Finance co-chair doesn’t trust rural Alaskans with early P-Fund dividend - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, October 27, 2020
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Finance co-chair doesn’t trust rural Alaskans with early P-Fund dividend

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By ANDREW JENSEN

“Have you ever been to the villages at dividend time?”

That was the question posed to me during a phone call from House Finance Co-Chair Jennifer Johnston of Anchorage on April 1, and it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke.

That morning I published an opinion column chiding the Legislature for failing to utilize the Permanent Fund to help Alaskans during the worst economic crisis in the state’s history by first canceling the Senate-approved supplemental dividend and then refusing to move up the distribution of the traditional annual payment to provide immediate relief.

Johnston asked me how long I’ve lived in Alaska (I learned 10 years is “not very long”), what I know about state finances and whether I was familiar with the federal CARES Act (I covered it in the column she was calling about).

She then asked the question at the top of this piece.

Without ever asking to be off the record, Johnston went on to state that part of the reasoning for not paying the dividend early was because it would be too much money in rural Alaska on top of the federal payment that was approved in the CARES Act. She further claimed the congressional delegation actually discouraged the Legislature from paying a spring dividend because they shared the same concerns.

Representatives for Rep. Don Young, Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan all denied such a message was conveyed to the Legislature either by them or members of their staffs.

“We unequivocally deny that anyone in our office — including Senator Sullivan — made such a comment to anyone,” wrote his communications director Mike Anderson. “Furthermore, no one in our office, including Senator Sullivan, holds such offensive views.”

(I relayed the denials from the delegation to Johnston in a text message. She never responded.)

In Johnston’s view, “social services would be overwhelmed” in the villages and elsewhere if Alaskans were to receive their 2020 dividend now instead of in October.

You read that right.

Read the rest of this column at the Alaska Journal of Commerce.

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Latest comments

  • This biased and very prejudiced person must be removed from the legislature immediately.

  • I have. I saw a single mother of 5 kids not get a full pfd, so she couldn’t buy school clothes and food. Most of the kids’ daily food comes from the school. Too much money in rural Alaska isn’t a problem. Too much need for money is, however.

  • They all said it, and they are all liars. We know them by their fruit. Remove them by ballot. Enough is enough…

    • I used to believe Jennifer Johnston was one if “the good guys” in the legislature. She sowed a fair amount of doubt last year, and has fully removed any thought of that now.

      How dare she!?! How dare the legislature base their decision on such a blatantly racist group thought! I’m the last one to make such a claim, but how else can it be explained?

      The entire lot needs to go. Don’t save a single one. I don’t care who. I’m sorry to those who have fought for the last two years, but the entire legislature must be replaced. Then, and only then, will the next legislature understand the phrase, “YOU work for US, you don’t RULE us!”

      • Your last sentence…..POWERFUL and EXACTLY how my vote will be utilized.

      • Absolutely agree 100% !!!!!

    • Vote them out! We must mobilize and show up to vote!!

  • Remove this person immediately. Some of the most racist comments I have in my almost 70 years in AK.
    Chuck Kopp. sorry, but you are not far behind.

    • Jennifer Johnston what gives you the right to judge? Are you a racist? Shame on you! You need to be removed!

    • What a sad, pitiful excuse for a human being serving all the people of Alaska. A village
      Resident.

  • “Alaskans are very quick to have their hands out”. Special interests, anyway.

  • WOW! House Finance Co-Chair Jennifer Johnston of Anchorage doesn’t have any skin in the game so she’s obviously not going to feel the pinch. Well, I really hope she and others of her ilk are removed from office. This is one plantation-minded person who needs to be shunned by all. How DARE she presume as she has!

    Also, I’d like to know why in the world we are talking about an EARLY PFD payment, which would result in NO payment in October, instead of the PFD amounts owed for the last few years??? Why won’t the legislature quit raping Alaskans? Alaskans voting in these figurative rapists remind me of abuse victims who stay with their abusers. Wake UP people!

    • My exact thought! And yet they beg and beg for our votes every year! Screw them! This is just downright mean, cruel and hurtful in so many effin’ ways!!! This is the time when we, Alaskans, need the help the most and they’re just going to basically spit in our faces and call it a good day? Makes me sick!!

  • Perhaps the State of Alaska should Remove the dividend from People who would agree with Finance Co-Chair J Johnston and use it to equalize the cost of living for the Rural citizens for things like Fuel and Food and Transportation. Starting with the The First Pick Pocket FORMER Gov Walker and all the Senators and Representives who have removed wealth from the Rural citizens and all Alaskans, they have created ALASKA’s WORST VIRUS. The Political Virus that assumes they can SPEND AND SPEND AND SPEND your & my dividend dollars that Alaskans turn into the local Economy, education, contributions and improving our life style. Who are these VIRUS carriers?….we know them by their voting record…and can stomp them and the virus out in the coming elections. Johnston is just one of many who should be placed behind “former” bars and enter forgotten History.

  • Is your righteous indignation the knee jerk reaction of a delicate little flower, or are all of you saying that Ms. Johnston is incorrect?

    Many of our friends in the village aren’t known for making fiscally responsible choices. They do like big screens, durable goods and hooch though. Just because Ms. Johnston’s comments might seem insensitive doesn’t mean they’re incorrect and in a cultural system where alcohol abuse, crimes against women, and lack of opportunity often appear to run unchecked it’s highly likely that adding cash to the problem will exacerbate known tendencies and in the process “social services would be overwhelmed”.

    Am I wrong?

    Nope… and neither is Ms. Johnston. I doubt she was wording her perspective with the intention of being quoted though.

    • Yes, you are. Dead wrong.

    • I’m saying its none of her damn business how private citizens spend their money. The dividend is not some gift from the legislature. It is money that belongs to the citizens of this state. Just because the crook Walker and the remaining thieves in the legislature are busy stealing it right now doesn’t make it their money.

      • Well said! That is the whole point. Yes she’s a bigot- they all are. Their bigotry isn’t confined to race, however, they think they are better able to spend all of our money, than we are. That is the fundamental issue. You are spot on.

        • Help us out here, Larry. When you say “Yes she’s a bigot-they all are” to whom are you referring with that last bit there?

          I’m guessing you’re referring to people of northern European ancestry but I suppose it could be legislators, devil worshipers, a raven, or maybe someone from any ethnic group besides yours?

          A little help here please.

    • As long as commenters like you and legislators like Johnston go unchallenged, the urban rural divide will always remain.
      Why can’t you refer to us as Alaskans. JUST plain Alaskans?
      FYI, many ALASKANS, living in cities also aren’t known for making “fiscally responsible choices”….thus, you have the exponential unnecessary increases in homelessness.
      There, fixed it for you.

    • Big screens, durable goods, crime vs women, lack of many opportunities, hard drugs , alcohol abuse especially in the cities where alcohol is served 7 days a week with many liquor stores and bars open, daily crime and killing is increased also during the pfd , this abuse is every where , look around your neighborhood

    • Your racist tendency is showing. The hooch remark claims that all natives are drunks. Unforgivable. Not a true statement.

    • Trouser,
      It seems your “trousers” are barking instead of your brain engaging. When you and Johnston think you have the right to dictate how much money is too much, for anyone, it’s time you went back where you came from. I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous. It’s obvious you or Johnston have never spent any time in ‘hardship’ like many village residents, on a continual basis. The specious statements from you and Johnston define who and what you are. Definitely not an authentic Alaskan. An ‘authentic’ leftist idiot would be a better description.
      Yes, you are wrong. And so is Johnston.

    • Trouserbark WTF you are both dead wrong – you don’t get to allow the rest of the state to spend as they see fit but not native villages – I have been in many of them. They are the way they are because of you and your kind. You do not decide. Not your business.

      • “They are the way they are because of you and your kind”.

        What exactly are you referring to here? It sounds like another version of Larry’s thinly veiled racism. For all you know I could be from the bush and looking out for my friends that I would prefer weren’t netted in the delicate and easily overwhelmed social services network.

      • Dear me.

        Look, Stephanie, if you really want to trot out that shabby “you and your kind” card in relation to the woes of the villages, need I remind you that White folks introduced the wheel, literacy, Carhartts, aluminum and fiberglass boats with outboard motors, rifles, spectacles, modern medicine with attendant enhanced qualities of life and longevity, aircraft, snow machines, permanent abodes, photography, computers, and so many of the rest of the niceties currently enjoyed by so many in rural locales and which you, too, might also make use of even if begrudgingly?

        Of course I’m not taking Trouserbark’s side of the issue, as he or she could be an acerbic individual but you might want to rethink lashing out with that nasty broad brush of yours.

        Just sayin’.

  • Here’s your chance folks. They’re not in Juneau. They’re all home so you can let them know how you feel. Kenai people especially. There’s only one way to deal with bullies get them to resign.

  • Racist.

  • Gary Knopp does not want the commoners to have a dividend.
    Peter is iffy…but he’s not up for re-election this fall.

    Vance is in touch with the people and is works to represent them pro Full PFD.
    Her challenger is “government first and special interest non profits next”! Check her votes in the assembly….. Scary!!!
    Carpenter is straight forward and his district is quite proud of him.

    Vote smarter; reach out to those who stand for you and keep them in office. Get rid of those who use and abuse your trust!

  • It isn’t just village residents J.J. doesn’t trust with dividend money, she doesn’t trust rail belt, Anchorage, Southeast, Kodiak or Prince William Sound residents with their money either.

  • This lady is a bigot and a crook- like 70-80% of the rest of them. Not only does she think she’s better than rural Alaskans, she and her ilk think she’s vastly more superior than most all Alaskans in general. This is how these people think. Yes, they are bought and paid for, and yes they cling to this ego trip because deep down they are insecure, and yes, most of them can’t get decent jobs in the private sector, but paradoxically, they think they are so superior to us, and that we are all such mindless thralls, such little children, that we can’t be trusted with a full PFD. Our own, damn, money—And they think we can’t be trusted with it. These losers, actually think that. Sad as it is, sick as it is—She is just an average, Alaskan legislator.

  • Trouserbark you are an idiot and hide by you real name shows where you coming from

    • What a kind remark there, Albertus. We all appreciate your articulate response and no doubt Mr. Trouserbark must be impressed with your objectivity. You’re certainly the guy that should be making these kinds of decisions.

      Now if you and the rest of the pile on would make an effort to keep up note that Ms. Johnston’s remarks are not racial nor are they specific to how the rural communities would spend their money. That can be presumed by those in the know and apparently by those not.

      The issue is specific to the overwhelming impact those choices could be expected to have on the social safety net, particularly given our current situation. For example, Bristol Bay is on the verge of having the fishing fleet arrive w/ Covid-19 which you can presume would will rampant through the region overwhelming the moderate social services network in the area. The medical profession in the area has already stated that they can’t handle the pending scourge.

      Now ask yourself; would it be better to have a potentially overwhelming impact on social services during a time when you’re already experiencing an overwhelming impact on social services, or might someone with management experience be able to circumvent an expedited delivery of free money in order to sidestep an even greater disaster?

    • Albertus Kleinenberg,

      I assume sir, that your real name is Albertus Kleinenberg?
      Many people use a pen name, in fact the Federalist Papers were written by Intellectual Giants who used the pseudonym Pubilius. However while our friend Trouserbark may not write as eloquently as James Madison or John Jay he is only expressing his opinion. I don’t think calling him an idiot is helpful. Perhaps there are better ways to convince Mr. Trouserbark of his error. Perhaps you could call him a condescending totalitarian jerk? There now do you feel better?

      • Thanks Dad. I always knew you loved me.

        In all sincerity though, there’s no benefit to Alaska in taking the money early. More accurately it reeks of legislative influence in a ‘spend until it’s gone’ and ‘never save for tomorrow what you can spend today’ manner.

        I’m not surprised that her remarks may have been interpreted as racism by those that have likely already spent their savings however, in the grand scheme it doesn’t really matter. If ConocoPhillips is shutting down their rigs and the week prior 14k people filed for unemployment benefits, who’s to say that in October that check will be any less welcome?

        • Trouserbark
          Is that you Son? It’s ok if we disagree I probably didn’t get along with your mother either!

          I respect your opinion, I understand your thinking, however I am convinced that this money isn’t the Legislature’s money, it is your ‘s and mine and every resident of every village , town and city across the State. The sole purpose and intent of the fund was to save money for the people, not politicians and certainly not for a huge public employment program that hasn’t any oversight apparently.

          Best wishes,
          love dad

    • Well I think the House has been figured out. They better start taking care of us.

      • Good things come to those who wait
        …but only what’s left over by those that hussled.

        You should ask yourself if waiting for others to assume responsibility for your wellbeing is right for you.

  • They should pay the dividend early just to end the sniveling here. But that will not end it, the sense of entitlement is too great.

  • I can’t say I disagree with Jennifer. Forget the hype that her remarks caused. Let’s be realistic about the freefall that happens with each PFD disbursement. I have watched from the PFD inception, have mopped up the pieces as I watch relative after relative destroy themselves and their relationships over those checks. Don’t fool yourselves that all of the money goes to the intended recipients. It isn’t going into 549 accounts or putting food on the table. Be realistic and think. I hate PFD season, not because of the good it is supposed to do but more about the ugly side of the coin.
    I support Jennifer and think if a poll was taken, you would hear the real truth.

    • Couldn’t disagree more. I’ve spent half my life in rural Alaska and I’ve seen the good and the bad, but the point is this: it’s not HER money. It doesn’t belong to her and she doesn’t get to steal it from other Alaskans because she doesn’t like how they’ll spend it. To think she should be able to is a sickness called leftism. It never stops at money. It goes on to other property, then rights, then words, and ultimately thoughts. That is where her ideology- however she had masked it thus far, leads. These people are sick with narcissistic elitism. The only people more pathetic than these politicians, are the blind cowards who sign on to follow them, and willingly sell out themselves, their friends, their families, and their fellow citizens. Despicable.

  • I hope this is cause for house Finance Co-Chair Jennifer Johnston to be removed from the finance committee. This is discrimination, racist. The government — state or federal– has no right in saying or controlling how people spend the money.

  • The legislature should do what is best for the majority and I don’t know the size of the group needing help now rather than in October versus the general population in the villages and that should be a consideration.. I wish there was some method of needs determination. I personally don’t file for the PFD though I accept that it is meaningful to/for some.
    Although Johnston’s statement could have been stated better, she is correct! We have been working in the villages when the PFD came out and it turned into a 2 week drunk during which our local hires no showed and our imported crews became ” f….’g whitemen”!. This happened to us twice so since then we have elected to just take a break during that period when we felt it would become a problem. I think others have had similar problems but it is not a blanket problem for all the villages.

    • Biggest problem is that the villagers have no legal authority to physically deal with bad behavior, and troopers are usually days away unless there’s been a murder.
      The ones causing almost all the problems know this, and themselves are willing to use violence against anyone who would try to tone down their behavior.
      More often or not you will see several drunks wandering the streets because the majority of the sober villagers stay in their homes, to avoid the drunks and other troublemakers. If they’re on meth or Spice, or been huffing, it’s even scarier.
      If the sober villagers had amnesty from prosecution, if even for only one day per year, the problem would all but disappear.

  • Jennifer is what is known as a RINO, how dare she assume to know what the villages need at this time. She needs to pack up her family and go back to Vermont. She has no business being in her current office since she can not see the entire state is hurting. Anchorage you voted this piece of fluff in, now get her in line or remove her.

  • In hindsight a poor choice of words; Depends on a person’s priorities; I wonder if we’d be having this discussion if the PFD program had been introduced before alcoholic beverages?

  • She was wrong to single out villages. The problem is endemic to the entire state. The CARES act gives relief to rental and mortgage payments for a few months. Perhaps the payout would be better timed to coincide when these payments come due.

    • Yeah she had figured that out. Waiting for damage control.

  • Grossly racist! Do us all a favor. Resign!

  • Who do you think you are!? We are not children. We need help.

  • This crazy woman needs her title as representative taking from her . She’s not looking at the needs right now Job hrs have been cut and a lot of workers been released. Her house must be nice and warm while homes barely could get fuel or make morgage payment and get food for family. Villages have the most high electricity bills and fuel is twice the cost then reban area. After taking the rights from us to hunt on our land turned us toward government handout it’s a disgrace for a woman like this to say such a thing.. I say ask her resictnation now and any other legislative who speak toward our 1st nation people..

  • Susan where did the apology story go?

  • She only said that statement in context to Alaska’s rural population but she is talking about the Juneau crew’s attitude toward the whole state.
    Don’t you know the Juneau compact is smarter than us in the Mat-Su Valley or the North Pole or Sleetmute?
    We should be on our knees in great admiration for this liberal pack from Juneau.
    They know what is best for us, all have and always will.
    Excuse me but I forgot to take my meds this morning.

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