Thursday, December 29, 2011

No Time for Modesty

If you picked up the PC today, the lead story is a fluff piece praising the glories of Mike Chenault, the speaker of the AK House of Reps.  "I was the best fit for the job" explained the not-too-humble north-roader.  Jumping in with the alleluias was Kurt Olson, SOLdotna's representative to the state house.

Mike is proud to have brought home the bacon to the Kenai as the peninsula received a record amount of funding from the 2011 governor's budget.

Well, I guess that's what politicians are supposed to do - acquire the most money for their constituents.  Of course, if it was a democrat running up the government tab, everyone would be crying about those tax-and-spend liberals. Of course, if record amounts of money went to bush Alaska, most Kenai Peninsula folks would whine about the government handouts Natives were getting.  But it's a good thing when we benefit from republican legislators who spend state money like drunken sailors.

Not that money shouldn't be spent.  Roads, schools, solid waste facilities, prisons and ports are needed, aren't they?

It's kinda funny, when Mike and Kurt obtained money for peninsula roads, there were strings attached.  The money could only be used on central and north peninsula roads - not for roads in Homer or Seward.  Well, Gary Stevens, the senate rep from Kodiak, Homer and Seward, had the audacity to challenge Gov Parnell's proposal to roll back taxes on the oil company record-breaking profits.  Chenault and Olson are all about giving back a $billion a year to the oil companies and without requiring the companies to explore or drill or hire more than they already are.  It's easy to see that some of the bacon that Mike brings home is a reward for being Parnell's cheerleader.

And then there's the Goose Creek Prison in the MatSu Borough that was approved and built while Mike was in the House and the speaker.  The prison cost over $240 to build (and it is not quite finished yet).  It was built where there are no utilities, so another $20 million was spent getting power lines and septic. Oh, and it will cost $25 million a year more than it would cost to just leave the 1000 prisoners it would house in Colorado where they are currently serving their sentence.  This waste of state money happened under Mike's watch.

Then there's the port fiasco. Estimates now are exceeding a cool billion dollars as to the final cost of the expansion.  It's been one cost over run after another. All under Mike's watch. Just why wasn't this built here on the Kenai in Seward - with roads and rail in place and a true ice-free harbor, it was really the best location for the port.

Let's not get started on the Knik Arm Bridge or the Susitna Dam.

But some connected people are making a ton of money, so how do you say thanks to Mike for not being a good steward of the states money?  Money for Mike's constituents.

The state desperately needs to come up with a process that independently evaluates true need, cost-effectiveness and does so not as a reward to good old boys or corrupt bastards, but on what is really needed.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Republican I Would Vote For

OK, if you are a regular reader of SOL, you know that my take on things is a bit left of center.  As such there's not too many Rs that my conscience will let me support.  But there are a few.  I've become a big fan of the Alaskan Senate President, Gary Stevens, who represents Kodiak, Homer and Seward.  He's not in anyone's pocket, he's practical, and his reasons for supporting something or not seem to come from what is in the best interests of people, not necessarily corporations. He just doesn't recite party-line dogma and that is refreshing. Since the last political session, he has been a very outspoken critic of Parnell's proposal  to give about a billion dollars a year back to the oil companies - despite the fact that we Alaskans own the oil that comes out of the ground, despite the fact that the companies are making record profits, and despite that fact that exploration, drilling and oil field employment are up since ACEs because the law.  Oh, and Parnell's plan doesn't actually require the oil companies to invest/drill/hire more.

Anyway, earlier this week, Gary was invited to speak to Commonwealth North, the pro-development lobbying group that gave grades of D or F to any Alaskan politician that was more concerned with people than corporations.  Gary blasted them.  You can read the contents of his speech here.  OK, I live in  Soldotna, so can't vote for Gary - but I would if I could!

And in surprising news, I heard Mike Chenault  on NPR this morning saying that before the state invests any more money in any natural gas pipelines, there needs to be buyers in place.  With so many natural gas wells coming online in the lower 48, Canada, Russia and around the world, North Slope gas just is not going to be competitive.

Atwater Out?

This just in - KPBSD Superintendent Steve Atwater is one of the two finalists for Carol Comeau's position in Anchorage. Read the ADN story here.

By most all accounts, Steve has done a good job here on the Kenai, and after years of the previous superintendent's divisive school leadership, one can only hope that if he does get the Anchorage job, his replacement will be as competent and professional as Steve has been.  It's a tough job, for sure, and with the declining enrollments here on the Kenai, there will be some difficult decisions that the school district will have to deal with. 

Friday, December 09, 2011

Stop Not Making Sense

I didn’t go to the last Borough Assembly meeting, but I listened to the KDLL news report about Debbie Brown’s and George Pierce’s testimonies against funding non-profits.  Neither of them has any of their facts straight, but what do you expect?  For what it is worth, Debbie was able to speak a few clearly understood sentences and that’s different, although what she said was…crazy, so nothing really has changed I suppose. 

George confused the Kenai Watershed Forum, the non-profit that the Borough Assembly is considering partially funding, with state and federal regulatory agencies that were “taking land away from people”.  Debbie talked to the assembly as if they were kindergarten kids, explaining in the most basic terms what a non-profit does.  “They benefit their members"was her conclusion.

Robert Ruffner, the director of the KWF, noted that they did a lot of work for the borough particularly spearheading replacing substandard culverts that were impeding salmon migration and such, and that they hired local contractors at market rates to do this.  The KWF has been able to obtain several matching grants to replace the culverts. Because of their familiarity with the process of coordinating with inter-government agencies, they have expedited these projects, and have already replaced some dozen of these culverts and at a fraction of the cost that the borough would have incurred on its own.

So, people like Debbie, George, the ACT people and Fred Sturman, try to come across as folksy, homespun, common sense citizens, but in fact, they are not anything more than self-serving, stingy grinches. 

There are a few homespun sayings that come in mind about them:

Penny wise and pound-foolish.  So, this crowd would rather avoid paying for a few things now that would then take so much more money in the future to correct.  And we’re talking about preserving one of the few healthy remaining salmon runs on the planet.  What they are really saying is that they’d rather save a few dollars on property taxes, which are already some of the lowest in the nation, and to hell with worrying about having our grandkids have fish in the Kenai River. 

They would cut off their nose to spite their face. These folks are so caught up in their no-tax dogma, that they would oppose things that would, without a doubt, benefit the economy, recreation and culture of the Kenai. I think they are just basically cheap bastards. Oh, and the kicker here is that the $100,000 that the KWF is asking for would come from what the state gets from the haul of commercial fishermen and passed back to the borough.  So, not a penny of property tax would actually be used and the money the state receives from the fishing industry would then be used to enhance and perpetuate the fishery – and benefit all of us.  A win, win, win situation. 

They fiddle while Rome burns: So, there are clear and undisputed problems and there are clear and undisputed solutions, but Debbie and company would rather engage in political theater rather than actually solve the problems.  Notice that neither of them offered alternatives that might actually solve anything.  

The KPB barely dodged letting the crazies run the asylum this last election. Just check out the comments to any PC story and see that we have some very, very scary neighbors. Check out the PC story on this here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Intensive Mismangement: It's All About Misinformation

Bob Ermold has an OpEd in a recent PC about predator control and the Peninsula moose population. It's kinda funny in a way, one thing he complains about is when facts or figures are applied incorrectly or out of context, yet his whole piece, which supports aerial shooting of wolves, is nothing but facts and figures being applied incorrectly and out of context.

First,  I hope that no one believes that Bob actually wrote this without considerable help.  If you have ever seen anything that he has written in his context as an education administrator, you might not have to wonder why schools are in trouble.

But let's focus on the facts that he presented.

The first is accurate - the moose population is in decline. Well, maybe just bull moose are in decline. Everything after that is propaganda, however.

Bob goes on to claim that nothing has been done to alter the decline - that's not true of course.  Every hunting regulation and every decision about habitat (road and subdivision development, forest fire control, etc) has had some degree of influence on the moose population.  It might be more accurate to say that nothing has been done that has increased the moose population.

But we really don't know if aerial shooting of wolves does much to increase the population either.  It might appear to be a logical assumption, but there have been no significant studies done in areas that have had this to see if it has actually had the results that the AK Board of Game claim will happen.

Don't you find that curious that the BoG, a panel of political appointees and comprised of mostly big game guides, doesn't want AK F&G to actually study the results?

The consensus, and this comes from the data that Bob claims is not necessarily inter-connected, is that loss of habitat is the primary reason that the moose population is on the decline.

And just how many road kills are there on the Kenai year in and year out - over 300 per year!  Maybe we are hunting the wrong predator.

Here is what is known and supported by years of data collecting.

1) Yes, by controlling predators (wolves and bears) there is usually an increase in moose population.  But long-term data suggest that the increase becomes limited by habitat.  An area can only support so many moose and other factors (weather, road kills here on the Kenai, hunting, disease) are significant.

2)Accurate studies of the effects of predator control are rare. Despite Bob's claim that other factors are not connected, they most certainly are.  Heck, Bob, rump fat indices measure how much browse the animals have access to.  You don't think the availability of food is an indication of moose survival rates?  Let's spell this one out.  Let's say predator control was done in an area and 50% of the predators were eliminated.  But lets say it was also a low-snow year and there was plenty of browse.  The next season there are more moose.  How much is attributed to predator control, how much to having plenty of food?  Long-term studies that examine all aspects of moose populations are absolutely necessary.  But since non-biologists are in charge of the BoG and AK DoF&G, funding to actually study the results have been cut and biologists must clear any and all reports and studies through the appointed political apparatchiks. 

Bob quotes Corey Rossi, the former head of AK DoF&G.  Remember him? He was the guy Palin hired to head that department, yet he would not qualify for an entry-level biologist position.  His background was promoting big game guiding.  That's it.  Check out Craig Medred's piece about how politicized the AK Dep't of F&G has become.

Of course, Cora Campbell, the current commissioner of that office is another political appointee without any real qualifications.

Bob goes on to mention the clause in the state constitution that states wildlife should be managed for maximum sustained yield, and for maximum benefit of the people.

But just what does that mean?  The only absolute is that increasing habitat will increase moose populations, yet Bob doesn't like the solutions to that (less development and more wildfires). The BoG is comprised entirely of big-game guides, maybe some one might argue that wildlife viewing (including wolves and bears) is a benefit to the people (tourism and such).

Make no mistake, Bob, whose background is as a special ed teacher (he's no scientist), is a tool of big game guide lobbyists whose only motivation is bringing wealthy big game hunters to Alaska.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Defining the Kenai: The Runoff Election

Just what is happening here?

The Peninsula Clarion poll has Fred and Mike running neck-to-neck.  Considering the Clarion doesn't have much readership outside of the Central Peninsula, and that Fred probably has his strongest support in Sterling, Nikiski, Kasilof and Ninilchik areas, I'm not too sure how accurate the poll is.  Again and again, I have to come back to the fact that Joe Miller, one of the most slimy politicians (aside from Jerry Ward) to run for office got, by far, the most votes of anyone for the US Senate than any other candidate last year.

How do you explain it, the support for Joe Miller and the support for Fred Sturman?   

Fred has run one of those old-timey campaigns and his Burma-shave style placards along the highway are folksy. But what the heck is Freddy saying?  Basically that government is bad, that we are paying too much for what we are getting, and that government employees are paid too much and don't work hard enough.

Maybe it's just me, but the borough seems to have very competent people running the day-to-day stuff.  We do get some whacked politicians, the current mayor would be one example and one or two council members might qualify for that description too.  People who don't have a firm grasp on how organizations work.

And in case you haven't really done any research, the taxes we pay here on the Kenai are among the lowest in the entire country and in most all of the incorporated areas of Alaska. I wonder where the folks like Fred say they are going to move to when they say they are going to move because taxes here are too high? 

We do have an apathetic voter base and Fred's base isn't apathetic.  Fred's base are the people who voted for Joe Miller.  Unlike Miller, I'd have to say that Sturman is at least sincere.  But just what has done to make the Kenai a better place?  Um, aside from bitchin' and moanin' on soundoff, pretty much nothing.  Hey Fred, wanna complain? - start a blog for goodness sake!  Has he been involved in any public service? No.  Nada, nothing.

I'm trying hard not to make a cheap shot here, but Fred is barely illiterate.  Please don't think he's going to actually read up on any issue.  Fred is also fairly computer illiterate.  Really, does anyone think he's going to be effective at doing anything but offering inane folksy advice on anything? If he even attempts to cut any service, you folks who didn't vote will come out in droves and whine about how your road needs plowed/repaired, how your local fire service needs improvement, how your kid's school needs some basic maintenance or some books.

Let's head off the problem and get out there and vote - if the typical 20-30% of folks vote, Fred's base will constitute about 1/2 of those voters.  It will be close.  If you are a teacher, in law enforcement, work for emergency services, if your child goes to a public school, if you work to make the Kenai a better place, if you want sanity to prevail, get out and vote.

It might be that we can only hope that we won't be SOL is that folks in Seward and Homer, where sanity holds a slight majority, vote in significant numbers.

You would think that after Carey's disaster of running the borough, folks would be fed up with incompetence.

Oh, well.  If Fred wins, it will be way easy to continue writing this blog.  I'll have plenty of material!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

It's Fred vs Mike

All along, the borough mayor's race pit Mike Navarre vs the other candidates, but who would have guessed that Fred Sturman would have been the top of those five?

I guess I'm not really surprised by voters on the Kenai - just how many were snookered by Joe Miller after all?

The run-off will tell a lot about who we are here on the Kenai Peninsula as the two surviving candidates offer completely different visions for how government will work - or won't.

Fred is dedicated to cutting everything and that will fly until the consequences of doing so becomes a reality.  Just what will be cut?  What services will we do without?  As soon as it is something that impacts someone, and every cut will do so, the political carnage will begin.  Fred complains about high taxes, yet there is no place in the US where you will pay less taxes, especially when the PFD check gets factored in.  So, now that the focus is down to two candidates, maybe Fred should explicitly let us all know what he will cut.  What borough services will be eliminated?  Who will get pay cuts?  What roads won't be serviced?

It's only fair for Mike Navarre to present a clearer picture of what he will do as mayor as well.  He took money from lobbyists for both projects, so what is his stance on the Pebble and Chuitna mines?

The prime question for voters is simply do we want the Kenai to progress in a way that promotes a better quality life or do we want to do without those things that serve and protect us and make living here not such a bad thing.

With just 20% of the eligible voters casting ballots this last time, the direction the borough takes may very well be made by the minority.  Look at the fiasco of the Carey administration, I suspect that those errors will seem minor if Fred gets elected.

Monday, September 26, 2011

SOL in Seward and Homer

KDLL/KBBI had a story Monday morning about the Borough receiving about $4.5 million for roads from the state. At the borough assembly meetng in Homer, Milli Martin asked why none of the funds were going to the eastern/southern peninsula. Mayor Carey stated that the legislature stipulated that the money only go to Districts 33 & 34 - and then he said that actually, the representative from one of those districts - he wouldn't say which - told him they money was to be limited to those two districts or there would be no money at all. Carey said he didn't like the deal but that since some money beat no money, he took it. 33, of course, is Olson's district and 34 is Chenault's. 35 - Homer and Seward - is Paul Seaton's. Gee, you think maybe there's some vindictiveness going on there because Seaton challenged Parnell on oil tax rollbacks? It appears as though the knee-jerk conservatives are taking extra steps to push Seaton out by making him look ineffective to his constituents. It really looks like another example of elected officials putting petty partisan politics way ahead of the good of the people. C'mon, folks - you remember the People??? Anyway -  so much for "neighborliness".

Let's see - no natural gas for Homer or Seward, no extra money for roads, and a borough mayor willing to sell out a good portion of his constituents. Gotta love republicans!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Union for the Rich

I hope that you have all been following Jenny Neyman's most excellent reporting in the Redoubt Reporter on the international students who have come to the central peninsula on a cultural work visa, only to be left stranded with little work and no place to stay.  If you haven't read the articles do so here and here.

If you've been following the Republican presidential debates, each candidate is tripping over themselves saying that we need to get out of the way of business and cut regulations.

But the reality is that when there is little oversight, abuses will happen and this visa fiasco is just one example.  Businesses, including local ones, have exploited lax student visa regulations by hiring these foreign youngsters at below the going rate, providing crowded living arrangements (if any arrangements are even made) and deducting incidental fees from wages.  Students in the Hershey chocolate plant in Hershey PA, have been hired at the minimum wage so that the company doesn't have to pay local workers a decent (but still low) hourly rate.  Then Hershey and other companies dock the students' paychecks for minor expenses.  Kids end up making $1/hour.  Things are not much better here.  These are students that have already paid $3000-$6000 to a company to come here.  Thank goodness for decent people like Connie Goltz (an Australian also here on a visa) and Danette Howland to take these students in and show them that some folks US also have a conscience.

So, the real reason Republicans are for cutting oversight regulations is so the special interests they pander to can make more money.  In this instant, these companies make more money because they can hire these students for less money than they can hire Americans.  That then increases the US unemployment rate.  Why do Republicans hate average Americans?

It's curious too that in the banking business, those countries that have strict regulations like Canada have weathered the economic downturn of the last few years.  The ones like the US, Iceland and Ireland where there was little oversight, got hammered.  Remember the Saving and Loan debacle under the Reagan administration?   The US cut back the regulations and almost immediately that industry collapsed and that instigated a financial crisis.

But here we go again, the republicans are all for cutting regulations.

But lets call the Republican Party for what it is - the union for the rich. They are ready to sink the economy even more than it already is just to preserve the tax breaks the rich get for private jets and hummers.

Somehow they've manage to manipulate the teabaggers and religious fundamentalists and have convinced these groups that policies that protect the health, welfare and safety of ordinary Americans are not possible.  But making the rich even richer is what it is all about.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ear to the Ground

The Kenai Borough's mayoral race had two mentions in this Sunday's ADN's Ear .  First up was a bit about how a fund-raiser for Mike Navarre had across-the-aisle supporters including  some influential Rs such as Lisa Murkowski, Gail Phillips and Arliss Sturgulewski.

Considering that Dale Bagely, the leading R in the race, was a strong backer of the scoundrel, Joe Miller, it's no surprise that Lisa might back someone like Mike.

The other mention the Kenai received was Fred Sturman's malapropism (I hope) when he stated on the KDLL political forum, that the Kenai was a monogamous stream.  He's not the only candidate that has trouble pronouncing anadromous.   Didn't another candidate say that the river was androgynous?  I guess it's all about sex, so they are at least on-topic.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Candidate Deadlines and Class Warfare in Soldotna

Monday is the last day to file for the various elected borough and city positions that will be open this fall.  Predictably, many announced candidates are holding off making it official.  For borough mayor, only Dale Bagley and Gary Superman have put in the paperwork although there's no reason to think that the remaining four will change their minds.  I hope that they are all in as it promises to be entertaining.

Here in Soldotna, Peter Micciche is seeking a second term as city mayor, there's an article in today's PC with the announcement.  You have to give Peter his props, he's done more than a fair job as mayor, but to read article, you would think he's done so without any missteps. Micciche reinvents history with his account of the cemetery issue.  He was one of the driving forces to keep the cemetery from being established at the Redoubt site.  As Peter laments in the article, if folks don't like the direction government is going, they should get involved and that's just what happened.  Four folks not happy with Peter ran for the city council and when elected, forced Peter to change his position.  To his credit, the mayor has played nicely since.

Maybe it's a small issue, but the sweetheart deal that Larry Semmens, the Soldotna city manager got is a bit slimy.  Semmens was allowed to retire, but then was hired back as the manager - double dipping.  Now, an ordinary state, borough, city or school employee is NOT allowed to do the same thing (although temporary contracts for retired personnel to fill in for a regular employee who is sick or on emergency leave are allowed).  ONLY the bosses are given this sort of exception and allowed to be retired and work full time at the job they retired from.  Why?  Well, who the heck knows?

Why is this slimy?  Well, when one is employed in a public-sector job, both the employee and the employer pay into the retirement and health care programs.  Those contributions keep some money coming into the retirement and health care systems and help keep it solvent.  Now, Larry gets to collect his retirement and get health care for himself and his family and pays nothing into the system.  Oh yeah, and the deal increases the unemployment by one as some qualified candidate that would help pay into the system does not get hired.

It's the Chilkoot Charlie philosophy:  "We cheat the other guy and pass the savings on to you."  I think it is also the Republican/Tea Party way.  They want ALL of the benefits, but damn if they are going to contribute. 

Now Larry has done a fine job as manager, but how can his special deal be the right thing to do?

There are two city council seats B and F are open.  Rumor has it that Pete Sprague will file for Shea Hutchings seat F.  No word if Brenda or someone else will file for B.

Friday, July 29, 2011

6 Pack

The salmon are in the freezer, most of the big summer chores are almost done and maybe, just maybe, there will be some time to devote to this blog once again.

The PC reported that there are now six candidates for borough mayor.  New to the field is Tim O'Brien, a retired oil patch worker from Nikiski.  Of course, that follows last week's announcement that former borough mayor, Mike Navarre, entered the contest after he was able to convince Ron Long to drop out of the race.

Ron and Mike had enough common sense to realize that they would be competing for the same voters.  Ron, from Seward, and despite being on the borough assembly and its president for one term, really didn't have the name recognition on the peninsula and wasn't interested in schilling for votes, so it probably wasn't too hard for Mike to talk him into withdrawing from the race.

O'Brien doesn't seem to have any clear reason why he is running, well, except that his friends convinced him to giving it a try.

Right now, despite six candidates, I see a three-way race between Dale Bagley, Gary Superman and Mike Navarre.  Debbie Brown and Fred Strurman won't get anyone other than ACT folks to vote for them.

Here are the links to each candidiate's web site:
Mike Navarre: Nothing but press releases right now
Dale Bagley: Some info regarding his past accomplishments, light on what he might do.
Debbie Brown: Big on ideas, little substance on her site.
Fred Sturman: Fred's got one idea - cut spending.  Not one idea of exactly how or what he would cut.
Gary Superman: Nothing here right now other than his announcement that he is running.
Tim O'Brien: No web site yet, but there is a Tim O'Brien running for mayor of New Britian that has one!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Get Well Soon

The CPGH is in the news again and there are two interesting developments.  The first story to break is that Mayor Carey has been given the green light to enter private negotiations to rewrite the lease and operating agreements the borough and the hospital currently have.

In typical Carey Speak, the mayor is quoted in the CP as saying “One of the things we agreed to … was that while we are involved in discussions, we won’t give details of what we are talking about...Basically we want to get some changes made and then once we get them made, we are going to let people know what they are and why."

So, AFTER the changes are made, he'll let the public know what they were and why we need them.

Isn't that backwards?  If the changes are good and needed, shouldn't we be on board with the process from the get-go?  And please let me know of ANY decision Dave has made in his tenure that made sense.  Do we really want HIM to be making these decisions?

The follow-up story is that Ryan Smith is resigning from his post as CEO of the hospital to take a similar position at a smaller hospital in Wyoming.  Maybe there is a connection, maybe not.

What I find curious is that here we are in the land where Joe Miller gets more votes than anyone, yet most every resident wants the borough government to retain ownership and control over the hospital. Maybe there is the sense that despite how high medical costs already are, if the hospital was to entirely become a private enterprise, the costs of medical care would skyrocket and maybe the level of care with plummet.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

(Not) Waiting For Superman

I think I should tie each of my blog titles to some song.  The last posting about Dave Carey not seeking re-election could have featured Paranoid by Black Sabbath.  I'd have to go with the Flaming Lips Waiting for Superman, something a bit more innocuous, for the news that Gary Superman has decided to make it a menage a cinq for the borough mayor job.

I don't think anyone is surprised by Gary's announcement and each candidate offers the voters something quite different.

First to announce was Dale Bagley. Dale is sane, which is a not a claim all of the candidates can make.  One of the most worrisome things about Dale was that he ran Joe Miller's Kenai Peninsula campaign.  Joe has been one of the sleaziest, dishonest, self-serving, full-of-crap office-seekers since Jerry Ward.  That someone would back Miller despite all the BS, is beyond belief.  Oh, wait a minute, most all of the voters from the peninsula voted for Miller.

Then you have Debie Brown.  Anyone who has heard her testify at a meeting knows three things: she can't ever get to the point or be clear; she has a whacked sense of what is important; and she cannot make the claim that she is sane.

Ron Long is the sole progressive of the lot, a guy that makes decisions by learning as much as he can about an issue and then applying some logical thought to the process.  But so far, he is running a lack-luster race and doesn't really seem to have direction.  He's not that well-known in the central or south peninsula and that could be problematic.

Fred Sturman, along with Ms Brown, a fixture at borough assembly meetings, has one thing to say- times are tough and we have to cut everything.  Fred wants us to live without schools, roads, police, firefighters, EMTs, garbage dumps, hospitals, and any sort of regulation. Good luck with that.

And now Gary Superman is in the mix. Gary transformed a bit when he was on the assembly and actually seem to come around and understand the purpose of the borough government.  One thing I want to know is what he did to get the ACT people to dislike him so much? As far as I'm concerned, being on the ACT hit list is a good thing!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Carey's Notion - Blame it on the Aristocrats

It's old news by a day, but I am sure most of you are aware that Carey has decided not to seek a second term as borough mayor.  It's been a rough first term for Dave: hiring inexperienced and unqualified people and giving them huge pay raises; having his chief of staff getting caught in a questionable business deal with the borough; getting blasted by the out-going emergency manager for the Mayor's inept running the borough; flip-flopping on most major decisions; palling around with terrorists (Schaeffer Cox and the North Road Militia) and the open-carry crowd; and having students tell him that cutting funding to KPC wasn't a good idea.

So, Dave has bowed out of the race.  It's a tough job and certainly one where it is impossible please everyone.  But rather than bow out with grace, honor and self-respect, Carey, in his official statement that you can read here, chose to take a paranoid approach and assign blame to various bogeymen for his failings. 

First, and in typical Carey fashion, he wraps himself in the American flag as if he has sole ownership and understanding of what it means.  The implication is, of course, that if you disagree with Dave, you are not patriotic.  When he had the fire hydrants painted red, white and blue as Mayor of SOLdotna, I wondered if it was still OK for dogs to pee on them? I guess this will be the last Progress Day parade where Dave carries a 49-star flag and lectures us all about it.

Dave is also proud of getting 64% of the vote when he was elected borough mayor, but of course there are lies, damn lies and statistics.  The voter turnout was dismally low when he ran, so another way of looking at it is that about 66% of the eligible voters didn't vote for him. 

Using some Carey-logic, he concludes that it would be unethical and would give him an unfair advantage to seek re-election while currently serving as mayor because he was elected to serve everyone. As mayor, he might make a decision these next few months that could make people happy, so that would go against his vow to God.


It is my understanding that as a politician, if you can make good decisions most of the time, that becomes a reason to seek re-election.  Then you can stand on your record of accomplishments and an opponent would have to have a darn good reason to run against you.

Right now, four people are in the race because they think they could do a better job.

Then Dave blasts the 'aristocrats' on the previous borough assembly.  Aristocrats?  Like Gary Superman, a North Road bar owner?  Pete Sprague, a retired mailman?, Ron Long, a small-business owner from Seward?, Paul Fisher, a half-asleep assembly member?  Or maybe Millie Martin, the grandmother from the south peninsula?  None of these folks meet any definition of aristocrat, but they do all have one thing in common, they (maybe with one exception, sorry PF), are a heck of a lot smarter than Dave.  And they, with one exception (sorry again, PF) had the audacity to challenge Dave when Carey would make a bone-head move. In other words, most of them (yep, let's leave PF out of this one too) did their job.  Most all would try hard to follow Robert's Rules of Order when conducting assembly meetings, something Gary K, the current assembly president, should experiment with.

Carey goes on to tout the mantra that defines a simplistic political solution to problems that we have here in Alaska and the US - the government spends too much. All right, already.  But what to cut?  If you don't think some service is necessary, someone else does. So, when Dave proposed cutting funding to KPC, despite a voter mandate to provide that funding, students, faculty and other concerned citizens protested, just like that Paul Revere guy shooting off bells and warning the redcoats.

How did Dave respond?  He hired a lawyer to intimidate those young punks that were intimidating him.  And then Dave gives the lawyer a plug in his statement.  Isn't THAT unethical?

Dave directs his final paranoid delusion towards Gary Turner, the head of KPC.  The assembly has an ordinance to consider that would prohibit politicians from being on the payroll of an organization that receives borough funding. That sort of makes sense - you don't want conflict-of-interest issues to come up.  It's all about ethics, of course. It could appear that some quid pro quo was in effect by steering money to some entity while that entity paid you.  What's funny here is that Dave was trying to cut funding for KPC and at the same time, wanting to stay on that gravy train.  It just came back to bite him in the ass.

But don't expect Dave to really understand ethics or ethical behavior.  Maybe a few years in the seminary is just what the dude needs.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Tee Off with Chenault

So there is this special session because the house, the senate and the governor can't play nice. It's costing the state tens of thousands of dollars each day and the bill is way over $500,000 already as the legislatures get their per diems and expenses covered. So what is the Speaker of the House, Mike Chenault's, plan to end the gridlock? He's gone to Atlanta to play golf for a week. And get paid for it. And get his expenses paid for the trip. Seems he conveniently scheduled a meeting in Atlanta for a day so Alaska could pay for the trip. Since he'll be there, why not play a few rounds?

WTF? Chenault needs to be doing all that he can to end the stalemate, but he knows he can be as arrogant and self-serving as he can be because he'll get re-elected. He's a republican, the conservative party. The party that's against waste in government. The party that's for efficiency. Riiiggghhht. It's reason 2358 why we're SOL - the voters here don't care if a politician is in it for their own good as long as if the politician is republican and a tool of the oil industry.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Chenault Puts On His Big Boy Britches

Who knew Mike could be so funny, especially in such a smarmy way?

Mimicking Senate Leader Gary Steven's speech rebutting Sean Parnell's call for ending ACES, Chenault turned over the gavel at the State House to make his speech and let the Senate know that he wouldn't be bullied by passing the other house's capital projects budget on such a short notice. That budget was just passed on to the House for approval this past Monday.

Of course, what Mike left out was this is SOP for how the state government works, and according to Bert Stedman, the Republican co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Chenault's claim about not having input was 'nonsense'. 

What Chenault was basically complaining about was that by the time he and the other House members add their particular pet-projects to that budget, the current $2.9 Billion will balloon a bit and maybe some voters might think it was a tad too big.

Mike ended his speech saying that he would be A-OK with no capital budget being passed by the time the 90-day session ends next week. 

It's all political theater, of course and Mike was just being pissy that the Senate didn't go along with his plan to give $10 Billion of state money to the oil companies. But gee, even with the Senate spending like a drunken pipeline worker let loose on payday, we still come out billions ahead of what we would if Mikey got his way.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Preposterous Alaska

Sometimes you just have to smile.

I hope you all read the most excellent OpEd piece in today's PC by Les Gara about the Governor's plan to give away a couple of billion dollars each year to the oil companies.  A plan endorsed by Kurt Olson and Mike Chenault.  Mr.  Gara makes a convincing argument that the Governor is full of it, but if you've been following his attempt to overturn ACES, you already know that.

What's funny is the ad campaign the PC is running sponsored by Prosperous Alaska, some shadowy front for the oil companies, is on the banner where Gara's article appears.  It cries the same Chicken Little Story as the Governor and so soundly refuted by Les.  The Truth below and the Lies on top. 

I hope you all read Gary Steven's speech on the Alaska Senate floor where he most politely, but most thoroughly, also takes the Governor to task for his rush-job with no questions answered approach to repealing ACES.  It's nice to see a Republican with  some integrity.

On a related note, Mike Doogan has tried to find out just who wrote the Governor's bill, since the governor's staff didn't know answers to some basic questions the lawmakers had. Of course the Governor, a former lobbyist for Conoco Phillips, is stonewalling.  Gee, what a surprise.  The money bet is that the oil companies wrote Parnell's bill.

And a surprise, while Mike Chenault and Kurt Olson are obvious lapdogs for the industry (remember their town hall meeting a few weeks ago that was was mostly by word-of-mouth invitation so they could stack the audience with their shills?), voted in favor of the give-away, Senator Tom Wagoner has stuck his finger in the air and saw that the wind was not in Parnell's favor and seems to be part of the Senate majority that opposes deforming ACES.  Well, at least until if and when it comes down to an actual vote.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Nobody Loves Whales

Captain Dave Carey has it out for white whales, but unlike Ahab, Dave doesn't have issues with a big sperm, but rather he has a thing for the baby belugas.  Darn it, they might mess up Carey's vision of an industrial and polluted Kenai Peninsula and surroundings.  Dave has been a big time promoter of the Chuitna and Pebble Mine proposals and it could be that it's not a good idea that poisonous mine tailings and coal dust get released in the Chuit drainage and into the Inlet. That might just be unhealthy for whales and other living things.

Now that Cook Inlet has NOAA's National Marine Service critical habitat designation, it is likely that the water quality in the inlet gets back to its normal silty self and not laced with toxins and human waste.  Anchorage might have to actually begin fully treating the almost-raw sewage it pumps into Cook Inlet.  Maybe Kenai and Nikiski are more SOL than those of us in SOLdotna as they get to see all of the floaters come down from Anchor town.

Dave and Pat Porter are already wringing their hands and making like the sky is falling.  Mike Chenault has jumped to conclusions and has declared that it's the end of the world as we know it.  Here's the story in the ADN and the PC.

It's curious that Sean Parnell and the State of Alaska is suing the feds about this designation and the polar bear one up north.  But they have nothing but arbitrary and uncertain figures about how many new jobs might be lost to controlling future gas and oil development.  The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is run by a political apparatchik, just like in the days of the USSR.  The state's own biologists are not allowed to release their own studies, well, because they are contrary to the political agenda of the Alaskan Republican Party, AKA the union for the oil companies.  DoF&G is not the only department operating under a gag order, but so is the AK Dep't of Health.  Political appointees won't let officials and scientists talk to the media. Period.  Nada.  Can't let facts get in the way of decisions.

BTW, what ever did happen to the couple hundred thousand the KPB received to study the white whales.  Did anyone learn anything? Any report ever filed?  Was the $ actually spent on the whales?

Call me Ishmael,
Whenever the hypocrites get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to blog as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the internet. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards SOL in Soldotna with me. 

apologies to Herman Melville

Friday, April 01, 2011

Dumbing-Down Politics

Did you happen to see the informal assessment earlier this week that pegged Alaska as the fifth dumbest state in the US?

We here on the Kenai are doing our part to show the world that our stupidity rank should match our 49th state stature.  Want some evidence?

Kurt Olson and Mike Chenault held a town hall meeting to make the case that the oil companies need bigger profits and that the state should subsidize Alaska's big oil industry despite the record profits that these companies have enjoyed the last few years and the fact that new start-ups are investing and drilling in Alaska despite the doom and gloom portrayed by Parnell (a former oil company lobbyist) and crew. The sad part is that most of the crowd bought that bit of propaganda that says the oil companies are being taxed too much. Well, we did overwhelming vote for Joe Miller here, so that explains the lack of any thinking skills the general populace has here.

And then yesterday Mike and Kurt joined the other Republican house members and voted to pass the bill.  Paul Seaton, the Republican rep from Homer at least had enough sense and honesty to vote against it.  One can only hope that the senate has a bit more integrity.

Of course, nothing in the bill actually requires big oil to invest in the state, they just want to give them $2 billion a year. Voters on the Kenai don't get that Alaskans own the oil, so what Kurt and Mike are doing is giving away our property.  Do read Hollis French's piece on ACES as well as view Senator Bill Wielechowski’s presentation on Shannyn Moore's show.

It's too bad we just don't charge the oil companies the market rate for the oil coming out of the ground. That way it is not a tax, but a simple charge for a product - one with a price that fluctuates as the market does. Capitalism at its best.  But at the end of the day, no matter what you call it, we Alaskans get what the resource is worth.  The money then gets spent in the state as we fund schools, municipalities, the Permanent Fund, roads, law enforcement, and all the other benefits of civilization.  What will the oil companies do with the money that Mike and Kurt will give them?  Invest it in third-world countries and give their executives fat bonuses.

And then a sign that the apocalypse is surely imminent, Debi Holle Brown announced that she is running for borough mayor.  Ms. Brown, you might remember, was so inanely uninformed and ineptly outspoken when she was a school board member, it was embarrassing to hear her speak about anything.  Of course, if you've ever attended a borough assembly meeting where she has taken to the mic, it is almost like comedy.  Few people on the planet can make a certain former (or current) governor of Alaska seem astute.  That, and not one thing else, Debi can do.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Allowances Must Be Made

Breaking news is that the AK legislature just voted to double the office allowance of the elected officials.  House members now can get $16,000 and Senators $20,000.  The kicker is that if they don't spend this money on office expenses, they get to pocket all of it.

OK, I'm not automatically against cost-of-living increases. But if it was based on the real cost-of-living data, the increases would have been under $2000 instead of the $8000 and $10,000 they voted for themselves.

Certainly there are office expenses that our legislative representatives will have and certainly these expenses, to a point, should be reimbursed. But shouldn't office expense reimbursements actually be used on office expenses?  I mean like show your receipts and write up a little justification: basic bookkeeping demands.

Those are the rules that most all of us probably have to follow.  But apparently these rules don't apply to our elected officials

This is nothing but a back-door pay raise and it seems quite shameless to boot. Our representatives don't have to account for a penny of the money, and get to put it in their pockets rather than actually buy staples, tape and sticky notes.

Mike Chenault did vote against this.  Bravo Mike.  But guess what?  Chenault and the other central peninsula legislative representatives, Tom Wagoner and Curt Olsen took the entire office expense check and put it in their pockets.   Not one penny went to paper, pencils or pens.  I guess leaving a paper trail is not a good idea for these guys anyway.

Mike, the best way to vote against the raise is not to take the money.  Who do you think you're foolin'?

Of yeah, the knuckleheads that keep electing these three.

Tell me again about how we elect Republicans here on the Kenai because they are fiscal conservatives?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Suckers for Cox

photo by D Petri from the PC

It was just two years ago when Schaeffer Cox (the dapper gent in the hat pictured between Bob Bird and Tom Wagoner) came to the Kenai to promote his philosophies of unrestricted gun-ownership and sovereign citizen political action.  He was welcomed with open arms by Bob and Tom and given an email endorsement by Dave Carey.  Since then, Cox has been arrested a few times.  Once for beating his wife and then once for not informing a cop that he was packing heat as Cox responded to a Liberty Bell (the Sovereign Citizen phone tree) call when a fellow member was arrested.  Then yesterday, Cox was one of five arrested for plotting to kill five AK state troopers and a judge.  You can read about that incident here.

Those in the Sovereign Citizen movement claim that they are above the law and don't need to follow any rules.  There's been an uptick of SC related incidents since Obama became president including the shooting deaths of two policemen in Arkansas and the shooting of Gabby Giffords and others in Arizona a couple of months ago.

But this blog post isn't about Cox, it's about peninsula politicians.  Obviously, Wagoner and Bird are suckers for Cox's, um,  ideas, but so is Mayor Dave Carey.  Norm Olson and Mike McBride of ACT were among Cox's handlers and Gary Superman was recognized.

While Congressman Don Young isn't from the Kenai, he does represent us down in DC and Don has been a big supporter of the 2nd Amendment Task Force, of which Cox is the president of the Alaska chapter.

And why all of the political support?  Do they all really believe that we all need to be locked and loaded at all times?  Do they really believe that we should disobey the law?  Do they think that we should kill the representatives of the law?

Maybe they were just pandering for votes among from the right wing-nuts here on the peninsula.  Remember, we voted overwhelmingly for Joe Miller this last election.

If peninsula politicians don't really buy that gov't conspiracy black-helicopter stuff,  maybe they shouldn't pal around with those who do.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Mike Chenault: One Definition of Insanity..., of course, repeating the same mistake and hoping for different results.  We keep electing Mike Chenault to the State House and the results don't get any better.  Let's take a look at some of the inane things that have happened under Mike's watch as Speaker of the house.

The Goose Creek Prison construction project up in the Matsu Valley tops this list.  Already $50 million over budget and not completed, Mike admitted that the fault was probably the Alaska Legislature (which he is in charge of the State House ) for not watching the project more closely.  The prison, originally approved to be built closer to Palmer, was moved to near Pt McKenzie and had to have all utilities and a road brought in at great expense.  Yep, contractor buddies are getting rich, but tax dollars are being poured down the hole.  Even if and when the prison is built, it would still cheaper to house prisoners in Arizona and Colorado.  

Yesterday, the legislature did not approve Governor Parnell's proposal (and endorsed by Chenault) to give the oil industries over $2 billion annually for...well, for no reason since there was never anything attached to the give-away.  And then completely contrary to Parnell and Chenault's contention that exploration is being stifled by the ACES tax structure, two new players announce multi-billion dollar plans for the development of gas and oil WITHOUT the give-away these two wanted.

And then there was the closure of the Nikiski LNG plant that caught Mike by surprise.  That's hard to believe that he didn't get a head's up about that coming, but Mike's only idea?  Let's give away more state money to help out the filthy-rich oil companies. 

So, as long as it is a so-called conservative offering government bail-outs to successful business, it is OK?  What about the free-market?  The gas/oil in the the ground here in Alaska isn't going to go away if it's not drilled for right now.  Already the price of oil is jumping because of the new turmoil in the middle east.  We don't have to cut the oil companies any deals.  As soon as the price is right, things like the gas pipeline will be more economically feasible.  But that time is not now.  Regarding natural gas, the market price is low because of the development of lower 48 reserves that are cheaper to get to buyers.  For oil, well, Great Bear's and Repsol's ( a Spanish oil investment firm) decision to invest nearly a billion dollars, and again, without the give-away of state money, shows that the free market has the answers and that government isn't needed to subsidize business.

Do check out Shannyn Moore's Moore Up North Show for an interview with Senator Wielechowski and the straight scoop about ACES and the Parnell/Chenault scheme.

Monday, March 07, 2011

KPBSD - Unprincipled Principals

OK, here's your challenge: name more than 5 principals in the entire KPBSD that are genuine educational leaders (and not just former coaches), are honest and fair with both students and teachers and are occasionally willing to buck the whims of the Central Oriface and actually let some building decisions be hashed out by parents and faculty.  For years, both the CO and the building leadership positions have been prime examples (with a few notable exceptions) of the Peter Principle - the incompetent rise to the top.

The latest crop of new principal hires might have a few promising candidates, but OMG, Norma Holmgaard (shudder), currently the federal programs director for the district and now the newly appointed replacement for the failed principal at Kenai's Mt. View Elementary, hasn't a clue about education, has poor people skills and a way of being pompously self-righteous. Once, at a public meeting, without ever being able to back up her statements (despite being asked to provide such evidence), proclaimed that bright kids don't need extra challenges in school, and that such challenges were actually harmful to them.

Now, there's some educational leadership for you - if you want to be led down the path to mediocrity.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Political Junkies on Political Junkets

You know the conservatives are in charge when the state and borough credit cards come out and the politicians fly off to DC to meet with lobbyists.  The big story is that 28 state legislatures are off to Washington DC to attend the three 1/2 day Energy Council sessions.  Really - 28?!?  Included in that list is the central peninsula's Tom Wagoner, asleep at the wheel ever since elected, who has forever sat in the sidelines of the state senate and just got caught unawares about the Conoco LNG shutdown.  Is there a golf course nearby?!?

Couldn't a small committee be sent and reports then filed? And three 1/2 sessions are all that is on the agenda? 

Our local borough assembly members, all nine of them, are off to DC next week to attend sessions for some national counties organization.  The borough had to appropriate some $16K for this junket.  Again, do all assembly members really need to go?  And when budget cuts to essential services are in the works, how does this make any sense?

Someone please tell me about the connection between republicans/teabaggers and fiscal responsibility.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Do Tell...Don't Ask?!?

Oh, the ultimate power that being the Borough Assembly President brings.

Gary Knopp has met with Borough Mayor, Davey Carey, to begin reviewing and setting the upcoming budget and they decided that the other assembly members were not to be allowed to talk to the various borough department heads to ask them questions about their current budget needs. Carey already decided to make up his budget without input from the department heads and now ignorance will also be the borough assembly policy.

Now why would you do something so...stupid?!?

Well, why apply logic, sanity and need to political decisions?  Why not just make budgets (and cuts) according to your political agendas rather than by what might be needed to make the Kenai a great place to live?  Brings to mind Tricky Dick's famous quote: Don't confuse me with the facts.

Speaking of logic and sanity, the rumor is that Ron Long, the former borough assembly person from Seward will run for Borough Mayor this fall.  Ron, a successful businessman established a reputation as a fair, honest and knowledgeable man who was able to work with folks of various political persuasions to come up with sensible ideas and solutions to the various issues we face here on the Kenai.

Is there hope for the future?  Don't count on it.  The Kenai is the place where Joe Miller was the top vote-getter in the last US Senate race.  We live in a place where logic and sanity are about as important as fuel efficient vehicles.

Maybe Dale Bagely will also decide to run and he and Carey would split the, um, insanity vote.  Maybe, just maybe there is a chance not to be so SOL here.

OK, joke time.  A version of this made the rounds on FaceBook this morning:

The Koch brothers, a teabagger and a government-workers union employee were invited to a meeting to discuss wages. At the meeting there was a table with a plate of 100 cookies.

The K Bros., because of their VIP status, were able to enter early and before the other two had any idea that there were so many cookies, took 99 of them. When the teabagger and the unionized worker showed up, one of the Kochs pulled the teabagger aside, offered him a bite off of one of their 99 cookies, pointed to the one remaining cookie and the union guy and said "That union person wants most of your cookie"

Thursday, February 24, 2011


As noted in my previous post, since the super-rich were granted another extension of their tax breaks, the EPA and government workers' unions are being targeted by Republicans, Tea Baggers and conservative talk radio.  The previous post here noted the Peninsula Clarion's lame opinion piece that slammed the EPA, and while there doesn't seem to be much of witch hunt for unionized borough and school district personnel right now, both of those entities are looking at budget shortfalls and it will be curious how it all plays out.

Nation-wide, there is little doubt that the war on the middle class is being financed by the likes of the Koch Brothers.  Posing behind grassroots sounding names like Americans for Prosperity and the Tea Party Express these super-wealthy corporate masters manipulate those who are suckers for simplistic solutions that don't solve a thing.  But the PR is good and supported by the Rush Limbaughs and Glen Becks of talk radio.  A classic divide and conquer technique pitting average Americans against each other while the filthy rich get filthier. 

There was an interesting piece in the NYTimes comparing the tax rates of the security guards and janitors in the Hemsley Building in NYC, where the average resident had an adjusted income that exceeded $1million.  The bottom line, the poor paid a higher % of their income to taxes than the super rich.  And yet those same wealthy folks just got themselves a nice big tax break.  The rest of us?  Cuts to services, loss of jobs, and taking away the few things that help the middle class stay middle class.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Time To Apply a Strong Hand With the Clarion

Now that the super-rich have been given the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts and as the costs of two unfunded wars and the interest on that borrowed money mount, the US has plunged further into deficit spending. To divert attention to their own culpability, the right-wingers have have been quick to point fingers.  Obama's recovery plan was an easy initial target and so has been the health reform passed last year.  We'll not go into the merits of either here and now. But recently there have been two new whipping boys of talk radio and winger-blogs: unions and the EPA.

The Clarion chose to rip the EPA in its recent opinion piece, Time to apply a strong hand with the EPA.  What rot, but surprisingly so, what unabashed rot.  The writer doesn't even pretend to see a need for any sort of environmental protection, but rather simply whores for the jobs that unchecked development might bring, no matter the destruction it would cause.  

Without the EPA (which was created with a Republican in the White House) there's no doubt that development would be done without a care about the health of either the people or the planet.  If you think otherwise, think back to the time some 40 years ago when rivers in the US were so polluted that they caught fire. Do just a little bit of investigation on the drilling/production practices of the major players in developing countries.  In Ecuador, where the oil companies have rigged the game in their favor by bribing politicians and writing their own laws (sound familiar?), the courts have just awarded $9 billion to be paid by Chevron/Texaco to the indigenous jungle people for that company's wanton and reckless dumping of 18 billion gallons of toxic wastes and the spilling of 17 million gallons of crude oil in the upper Amazon basin. Look at the destruction and corruption done by big oil in Nigeria.

But everyone is blaming the EPA for stifling development.  Whatever.  Damn, we are lucky that we have that agency.

There was an interesting post in The Economist, a leading world-wide business magazine published in Britain and usually spot-on concerning economic/political issues.  One of the wikileaks revelations was that the Saudis have exaggerated their oil reserves.  The Economist predicts a steep increase in natural gas and oil prices and suggests that development now is not a good business idea. After all,  why be in such a rush to get your product to the market when prices are low?  And low natural gas prices are certainly the reason Conoco and Marathon are shutting down the Nikiski LNG plant - Alaska gas is priced out of the market right now.  Forget all talk of bullet lines and other such natural gas pipelines.  It's cheaper to import the resource than to produce it here right now.  It's a simple business matter controlled by an oversupply caused by new technologies, new discoveries and gas/oil fields located in places that are just easier to get to market.

But it won't be like that forever. Eventually that gas and oil we have in the ground is really going to worth developing.  If we were to do so today, it means giving billions of dollars away to the most profitable businesses in the world - corporate welfare at its worse.  And a bad business decision.

It's like a savings account protected safe underground for now.  We, along with the politicians in Juneau, have shown little sense in how we spend and give away the state's money.  Why should we be in such a rush to throw more money away? 

Let the free market decide.  There's no reason to give away these reserves at bargain prices and subsidize the oil companies to boot.  After all, these reserves are our children's inheritance.  

It will mean some belt-tightening for we Alaskans, but aren't we calling for that on a national level?  And in the long-run, it will be best for the future of Alaska.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wake Up and Smell the Giveaway

Oh, Boy.  $1,000,000,000 + and that is just a start of the serious money that the State of Alaska is proposing that we give away to the oil industry, those very same companies that posted record profits. And what for? To protect oil companies from the vagaries of the free market system.  The governor and all of our locally elected officials that represent the Kenai in Juneau would give this amount of money and more to the oil companies without actually requiring them to guarantee that they would do more exploration or drilling. BTW, the state has already given these companies about $3,000,000,000 in breaks in the last four years with no guarantees.  Guess what? In this case, you don't get what you pay for. If you haven't read Mike Doogan's take on this, you should click here.

So, the oil companies are stinking rich, the state is flush.  Why the rush to promote development by giving away subsidies to the filthy rich?  What happened to free market system dictating development?  Why are those who decry government bailouts for the bankrupt auto industry the first to want to bailout extremely profitable oil companies? 

And then Mike Chenault has this piece in the Clarion about how we need to act or opportunities will pass us by.  Wow, that sounds we should do something and do it now, but just what are you proposing Mr Chenault?

Some other competitor beat the price that Conoco and Marathon was selling LNG to the Japanese.  Business happens.  And it wasn't because of regulations or taxes - with new technologies, new fields in the world and a glut of natural gas on the market, Alaskan natural gas is just priced out of the market right now.  Is Mike proposing that the state subsidize an in-state pipeline when there is not much of a market for the product?  That smacks of something that is not free-market capitalism to me. Well, Mike really doesn't offer much of a plan as there are no facts, no figures, no projections, just some sort of sense of impending doom and gloom. 

Please, someone help me understand this.  Yes, we have oil in the ground and offshore.  Yes, we have tremendous reserves of natural gas. Does anyone really have any doubt that sooner or later, these fields will be developed?   Our state fiscal reserves are brimming, and while production is certainly down, revenues for the oil owned by the state are the envy of every other state in the nation.

And when the price is right, and it sure isn't now, the state will make a bunch of money, the oil companies will make a lot of money, but maybe you and I won't make a lot.  But maybe our kids and grandkids will.  We've already proven that we'll piss away what we get.  Let's hope that our kids aren't quite as dumb .

And if you are of the tea-bag persuasion, here's your golden moment.  If you really believe in the free market and no government bailouts, don those tri-corner hats and just tell those republican politicians in Juneau that garsh-darn it no, no more subsidies for the most profitable businesses on the planet. Yeah right.  I won't hold my breath.

Of course there is a fallout to it all.  By giving away our natural gas at subsidized prices to Agrium and their fertilizer plant and to Conoco and Marathon to sell to the Japanese, enough natural gas was produced to offer the citizens of the Kenai the gas at relatively affordable prices.  Now that the free market is about to reclaim its place, we are all going to give more to Enstar.  The free market sucks when you have to pay market prices, but that is the way supply and demand works, isn't it?

Now imagine that we got smart.  Instead of paying $500,000,000 to Transcanada for looking into building a natural gas pipeline across Canada (surely that will create a lot of AK jobs), instead of giving the oil companies over $4,000,000,000 in subsidies, instead of thinking about giving  $150,000,000 to the Knik Arm Bridge developers, instead of the $11,000,000+ to study The road to Nome which could cost a few billion by the time it is completed, instead of funding the $5,000,000,000 Susitna Dam, let's take that all of that money and begin moving AK to sustainable clean energy (and maybe on a local rather than grand scale), fully fund our universities to attract and keep the best and brightest minds, help more homeowners make their homes energy efficient (and reducing the demand for more fossil fuels), develop viable mass transit and promote and develop businesses and industries that match the needs of the changing world?

Then our kids and grandkids might have a fighting chance.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mayor Carey: We've Got To Keep Moving (down the road to hell): Part 2

Last week, I posted about Carey's call for the development of the Chuitna Coal mine.  Please, some one out there try to explain to me how destroying a productive salmon stream and shipping dirty coal to China to help power their factories and put more Americans out of work is a good idea? If you think developing this mine is just totally whacked, please do attend DNR public hearing this Wednesday night, January 19,  from 6-9 PM at the Challenger Learning Center.  This will be the one and only opportunity you will have to let the powers know that this is just a lousy idea.

And Mayor Davey is also all about developing the Pebble Mine too.  Once again, salmon be damned. Once again, let's destroy one of the last great ecosystems left on the planet so some multi-national mining company can make billions.  Sometimes, it is not just all about the money.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Alaska Oil Companies Need Your Money

Despite record profits, neither State Senator Tom Wagoner nor House Speaker Mike Chenault think that the oil companies make enough money and are both proposing to enable those businesses to give their executives even larger bonuses.  Of course, like back in the days of the blatant CBC (corrupt bastard club) Mike and Tom are reciting the oil company talking points, but have no real corroborating evidence that ACES has really stifled production or exploration.  The number of Slope workers is greater than what it was before ACES was passed, and the decline of production in the existing fields is what happens when you pump them for 25+ years.  Just like last year when there was some movement to eliminate ACES, the proposals did not have a clause that guaranteed the companies would ramp up exploration/production if they were given a break.  Nope - just give them the money.

Is ACES perfect? Of course not, but the only one with a better proposal was Ethan Berkowitz, who did not get elected governor. Read about his plan here.

What about the guy we did elect to be the Guv'?  The legislature is planning to give him a 40% pay raise - that's right $50,000.  And the guy has not one bright idea about anything. 

Let's see, Alaskans elect Frank Murkowski over Fran Ulmer.  Fran is honest, capabale and has some great ideas. Frank buys a jet and crowns his daughter.  Then we elect Sarah Palin.  Let's not even go there (ACES was her baby by the way). And then we elect Parnell and the first thing that gets taken care of might be his pay raise.

Please tell me exactly why anyone thinks the Republicans are the fiscally conservative party?  They are the union of the ridiculously rich with an army of those incapable of doing anything but reciting talk radio propaganda.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Mayor Carey: We've Got To Keep Moving (down the road to hell): Part 1

Oh, Davey, just whom do you get advice from and who writes your speeches?  Is thinking about the consequences of your proposals ever allowed? 

SOL to the rescue.

Let's start with your out-of-total context quip from the AK constitution that we're a resource development state.  You imply that we then have no other choice but develop each and every resource no matter what.  You can't just use the parts of the constitution that support your point of view.  The AK Constitution also says that we are conservation state too.  And more importantly, that development must be based on sustainable yield.

So let's start with the Chuitna Coal project.  OK - just to be clear, this mine would cut right through and destroy a world-class salmon stream by removing 11 miles of the river with an open-pit mine. The coal will be not be used here, but shipped off to China and will fuel their cheap-labor merchandise that will put more Americans out of work.  Then they will burn this very dirty stuff and cause even more environmental damage to the planet.  Oh, the tailings?  Mercury, arsenic and other poisons that not only would destroy the water table there, but would flow into Cook Inlet. 

And what about the salmon?  We have ours with the Kenai River, so screw the rest?  The salmon can be maintained as sustained yield guaranteeing Alaskans jobs and recreation for generations to come.

The open pit will sustain a few rich developers for a few years, create short-term jobs at the pit, but send many other Americans jobs to China.

You should put away that 49 star flag Dave and get out that Red one with the five stars. Anyone who supports this has obviously sold their soul to the god of greed.

There is a hearing about the mine at the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai on Wednesday the 19th at 6 pm.

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