Walt Monegan for Governor?! Can I Vote Now?

4 12 2008
Walt Monegan at UAA on 12/3/08. Photo by Linda Kellen Biegel.

Walt Monegan - Photo by Linda Kellen Biegel.

Has Christmas come a little early here in the North Land? I almost fell off my chair yesterday when the latest rumors broke. I was unable to attend a talk given by former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, but two of Alaska’s intrepid bloggers were there and they have some interesting news.

First, let’s hear from Phil over at Progressive Alaska:

Former Anchorage Police Chief and Alaska Public Safety Commissioner, Walt Monegan, speaking to a group of journalism students, UAA faculty, and community members, refused, when asked whether he might consider running for governor of Alaska, to rule it out.

When asked a third time about this, he stated that he had agreed with his faculty host, not to discuss his political future at the event.

I attended the talk to meet Monegan, a public safety officer I’ve long respected. There were a couple of questions I had hoped to ask, but they weren’t about his political aspirations. The questions on future politics and potential political considerations he might be pondering, took me completely by surprise.

And this, from Linda at Blue Oasis:

Mr. Monegan spoke on what he’s learned over the years about the relationship between the people and their government. “Basically, what I want to talk about, and what I’ve been invited to speak on, is the importance of the integrity of our government and its leaders.”

He discussed his appreciation of our Founding Fathers and how “the law of the land” includes an understandting that “If the government starts to become more oppressive, the citizens not only have a right but an obligation to alter or abolish the government.”

The third question on the subject was from APRN, who first asked if Walt was going to take any action against the State on being called a “rogue” and he said “I love the State of Alaska so the answer is no.” Then she asked for a firmer answer to the question about running for governor and he said he didn’t want to violate the non-political requirement of speaking at UAA. [snip]

As long as it’s not violating any rules I could honestly say that my wife and I are talking about it.

And a hush falls on the land. What’s this? Did someone actually address the importance of the integrity of our government and its leaders and MEAN it? Ears prick up everywhere. I’d recommend reading both posts in their entirety, and also check out the link to the audio of Monegan’s talk on Blue Oasis.

2010 could be very very interesting. I wonder what’s being chatted about at the Governor’s office today? I’m sensing another chapter in the Greek myth that is Alaska politics. OK, Mr. Monegan, you take the left flank, and Senator Murkowski, you take the right flank and Alaskans for Truth will head right up the middle. Someone blow a horn!

And if anyone wondered about what kind of support people feel for Walt Monegan, how many other former Commissioners of Public Safety could inspire someone who lives thousands of miles away to dress up like Sarah Palin and make the following statement:

Sarah...er...I mean Lila with a 2010 campaign sign!

Sarah...er...I mean Lila with a 2010 campaign sign!

Sarah Palin isn’t the only Alaska politician with national appeal! This is Lila from the Mudstock meetup in Chicago in October. It’s true…Mudflatters can see the future!





Bedtime in Alaska – Night Kitchen is Open!

4 12 2008

It’s a dark and stormy night here in Anchorage.  I know “The Windy City” is already taken, so maybe I’ll just have to start referring to Anchorage as “The Windier City”.

There are LOTS of thing happening over at the Mudflats Forums as we roll into the holiday season!  Here are just a few:

December Mudstock Meetups are happening on December 7th in Southern California, and December 13th in  Anchorage Alaska!  Click the links and get details.  Come meet your virtual community in person!

Just in time for the holidays!  The Mudflats Recipe Collection:  Holiday recipes galore! This collection will be available as The Mudflats Cookbook (pdf) within a week or two….so come and add your secret family recipe.

All submissions are in, but there is still time to vote for your favorite photos for the Mudflats Calendar Photo Contest!  I had a hard time choosing my favorites!

And as always, the Night Kitchen is Open and the kettle is on!  What’s on your mind?





Hey, Alaskans! Sarah Palin Owes Us $8720.

3 12 2008

Another day, another ethics challenge for the Palin administration. This one involves (brace yourselves) failure to disclose free gifts on her financial disclosure forms! Does this sound familiar? If you answered “no”, I invite you to use the search feature located in the sidebar and type the words “Ted Stevens”. You’ll have enough reading material on the subject to keep you busy for a week.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Gov. Sarah Palin has added to her financial disclosure forms two free trips that she took nearly two years ago but failed to report. Palin, who was Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s running mate, made the disclosures last month, but after Election Day when she and McCain lost to Barack Obama and Joe Biden. The trips were first revealed in a story by The Associated Press in October.

The free trips were taken in April and May of 2007 and should have been reported within 30 days under state ethics law. The Nov. 17 disclosure forms note that the reports were “not filed timely due to administrative error.”

Bill McAllister, the governor’s spokesman, said this week that the mistakes were made by travel support staff. He said he could not explain the timing of when and how they were caught, but that it was irrelevant because the error was corrected.

Palin, who has criticized state lawmakers for gifts they take, is not facing any sanctions for the late filings, according to Linda Perez, state administrative director. Perez said she was alerted to the matter by McCain’s presidential campaign before the Oct. 14 AP story.

“It wasn’t necessarily the governor’s oversight, nor was she trying to hide anything,” Perez said. “It was a staff oversight.”

In one of the trips, the James B. Hunt Jr. Institute of North Carolina — a nonprofit education policy group — paid the $2,827 cost of Palin’s April 2007 flight and hotel in Scottsdale, Ariz., to attend a four-day conference, according to her report. The group has said it also paid for other governors attending the annual event in recent years.

In May 2007, Palin accepted lodging for herself and her three daughters at Mt. Chilkoot Lodge in the Southeast Alaska town of Skagway. The lodging, valued at $300, was paid for by the owners, including Palin friend and former deputy campaign treasurer Kathy Hosford.

The reports were among recent disclosures released to the AP after a public records request.

Among other gifts Palin reported last month is a June 30 flight valued at $1,187.50 that was paid by the North Slope Borough for Palin and her 7-year-old daughter, Piper, to attend various functions, including a whaling festival in the town of Barrow.

Palin and husband Todd also received travel, food and lodging valued at $4,620.12 to attend a Republican Governors Association event in Texas, in April — gifts that were not reported until August, according to disclosure forms. Palin and the other governors attending the event also received $1,000 Rocky Carroll cowboy boots.

So, in case you missed it, here’s the timeline:

April 2007 – Trip #1

May 2007 – Deadline for reporting Trip #1

June 2007 – Trip #2

July 2007 – Deadline for reporting Trip #2

September or October 2008 – McCain post-nomination vetting process discovers violation.

October 14, 2008 – Associated Press reports on the trips and Palin’s failure to disclose them.

November 2008 – Palin amends her forms to include the gifts, and blames support staff.

And Bill McAllister, Alaska’s own Dana Perrino, has assured us that none of this matters because once the Associated Press blew the lid off it, she went back and fixed it. So, move along everyone, nothing to see here.

Fascinating.

So, does this mean when the IRS finds out you haven’t disclosed certain things on your tax forms, and you find out that they know, and then you go back with a bottle of white out, that means everything is OK?

And I suppose, Mr. McAllister would say that if you rob a bank, and the police show up at your house, everything is OK as long as you give it back?

Can we assume, then, that since Linda Perez tells us that Palin will not be facing sanctions that there is precedent for overlooking these little mistakes? Maybe others have been allowed to slide with nothing more than a “tsk tsk” from the overseeing financial watchdog agency APOC (the Alaskan Public Offices Commission)?

In an interesting little piece of irony, Democratic Senator Elect Mark Begich recently got in to hot water for….wait for it….failure to properly fill out his financial disclosure forms. A complaint was filed against him by the Republican Party, because…well…they can’t stand people who don’t fill out their financial disclosure forms properly.

Mark Begich, the Democratic challenger for U.S. Senate, will pay a $1,420 fine for failing to properly fill out state financial disclosure forms, a campaign spokeswoman said Monday.

A Begich spokeswoman says he corrected all errors and will pay the fine that reflects $10 a day for each day the report was deemed incomplete. [snip]

“We are pleased to have this matter over,” said campaign spokeswoman Julie Hasquet. “We’ll be paying the fine immediately.”

McHugh Pierre [a spokesman for the Alaska Republican Party] said in a statement that he was pleased with the outcome.

“I am very happy that the commission is holding Mayor Begich accountable for his actions,” Pierre said.

Yes, by all means, McHugh Pierre, APOC should hold people accountable for their actions. Mark Begich did something wrong, APOC sanctioned him, he admitted it and immediately paid a fine of $10 a day. So (getting out calculator) that means that give or take $100…Sarah Palin owes about $8720 in fines according to my calculations. Right? I mean, surely we’re not going to fail to hold someone accountable for their actions, are we??

So, why is state administrative director Linda Perez telling us that the Governor is facing no sanctions? Did she get this information from APOC? Did they decide to give her a free pass? Or is this a bit of wishful thinking on the part of the Governor’s office? Is this a bit of Bill McAllister logic that says if you have a library book out past the due date and you accrue a big fine, that as long as you bring the book back, and as long as you are a Republican, you don’t have to pay? I’d be interested to find that out.

And in the meantime, Alaskans for Truth can add something else to their growing list of things for which to hold Sarah Palin accountable.





Ted Stevens Seeks New Trial

3 12 2008

Here we go. Ted Stevens’ lawyers have been busy, and they will soon file a motion seeking a new trial for Alaska’s outgoing senior senator. His recent trial which found him guilty on seven felony counts on failure to disclose gifts and home renovations on his Senate Disclosure Forms was fraught with…weirdness, for lack of a better term. A witness being sent back to Alaska early by the prosecution, evidence being withheld from the defense, a juror having violent outbursts and other jurors trying to vote her off the island, another juror fabricating a story of her own father’s death and skipping town to watch a horse race, a key witness coming forward and admitting he committed perjury and stating that the prosecution showed him documents he wasn’t supposed to see, the same witness revealing a supposed contract on his life from the star witness for the prosecution… If this were the plot of a legal thriller, we’d advise the author to tone it down a bit and make it believable. But real life, as it often happens, is stranger than fiction.

Stevens, who was defeated in a bid for a seventh full term, will ask Judge Emmet Sullivan to overturn his conviction on seven federal corruption counts for failing to disclose more than $250,000 in improper gifts.

Stevens’ defense team raised numerous objections to the Justice Department’s handling of his corruption trial, arguing that the government deliberately withheld potentially exculpatory information and witnesses during the proceedings.

In addition, a prosecution witness, David Anderson, said he was coached by prosecutors on his testimony prior to his appearance as the final government witness, and unofficially promised immunity for himself and his family and friends if he took the witness stand. Prosecutors have vehemently denied Anderson’s allegations. A hearing on Anderson’s claims, laid out in a letter to Judge Sullivan, will be the subject of a hearing next month.

Stevens’ attorneys have not actually filed their request for a new trial yet, but are asking leave from the judge to submit a lengthy motion, one that exceeds local court rules on how long such a document can be.

“The trial in this case took an entire month and gave rise to numerous legal disputes, including motions, evidentiary objections, and juror issues,” Stevens’ attorneys wrote. “The many legal issues cannot adequately be briefed within the local rule’s presumptive 45-page limit. Sen. Stevens accordingly requests this page-limit extension to address the many grounds for a new trial and to preserve these issues in the event of a potential appeal.”

So whatever the reasons the defense will give for asking for a new trial, we know that it will be more than 45 pages worth. My guess is that it will be a LOT more than 45 pages. And it will undoubtedly be a good read, if you’re in to that sort of thing. I’ve been saving a good bottle of wine…





Bedtime in Alaska – Night Kitchen – Baby Talk…

3 12 2008

Well, the blogosphere is starting to hum already. Can you hear it?  The blog “Sarah Palin’s Deceptions,” whose focus over the last three months has been “Babygate” has released a very interesting picture of Sarah Palin taken in late March of this year… There is no doubt that this photo will become the topic of conversation across the web in short order, so take a look HERE for the image and a detailed description, and join the discussion in the Night Kitchen thread in the Forum!

Also, I’ve added a new link in the sidebar. It’s an advent calendar, only instead of getting pictures of elves and reindeer, or bits of really mediocre chocolate, you get a Hubble telescope space photo each day! There are three up already, and they are just breathtaking. I’ll be enjoying them as my evening moment of Zen during the crazy holiday season. Enjoy!





The White House Ornament That Almost Was…

2 12 2008

ornament1

I really never anticipated writing more than one post about Christmas ornaments, but this one is hard to resist.

From the Washington Post:

Laura Bush asked members of Congress to pick local painters to decorate ornaments for this year’s 20-foot Fraser fir in the Blue Room. The globes (to be unveiled by the first lady tomorrow) are supposed to showcase something special about each congressional district. Washington state’s Rep. Jim McDermott contacted a local arts organization, which asked Lawrence, a collage artist, to create the local entry.

“I was at first nauseated, then realized it was an opportunity,” said Lawrence, 55, who frequently combines politics and satire in her work and saw this as the perfect way “to highlight Jim McDermott because he’s a hero of mine.”

The nine-inch ball is covered with swirly red and white stripes — and, in tiny glued-on text, salutes the Democratic congressman’s support for a resolution to impeach President Bush. (Also showcased: Washington state’s 1919 labor strike, its suffrage movement and the violent anti-World Trade Organization riots of 1999.) Lawrence sent it off to D.C. in September and was very surprised it was accepted for the tree — and that she was invited to this afternoon’s White House reception for the artists, which she flew to D.C. to attend.

“Apparently, they didn’t read it — or Laura Bush is more progressive than I believed,” Lawrence told us.

How I wish I could tell you that the story ended there.  But, alas, when our sneaky artist filled some friends in on the hidden message in the ornament, the news spread like wildfire, and found its way to the White House and the ear of the First Lady.  The ornament will not hang on the tree after all.

“Oh, dear,” said Seattle-based artist Deborah Lawrence, who created the red and white ornament that salutes Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) and his support for a resolution to impeach the president. “This doesn’t really surprise me. But it’s disappointing that I won’t get to see it on the tree.”

Lawrence did attend the artists’ reception, but did not get to meet the hostess.  I wonder if somebody slipped one of those “Thanks, Santa” Obama ornaments in there.  I think I would have had to…





Palin vs. Murkowski….Another Epic Battle?

2 12 2008

athenaToday an article in Huffington Post has picked up on what could be, in Alaska, an epic battle come next year. In a tale worthy of Greek Mythology, Sarah Palin could be preparing to take on Senator Lisa Murkowski for her seat which becomes available in 2010.

Our story begins In 2002, when Frank Murkowski decided he’d had enough time in the Senate, and came home to Alaska to run for Governor. Murkowski, who had held the senate seat since 1981, won the gubernatorial bid. But who was to take his now vacant place in the senate? In his first wildly unpopular decision as governor, Murkowski appointed his daughter Lisa to the seat. It also became increasingly obvious over time that Frank was not cutting the mustard. Gas pipeline debacles and battles with the Legislature caused his popularity to plummet like a lead balloon. Adding insult to arrogance, he purchased a private jet to fly himself around the state and elsewhere. There was a radio contest to name the jet, and the winning entry was “The Bald Ego”.

Here’s where you picture Frank in a toga, being fed grapes, and fanned by his staff. Every once in a while, he’d make some bombastic proclamation that made the villagers angry, but other than that he had a pretty good life up on Mt. Olympus. Now and then, he’d wave over to the next mountain top where his daughter Lisa was actually not doing such a bad job being a senator according to the villagers. She wasn’t quite so conservative, appeared to be more ethical, worked harder, and actually seemed to care. Go figure.

Then came a young upstart from one of those outlying provinces from whence heroes always come. She was young, ferocious, and beautiful, and she had her eye on that throne. It was promising to be an epic battle. Troops on both sides rallied. Murkowski’s minions dropped their wine jugs and their platters of figs, and grabbed up weapons. They looked at the rag-tag team of outlanders, and decided that maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. All they had to do was keep the power they already had. They had the advantage. How hard could it be? But then the primary battle came, and in David vs. Goliath fashion, with one well-placed stone flung by her sling, Murkowski was struck smack between the eyes by the young woman from the village, and went down like a bag of dirt with a 19% approval rating.

After the stunned silence, the rejoicing began. We did it! One of US beat the grape-eating guy who was making everyone miserable! Sa-rah! Sa-rah! Sa-rah! And the Bald Ego went up for sale in the public marketplace, and Sarah reassigned the grape-peeler to another job, and the villagers loved her. They loved the idea of her. It was perfect. We needed a hero and we got one. Of course, over the months, many of the villagers began to see things they didn’t like. The new Queen started to pull people in from the obscure outlying province and put them in positions of power that they weren’t qualified for. People from the village started disappearing, banished to the hinterlands. She got rid of her humble toga, and started dressing more and more like a grape eater. She started visiting other kingdoms far away where people cheered for her, and attending parties far and wide, while her own kingdom suffered. Some of the villagers who were paying attention started to get a little nervous, and then a little disgruntled, and then downright mad.

But others remembered that humble young girl who flattened Murkowski, and refused to give up their dream. Heroes don’t come easy, and heroic tales must stay as they are written, otherwise it would just be too depressing. Alaskans have lost other heroes lately to greed and corruption and hubris, and this one would be just plain heartbreaking.

And now our Queen is looking around. She’s scanning the horizon, looking at other mountain tops, and new thrones, and new lands to conquer. She remembers Lisa, daughter of Frank the vanquished. Lisa rules the mountaintop over there, closer to all those parties, and cheering crowds. That throne might be nice…

But Lisa feels the gaze of the restless Queen, the one who flattened her father with a stone. She has been holding a white-hot hatred for the Queen who is now known as “Murkowski slayer.” It’s uncomfortable to live one mountain away from someone with that nickname when your own name is Murkowski. She’s been stifling her desire for vengeance, but this frontal assault on her own mountain would be just too much.

Murkowski says a run against her would be fraught with risk. If Palin lost, her stock would drop just ahead of a potential 2012 presidential run. And if she won, she’d be a backbencher in a chamber that is dominated by seniority — and would have to begin her presidential campaign as soon as she took office.

“If she wants to be president, I don’t think the way to the presidency is a short stop in the United States Senate,” Murkowski said.

Asked Monday to respond to Murkowski’s comments, Palin’s communications coordinator, Kate Morgan, said only, “The governor has never stated her intention or desire to run for that office.”

True, she has not stated her intention or desire to run for that office. But there’s an awful lot of activity on Mt. Olympus these days. The blacksmiths are busy, the horses are being counted, and the royal court has a strange glint in their eyes. And one thing we do know is that Queen Sarah’s restless nature is no longer content on her own mountain. Her destiny lies elsewhere. She likes the thrill of the battle, and the villagers know that Queen Lisa’s mountain is the most advantageous to conquer.

So what will the villagers do when 2010 comes? Whose side will they choose? The discontented villagers who’ve been paying attention to Queen Sarah and seeing the same arrogance and hubris that took down her predecessor will rally behind Lisa who has been doing better than her father. Others, who love their heroes, will remember how Lisa got to be Queen of her mountain, and they will remember her father the grape-eater with the jet, and the epic saga of the battle won for the people by that unlikely girl with the sling.

And others of us are still waiting for a brand new, and as yet unknown hero to arrive, and slay them both.