Jason Hoke appointed to lead Denali Commission - Must Read Alaska
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Jason Hoke appointed to lead Denali Commission

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Jason Hoke of Glennallen has been appointed by the Secretary of Commerce as the Denali Commission Federal Co-Chair.

Hoke will replace John Torgerson, who has been serving in the role of Interim Federal Co-Chair.

The Denali Commission was created in large part by Sen. Ted Stevens in 1998 and has since been a catalyst for development across the state, including transportation, clinics, and fuel storage in remote communities. In recent years, the commission has begun to assist communities such as Shishmaref and Kivalina, which are losing ground to coastal erosion and are being relocated.

“Jason’s background in economic development makes him well-suited to take on his new role to lead the agency. We look forward to working with him in support of the Denali Commission’s goal of improving life in rural Alaska,” Alaska’s congressional delegation said in a joint statement.

Hoke’s previous work experience in Alaska includes serving as programs director for the Ahtna Inter-Tribal Resource Commission, overseeing energy, resource, and biomass projects for Ahtna and its tribes. He worked as executive director for the Copper Valley Development Association, Inc. and served as tribal administrator for the Cheesh’Na Tribal Council.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Wonder what a Denali Commission actually does, what would happen to Alaska without it…
    Maybe other states have something like it, no?

      • Fuel barge offloading, generator fixing, honey buckets, frozen septic mounds, what happens after “flushing” a poorly vented incinerator potty when it’s sixty below outside… challenging…
        Seems ironic… No shortage of prominently displayed maps depicting sophisticated, worldwide engineering and building projects by Alaska Native Corporations in particularly challenging areas…
        but we’re to believe similar things can’t happen in rural Alaska without a taxpayer-subsidized Denali Commission.
        So inured are we to the breadth of waste, mismanagement, and corruption infesting state and local governments that we simply Looked It Up: What should concern taxpayers about a Treasury-to-Tribe money-giveaway program?
        from: adn.com/rural-alaska/article/millions-appear-be-missing-alaskas-denali-commission/2013/02/09/
        “The inspector general for the Denali Commission has found that the federal agency has lost track of accounts that could hold up to $100 million, if they were created at all.
        Until the mystery is solved, the report concludes that Congress should not reauthorize the commission…”
        from: adn.com/politics/article/watchdog-calls-end-federal-money-denali-commission/2013/09/28/
        “”I have concluded that Denali is a congressional experiment that hasn’t worked out in practice,” (the IG) wrote Issa. “I recommend that Congress put its money elsewhere.
        He said cutting off money would be an incentive for the commission to ‘leave the federal nest and chart its own course as a non-federal entity’.
        In questioning various aspects of Denali Commission operating procedures on everything from conflict of interest provisions to monitoring grants, (the IG) has long made life uncomfortable for the agency and the Congressional delegation, asserting that the commission should no longer be a federal agency.
        (The IG) wrote that one of the problems is the commission built many projects in villages of 300 people or less that do not have the resources to commit to future maintenance and repairs.”
        Then there’s the Government Accountability Office report GAO-14-320: “Improvements Needed in the Office of Inspector General’s Oversight of the Denali Commission” a critique of the one-person IG’s ability to oversee the entire Denali Commission.
        And the IG’s “March 2017 Semiannual Report to Congress” which indicated the Denali Commission after 19 years has a problem with “Engaging commissioners in light of ethics concerns and funding realities”.
        We see the Denali Commission members list on page 5, which includes our very own Alaska Municipal League with its $600M “investment pool”, and we assure ourselves that no conflict of interest, bid rigging, kickbacks, or anything of that sort could possibly happen.
        So, what are we to make of the Denali Commission… best thing since sliced bread, or a one-state, federal money-laundering agency the size of which defies description… or accountability?

      • Slush funds for liberal NGO’s.

    • It’s a way to funnel D.C. earmarks into the local non-profits. This type of thing is done all over to keep Obama-style community activists afloat with Federal tax money so that the slow poison can eat away at the countries soul. Whatever good this action does is so outweighed by the bad that I can’t imagine that it’s worth calculating.


      I would go so far to suggest the programs such as this are one of the ways that domestic terrorist Bill Ayers was bankrolled. Oh the Joy.

      • to make such accusations one should have some sort of proof. Otherwise one should be considered to be bloviating. Additionally it was established by a (R) Stevens and funded by a (R) congress over the past 20 years. PS does Obama live rent free in your head?

        • I have brought Obama up precisely this once on this site.


          Stevens (R) is responsible for the rules changes in procurement that basically forced DoD contractors to use Native corporations as shell companies and why you see Ahtna getting no-bid contracts for all of the DoD database management. If you think ( R’s) aren’t corrupt you need to get your head examined. And while your at it maybe realize why Lisa Mukowski is virtually untouchable because of Ted’s military/native corporation scheme.


          Following the FDR (TVA) and LBJ model of economic development shouldn’t pass the the sniff test, whoever may have passed it. Maybe you shouldn’t be so dazzled by the letter “R”.

        • Bill Ayers member of the Weatherman domestic terrorist group was a co-author of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge that ended up receiving $49.2 million of matching Federal money for education reform in Chicago in 1995.


          What are we getting for that money Mark? More radicalized leftists is all I’m seeing.


          Expressing my informed opinion is not bloviating and I’m not required to satisfy what you consider to be my burden of proof. Call me on a point if you know I’m wrong and you won’t look so goofy.

    • It has partially funded rural health centers building projects. Combo medical and behavioral health centers.

      • Have you seen how those slush puppies are run?

  • Hope he’s learned to stop shooting fireworks at production helicopters. Alaska Bush People Season 1.

    • “He said he never fired any shots toward the cabin. What he did, Hoke said, was shoot two or three mortar-type fireworks into the air when a helicopter capturing aerial footage roared over his house while his family was eating dinner.”

      “The entire house is shaking; my youngest boy Ethan, who was about 4 at the time, is crying,” he said. As he saw it, the helicopter was pounding away just above the treetops over his property.

      “After trying unsuccessfully to wave it away, Hoke said he “decided to shoot a couple in the air, not in the vicinity, and let them know ‘Hey, get away from my house!'”


  • The Denali Commission was modeled after the Appalachian Regional Commission, which was established by Congress in 1965. The Appalachian region of the U.S. was a source of natural resources for the country, yet its communities in many areas suffered from limited infrastructure and regional economic development. The Appalachian Regional Commission sought to remedy this.

    Senator Ted Stevens and others sought to give similar attention to rural Alaska with the establishment of the Denali Commission.

    • We don’t want our lives or life style changed that’s why we live here

      • It funds health centers. Surely you don”t want to die in one of those epidemics that have swept and killed hundeds of thousands in this state, right Bob?

        • But my yoga instructor and Svengali said vaccinations cause herpes and gray hair…..so I don’t vaccinate my children…epidemics? what epidemics?

  • There are two ways to look at the accomplishments of the Denali Commission over the years. From the multiuse community buildings in places like Quinhagak (late 1990s) and facilities from Akutan to Kaktovik, the Denali Commission has supported building of infrastructure. These ventures were not all built on Federal dollars but on joint ventures between local initiatives and other grants.
    And they are not all for native use only if you keep the Sunshine Clinic in Talkeetna and others on the road system in mind. So before we jump to any conclusions about the native/non-native dollar grabs, be aware that these buildings benefit all Alaskans whether your know it or not. A lot of hard work from collaborating partners have gone into these efforts. Just because its news to you doesn’t mean that its new. Much of Alaska is considered rural-underserved and we thankfully have had the Denali Commission working quietly in the background bringing us up to code.

    • Who maintains the buildings and pays the utilities?
      If they’re not all for Native use only, that means some of them are…
      How is such a thing tolerated in this age of diversity?
      In this era of multibillion-dollar Native Corporations who apparently do these things all over the world, why can’t they do the same things back home in Alaska without a Denali commission?
      Not criticizing, just asking…

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