Must Read Monday’s newsletter for Feb. 27 – Subscribe today


Every Monday, 8,300 Alaskans receive the Must Read Alaska Monday newsletter in their inboxes before 8:30 am Alaska Time. It’s always a wild ride and rarely politically correct.

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Here’s a sample of this week’s newsletter for Feb. 27:

JUNEAU, ALASKA – GOOD MORNING, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017…and no we didn’t watch Jimmy Kimmel troll Donald Trump during the Oscars…and as for PriceWaterhouse Coopers mixing up the envelopes? Same firm that lost the personal records of thousands of Alaska teachers back in 2010…But first…

WHAT MUST READ IS READING: Innovation is Everybody’s Business. As we ponder SB 14, the bill that would allow Uber, Lyft and other ride sharing programs to flourish in Alaska, we’re thinking about the importance of having an innovation mindset. Those who do will survive in the job market. Those who don’t? Not so much. Scroll to the bottom of the newsletter for our book review of the week.

WHAT ELSE WE’RE READING: Revenge of the Deep State. Can Trump survive the unseen, powerful intelligence community?

DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: Andy Holleman is a registered Republican. He is running for Anchorage School Board. An earlier Must Read edition listed him as a Democrat. We apologize. How could we! Holleman is the past president of the local Anchorage Education Association, which is the National Education Association affiliate.

DEM NEWS: The DNC elected Barack Obama’s Secretary of Labor Tom Perez as its new chair.

As Labor secretary, Perez visited Alaska in the summer of 2014 with then-Sen. Mark Begich. It was a trip bought and paid for by U.S. tax dollars, but was pure election politics by the Obama Administration to help incumbent Begich, who lost that fall.

Perez takes over for Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, who resigned after a scandal-ridden 2016 primary process. Leaked emails showed how she and her staff put their thumbs on the scale to help Hillary Clinton win the Democratic nomination, rather than the more popular Bernie Sanders. Sanders won 80 percent of the Democrats’ caucus vote in Alaska, but the Alaska Democratic Party leadership was discovered all over those leaked emails, doing their best to anoint Hillary.

Democrat rank-and-file types are not enthused about Perez, as they view the party’s landslide losses as a referendum for change. But to calm them, Perez immediately went on CNN and called the president a fraud. Maybe that will help the Democrats?

But one Alaska Democrat had this so-true observation about Perez vs. Ellison, and he managed to show the cards:

WORSE FOR HILLARY THAN WE THOUGHT: National Review writer Jeremy Carl reminded a Juneau audience on Friday of this 2016 curiosity:

Take all the votes for Libertarian Gary Johnson and award them to Donald Trump, and take all the votes for Green Party Jill Stein and award them to Hillary Clinton. Trump wins the popular vote….An “alternative fact” to bring up when someone tells you that Clinton won the popular vote.

TRUMP TO PRESS CORPS: The president said he’s not going to the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in DC on April 29. SAD!!!

TRUMP PRIME-TIME: On Tuesday evening, the president will give his first prime-time address to the nation and Congress. He’ll likely cover health care reform, infrastructure and defense spending, tax reductions,and immigration. But who knows?


TROPHY FOR PARTICIPATION: When Health and Social Services Commissioner Valerie Davidson presented her budget to Senate Finance last week, she provided a rating of how each of her divisions perform. That drew skepticism from the committee: Why is nearly every division getting such a high self-rating? Are they all that good? Davidson dodged the question but it was a Lake Wobegon moment: “All divisions are above average.”

MEDICAID COSTS EXPLODE: Commissioner Davidson, testifying in the Senate, said that if nothing changes, general fund Medicaid spending will increase by $45 million in 2018. (That’s not what she said back in 2015, when she pushed for Medicaid expansion.) But we digress…

The state is undertaking five Medicaid reductions for 2018, for a $30.2 million paring of the $45 million cost explosion:

1. Reduce professional fees. Right now Alaska pays a rate of “Medicare plus 30 percent.” The department is proposing Medicare plus 15 percent. That means physicians, advanced nurse practitioners, and therapists. They will be paid less than they are now. Savings to the State: $8 million.
2. Hospital in patient and out patient, reduce the payment by 5 percent. Savings to the State: $6.2 million.
3. Rate freeze. Savings to the State: $600,000.
4. Reduce services, by scaling back rate code enhancements added since 2015. Example, reduced lab services. Savings to the State: $12.8 million. 
5. Reduce waiver services. Alaska Medicaid allows 15 hours a week for day rehab services, which would be scaled back to 8 hours a week. Savings to the State: $2.6 million. 

Davidson said she’ll likely need $15 million supplemental in FY18 budget and if the Trump Administration or Congress change Medicaid to be a block grant program, Alaska will not fare well as we will end up picking up more of the costs.

Who could have seen that coming?

ONE OUT OF FOUR: How many Alaskans are on Medicaid? 25 percent of our population, said Sen. Peter Micciche during the budget review.

RUMORS OF WALKER ENTERING GOP PRIMARY: The race for governor starts in earnest a year from now, but already political observers are weighing the potential candidates. They say Gov. Walker, who left the Republican Party to run as a nonpartisan because he knew he could not win in a GOP primary, is going to run as a Republican next time. That’s why he hired Scott Kendall as his chief of staff. Kendall, who worked on the Walker campaign in 2014, also worked on the Lisa Murkowski campaign in 2016.

We’re also hearing of a serious fissure between Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott. Evidently Mallott, Rep. Neal Foster, and House Speaker Bryce Edgemon have created a power base and they’re having side discussions. They’re all Democrats, and we mean that in the nicest way.

WALKER TO TRUMP: I’VE GOT A GASLINE TO SELL YOU: A drafted letter by Gov. Bill Walker to President Donald Trump, asks for a meeting. The topic?  Help me build the gasline.

Here’s a guy who would not say whom he supported for president, coming to the president with his pipe dream.

Alaska has a half dozen important projects languishing (opening ANWR, access to NPRA, King Cove Road, Knik Arm Crossing, Ambler Mining District Road, Juneau Access), the governor is fixated on the one project that most Alaskans think is fantasy: The gasline that he decided to “go it alone” on? He’s asking the president to go it alone with him.

At least Walker is consistent: He also asked President Obama to help him build the gasline. Obama’s response, according to Walker? “Governor Walker, you build that gas line for Alaska and don’t let anyone stand in your way of getting that done,” Walker wrote in a commentary for the Alaska Dispatch News. “The president offered to help,” Walker wrote. “And I told him I would be calling him soon.”

The problem for Walker is this: Every governor has a list of infrastructure project priorities: Dams that are breaking, bridges that are collapsing, interstate highways that are crumbling. Can the gasline compete for the $1 trillion Trump wants to spend on infrastructure? Governors have sent Trump 428 projects that are shovel-ready, and only need extra federal funds.

WHERE’S WALKER? Governor and the Mrs. dined at the White House on Sunday night with 46 other governors. It was the first big glitzy event at the White House since Trump became president and it coincided with the meeting of the National Governors Association. Attendance at the governors’ meeting set a record. Trump is slated to meet with the governors again this morning, but will Walker get a chance to slip the president his letter requesting a meeting?

GO ASK ALICE: Alice Rogoff, who owns the Alaska Dispatch News, also publishes a subscription-only, little-known online publication called Arctic Now.

Rogoff also serves on the Arctic Council. They flit hither and yon and talk about all-things Arctic.

So when Alice’s Arctic Now published a prominent opinion piece saying the Arctic Council she serves on should receive the Nobel Peace Prize, we thought Must Read Alaska readers would put two and two together.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski might have other thoughts. During her speech to the Alaska Legislature, she said the Arctic Council, under the chairmanship of the U.S. during the past two years, has not met her expectations for progress:

“In many ways we have accomplished less than I’d hoped. We still lack a blueprint that recognizes both our needs and our opportunities, a good plan for the development of telecom infrastructure, deep water ports, icebreakers, response capabilities — we can and should do more.”

But the council did focus on climate change, so there’s that, and Nobel Peace Prizes have been given for a lot less.

Finland gets the next whack at being chair for two years. Maybe the country that ranks highest in the world for coffee consumption will give the sleepy organization the jolt it needs.

HOMER CITY COUNCIL: Last week we reported on the transparently anti-Trump resolution that had been drafted by three members of the Homer City Council. Today, the council will take up the matter for consideration. The original wording of the resolution is here. There was a bit of a backlash. The revised wording is here. Check the Must Read Alaska blog for updates today on what happened after we published the original resolution.

JEREMY CARL : A writer for National Review, also a Hoover Institute fellow, had the audience at the Juneau Lincoln Day Dinner laughing throughout his tone-perfect speech on Friday. “We’re going to win so much you’re going to get tired of winning,” he said, quoting Donald Trump during his campaign. Indeed, the audience did have the vibe of being on the winning team.

Notes from Carl’s half-hour analysis of the 2016 political landscape, which never once mentioned Sarah Palin or Bill Walker:

  • We are lousy prognosticators. Almost nobody believed Trump could pull off a win.
  • Trump expanded the pie, brought in new Republicans, enlarged the tent.
  • The media lost badly. It was obvious they were all-in for Hillary.
  • Down-ballot conservatives won. Republicans control 67 legislative chambers, and there are 24 states with overall GOP control. Democrats have just six.
  • It’s going to be a wild ride for the next four years.
  • No one should ever underestimate Donald Trump.
  • Build the road to Juneau, already.

REPUBLICANS MEET IN JUNEAU: There was no drama during the February meeting of the GOP (Great Opportunity Party) in Juneau, where the biggest controversy was whether to hold a November meeting in Fairbanks. (No, but it took 30 minutes of debate).

Between the packed reception at the Amalga Distillery, across from the Baranof Hotel, and the overflow crowd at the Lincoln Day Dinner,with speakers U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan and Jeremy Carl, Capital City Republicans raised money, had fun, and grew the party. The AKGOP will use the funds to unseat Democrats and the three turncoat Republicans — Louise Stutes (Kodiak), Gabrielle LeDoux (Muldoon), and Paul Seaton (Homer).

The takeaway is that the Alaska GOP is serious, spirited and united, with Republicans of all stripes working together.

SULLIVAN’S MONEY QUOTES: Sen. Dan Sullivan spoke to the Alaska Legislature last week and we jotted down these memorable quotes:

“Alaska is the super power of seafood.”
“When you make a commitment to (Sen.) Lyman Hoffman you never forget it, and neither does he.”
“It’s important that we put the honey bucket in a museum.”
“Last year I told you the Obama Administration moved forward to get rid of 5,000 soldiers [in the 4-25th] at JBER…I said it would be over my dead body. I’m happy to report I am still alive and the 4-25 is still at JBER.”
“I will be 100 percent focused on the economy in Alaska and throughout our country.”
“Let me be clear, relying on charity for our future is not something that the great state of Alaska should ever aspire to. It is beneath us.”
“The best social program has always been a meaningful job.”

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIBERALS, CONSERVATIVES, IN ONE QUESTION: Rep. Ivy Sponholz, D-Anchorage, posed a question to Sen. Dan Sullivan that revealed the difference between the liberal/fatalistic and conservative/optimistic mindset.

Sponholz prefaced her question by saying the increase in medical jobs is the only bright spot in the Alaska economy. Because Alaska is in a recession and people will suffer, she wanted to know if Sullivan would fight to preserve Medicaid expansion.

Sullivan politely responded that she was right, that there was an increase in spending for medical services due to expanded Medicaid funding.

But then he pivoted and addressed her fatalistic view that nothing could be done about it.

“We want to work with everyone to make sure that doesn’t happen,” he said. “There’s a lot of concern and we all have it, but I do think we have an opportunity to turn things around, with more infrastructure, tourism, fisheries. I really believe we can turn things around on the resource development side.”

MURKOWSKI INTERN DEADLINE IS MARCH 16: Sen. Murkowski offers internship opportunities in her Washington, D.C. office, as well as state office locations. Internship programs are available for recent high school graduates, current college students, and recent college graduates. The deadline for applying is March 16.

JEREMY CARL QUOTE 2.0: “I am surprised at how crazy the media has become. It is increasingly true that when I read the Washington Post and the New York Times, it’s like reading the comment thread on Elizabeth Warrens’ Facebook page.”

ACTION ITEM: HB 111 is a job-killing, economy-busting bill whose sponsors, Rep. Geran Tarr and Andy Josephson, run the House Resources Committee. Public testimony will be taken on Wednesday, March 1 at 6 pm. Greenies will be there in droves. You should go, too, because someone needs to stand up and defend SB 21 as a great piece of legislation, creating a fair and stable tax system for our oil industry. Oh, and jobs — help save our jobs, too.

Read what the Alaska Democrats have to say.

ANCHORAGE LEGISLATIVE CAUCUS=DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS: One thing liberals are a lot better at — going to town hall meetings. Maybe it’s because they have so much time on their hands, but whatever the reason, more of them showed up at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office for an Anchorage caucus appearance, and they spoke in favor of an income tax.

In fact, the meeting gave participants the chance to vote with green, yellow, and red dots on what they want the Legislature to do, and if this doesn’t convince you Democrats dominated the meeting, nothing will. Study their voting, as it’s what the House majority, Senate minority, and the governor will be pushing. GREEN=DO IT; RED=DON’T; YELLOW=USE CAUTION:

WAYBACK MACHINE 1: In 1987, Democrat Fran Ulmer (now former Lt. Gov. with Gov. Tony Knowles) penned an op-ed in which she argued that Alaska must — without a doubt, and quickly — reinstate an income tax:

“Resistance to imposing an income tax is natural. No one likes to give up a free lunch. I do not look forward to an income tax any more than anyone else, but it is clear to me that the income tax has many philosophical and practical advantages to any of the proposed alternatives. The choice of an income tax comes after realizing it is the best of the worst.”

WAYBACK MACHINE 2: This 1990 New York Times story on Alaska’s budget crisis could be dusted off, touched up a bit, and run again today.

POT, MEET KETTLE: A politician dubbed a Colorado newspaper story “fake news,” and the newspaper is threatening to sue for defamation.

WORDS WITH FRENEMIES: The Alaska Dispatch runs a column by Shannyn Moore, which is usually unreadable. But at least they edit her language.

Here’s the raw, unedited version of the ADN’s star columnist. Caution – language ahead not appropriate for children:


Tribal banishments and the challenges of frontier justice. Tribes can kick people out of villages and it’s probably not constitutional, but what else can they do when they have no law enforcement.

Squalling women show up at the State Capitol during Sen. Dan Sullivan’s speech at the Legislature. They chanted, “What does democracy look like? This is what democracy looks like.” They forgot that democracy is what we do on election day. But they shouted at the top of their lungs for pro-choice, and anti-Trump.

House Resources Committee is firmly under the control of anti-resource Democrats. What can possibly go wrong? Committee Co-Chair Geran Tarr scolds a witness, and then scolds a Republican member of the committee. What does democracy look like, Democrat style? Ugly.

Teddy Roosevelt built the Panama Canal. Guest writer Win Gruening wishes we had that spirit to build the Juneau Access Project. What it takes.

Uber and Lyft, and other ride sharing technologies may come to Alaska soon, if Sen. Mia Costello’s bill passes and is signed. We can dream.

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OUTRAGE OF THE WEEK: A high school girl changes her gender into a boy, then competes in a girls’ wrestling match, and wins. Liberals are astonished that Trump won.


TODAY: Homer city council votes on contentious anti-Trump resolution.
TODAY: US Senate votes on Wilbur Ross’ nomination as Commerce secretary nomination, and Ryan Zinke for Interior secretary, 7 pm, Eastern.
MARCH 1: Public testimony on HB 111, at your local LIO at 6 pm.
MARCH 2: Mat-Su Public Testimony, at Mat-Su LIO – House Finance: Operating Budget, 1:30 pm.
MARCH 3: Anchorage Public Testimony, at Anchorage LIO – House Finance: Operating Budget, 1 pm

Innovation is Everybody’s Business
By Robert B. Tucker
The book on Sen. Mia Costello’s desk is: Innovation is Everybody’s Business, by Robert Tucker. The author argues that innovation skills are the hottest job skill in the market today, and as companies shed some jobs, they’re keen to hire people with the ability to think ahead of the curve, who can motivate coworkers, cut costs, and invent better ways of doing things. Companies are all over the world are shedding jobs in record numbers. The way to become an irreplaceable team member is to have a high innovation factor, or I-factor.

In a time of disruptive technologies, outsourcing and hyper-competitiveness in business, Tucker offers Americans a way to strengthen those job survival skills. The challenge, of course, is how to think outside the box when there are piles and piles of work in your in-basket. Simply working harder is not enough, Tucker says. Relying on your functional skills and your longevity is not enough. We’re all working for organizations that would dearly love to eliminate our jobs.

Because it’s a self-help, career-focused book, there is a quiz involved, a self-assessment. You can take it online and see how you score in the I-factor.

“Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field.”

 – Edmund Burke, as quoted by Jeremy Carl during the Juneau Lincoln Day Dinner.