and Arpaio  here, here, and here. There's an interview with Tom about some of Arpaio's shenanigans here.

A little more digging reveals that Bearup was previously fired from a supervisor's position at the federal department of Housing and Urban Development. Apparently Tom was on default on his own HUD home loan, but had not reported this conflict to his superiors. To be fair, Tom says he was fired because he was a whistle-blower on some department improprieties, but I couldn't find anything to back up that claim. You can read about that here - but be sure to scroll down to begin the info about Bearup.

Bearup filed for bankruptcy in 2011, but the court rejected his plea. Apparently, the judge felt that Bearup and his wife did not try to settle their debts honorably, but rather used the guise of a ministry to keep from paying the debts they owed. You can see the court document here. Without a doubt, Tom had some health issues that contributed to his financial woes, but the judge pointed out that Tom and his wife came into a bit of money and rather pay down the debt, spent the money on travel and their ministry.

Tom ran for Sheriff of Pinal County Arizona in 2012, but he lost the election. In a bit of a publicity stunt, Tom 'aired his dirty laundry' by actually hanging underwear on a clothes line; each piece representing some alleged scandal from his past. You can read about that here.

To his credit, Tom has a solid history of helping those in need. Remember when local businesses were taking advantage of international student visas and hiring foreign students, but charging them outrageous rents and housing many in small apartments? Tom and his wife stepped up and took these students in. Read about that here.

Tom has spent most of the last few years in Arizona, only recently moving back to the Kenai, but he was the mayor of Soldotna many years ago and did work for the Soldotna police. He does seem to have trouble dealing with finances and seems to be keen on getting elected to some position, either in Arizona or Alaska.










Thursday, August 07, 2014

Joe Miller: The King of Welfare Queens

Wondering which US senate candidate to support in the upcoming primary?  Maybe this Q and A can help!

1) What candidate was disciplined by the Fairbanks North Star Borough for breaking into co-workers computers and using those computers for his own purposes?

That would be Joe Miller. And Joe is on record admitting that he lied about his involvement. Joe also tried to prevent news agencies from investigating this breech of ethics. Joe also tried to delete some 10,000 emails related to his involvement. Oh, while Joe officially resigned from his position with the borough, it came right before he was going to be fired.

2) What candidate is opposed to ObamaCare, yet had no problem enrolling his many kids in Denali KidCare, federally funded health care for children from impoverished families?

That would be Joe Miller. Yes, federally funded health care is fine for his kids, but not for yours. You know, Joe, if you couldn't afford to have kids, for God's sake, you should have kept your zipper up! 

3) Who hired his wife to be his aide when he was a part-time magistrate and then had to let her go because it violated state laws concerning nepotism?

That would be Joe Miller. His wife Kathleen had to be let go because cronyism is sort of against the law. She immediately filed for unemployment benefits. That's right, she went on the government dole. Another example that welfare is good for Joe and his family, but bad for everyone else.

4)What candidate took federal subsidies for property he owns in Kansas?

That would be Joe Miller. Yes, it's OK for him to suck on the government teat, but he's against poor folks from doing it. Mead Treadwell also took federal subsidies for a company(about $7Million)he was on the board for - and then cashed in for a cool $1 million when he then promptly sold his interests.

5)Who applied for an Alaskan low-income hunting and fishing license after buying a $400,000 house and taking a job with a law firm?

That would be Joe Miller. I don't know, but to me it seems like he's the King of Welfare Queens

6) What candidate believes that companies should be able to discriminate against blacks, non-Christians and LGBT citizens and that it is no business of the federal government to interfere with discrimination?

That would be Joe Miller. Do read his interview with Salon. But he does support the federal Defense of Marriage Act which does support discriminating against gay marriages. 

7) What Candidate proudly welcomes the endorsement of Gun Owners of America, whose leader, Larry Pratt, is on record saying that Obama is raising a black army to kill white Americans, that liberals rejoice at mass shootings like Sandy Hook and that members of congress should have a fear of getting shot?

That would be Joe Miller. The local branch of GOA help kick off his first event this election cycle. Miller was also a buddy of Shaeffer Cox, the convicted terrorist. 

8) What candidate would put a woman in prison if she decided to get an abortion after being raped or after being a victim of incest?

That would be Joe Miller (and Treadwell too). Joe says that if a woman got an abortion after being raped or being a victim of incest, she would be punishing an innocent child. Joe, isn't that a bit too much federal overreach? Shouldn't God be the judge when a woman has such an awful decision to make? Of course, Joe (and the other republican candidates) would punish the mother in these dire situations who decided to carry the child by denying her any sort of health care, child support or child care support. Joe is a false Christian with no compassion.

9) What candidate was ordered by the courts to pay $85,000+ to the Alaska Dispatch for their legal fees after he tried to prevent them from investigating his shenanigans?

That would be Joe Miller. The court found that Miller was "Making inconsistent positions, failing to disclose information during discovery, being unavailable for his deposition, and his procedural filings which the record did not support,” caused unnecessary delays and costs for both the Dispatch and the Fairbanks North Star Borough.  

10) What candidate would build a 'Berlin Wall' to keep out illegal immigrants?

That would be Joe Miller. He would also abolish the IRS, so no word from the bright folks crunching his numbers on how the wall would be funded.

11) What candidate is a big crybaby and sore loser?

That would be Joe Miller who filed several lawsuits to disqualify votes for Lisa Murkowski during his last senate run. Of course, he not only lost election, but also the lawsuit and the appeal.

12 What candidate has his head stuck up his ass about Global Warming?

That would be Joe Miller, Dan Sullivan and Mead Treadwell. Joe has driven this primary so far to the right, that the other two candidates will say anything to get the lunatic fringe vote. Of course, the lunatic fringe = mainstream Alaskan republicans these days. Despite overwhelming evidence from 95%+ of climate scientists and supporting data, all three of these guys claim (without citing any legitimate sources), that global warming is simply liberal fear-mongering. Yeah, despite the fact that Alaska is taking global warming on the chin. Glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates,  coastal villages in the western and northern part of the state are getting hammered by waves from winter storms; waves that normally wouldn't happen because the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean is usually frozen for longer periods; that permafrost is melting like never before; and ocean temperatures and acidification may be having a huge negative impact on salmon and other fisheries. But these candidates, especially Joe Miller, get their marching orders from the Koch Brothers (who bankroll the Tea Party) and who have financial reasons to continue to pollute and discharge massive amounts of carbon in the atmosphere.

It's crazy to think that Joe Miller even has a chance to win the Republican primary, but all he has to do is say he's against abortion, for 2nd Amendment rights and against ObamaCare and his base couldn't care less that the man is hypocritical, a liar, and is ethically challenged.  












Friday, March 14, 2014

Cathy Giessel to Alaskans: Shut Up and Go Away!

HB 77, the the unsuccessful pro-development, anti-public input legislation sponsored by Gov Parnell last year is back in revision this year. Cathy Giessel, who partially represents the northern Kenai Peninsula and the chairperson of the senate Finance Committee, cut off testimony on Wednesday and prevented other committee members from asking questions to those speaking for or against the bill. Well, there were only two who had anything to say in favor of the bill, both representatives of the mining industry.

Everyone else spoke against the bill, despite the revisions that have done little to placate fears that HB 77 would give the DNR broad and unchallenged powers and take away the public hearing process for green-lighted development.

Giessel did re-think restricting testimony and opened up another public testimony session today.

HB 77 has singularly united citizens of all political persuasions - not many of us would like to give bureaucrats in the state over-reach powers. Not many of us want to give away our right to be heard. Not many of us are fooled by the intent of this bill, which is to fast-track dams and destructive mining practices in critical salmon habitat areas. Representatives Kurt Olson and Mike Chenault have backed this legislation 100% since its inception last session.

Senator Peter Micciche wasn't convinced last year and his lack of support was helpful in keeping the bill from passing back then. However, in an email published by the Peninsula Clarion, Micciche stated “My goal is to work with folks and to give them the chance to digest the actual changes, as opposed to the incorrect and exaggerated effects claimed by extreme Anchorage environmental groups with an obvious anti-development-of-any-kind agenda.”

I wonder if Peter considers all environmental groups to be 'extreme'?  And because someone might disagree with Micciche, does that make them incorrect? In my experience, that's exactly his attitude.

Paul Zimmerman of Kenai had this question during his testimony:  "More and more legislation and proposals are coming up that are designed to take the public out of the process and this is another step,” he said. “Our state constitution was founded on ideals of public participation in their government. Whose interests is (Micciche) serving if he’s not serving the public? This is un-American."
 
The new version of HB 77 is as odious as the previous version, we shall soon see how the legislature votes on this.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Peter Micciche: Direct Deposit Bribery

It used to be when someone bribed or paid off a politician, money was stuffed in a paper sack and passed off in some back room.  But Alaska now operates a corporatocracy, a government run by corporations. If you work in the oil industry, and are elected to the Alaska Legislature, when you pass bills that benefit your company, you get a pay raise.

And that seems to be exactly what happened with State Senator Peter Micciche. When he ran for the senate seat, Micciche reported an income of somewhere between $100,000-200,000, not including stock options or perks. This year, just 10 months after passing Senate Bill 21 which gave the major oil companies an annual $2 Billion tax rebate, Micciche reports that his salary from ConocoPhillips now is somewhere between $200,000 and $500,000, not including stock options and perks. Read about it here.

Because of the state's very lax income-reporting laws, Micicche does not have to be more specific, so it could be that he got a one-buck raise, from $199,999 to $200,000. If that was the case, Peter, whose ego makes him the King of Grandstanding, would have flaunted the meager increase. Peter has promised all along to be completely transparent, because goodness knows as he says, there is no conflict of interest between him being an executive with an oil company and voting on bills that benefit his company. Well, why not be completely transparent? At least that would keep bloggers like me from saying his salary increase looks like legalized bribery.

It could be that he got the raise because he did some exemplary work as the superintendent of Kenai's C/P LNG plant, but that thing has been mothballed for a couple of years. That's certainly not making ConocoPhillips any money.

It's funny, but just this last week, Micciche accused Representative Les Gara of grandstanding because Les returned the unused portion of the $16,000/20,000 allocated to representatives/senators for office expenditures. No word on how much Peter actually spent on office expenses and how much he (legally) pocketed thanks to a law passed by Mike Chenault. Oh, yeah, Mike and Kurt Olson have been pocketing the full amount, $16,000 allotted for Representatives ever since the bill passed several years ago. No receipts were required to show that any of that money was spent on office supplies. The law has been tweaked for next year - legislatures will now have to provide receipts for actual expenses. Les was at least being honest, a quality lost on Micciche. Read more about it here.

If you are on Facebook, undoubtedly you saw the post by Micciche inviting constituents to take part in a survey - here's the link.

Mr Ego (the guy who said Les Gara was grandstanding) has his handsome mug on the page - let's not forget that this is all about him. He asks us for our opinions about what should be legislative priorities, but the survey is nothing but a republican push poll. All of the questions only give the constituent answers that support a very narrow point of view. Or worse, the question itself only offers a limited point of view.

Question 1 - It has yet to be shown that if Alaska invests in a natural gas pipeline, energy costs to consumers would go down. Certainly, his company stands to make billions.
Question 2 - It's already a done deal. Of course, Alaska should honor a commitment to state workers. (I am a semi-retired recipient of state retirement benefits)
Question 3 - Another loaded question and impossible to answer with a yes/no response.
Question 4 - If Peter wants to improve education, breaking things down to sound bites that feed into the governor's and legislature's desire to fund private schools will not improve education.
Question 5 - Why is this question even on this - Change the AK constitution to fund religious schools? If this is the direction citizens want to go, it should be grassroots driven. Circulate a petition and get it on the ballot.
Question 6 - The worst of the lot. Peter would love to fast-track the Chuitna and Pebble Mines, and to hell with clean water and air. By the way, his company, ConocoPhillips is the #3 polluter in the US. Imagine the pay raise he would get if they could turn Alaska into a toxic waste dump.
Questions 7-12 all offer limited and agenda-promoting options.

My priority would be to tighten up government conflict of interest laws. Let's at least pretend that our state government is not tainted by corruption.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Prince Peter's Game of Thrones

So, who cares that the state operating budget will have over a $2Billion deficit next year? Who cares if we will have to start tapping our savings to balance that budget? Who cares if SB 21 will not spur oil production? Who cares if the state is looking at cutting the education budget?

Not Prince Peter Micciche. As part of the legislative council, Peter voted for the renovation of the LIO building in Anchorage that will now cost the state of Alaska some $280,000/month for rent, five times what we're paying now.

And you can't have a fancy new office without some brand new furniture. Peter also voted to spend $100,000 on designing new thrones desks and chairs for the Princes and Princesses of state. The final cost of the new furniture will run between $1,000,000 -  $2,000,000. Read more about it here.

Peter did say that it would be "a badge of honor" to use hand-me-down furniture. He also said "The idea that we have brand new shiny furniture in each office is something that we should guard against, in my opinion." But of course, in typical Micciche fashion, he voted for the expenditure anyway. 

So quick, it's photo-op time for the Prince. Let's do a quickie feel-good, aw-shucks, good-guy, save-the-world publicity stunt. Save Freedom, the rescue dog!

Yeah, and Al Capone donated a lot of money to orphanages, but I don't really think that it made up for the other stuff he did.




Saturday, December 21, 2013

Pay Raids for Parnell and Co

He was for it before he was against it, but Gov Sean Parnell and cronies, despite huge budget deficits and declining oil productions, will get a nice pay raise for 2014 unless the legislature acts to prevent it. Representatives Gara from Anchorage and Kawasaki of Fairbanks have promised to do just that, but unless the bill they propose to write can be fast-tracked and pass both houses, the raises will be automatic.

I have an idea, let's tie executive salaries to performance.

Start with $0

If test scores for all of Alaskan children go up significantly, give him $25,000. Tack on an additional $25 K if dropout rates decline.

If there is a significant reduction in domestic violence, give him another $25K. If sexual assaults in villages can be reduced, throw in another $25K.

For every village that adds windmills to their power grid, that would be $5K.

For every village that gets water and sewage, give him another $5K.

For balancing the budget without tapping into savings, give him $25K.

For increasing production in the oil pipeline, that would be worth another $25K.

If he were to be paid for his accomplishments, he could earn well over $200K and it would be well-worth the money. But just how much would he be paid if his pay was tied to what he has actually accomplished so far? Well, $0.  And that's about what this Captain deserves. Each commissioner should also have their pay tied to benchmarks set for their departments too.

There has been one pleasant surprise when it comes to sneaky pay schemes our politicians manage to provide for themselves, legislatures will no longer be allowed to pocket their unspent office supply money. Mike Chenault was behind this back-door pay raise and he and our other central peninsula representative, Kurt Olson, have mysteriously had no office expense money for the past few years.  So the two just cashed these checks meant for pencils, staples and etc.  Oh, and it's not pocket change we're talking about. Both Chenault and Olson claimed all of $16,000 house members have been allotted - and have pocketed all of their 'office expenses' ever since Chenault and company allowed themselves to do so.

Tom Wagoner, our senator before Peter Micciche, claimed $10,000 of the $20,000 allotted to that branch. The figures for 2013 and the amount Micciche might have taken home, are not yet available.

And yet teachers have to dip into their pay to make up for supplies. Legislatures will still get reimbursed for expenses, but now must provide receipts that they actually spent the money on office supplies. I wonder if cigarettes, booze and big macs will be counted as office expenses.

Legislature creature comforts are still on tap. There's the newly renovated LIO office in Anchorage that will cost us over $280,000/month compared to the old offices which cost about a fifth of that, around $57,000/month.

And don't forget about Chenault's spiffy new outdoor smoking lounge he had installed in Juneau.

Why do we keep electing these guys?



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