A COUP TO REMEMBER: The last time the Alaska Legislature stayed in session this long was back in the 1980s, when Rep. Jim Duncan, a Juneau Democrat, was House Speaker. The session went into June.
Old-timers will remember what happened next. The session went too long, so there on June 12, 1981 some legislators staged a coup, and Duncan was out as speaker, replaced by Joe Hayes.
The coup was staged by Reps. Russ Meekins, Rick Halford, Mitchell Abood, Al Adams, Charles Anderson, Ramona Barnes, Betty Cato, Jack Fuller, Michael Beirne, Robert Bettisworth, Bernard Bylsma, David Cuddy, Kenneth Fanning, E. J. Haugen, Joe Hayes, Vernon Hurlbert, Terry Martin, Ray Metcalfe, Joe Montgomery, Patrick O’Connell, Randy Phillips, and Richard Randolph.
Part of the ousted Duncan camp were Reps. Hugh Malone, Brian Rogers, Fred Brown, Don Clocksin, Sam Cotten (now Fish and Game commissioner), Sally Smith, Mike Miller, Tony Vaska and Fred Zharoff. They sued to have Duncan restored, saying the coup was unconstitutional. Their attorney was Doug Pope. They lost.
The Anchorage Superior Court ruled that while “the procedures used by the majority in accomplishing its will lacked woefully in decorum and the orderly parliamentary process by which the business of a public legislative body should be conducted,” the replacement of Speaker Duncan was lawful. The group also lost on appeal.
As for Duncan, he is the only House Speaker to last but one session, but he is still walking the halls of the Capitol, now as the union representative for State employees (some might suggest that he held that position back then, too).
Thirty six years since the first coup in the House, the Democrats once again are in control and have lost track of time. They are holding the Legislature in session well into July, almost as though this is the best-paying job they’ll ever have.
IF YOU HAVE TO ASK, YOU CAN’T AFFORD IT: To answer all those questions we’re getting about where the founder of Facebook stays when he comes to Alaska, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla parked at the Alaska Wilderness Lodge in China Poot Bay in Kachemak Bay, dined at local Homer restaurants, and did not use a guide for fishing, just the lodge staff and equipment.
BEST WILLIAM SEWARD STATUE EVER: The bronze statue of William Seward was dedicated on July 3 in Juneau. It sits in the spot close to where the old much-maligned Nimbus once stood, the most controversial public sculpture in Alaska. By all accounts the dedication ceremony was rainy but the depiction of Secretary of State Seward is being praised for its artistry and its “scars and all” honesty.
APOCALYPSE ISLAND: Juneau Empire reporter James Brooks snapped a photo from the island near the whale sculpture in Juneau, and we think those are fireworks, even though his photo was taken not long after North Korea launched its long-range missile:
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