TALL TALES from Juneau
Eyes on the Babcock/Dunleavy Administration
The Devil’s in the Details Edition
YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL! (Spoiler: No, you can’t)
Last night was Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s first State of the State address to Alaskans. He took only 24 minutes to reiterate all the things he promised during his campaign. There are his promises, and then… there’s math. Follow along. We currently have a budget gap of more than $1 billion between what we’re guessing we can take in if the price of oil holds, and what we have to spend. We’ve already hacked the budget to the bone (more than 40%), and currently our biggest spending areas are education and health care. Gov. Dunleavy promises not only to close this huge budget gap, but also to actually increase funding for public safety. That’s right, no new taxes, a full PFD, no touching oil company profits, and lots more money going out for public safety and the justice system. If you’re like the Democrats in the legislature (and a growing number of Republicans in the legislature) you’re asking yourself, where exactly is this money going to come from? And we won’t know the answer to that until the actual budget is released in February. Hang on to your hats, and stand in the doorframe, folks.
The ‘war on criminals,’ vs. a war on crime
One interesting clue about potential changes to come in the administration concerns the prison system. Corrections Commissioner Nancy Dahlstrom reiterated today that “everything is on the table,” and a spokesperson earlier detailed that “everything” includes the privatizing of Alaska’s prison system. Also worthy of note is the administration’s annihilation of several programs and positions that were designed to help offenders re-enter the community successfully, thereby reducing recidivism and crime overall. This past fall, Alaska was one of only three states awarded a $1 million federal grant to help assist critical re-entry programs which have been shown to reduce crime. But Dahlstrom told the feds to keep their money and that Alaska doesn’t want it. She said it could increase the department’s overhead budget down the road.
So there seem to be a lot of promises to crack down on criminals (“Your days are over,” Dunleavy said to them), including increasing the number of prosecutors, increasing the number of public safety officers, and restoring the courts to a 5 day a week schedule. There will be a lot of investment for putting people IN prison, but a drastic slashing of efforts to assist those people when they get OUT of prison and reintegrate back into society so they don't reoffend. But hey, with a private prison system, incarceration can become the next big Alaska industry! The more inmates, the bigger the profit, right? Keep alert for more coming down the road on this disturbing possibility.
BREAKING: There is no news!
Stop the presses! The Republican House “Majority” has yet again held a press availability even though they are not the actual majority. They just wanted to let us know that (brace yourself) nothing has happened! The House is still at a stalemate, and they have failed to elect their imaginary speaker Dave Talerico with a 20-20 vote, one shy of the necessary 21 to confirm a speaker. Carry on!
Keep it classy, Department of Administration
The new hires keep rolling in, and the latest is Art Chance. You probably don’t know Art Chance unless you lurk around the dark corners of the fringy right-wing internet. The Alaska Landmine has shared one Facebook gem of his (which we will edit for the sake of propriety) where he calls someone inquiring about marijuana legislation a “dumbass” and then that person says that no one takes Art Chance seriously because he’s a “massive complete a****** with a ****-filled mouth, and then Art Chance says “any part of ‘f*** ***’ for which you’d need an interpretor, dumbass?’ and on it goes. Go check the link because we’re about to wear out our bleeper. So, anyway… welcome to the Alaska Department of Administration Mr. Chance, and we hope you enjoy your nice new state job in… wait for it… labor relations!
Quick and Crum
No, not a charming Dickensian law firm – these are two political appointees whose names were just presented to the legislature for confirmation. John Quick was appointed by Dunleavy as the new Commissioner of Administration. Adam Crum was appointed Commissioner of the Department of Health & Social Services. Neither has much or any experience in the areas for which they will now be in charge. Quick has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Christian institution, Northwest University and a master’s degree from the Wayland Baptist University Graduate School of Business. He was also the regional director of the Christian organization Samaritan’s Purse, run by Franklin Graham. Oh, and he also started a frozen yogurt shop in Washington. Crum has been working in an office that organizes construction training. Despite a master’s degree in Public Health, he’s never worked in the field and described himself (during a failed bid for state senate) as “not a health policy guy.” Crum will have a confirmation hearing today in the Senate HSS committee. There’s a great rundown HERE if you want more information.
New/old voices in the media
If you were a fan of the reporting from John Aronno and Craig Tuten of the now-defunct Alaska Commons, go check out and bookmark the AKLedger. They’re off to a good start with all the nerdy, deep-dive stuff you love. Welcome back to the fray, gentlemen!
And for goodness sake, go “like” the Alaska Senate Democrats ’Facebook page. They’ve got some great information and timely video messages from our amazing Senate Dems.
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