Art Chance: When you wish upon a star - Must Read Alaska
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Friday, October 22, 2021
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Art Chance: When you wish upon a star

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Juneau is a nice place to live if you are among the upper levels of the local, state, and federal government and the people who deal with them.   

It is an especially nice place to live if you’re among the self-anointed “in crowd” of old Juneau money, Democrat and Native royalty, and lobbyist and political money.

This crowd and the people closely associated with them have pretty much a monopoly on the million-dollar houses with a water view.  Some of the old money goes back to the gold mining days when Juneau was the richest town in America and maybe in the world.   

The rest of the rich and powerful got their money and power from knowing the right people and being in the right place at the right time. Harry Truman once said that the only way you can get rich in government is to be a crook, and that is pretty much true. I know or know of a few who got rich by being inside government, though that can be risky business, but I know or know of many more who got rich by having connections inside government.

Juneau is not a very nice place to live if you are a Republican elected or appointed official, an employee at the delivery of service level in government, or below the owner/manager/professional level of what little private sector there is in the capital city. 

Compared to other urban areas in Alaska, and only in Alaska would a town of 30K people be considered urban, Juneau is breathtakingly expensive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not monitor cost of living in Juneau. The Alaska Department of Labor does a market basket survey that is sometimes reliable but is subject to political influence. The State last did a comprehensive and somewhat objective survey of cost of living differentials within Alaska and between Alaska and Seattle in 1984.   

The cold breath of the Capital move was still strong enough that the State concluded that there was no reason for a geographic differential for Juneau; the math was simple; if you paid a Geographic Differential for Juneau, it was easy to economically justify moving any position to Anchorage. 

The State also concluded that there would be a negative differential between urban Alaska, including Juneau, and Seattle of 12.5%. The Seattle based marine highway unions knew better and had the power to force the State to agree to a 25% differential for any of their members who claimed to reside in Alaska, which mostly meant those who claimed to live in Juneau or Ketchikan.

The Public Employment Relations Act requires that any labor agreement include a cost of living differential between Alaska and Seattle. That is language from the early 1980s and was precipitated by the Hammond Administration’s attempts to rein in the cost of the ferry system. By the time I became director of labor relations in early 2003, using Seattle as a base had become untenable. In the early 2000s, Seattle was far more expensive than Anchorage or Fairbanks.  

Since I had the power to do it and nobody knew enough to question me, I just made the base Western Washington, which is expensive enough, but not as expensive as Queen Anne Hill. I spent $100K on salary surveys but never could get a truly reliable number, but the old marine highway number of about 25% is pretty good for a Juneau differential.   

I kept my office in Juneau, but only because the governor and the commissioner of Administration were there most of the time. Most of our actual work was in Anchorage and Fairbanks and we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on travel costs between Juneau and those cities. We were in Juneau for meetings, most of which were unnecessary or could have been done by phone or video.  We all knew that moving the office to Anchorage would be at least a 25% pay raise and a savings of several hundred thousand dollars a year in travel costs.

Gov. Frank Murkowski was the last governor to insist that all of his commissioners maintain their primary office in Juneau other than the adjutant general, and somewhat, the commissioner of Public Safety. Governors Sarah Palin and Sean Parnell let division directors and above maintain an office wherever they chose. Most chose Anchorage.  

Gov. Bill Walker made Bruce Botelho, former mayor of Juneau, his henchman to remove everyone who’d ever had a Republican thought from State government, but even Walker made little attempt to either hire the Juneau anointed ruling class or to return the runaway State employees to the People’s Republic.   

Actually, the Republican Dunleavy Administration has a bit more of a political appointee presence in Juneau than had its recent predecessors. In sum, the only vestigial remains of the State Capital in Juneau are some of the Office of the Governor, some of the Department of Administration, and some of the finance and budget sections/divisions of operating departments that have to deal directly with Admin or OMB.  

Oh, and they still have the star on the map and an old post office and a former federal office building that we call the Capitol.   Except during the legislative session, Juneau is nothing more than a regional center for government. 

They seem to think that star will be there forever.

But Juneau’s self-anointed in-crowd is, as always, totally lacking self-awareness. I read a Juneauite’s hoity-toity retort on a post on Juneau’s attempt to eliminate the cruise industry. He goes on and on about what a cultural mecca Juneau is.   

Well, it is, for a town of 30,000 people, but only if you are affluent enough to afford tickets to Perseverance Theatre, dinner at Salt, and drinks after work at The Hangar or other watering holes in town. 

If you’re a State Range 12 or 14, the typical delivery-of-service employee, those destinations are once a year, just for special occasions. Juneau can’t even support a McDonald’s downtown or chain restaurants in the Mendenhall Valley. Even Walmart couldn’t stay in business there.  

My former hometown in Georgia has about a third of the population and about a third of the per capita income as Juneau and yet it has a thriving Walmart “Super Center.”  Were it not for the vestigial remains of the upper levels of the Executive Branch, and the legislative session, downtown Juneau would be a ghost town between September and May. Ever been to Skagway in January? That would be downtown Juneau.

But Juneau’s clueless in-crowd wants to destroy the tourism economy that supports all the stuff they take for granted.   

I’ll admit that at the public policy level I’m not a big fan of a tourism economy; it produces a few rich owners and a lot of poor and transient service workers; as a public policy matter, you need more than that or you become a tourism city in the Third World.   

When I lived in Juneau, I saw the same ships in January in Puerto Vallarta that I saw in July in Juneau and even ran into people at bars and restaurants in Juneau who I’d seen in bars and restaurants in Puerto Vallarta. Those “cultural amenities” that the Juneau elite likes to tout are dependent for their survival not on government or the Juneau elite, but on tourism.  I’ve never lived off money that my great-grandfather made, so I know what it is like to live in Alaska’s seasonal and “boom and bust” economy.   

In the good times, you take money to the bank in a wheelbarrow; in the bad times you take money out of the bank in a wheelbarrow, and you hope that there is a little left over for you to start the next season.

I spent a quarter century in Juneau, most of it in the upper levels of state government.  I lived well though I spent a lot of time on airplanes, in hotels, and hearing rooms. When I came home it took a few days to not reach for the phone to call room service when the alarm went off.  I worked with people who I still cherish and I worked with people I simply hated; you have to be able to do that in government. 

We loved our boat and the lifestyle that goes with it. But, if you don’t have a job or business that allows you to have amenities and travel a bit, Juneau is a dismal, dark place.

Now, the people who are living off money granddaddy made or off public employee retirements are trying to make it impossible for anyone else to tolerate living in Juneau. It isn’t unheard of; Haines did the same thing when it chased the tourism industry away, but going to Haines isn’t exactly on anybody’s bucket list. Fairbanks is a regional center for government and can be brutal in winter, but you can drive out or fly out at a somewhat reasonable price. You can fly around the world from anywhere else in the US for the price of a ticket from Juneau to Seattle or Portland, and if you’re going anywhere other than the major left coast cities, throw in a few hundred bucks for staying overnight in the People’s Republic of Seattle or Portland.   

At bottom, if you don’t have a boat and have the money to travel a bit, or a job that pays for you to travel a bit, Juneau is pretty much unfit for human habitation. I guess the “in-crowd” just wants to keep their own company because a stroke of the governor’s pen or 21 and 11 in the legislature moves the Legislature and the upper levels of government out of Juneau.   

The federal employees follow the government out other than the Coast Guard and maybe some law enforcement.   Juneau can be cold, wet, dark, and lonely in January; check out Skagway in January some time.

Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon. 

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Latest comments

  • Mr. Chance,
    So in one breath you say all the upper level state workers have left and in the next you seem to state that they are the ones that maintain our lifestyle here.
    You seem to claim that only high level government workers and business owners can afford to work here. Have you looked at a miners wage? Over 100k a year and we have a plethora of them. I do believe our fishermen and their crews are maintaining a decent lifestyle as well. As well as many other folks in Juneau. You seem to think everything is too high priced in Juneau. Fred Meyer, Safeway and Costco particularly might take exception to that thought.

    Our unemployment levels are traditionally low. Not exactly an example of a bad economy. Most of us in business didn’t inherit it. We worked for it. You seem to be a little out of touch with the working class which is a pity. We all know you hate Juneau. You seem to be particularly mad that you couldn’t buy a suit. Well you know most of Juneau don’t wear suits. Carharts and extra tuffs are standard apparel. For most of us, dressing up means switching our Woolrich for Filson. Even the government workers. Suits us fine. ( pun intended)

    So we really don’t need suits the same as we don’t need gang wars and dysfunctional assemblies. So we pretty much don’t have them and are happy to let you enjoy that standard of living. I’m sure when the rest of the capitol moves up there everything will be better. Most the legislators are yours anyway so I hope you enjoy them.

    Sorry I could only come up with four short paragraphs instead of the thirty or so it took you to disparage us. But less is more you know. And I need to get back to work. Some us actually do that.

  • Another excellent article by Mr. Chance! I’ve only been to Juneau once and that was close to midnight on the ferry. Not quite the same as Anchorage in the dark of night. Perhaps that’s good.

  • Art, people who have never had to honestly earn a dollar have no concept of responsibly managing one.

  • Hey, I know. Let’s spend some of those millions and build us a new road to link our Capitol city to the road system. Asphalt is made mostly of oil, rocks, and sand. We have lots of those things hereabout. Seems that there are plenty of trees around to make bridges and tunnels. Just think of all the Alaskans we could put to work on such a project, and of course we could all much more easily drive to Juneau and make our voices heard in person to our elected representatives. Just a thought.

  • Art is always top notch in reporting and doing playback on Alaska history.. Superior job, Art
    Art missed out in PA paragraph two: LGTBQ has had serious effect on dragging down what little is left in . Juneau and certainly the famous tree huggers and all the folks that will save the oceans/planet helped seal Juneau.
    Throw in current Critical Race Theory for all the progressive created racism and there you have Juneau’s swansong. Juneau deserves all the voters that have made it what it is The liberal/progressive/far left have sucked the blood out of Juneau.

    Elections have consequences as barry o once said.

  • The raw nerve that Art Chance hit further proves Art’s article that the fat cats and elitists in Juneau are kind of happy with the way things are.

  • Being in Government might have jaded you somewhat Art.
    The sad fact about Alaska is that Juneau out produces Anchorage exponentially when one considers the products it exports. That being said, I agree with you about the culture, one so proud of their artistic achievements and yet they live with the worst garbage dump stench found in Alaska.
    Seriously, it can knock a dog off a gut wagon. Is this stench a new form of performance art, Art?
    Rorie Watt, are you listening?

  • Robert, you’re kind of splitting hairs aren’t you? Are you comparing Porter of Anchorage versus Port of Juneau, and are you including and Ted Stevens airport and what they export? Take away all the inbound cash from the legislature and their per diems because as we all know that’s a big waste of time and money and what do you have?

  • Move the Capital, so the people have access, to their elected representatives

  • I lived there once upon a time. Mostly nasty Democrats, and mostly an unfriendly place unless you get to know the non-government locals. But you forgot one thing, Art.
    The rain.

  • Greg, Port of Anchorage merely receives imported goods for consumption in State.. The hallmark of robust economic strength is what one EXPORTS. Greens Creek Mine based in Juneau produces over 7 million oz of AG per year for an example. Anchorage is a consumer of goods, producing little except for the servicing of Freight Jets at the airport and one could argue supporting JBER.
    My point is we need to develop our Mines, these produce metals that the world will purchase.

  • You Anchorage folks might think about spending less time writing misguided misspelled vitriolic article disparaging your fellow Alaskans and instead think about helping Mr. Bronson steer you away from the liberal progressive socialist path you’ve been going down. It just might be time better spent. We all have our issues and we should direct our energies toward fixing them instead of trying to tear others down.

    Just sayin’

  • I always enjoy your columns, Art.

  • Key takeaway: 21+11+1=MOVE!

  • Robert Schenker, the key is value adding to products, which Alaska does very little of. There is not a single lead smelter in America and we ship all our ore overseas, often to be smelted in open air. That’s so good for the environment! We need to start value adding here.

    • You might learn something of lead smelters by visiting the site of Coeur mining and Bunker Hill mine and smelter complex. It killed every tree in that entire valley and the toxic sludge remains everywhere and, while you can travel through the area, there are signs everywhere warning of things you should not do.
      There may be increased technology to more safely treat lead, it’s sure not something you want in your back yard.

  • Steel mills, Rare earth processing, plywood plants etc etc. We need to bring it all back home, do it right and that’s what can save our country. Not government handouts and disincentives to actually work and be proud of what you do. Not duplicative regulations and overlapping authorities. Not government controlled and subsidized so subservient businesses. Ayn Rand nailed it and that should be required reading in our schools. let’s pray it’s not too late. It sure feels like it.

    • Here is Jesse Larner on Ayn Rand: “In her insistence that she owed nothing to the state, nothing to any human being other than herself, Rand epitomized the kind of childishness shown by libertarians who insist that they have every legal and moral right to own as many guns as they please, pay no taxes, educate their children at home, and live free of any law except those governing, in the most direct manner, their own security and that of their neighbors.”
      I’m thinking he nailed it.

  • BILL YANKEE, you make my point. That’s the way it is done in India and China. Our last smelter in Missouri met standards but EPA pushed higher and shut them down. Or do you want to do without lead?

    • What “standards” do you refer to that EPA couldn’t tolerate?
      We clearly don’t want smelters in our back yards-I’m guessing you haven’t looked into Idaho’s smelters that have essentially destroyed a huge area as well as caused a lot of mental issues for a lot of children in that area.
      You think you want smelters in AK but they will have to be rigidly controlled to be tolerated IMO. If they can’t play ball, with EPA’s requirements, they will be imported from India and China-pretty simple.

  • BILL YANKEE, a society which survives only upon the labors of others, living based only upon things produced elsewhere, cannot long survive and soon becomes subservient to those who produce. We fast approach that point as we pay people only to exist (in rathole cities) so long as they vote for the proper politicians to maintain power. The day of reckoning approaches faster and faster. Lead, lithium, steel, oil, cars, phones, electronics (televisions) and many other essentials are slipping from our grasp and, like the Romans of 500, we will soon be left with hands out and ultimately replaced by better people who will produce these resources from this land into useful products. Of course, that is the progressive goal anyway.

  • It’s telling the Juneau defenders are splitting hairs but not actually debunking the thrust of Art’s comment.

    Unless you have the money to afford Juneau, it’s IS a tough place to live. I know. I live here.

    Also, the far left nutcase elite IS trying to effectively gut tourism in Juneau. Regardless of the devastation it would have on the community. These are mostly the same people who spent 10s of 1000s of Covid money on drag shows, metal canoes, and various other dubious pieces of “art” while people lost jobs.

    Lastly Juneau is a very expensive place to live. As Art makes clear, if you’re not old money or connected, it’s tough to get by.

    CBJ is currently several million in the red, nearly the exact amount of last years missing cruise revenues.

    Married adults with children often have to have roommates. More people live in trailers or duplexes than single family houses. Businesses that have existed for years are struggling or going under. McDonalds (the one remaining) is the only place to get a “full meal” for under $10 dollars – if you order carefully.

    Regardless if your wardrobe is Cathcart or a suit, these facts don’t change. Nor does the fact Juneau doesn’t have a cardiologist and it’s cheaper to fly to Seattle for healthcare.

    Lastly, Juneau does have one growth industry. Homelessness. The tent camps are everywhere and growing.

    • Boy are you ever out to lunch-as if living in a duplex is something to be ashamed of (or a trailer for that matter). When I first moved to Juneau in the early 70s I lived in a trailer for a couple of years till I was able to build my own place.
      And, while Juneau has always had its homeless, it’s hardly a growth industry. The main causes for homeless are many but certainly a market that grows as fast as Juneau’s is one cause as many are priced out but Juneau is clearly not in the ballpark here with say Seattle.

  • @Dave Hanna – It must be really lonely to be an Ayn Rand libertarian in a town politically dominated by communists! I know the miners make good money, but how many of them are there compared to how many people work for local, state, and federal government. And of the high-paid actual miners how many maintain a domicile in Juneau and how many hot bunk in an apartment during their shift and go home to mama in the Lower 48 on their off week(s)?

    Woolrich is now just a brand tacked on Asian junk. Very little Pendleton is made in the US of US materials and even a lot of Filson is imported and their all American made products are stunningly expensive. You can walk out of Brooks Brothers with a high-end suit for what head to toe Tin Cloth or Mackinaw Wool from Filson will cost. Wearing Filson is more a fashion and status statement than a testament to the products; a $100 raincoat from L.L. Bean or Columbia will keep you drier than a $400 waxed cotton garment from Filson. A Filson Packer tin cloth jacket with a hood and a full wool liner will cost around $600, weighs a ton, and is hard to stow. A $2-300 North Face or Columbia down parka will keep you warmer and drier, and they’re light and stow easily. ExtraTuffs are now made in China and their line is more fashion for high school and college kids than work clothing. I do still have a couple of pairs of the American-made ones, albeit with a few patches.

    You might be able to get your money back for that reading comprehension class you took. I never said all of the upper level State employees had left. I did say there were few left in Juneau. Since the end of the Murkowski Administration only two or three commissioners have maintained their primary office in Juneau. Many division directors have also moved their primary office to Anchorage and go to Juneau only ocassionally other than when required to appear at the Legislature. It’s all public record; ask the Division of Personnel and Labor Relations how many employees there are at Range 20 and above with an AWA location code and how many are elsewhere. The members of the Juneau legislative delegation used to constantly ask that question and asked for total employee count by location. I never saw anybody pay any attention to it after the late Eighties.

  • Bill Yankee, Doe Run Company smelter in Herculaneum, MO closed in 2010 as EPA pushed standards higher and higher to become unattainable. I’ve worked in the monitoring program of a lead processing facility and standards were very high-regular testing of every employee with anyone showing increased levels thoroughly investigated, aggressive mitigation to prevent community pollution, and in many cases increased monitoring of community members for lead levels (in Ohio, 1970s). But instead of making attainable standards, your kind will push the industry to completely unregulated areas because YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT THE REST OF THE WORLD! Only your back yard, oh my. If some foreign kid has to die before becoming a teen in order to mine rare earths, that’s just fine with you because you don’t want to chance a fish getting hurt in California where we have the minerals. You don’t see those kids in Nigeria or Cambodia digging and working with no health standards so it doesn’t matter to you. Only your back yard.
    ‘The outbreak of lead poisoning in Zamfara State was discovered in 2010. It has killed at least 400 inhabitants, mainly children, who are the most vulnerable owing to access and inadvertent ingestion of contaminated objects.
    MSF discovered that the children in Niger State have died owing to extremely high levels of lead in their bodies.’ from Al Jazeera. Note the date. At the same time we closed down regulated plant, kids were dying to meet our need.
    ‘Safiya, 30, has already lost two of her children owing to lead poisoning’
    ‘Ousman, 41, used to be a miner, but ever since he lost his three children to lead poisoning within a timeframe of less than two years he gave up mining’
    But that’s okay, they’re just some poor African, Chinese or Indian kids. Not in your back yard because you love the Earth so much.

    • I see you don’t say why it was that the EPA didn’t sign off on those “very high” standards-I suspect because they don’t hold up.
      You are a sick man AK.

  • Art,
    I’m thinking you should consider keeping your authoritative statements to subjects you actually have some experience in. You have obviously never fallen timber, laid pipe or crawled under a D-8 in the mud welding up the swing frame. Probably never commercial fished either. Your little down coat that stuffs so well in your little carry on while you wear your precious Brooks Brothers suit doesn’t cut it in our world. And my well used Filson tin pants and wool foresters that are 30-40 years old are still going strong. it’s called real value, real performance and thus return on investment. This is something perhaps only a capitalist understands. Sorry to be so blunt but we know what works here and you apparently don’t. Yes I own some fleece and Outdoor Research lightweight rain gear and ski clothes but for down and dirty real work the traditional stuff is still tough to beat. Trust me.

  • On another note it is a pity that Mr. Yankee seems bent on lending credence to Mr. Chances’ opinions of the population in our fair little city. Oh well.

    • Dave, that’s just because anyone left of Attila The Hun is a communist by Art’s standards. I suspect you are pretty lonely though. Heheh!

  • Ak.
    I could not have said it any better. If the world is going to get better we’re the ones that can do it. Right here at home. And give Americans real jobs with dignity.

  • It must be lonely being a conservative staffer in the Legislature. You get disinvited to all of those pot parties, sit by yourself at the staffer and press watering holes, no LBGTQ dates, shunned by the Lefty staffers in the Capitol Building. But really, it’s probably no different than in the late seventies and 80’s when half the legislators were homosexual and damn near the other half were coke addicts, or coke whores.

  • @Artful Dogger – I can’t argue with that assessment, though by my time with the Legislature it had become fairly tame by comparison to the Seventies and most of the Eighties. When I first came to work for the Executive Branch in April of ’87, you didn’t have to smoke dope to come to work high; you just had to walk through the SOB parking garage, and half my co-workers came back from lunch vibrating from the line of coke they did at lunch.

    I’ll never forget walking back from Gov. Hickel’s swearing in with a gaggle of Range 20-somethings, about half of whom were political appointees. One of the appointees, also the wife of an appointee, turned to the group and said, “this is going to be like having to ask your parents for the car keys again,” and it was. It was really the first time the bureaucracy, mostly hired in their late teens and twenties during the Hammond Administration, had experienced any adult supervision. Though Hammond himself was nominally a Republican the support of the left side of the Democrats put him in office and much of his Administration came from the Ad Hoc Democrat Coalition’ lefties. They set they culture of State government, much of which remains today with their progeny.

    By the mid-nineties the air in the SOB garage no longer was filled with “sweet perfume,” bottles in the lower desk drawer were a thing of the past as was drinking lunch and going back to work, and the lunchtime tryst on Basin Road would make you famous in the ADN’s “The Ear” column. If you were an open and notorious Democrat you could get away with a lot still, but for a Republican, and especially Republican appointees, you had to be Caesar’s Wife; if you didn’t do something stupid, the lefties would make something up. By the time I was an appointee in the’00s, we all bought the Sunday ADN just to see if we were in “The Ear.”

  • Bill Yankee, perpetually changing federal standards have driven many industries away besides lead-steel, refining, electronics and others. My daughter’s new Ford is built in Mexico (I only later discovered this). The US becomes more business unfriendly every day with shifting tax, environmental and other standards. It may be fine for your generation to sit on baskets of money and live high on the world, but a nation cannot maintain high living standards selling only things produced elsewhere and cleaning toilets for wealthy foreign businessmen. I preach this often-by the end of the Empire, Rome produced nothing and its currency had no intrinsic value (all the silver and gold traded away). The Romans as a people also ceased to exist, replaced by Goths, Visigoths, Lombards and others.
    I want more for my kids. I teach them to produce and to be productive people. This nation must maintain an essential industrial base and trained workforce if we are to remain first world. And all the kids are ours. Every child has great potential and to defer the tasks to people elsewhere because they are too ‘dirty’ for us is about as selfish as one can be. Now you tell me who is the sick man.

    • Ross Perot said it better with his “sucking sound” bit about what would occur with a world economy. You saw how well he has done politically and that was before the Chinese got involved. You might just as well join Ron Paul and his ilk IMO.
      While you’ve not mentioned it, I suspect it was just money involved in the loss of permit for a lead smelter as those involved knew they couldn’t compete with the uneven playing field in smelters. No different than chicken factories or shoes, etc. etc..
      You say it’s selfishness but it’s just business as usual and we just are not going back to the old ways (also IMO). And we saw how well “tariff man” did at leveling the playing field. Heheh!

  • @Dave Hanna – I sat down and had a heart to heart talk with myself in my mid-Thirties about what I was going to do with my life. I never reached a definitive conclusion about what I was going to do, but I did reach a firm conclusion that whatever it was, it wouldn’t involve wearing an Eddie Bauer “North Slope” parka, Helly-Hanson rain gear, ExtraTuffs, or Carhardts to work.

    In my early days with the State I did not get along well with my co-workers because I was the only one who hadn’t gone straight from college to government and had actually worked in clothes other than dress clothes and had gotten my hands dirty and calloused. My labor relations background was partly academic but mostly acquired working my way up through the ranks of the Laborers’ Union where I became VP of the local and a delegate to the AFL-CIO’s Anchorage Central Labor Council and the Laborers’ District Council of Laborers. Unless you’ve been among them, you have no idea of the contempt that the college-educated straight to goverment types have for people who do any sort of work that doesn’t involve cubbies or offices and dress clothing.

    The reality is that in Juneau, there are at most a few hundred people working at jobs that involve any physical danger or any liklihood of getting your hands dirty. With the State you have the cops and COs, the Labor, Trades, and Crafts people, and some of the Marine Highway employees. Everybody else works in government, retail, or service. They don’t know anybody who gets their hands dirty except maybe a contractor that comes to fix their house or an appliance. They don’t even know the mechanic that fixes their car.

    I had the cops, CO, the labor, trades, and crafts, and some or all of the AMHS in my portfolio for most of my career. I know my way around the world of work. Maybe you should stick to things you know something about.

  • @Art Chance…….ah..memory lane in the Capitol Building. I remember quite a few homosexual legislators in office during the 80’s and not really trying to hide it. A particular member of the House and his ………hmmmm…loyal male staffer. And then, there were the two Representatives, one from Haines and one from Fairbanks. They were caught in a homosexual tryst in one of the committee rooms after hours, by Senator Fahrenkamp. Betty blew a fuse when she saw it with her own eyes. Even Democrats can surprise themselves at times. And that was 35 years ago.

  • Bill Yankee, you are correct, it was about money. The decision, according to the CFO, was about spending millions of dollars on improvements with no guarantee that the standards would not soon change again. Off to China and Mexico the jobs go.
    And time will tell how the ‘Tariff Man’ policies do for Americans. That big sucking sound is the disappearance of good paying jobs going down the drain both back overseas and replaced by imported low wage workers (and I do not oppose immigrants, they are a good part of my family). For those on top it is great, but for the working people trying to climb the struggle becomes harder and harder.

    • Your CFO just used that time-old argument business always complains about. The real crux of that matter is that a US smelter could never compete monetarily with those overseas smelters because of labor costs and lack of environmental regs.. And all business is regularly faced with the need to change when technology requires it-usually making for increased safety for all (environment too). That CFO was looking at being able to compete in a world economy without a level playing field-tariffs could help here but for some reason that help was not on the table.
      This is what happens in a world economy for any business with high labor costs unless technology can replace those costs with machines. In the case of smelters it’s the air quality that must be regulated here as lead is nothing to fool with.

  • Bill Yankee, you’re somewhat making assumptions based on no information. This was an old company long based in the community with much community support. We cannot know the motives of others. And ideally with tariffs we should penalize those who dump American workers for cheap foreign labor. Rather than lowering our standard of living to compete, we should try to influence foreign competition to raise their standards. Of course, that was the Trump plan.

    • The only reason there is no information is because you didn’t give any. And it’s you that is interested in lowering our EPA standards in favor of granting such a permit. Jeez-Louise AK, get a grip on the issue.
      Lead smelters are a huge health issue and EPA is charged with minimizing such safety concerns and you are bitching because you think EPA should have bowed down to that company (for jobs).

  • Mr. Chance,
    I’m afraid you have run off the rails on this discussion. Perhaps your time away from Juneau compounded by your many years of wearing a suit has has played a role in this. You state that there are at most a few hundred folks in Juneau that might get their hands dirty. There are way more than that at either of our world class mines . And I probably know at least that many in the construction and manufacturing industries here. And then we have all the shops. So please don’t get so defensive when we set you straight. Nobody’s right all the time. Not even you.

  • Art,
    I don’t know how you keep subjecting yourself to the freak patrols. Either your detractors are envious of your skills and experience, or they are taking a shot at you ……. hoping to scare you off. You’re the best damn writer at MRAK, after Suzanne, of course. You have quite a following here. Experience in labor negotiations tends to harden the core. Common sense tends to drive the Lefties further out of their minds. You do both well, and in exemplary style.

  • BILL YANKEE, maintain, not lower. There is a difference. When standards are set industry works to comply, but when new EPA directors are appointed and ‘reinterpret’ existing rules, or arbitrarily change them without legislative oversight, industry often finds it advantageous to relocate rather than play the game. When an administration sets out to destroy an industry they only hurt the working people with little benefit to anyone.

    • This is just your opinion without any back-up AK. You are the one making assumptions here with your: “When an administration sets out to destroy an industry they only hurt the working people with little benefit to anyone.”
      You may even believe your own stuff but nobody else will. What a joke!

  • BILL YANKEE, maintain, not lower. Modifications are expensive. We did a multi year very expensive emissions job for GM in the 70s, and before even firing up, Jimmy Carter’s EPA ‘reinterpreted’ the regulations to make it obsolete-so into the cupola it went (and people wonder why cars are so expensive). Lead is an essential product to our nation, and safe when properly handled just like any other (apparently safer than the COVID vaccine if you go by deaths). But when government declares ‘war’ on industry Americans lose. At the current pace, one day our children will aspire to be house servants to people who still produce.

    • Attempting to change the subject doesn’t help IMO.
      I agree Lead is an essential product and can be handled properly but smeltering it is in a league all its own (also IMO).

  • Personally I have never seen a lazier group of people than that of Juneau. Sure everyone wears carhearts but that’s a pathetic attempt at a fashion statement. And Xtratufs are a dead giveaway of a seasonal employee straight off an airplane. Fishermen are notoriously lazy they pay half the harbor fees of anyone else and if they have a bad season they spend the other eight months unemployed and collecting federal subsidies… State and city employees are abundant but it seems like with their holidays and vacation pay they only work a few days a week. If your a construction company good chance your dad set you up with it. Yep, piss poor place to live if you aren’t handed daddy’s money or milking a federal pension.

  • Andrew Troy’s May 27 comment was the most uplifting, positive, and logical in this discussion.

  • Bill Yankee, “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them, because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted,” Obama said during a 2008 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board.
    Just one of the production industries targeted by progressives. The same fervor applied to other industries disliked by progressives. If you sought truth you could find them yourself.

    • You call them progressives but they are just those that believe the scientists on air quality. Same thing applies to ditching your waste in the nearest bar ditch-the old business as usual is a thing of the past and good riddance IMO.

  • BILL YANKEE, I wish that we could believe science, but politics trumps science today just like in the time of Galileo. ‘The Ice Age of 1975’, ‘civilization will collapse by 2000’, and so many other ‘science’ findings and projections. Once we read the news and formed opinions; now we are fed opinions and must really struggle to decipher what is news. In August of 1945 the news in Japan still reported that they were victorious but none but the most fanatic held any credence to it. So today our ‘news’ reports fantastic story after fantastic story but few but the uninformed and the fanatics believe (and that’s my family).
    I know what I believe and what I have seen. Where once all the essentials of life were stamped ‘made in USA’ now we are nearly completely dependent upon communist countries which vow to overthrow us (and I also have family from there). A nation which does not produce cannot survive. I’ve also spent half a century in industry and anything which is done overseas can be done better and cleaner here. We can build clean foundries and we can smelt ores cleanly. We still heavily subsidize sugar to protect domestic industry-a practice dating to 1934 to lower domestic production (if society needs less of anything it is sugar!). So why don’t we do the same, along with tariffs, to protect our industry? Again, misplaced political priorities by ignorant politicians rising far beyond their level of competence coupled with well placed political payoffs to crooked politicians.
    Paul Ryan is their poster child.

    • So…………………………….you don’t believe science and then try to inundate us with this BS full of your opinions (we can smelt ores cleanly), etc.
      The subject is lead smeltering, by the way, and we can’t do it cleanly.

    • Just an aside to your statement about not believing in science-I suggest you spend some time reading all of Dr. Fauci’s emails during this pandemic to get a feel for how our science community works. Fauci’s situation is unique here as he was the entire time under the crazy thumb of Don Trump (who has such an exemplary record on handling the pandemic). Heheh!

  • UAF just built a new $300 million power plant. You guessed it …….. Coal fired. Yet, not a word from the Leftists and environmental wackos. Why?
    Because the coal supplier, Joe Usibelli of Usibelli Mines in Healy, gave them lower cost coal contracts for the next 50 years.
    Why not natural gas?
    Because Joe Usibelli donated $$ millions to the UAF to study…….
    Atmospheric pollution.
    This reaffirms the old addage, even to leftist environmental wackos…..
    Money talks and b*llsh*t walks.

    • Joe Usibelli commands some attention around Fbks., that’s for sure and the resource (coal) is there while natural gas is not and likely will never be there (too expensive).
      We will see how well it controls its air pollution.

  • BILL YANKEE, Fauci lost all credibility with me soon into the ‘pandemic’ based on writings and experience in other nations (again-our media has no credibility).
    You cannot miss any chance to twist every data to attack Trump, just like the biased ‘media’. Seems like the ‘right wing’ conspiracy theories are suddenly in vogue once the election is over and low information voters put back on the shelf again. Gheesh, get over your TDS!

  • Bill Yankee, so it’s okay to kill poor kids by completely unregulated open air smelting so long as you don’t have to see it, so long as the fish are safe? In the pyrometallurgical process, chemicals (usually sulfates) extract the lead without superheating and thus gassing of the molten lead. According to a World Bank publication: ‘the guidelines provide numerical targets for reducing pollution, as well as maximum emissions levels that are normally achievable through a combination of cleaner production and end-of-pipe treatment. The guidelines are designed to protect human health; reduce mass loadings to the environment; draw on commercially proven technologies; be cost-effective; follow current regulatory trends; and promote good industrial practices, which offer greater productivity and increased energy efficiency.’ It can be done. Do we steward the Earth for all or pretend that environmental crimes elsewhere don’t matter?

    • AK, nobody said anything about it being “OK to kill kids by completely unregulated open air smelting!”
      For economic reasons US cos. can’t spend the money to smelter lead according to our own regulations-that’s your problem that you keep trying to whitewash (by saying it’s somehow related to government changing the rules). Hogwash!
      The only way it will be done is if our government steps in and does the job and at that point your ilk will bitch like hell for not allowing the private sector the job.
      And I don’t have to attack Trump, he is irrelevant anymore as he sinks into his morass of fantasies that only he can see (and that’s without an indictment). Just wait till he is measured for stripes if you are still thinking it’s that biased media that’s the problem. Heheh!

  • Thanks, Art, for a great review of what one witnesses when in Juneau on a trip to the legislative halls.

    I do wish this governor would transition the entirety of at least one department HQ, say, to Wasilla. Start the process of change. Move Fish and Game, Division by Division, for example, out of Juneau, one at a time. Then one day, a couple decades from now, only the legislators and the governor’s staff would be jollying in Juneau. Say goodbye to 465 numbers.

  • Bill Yankee, government overregulation killed smelters with a financial axe. Lead smelting could return (cleanly) if government implemented policies supporting it and-gasp-perhaps subsidies like sugar. Government should not do it but should enact policies to support essential industry.

    • After that Bunker Hill disaster in Idaho, not that long ago, there was no chance that lead smelters were going to be unregulated-large numbers of children ended up with learning issues that government could not ignore. They’ve produced a few hoops for business to jump through and business has chosen to go elsewhere-simple as that.
      So far this is not considered essential industry except in your mind.

  • If you actually read those Fauci and Daszak emails it becomes apparent that they are doing serious CYA ,damage control or what ever you want to call it. Read the current articles on it and one will see that they were lying through their teeth from the start. They even admit to some of it now. And now we have some of the most prestigious Doctors/virologists in the world unequivocally stating that the virus was manufactured. Fauci testified that the Chinese doctors were above reproach apparently forgetting that we have repeated arrests of them attempting to smuggle viruses out of the country and news of some of them getting away with it. Anyone who refuses to recognize what’s really going on deserves the future and government they end up with. The problem is they are inflicting it on us.

    • Why don’t you tell us “what’s really going on,” rather than give your opinions on what it is that Fauci, etc. are doing since those emails. Further, show us that they “were lying through their teeth from the start.”
      You don’t do any of that likely because you can’t.

  • Main stream news won’t print the good ones. Go to Vanity Fair of all places or IWB or the Durden Dispatch and you will find all the coverup emails and interviews with the folks that were told to stand down, ‘ don’t open up that can of worms” etc etc. This is a waste of time so I am unsubscribing from this thread. Hopefully the truth will come out in our lifetime.

    • That’s your MO when things get a little hot in the kitchen Dave. And trying to blame your lack of back-up on the “main stream news” is another cop-out IMO.

  • BILL YANKEE, Bunker Hill formed in 1885 and closed in 1991, a generation ago. We have learned a lot over the years. Remember that only about a generation before that shoe stores had fluoroscopy to look at your foot sizes and radium was given to people for weight loss and we used tetraethyllead in gasoline. I guess that you don’t drive a car or use anything containing lead or zinc. To do so would be hypocritical.

    • You keep trying to whitewash the issue by saying we know better today, but still business can’t build a lead smelter according to our own safety regulations and they are needing to change the subject to muddy the water (I guess).
      Again, the issue is lead smelters and keeping the air quality around them clean. Either business comes around or government will be forced to do it for them IMO.

  • Bill Yankee, and obviously you live in a fantasy world of Rainbow Brite and Sprite where everything is magically done and bright colors and everyone is perpetually happy. Yuck. I’ve worked the lead industry from mining to product (battery plates, not finished batteries). We conscientiously monitored workers, the environment AND local residents in the town. When an occasional elevated level was found it was thoroughly investigated, and as I recall most were traced back to the school (built in 1888). You will be happy to know that changing regulations pushed this plant overseas and now everything is just sparkly as we import all of our essentials from squeaky clean third world countries and the former high paid employees mostly migrated to the service industry (to clean toilets for those rich foreign businessmen). Geesh! Red Dog was doing such a good job at mitigation that they had to install weirs to keep the salmon from the stream because the water is clean now, but will again be contaminated when the mine closes.

    • AK, nobody is talking about mining lead or producing product from it. The subject happens to be the smelting of lead and American business cannot do it cleanly-they’ve shown it historically and cannot do it with the regulations placed on them after that historical disaster.
      Plain and simple, we will just import it until things change. Your drivel just muddies the water IMO.

  • Bill Yankee, IYO. Remain uninformed and dependent. We can do it better than Congo and protect the kids.

  • You bet we can and likely will when govt. decides it needs to do it (but it will be expensive)-business has already voted with its feet.

  • BILL YANKEE, agree that it will be expensive, but business requires stable governance, not ‘let’s lease ANWR-oops no we’re not.’ Bad governance like this-flipping policies every election-only costs the American people and decreases national security. Our elected ‘leadership’ (professional politician wannabes) fail us.

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