By SUZANNE DOWNING / MUST READ ALASKA
Politicians complaining about how hard their job is? That’s never a good look.
Alaska State Sen. Natasha von Imhof is known to complain in her caucus meetings that she is not happy about having to go back to Anchorage and explain to her father the caucus hasn’t fixed the state’s budget problem. Her colleagues kind of roll their eyes during these times, with as much politeness as they can muster.
Last week, her complaint spilled out onto the Senate floor. Her father is dying of cancer and she is having to listen to “crap” on the Senate floor, she said. Then she demanded that senators vote for the budget. She threw what is known as a hissy fit.
“I’m here listening to the biggest crock of crap I’ve ever heard. I’m so sick of it. Get a grip, people! Vote for this budget!” she yelled at the senators who sat quietly watching the Natasha show.
It was an awful moment in Alaska lawmaking history. One of the worst. Many in the room had lost their fathers in various circumstances, relating to cancer, old age, or heart attacks. Others have grieved the loss of other relatives. Some lawmakers carry deep emotional pain from serving in wartime, others carry deep physical pain from the hard work of a lifetime, or the horrors they have seen in this world.
Those who witnessed her speech online and social media were not entirely sympathetic to von Imhof. Must Read Alaska heard privately from several:
“My dad died of liver cancer, and it was way too soon,” one reader wrote. “I think about him every day, many times a day.”
“My dad dropped dead at 66 and I didn’t get to say goodbye,” wrote another. “He was 4,000 miles away.”
“My dad died of pancreatic cancer, and it was six weeks from diagnosis to his death. I don’t need a lecture,” wrote a third.
“I know mine passed while I was deployed. The Air Force moved heaven and earth to make sure I was able to be home for the funeral. Of course I then returned to Afghanistan,” an Alaskan wrote.
“How can she politicize her father’s cancer?” wrote another Must Read Alaska reader.
Von Imhof has a self-awareness problem. She has never faced any real problems in her life because every problem she may have faced was fixed for her before she even knew she had a problem. Every skid has been greased. It’s as if she has lived in a Truman Show her whole life, and now this — her father is dying and it’s the Senate’s fault that she cannot be with him.
Never mind that her family could send the family foundation jet to fetch her at a moment’s notice from Juneau, where the theater continues over the $525 Permanent Fund dividend. She created a moment of class warfare when she uttered those words.
On the eve of Fathers Day, this writer is somewhat sympathetic. Many of us grieve the loss of our dads. I lost my father a year ago. He was living deep in the heart of Mexico and I could not fly to be at his side because Covid-19 policies had closed the borders. I visited him in March and promised I would return in May. I intended to with every ounce of my being, but then the pandemic was in full panic mode. He died alone on May 6.
As with many others, I don’t need a Rasmuson-von Imhof telling me I’m greedy or entitled or inconveniencing her because I think the Legislature should stop breaking the law, and I refer here to the statute that determines the amount of the Permanent Fund dividend.
Von Imhof scratched the grief of many Alaskans with her histrionics. We understand what it is like to lose a father, a mother, a child, a spouse, and we don’t wish any of that on her. But truly, weaving the Senate debate about the Permanent Fund dividend into a story of our greed and entitlement, and dropping the guilt trip on her colleagues because of her father’s health — that was beyond the pale.
No, I’m not one who thinks the statutory $3,500 Permanent Fund dividend is good for the state. I think such a check might prevent people from going back to work for yet another few months, or might overheat the economy. That concerns me from a public policy standpoint. I think the statutory formula is not a God, but it is law, and if we’re to not ignore the law, then it needs to be fixed.
The governor has offered a solid solution — the 50-50 plan. While it doesn’t fix everything, Dunleavy argues that the Legislature should let the people vote on it, because they are shown to have a strong interest in this matter and yes, they do have a dog in the fight. For some of them, they are literally fighting for their lives to keep from living out of their cars this winter.
The Rasmuson Foundation has been a generous organization that has helped many people through its largesse. But as the secretary and treasurer for her family’s foundation, von Imhof gave us a glimpse into exactly what she thinks of the majority of Alaskans: They’re greedy and entitled. Maybe this lawmaking thing is not the best fit for her.
Suzanne Downing is the publisher of Must Read Alaska.
Saw this coming. She should have been swept out with Giessel. I voted against her in the primary and then voted for Cacy Roselynn. First time in my life I voted for a democrat. The lady of the lake needs to go.
The reason Natasha is so upset with us is because she doesn’t understand that when it comes to public policy her fathers opinion is as relevant as my fathers opinion… or her neighbors, or the garbage truck drivers.
Our votes are all equally valid, Natasha. Your colleagues represent all of us equally, Natasha. We live in a Republic not a feudal state with lordships.
Pretty well said Suzanne, but I don’t have much sympathy for the princess in her anticipated grief. Been there, done that. My parents were thousands of miles away when they passed at age 96 – we kept close by telephone. Easy to accuse us, millionaire princess whose wealth comes mostly from daddy, of greed and entitlement. The great Rasmuson legacy will endure without Natasha. Princess, you had a job to do which should have been finished weeks ago – instead you resorted to histrionics in front of an extended deadline. For a family in the bush making $30K/year including all their employment and benefits (been there done that too), the PFD (our money, not the State’s) is a very important component of the ability to survive. For a family of six that cut from the statutory formula cost that family otherwise making $30K one third of their annual income. Let the people vote on the PFD Amendment. Princess, your political career is toast.
Whoever runs against her in the governor ‘s race in ’22 or in her district on ’24 needs to keep those comments and her snarling face making them, front & center.
Her grandparents & parents would never make such statements. It’s obvious she is from the “ruling class” with Lisa, Burt, Bryce, Forest, Meg and more who need to be voted out from Alaska elected office.
Senator von Entitlement is about the last person in Alaska that should be talking about the pluses and minuses of the Permanent Fund dividend. She brings the notion of a lack of self-awareness to a ridiculous level.
To make matters worse, she champions making multiple-billion dollar transfers from PF earnings to the principal of the PF. These transfers only benefit bankers and investment managers and no one else.
Good writing on Queen Natasha. As regards your opinion on the dividend , I disagree on one point. I think the full payout should be made. I don’t need the money to survive, but if it’s not paid out in full, then it means the State once again got away with STEALING the peoples money. The Alaska economy is NOT going to overheat. You do remember posting articles about how dire the economy is because we can’t drill? As for people not working. One of the reasons people are not working now is that they found other ways to make a living in the “informal” economy. They’ve grown accustomed to no boss and they’re not coming back. If you’re referring to drunks and addicts quitting their jobs to go on a bender…well $3000 goes very fast when you’re having pseudo-fun! Still, good work framing Natasha’s “better than us” tirade.
Thank you Suzanne for helping to tone down my frustration re: the goings-on in Juneau. I have seen my share of temper tantrums in my life but usually from a 2 year old. Princess von Imhof has showed us why she should be replaced in the next election, or if she would like to save herself more embarrassment she could just resign.
Wow. We’ve all been upset and said things we shouldn’t have, but this is epic. Perhaps she should have taken a leave of absence if she needs personal time rather than blaming the ineptness of the legislature on us greedy and entitled Alaskans. Follow the damn law or change it. In the meantime Natasha, shut your pie hole.
Who said this- “The fund is a constitutional right, not a gift bestowed by a generous government.”
I’m sympathetic to a very small point. When my mom died of cancer I was at work. I didn’t have the option of coming in for less than a minute and getting paid $300 for it.
Real people work. Hard. Most without daddy’s money behind them. I don’t begrudge anyone their advantages, but I expect them to keep them in perspective. Clearly Princess has not.
If the legislature had done its damn job, she’d have been home.
This debacle is completely on her and the legislature squarely due to their unwillingness to follow the law..
Side note: I could give less than a damn about the author’s opinion about $3500 being too much for us poor, simple folk to handle. Those of us not blessed with state employment spent over a year being screwed by the state. We got bills to pay. Plus, it’s the freaking law.
Making BS excuses like it might superheat the economy or keep people home is typical of people who a) have not felt the real pain of the last 18 months and b) think themselves more erudite than the rest of us.
I held off commenting on the von Imhof’s outburst out of respect for her family and all the good the family and the Foundation does for Alaskans.
The PFD is not a Family Foundation to be doled out based on her values as royalty who has never worked or wanted for anything in her privileged life. She is the worst kind of human being that believes “Let them eat cake”!
She has no regard for the people of Alaska that live off the few dollars that the PFD provides each year. To her it is greed by people that don’t deserve a cent because she wants to be worshipped for spending it for the greater good that she chooses.
I feel bad that her father is dying of cancer and she must participate in the process of doing a job she freely applied for to obliviously teach us all how unworthy we are.
Both my parents died from cancer; my mother at 52 and my father at 57. I was able to fly home from AK to visit her for a month but she didn’t die on the timeline the doctors predicted and I had to return to duty protecting my country at FT Richardson.
When she did die three weeks later I couldn’t leave my job to attend her funeral.
When my father died he hid the cancer from all 12 of his kids and friends until he went to the emergency room and died. Lots of alcohol helped him spare us his constant pain. I was serving in Germany than and even though I found out quickly, I could not leave my job to attend his funeral either.
I hope if her father passes, if is during the special sessions, while she performing her job, the legislature will allow to return home for her father.
Before you judge others like you did this past week you need to walk in their shoes first to understand what is truly need or greed.
Resign if you can’t do your job or quit acting like a spoiled entitled rich girl!
Von Imhof has no idea what real life is like to people that didn’t grow up with all the benefits afforded her from the cubic dollars brought in by her parents, thanks to the forward thinking great grandmother she had, who set Elmer up nicely. Watching her was like watching some high schooler lose their crap in the hall because someone wouldn’t let her have her way.
Statesmanship, ethics, competence and work ethics is missing from most of the legislature. They seem to believe we work for them. Most in Juneau have proven to the people of Alaska that they are unqualified.
But will she apologize?
I can’t believe people voted for her in the last election.
Yes the guy running against her was a tin-foil-hat kinda guy.
Anybody is better than von Imhof
Vote this, out-of-control crazy lady out, next election, please.
The legislature can find a statutory PFD and have it pay out in December.
The point is, and always has been, that it is our money. It’s never been for the legislature to piss away as they will.
“Legislature should stop breaking the law, and I refer here to the statute that determines the amount of the Permanent Fund dividend.”
What a crock!
The courts have already shown that there is no breaking of the law. Get a grip Suzanne!
Get a grip! You dividend socialists! Too bad for you that I have to explain it! Thanks to Sen. Natasha von Imhof and Sen. Bert Stedman who did all the hard work to try to balance our state budget, we did not go further into debt. You should try that sometime!
Fellow Alaskan’s truly deserve representation in Juneau that is informed and dedicated to moving the great State of Alaska forward with the goal of resource development for the many families they shall never meet. The fact that each of you receives compesenation regardless of whether you address any of the many challenges facing a great State that is relying upon talent and leadership that is sorely absent. Real leadership leads without personal gain applying personal talent for the good of the whole not just a few. I suspect that we are lacking talent in the critical area of problem solving. How many of you have actually run a real Company? How many of you designed a product that has made a major difference in the lives of others. Creativity leads to efficiencies which reduces the operational costs. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few and the one. Show Alaskan’s that you can deliver more than just warming a chair. We grow impatient.
I’m betting the legislature is going to settle on another $1,100 dividend.
Maybe it’s not the best fit for her? She is a child in adult’s clothing. Her “hissy fit” proves it. Children should never be allowed to run our state government!
Expecting an entitled Trust Fund Baby to have empathy for struggling Alaskans is akin to expecting pigs to fly! Ain’t gonna happen.
Chris Nyman, thanks goodness they “balanced the budget”! If they didn’t, where would they have found enough money to vote to pay themselves a 9k per diem? I’m so glad that we have fiscally minded legislatures.
I have personally known several millionaires throughout my life. The vast majority of them don’t have a clue; especially those with inherited wealth. They thought everyone enjoyed the good life. Many I came in contact with and knew over an extended period of time, had great difficulty leaving a tip of any amount even after an obscene meal. One in particular would leave a paultry tip and as the group was leaving, return and pocket some of the tip, sayinging, “You don’t want to spoil the waitresses”. I would say that I had to go to the bathroom and instead leave enough money for a nice tip. The odd and troubling irony is they also had good qualities that money obsessions clouded…..
Some of these women legislators are so unhinged that I think that there should be a psychiatric examination before they run for office. Certainly before they get sworn in. Von Imhof needs psychotropic medication and lots of psychotherapy. I can analyze her just from her speech alone and provide a depressing diagnosis. NOT GOOD!
Suzanne, well said. The only thing I can add to most all the above comments is: Maybe she could get a job in the Biden Administration!
The PFD has highjacked out state. Every year our elected officials go through charades until the last second, playing chicken with a shutdown and dividend. The biggest problem we have is that too many residents care only about the dividend. I say she was way too gracious.
Peter principal…No one said it would be easy. We all face these life issues from time to time. We need more rational statesmen that can manage their emotions. Seems she has hit her limit.
Who said this- “The fund is a constitutional right, not a gift bestowed by a generous government”? Why Grandpappy Rasmussen.
The Fund is a constitutional right but not the PFD.
You seem confused Jay.
“this rabble you’re talking about… they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they’re cattle. Well in my book, my father died a much richer man than you’ll ever be!” George Bailey
Bill, not my words. It’s called a quote hehehe heh.
It is a quote, Jay but it doesn’t have an application here as our issues are not with the PF but the PFD.
Like I said earlier you seem confused here.
Bill, how long were you a part of the spending problem? Should we call this bureaucratic guilt trolling, you and Nyman? heh heh At least chance admits to being on the teat at one time. heh heh
Still confused I see Jay. What does this have to do with PFDs or your idea of “the spending problem?”
Nothing of course, so you must just like to see your posts on here, even though they don’t have anything to do with any subject at hand.
Chance retired from State service that you call being on the teat “at one time.” You trying to cover for him? Heheh!
Bill, to ease my confusion you should write a column for MRAK explaining your thoughts on the PF and what the functions of State Government should be. Along with a lengthy bio.
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