Saturday, January 09, 2016

Micciche's Freedom to Discriminate and Hate Bill

Addendum/Correction: I've left the original post intact, but Micciche's bill might just exclude clergy, which is still unfortunate because they are already protected. This is a bill that is in search of a problem and seems to be submitted just to pander for votes.

The price of oil has plummeted to under $40/barrel, the state is operating at a deficit of billions of dollars and Gov Walker has proposed cutting the PFD, instituting a state-wide sales tax and maybe even a state income tax to fix the train wreck that the state is facing.

So with these pressing matters, what does State Senator Peter Micciche begin the legislative session with? A bill that does Kim Davis one step better.

Micciche's bill would allow state officials to refuse to marry someone for any reason.  Don't want minorities getting married?  No problem.  Don't want Jews, Muslims or Atheists to tie the knot? Micciche is behind you.  Can't stand Mormons or Catholics? Micciche want you to hate away! Think that God might be displeased if same-sex couples want to exercise their constitutional right?  His Arrogance, Peter, knows better than the US Supreme Court and has your back.

Let's be certain here.  Right now, by law, it is OK if you are clergy or a private citizen, you don't have to solemnize the wedding for anyone. You are 100% completely free to marry or not marry anyone you want. Micciche's bill allows a person employed/appointed by the state to refuse to solemnize a wedding for absolutely any reason.  WTF?!? If you are hired by the state to do a job for the public, either do it or find a different line of work. Here's a link to the bill here.

Go figure, maybe we should allow Peter not to do his job, he's been doing such a bang-up job after all. He was the swing vote on replacing ACES, now the state gives more way to the oil companies than it receives in revenue (to be fair, ACES needed to be tweaked for times when prices are low, like they are now and will be for quite some time). He was on the finance committee and was all for the Taj MaHawker, the way expensive no-bid LIO Palace the Republicans leased. As a member of the finance committee, Peter also approved of a $ million dollars in new furniture (including waste bins that automatically open).  As a mid-level manager of ConocoPhillips mothballed LNG plant in Nikiski, Peter has had his entire political career subsidized by his employer. Generous time off to attend meetings and such and then handsomely rewarded for his efforts to broker sweetheart deals for his company.

But Peter is good at bluster. He helps rescue pets, gets artificial Christmas Trees (brought to you by ConocoPhillips) installed in the park and such.  Gotta keep the base happy; a picture with a tin tree or a neglected puppy guarantees votes. And that is all this bill does, give the homophobic base the right to discriminate. It's good for some more votes.

Anyone wanna bet that Micciche is going to run against Don Young or Lisa Murkowski?

Here are some wishes: that no legislator introduces any bill until the budget mess is figured out; and that no legislator (or aid) goes on any junkets during the session.  Just maybe they can take care of business and not have (yet another) hugely expensive special session like the've had to have these last few years.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Call To Duty: Peter Micciche and Gary Stevens

The budget deal was close - a compromise passed the Alaska House of Representatives. Democrats gave up on Medicaid expansion, but held fast on education, the ferry system, negotiated pay raises and other issues. The additional costs for those programs amounts to less than 1% f the budget. Left alone were cuts to pork projects like The Susitna Dam, the Juneau Road to nowhere, the Knik Arm Bridge and cuts to the ridiculously expensive LIO building in downtown Anchorage. Also left untouched were the massive production credits being paid to the oil companies.

Yet that wasn't enough for the Alaskan Senate. Nope, there's not been an inch of compromise offered by the Senate.

However, our two Kenai Peninsula senators, especially Micciche, who is on the Finance committee, can take a stand and buck the Republican majority.  I've heard Peter say (many times) that he is willing to work across the aisle. That he's for education. That he represents the people of the central peninsula. And from his past actions, Gary Stevens often shows that he is an old-school republican, reasonable, in other words.  Not that there's been any evidence of that this session.

So, please Senators Micciche and Stevens, show that you are true representatives of the people of the Kenai Peninsula, cut the puppet strings from the Republican majority and vote for what's right. Approve the House budget. Move Medicaid expansion forward - it's the morally right thing to do. And it's what your constituents want you to do. If you two start acting like grownups, maybe a few other on-the-fence republicans will join ranks.

Yeah, I'm not going to hold my breath either.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Starving the Beast While Feeding the Piggies (and robbing the bank)

Petting party (pic from the Juneau Empire)
I hope that no one is surprised. Republicans have long been enamored with the concept of cutting taxes to the point that there is no money left for basic government functions to exist. it's called Starving the Beast. Witness Kansas and Louisiana, two states that have recently tried this approach and are sinking into deficits so great that schools are shutting down early and basic government services are being cut as massive tax breaks are being given to the wealthy and to corporate sponsors.  

And now it's happening in Alaska. 

The Republican controlled majority under the previous governor, rammed through massive reductions in the money we sell the oil that the state owns to the petroleum companies. And to make matters worse, these same 'fiscally conservative' politicians gave their employers (the oil companies) production credits that will exceed the revenue we get from selling the oil by $650 million over the net two years at the current rate. We are paying the oil companies to take the oil the state owns! 

The mess has led to a $3.2 Billion deficit for the upcoming fiscal year. Mike Chenault (owns an oil service business) and Kevin Meyers (employed by Conoco Phillips) have not been able to come up with a balanced budget and their only solution has been to blame the Democrats. Why, because they need the support of the Dems to access the $9 Billion in the Constitutional Budget Reserve. And the Dems say that we should get our priorities straight by cutting funding for pork projects like the Susuitna Dam, the Knik Arm Bridge, the TajMahawker LIO building in Anchorage and maybe reduce the hundreds of millions we are paying the oil companies for taking our oil. (Read Chris Tuck's take on it all here).

But the Republicans are doing what Republicans do. Cutting education, refusing to help out the working poor in need of health care, cutting public TV and radio, rescinding negotiated pay raises (but gladly taking their own excessive per diem) and etc. And making the oil companies and their cronies richer and richer.

And now, maybe they have an endgame: to raid the Permanent Fund. They don't need the 2/3 vote of the combined house and senate to tap into this. It will be interesting to see if they have the balls enough to do this. Of course, they will blame the Dems, just like they have blamed the Dems for the current mess. It's easier to blame the innocent than take responsibility.

It will get interesting if they do that.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Micciche, Olson, Chenault and The Republican Legislature: Playing Hooky, Cutting Class and Passing Gas

OK, I suck at graphic design, but you get the point.
Their one job as legislators is to pass a real budget, you know a balanced one that lasts through the fiscal year. But the best the Republican controlled majority could do is come up with a lame budget with only enough money for a few months and would still fall some $3 Billion short of what was needed to fund government for the remainder of the year.

That was after some drastic cuts to public school education (in addition to draining  $1.3 Billion from the Forward Funding of Education Account), a $30 million cut from the university system (that will result in the elimination of up to 500 jobs - how's that for job creation!?!), and rescinding pay raises for state workers that had already been negotiated.

What it didn't cut were millions of dollars set aside for various boondoggles such as the Knik Arm Bridge, the Road to Nowhere in Juneau and the Susistna Dam.

And thanks to the new oil tax scheme, the state now pays more in oil production credits than it gets from per/barrel oil revenues - about $100 Million more. The Republicans have refused to look at tweaking those credits so that Alaska actually earns money for the oil we own, rather than pay the oil companies for taking it away. Yes, I do realize that the oil companies do pay other taxes (property, pipeline, etc), and I do realize that at the current low prices, SB21 charges the oil companies more than ACES would have, but thank goodness ACES was in effect for the previous years as it padded the state's coffers and made these trying times a bit easier to deal with. If SB21 had been in effect before, we'd be tapping the PFD AND paying a state income tax about now.

These three Kenai Peninsula legislatures, especially Chenault and Micciche have been the driving force that has driven the ship of state up on the rocks of fiscal irresponsibility. Olson, well, he just does what ever Mike Chenault tells him too.

One didn't need to be an accountant to see this fiscal cliff coming. Why last year, even in this lame blog, it was pointed out that oil production wasn't going to be anywhere near where these three (and then Gov S Parnell) predicted. Despite the warnings, Micciche (on the finance committee) voted for the new LIO remodel job (a no-bid deal with a friend of another legislator)and we now have the Taj McHawker, the hugely expensive and unneeded office space.

Gov .Walker ordered the legislature to stay in session and figure out the budget (and to pass Medicaid expansion), but the Republican controlled house and senate thumbed their noses and voted to take a 2-week vacation rather than do the job they were elected to do.

The one solution is to negotiate with the Democrat Minority and tap into the $10 Billion Budget Reserve (thanks to ACES). But the Dems say they will only do so if some education cuts are restored and that production tax credits are re-visited.

And that's where we are today.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Micciche Saves Persecuted Christians in District O

Yeah, right here in river city those who would dare call the holy metal tree-like symbol of corporate greed (and donated by ConocoPhillips) a 'Holiday Tree' rather than by its God-given name, Christmas Tree, were given a Facebook dressing down by his eminence, state senator Peter Micciche.

Commenting on the production of "a Charlie Brown Christmas", Peter pontificates: "The play is about the importance of Christ's birth as the meaning of, and reason for Christmas. Period."

So far, so good. Personally, I think the reason Christmas and other Christian holidays (and holidays really means Holy Days, of course) are still celebrated might have less to do with Jesus having been born and more about the beauty of his teachings.

Peter can't just be happy about a nice community celebration though, he's got to play the persecution card. Despite the fact that really no one in Soldotna has ever tried to prevent anyone from celebrating Christmas, Micciche lets loose some arrogant rage "What Linus read on that stage Saturday, or reads on your Blue Ray at home is Luke 2: 8-14...straight from the new testament. Gasp. That's right, we are not afraid to celebrate the birth of Christ here in District O."

Gasp. But then in a comment, a citizen asks Peter if he also celebrates the holy days of other religions or at leasts acknowledges that some of his constituents may not be Christians. Peter's went on the attack. "My post is about the hijacked symbol of a religion. The end result is a loss of religious freedom for just one religion. I helped organize and attended a joyful Christmas event. I believe calling a symbol of Christmas a holiday tree is restricting my and some of my constituent’s right to worship as I/they see fit."

Of course, no one was hijacking Charlie Brown's Christmas. There were no protestors, no angry letters to the editor. No one was beheaded or crucified. But Micciche seems to feel he is the defender of Christianity, no matter how much it isn't being attacked here in SOLdotna.

It's called grandstanding.

But he goes on to be condescending to the writer of the comment and avoids answering her question -    Does Micciche actually show some deference to his constituents who may not be Christian?

He does give her some advice: "Focus on the positive instead of preconceived notions regarding the diabolical intent of your conservative “friends”. Such notions are almost never true."

Since when is asking if he celebrated the holy days of his non-Christian friends a 'preconceived notion of diabolical intent'?

Maybe His Arrogance should follow his own advice. Focus on the positve, Micciche, instead of your preconceived notions of your non-conservative 'friends'. Such notions are almost never true.

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.

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