Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Progressive Alaska's 1,000th Post - Five Alaska Muckrakers of 2008

Progressive Alaska began on November 4, 2007. With this article, PA will have posted 1,000 separate articles, essays, picture collections, YouTubes, gags, stories and other items. Dozens of articles and essays were provided by invited authors, or by contributors who approached PA to publish. Thanks, to everyone who provided content so far. I've ruffled a few feathers getting some of that content up here. Sorry.

My greatest joy through this strange ride hasn't been that of being able to write more material than I could have imagined, as fine as that experience has been. It has been meeting so many interesting people in the new context of being a fairly serious writer.

Before August 29th, 2008, very few of these new people spoke with me about Sarah Palin. After that date, very few didn't.

For PA's 1,000th post, I'm going to write about five great Alaska muckrakers. Two have been acknowledged publicly as great muckrakers in Alaska. The others are mentioned here and there and elsewhere as great Alaska muckrakers, so I'm not breaking any ground, other than putting them on the same list.

Riki Ott. She is Cook Inletkeeper's 2008 Alaska Muckraker of the Year. Her tenacity as a scientist, ecologist, community organizer, writer and budding national figure are finally coming together in a major way. Her concept of a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, eliminating "personhood" from corporations is a growing national undertaking. Her part in that rapidly budding movement may soon be more important than Ott's scientific work on petroleum product and residue toxicology, and on long-term Prince William Sound Pacific herring mortality.

Ray Metcalfe. Ray was 2007 Cook Inletkeeper Muckraker of the Year. Last spring, after taking Ray's Anchorage real estate tour, I tried to get Ray and Mark Begich to do the tour together. Neither bit. Too bad. It was a non-event in what turned out to be one of the most fascinating political races in Alaska history.

Ray is as relentless as Ott. Both are critical of the current economic paradigm. Ott's 28th Amendment campaign, for instance.

Ray published an article Tuesday for the Alaska Dispatch on the real estate market meltdown and its ramifications. I'd like to challenge the person I'm going to next name a 2008 Alaska Muckraker to sit down with Ray on Andy's radio program, and go through Ray's article.

Ray wants to challenge several outstanding issues in 2009. He hopes the state doesn't let the statute of limitations run out on the deal between Lisl McGuire and Providence Hospital a few years back. He wants serious tightening of ethics legislation. He and I don't see eye to eye on the importance of executive branch ethics reform, though. I think it needs to b put on the front burner.

Andrew Halcro
. I've never met Andrew. Called his current radio program three times. I didn't read his blog much until late June, 2008. After the choice of Sarah Palin as a vice presidential candidate, I went back and read several of his articles about her. Doing that, I read or re-read his take on other issues. Some had a whole new meaning.

I would have voted for Halcro in 2006 if he had a chance. Looking back at some of the clips of the 2006 gubernatorial debates with some of the reporters and bloggers who came to Alaska from Outside this fall, I gained more respect for Andy.

I guess the main reason I've identified Andy as one of our top five muckrakers is because he represents a business-oriented perspective that I often find quite valid.


Shannyn, C.C. and Aaron at KUDO in the 2008 Anchorage election. Call it syncronicity, call it Phil Munger's bullshit, call it Buttdialing-gate, call it anything you want. I worked in radio for seven years. Last winter and spring's KUDO lineup was just beginning to gain traction when it got carjacked.

When that seven-hour stretch of local progressive talk hit Anchorage, a mold was made that was able to take advantage of growing disenchantment with the Bush administration's policy failures, and use that to attract listeners to local political figures. These Anchorage and Alaska politicians were presented to the public in a format quite different from their appearances on local right wing AM venues. Instead of being constantly interrupted by hosts who could be total jerks, they were able to get complex ideas presented in a courteous, curious ambience.

The momentum from the empowerment felt at the February 4th caucuses carried over into the April Anchorage municipal election. It was helped along by the humor KUDO threw at the phone tapes of "pay for play" on the local level. Those three air hosts, actually helped change an election toward the left. To my knowledge, that had never happened before in Anchorage AM radio history.

Max Blumenthal. David Neiwert, one of the Pacific Northwest's top experts on ties between militias and fundamentalists, and on the history of hate crimes, told me in mid-September to expect Max to show up, covering the Rev. Thomas Muthee and the latter's colleagues, at some Wasilla revivals. Max stayed with us for a bit over a week, overlapping with a stay by Nancy Lethcoe, who ran against Rep. John Harris for the state House.

I chose Max here, to represent himself and several other young people who came to Alaska, hoping to find information that would convince Americans - especially the vast reservoir of non-partisan Americans - that Sarah Palin was totally unfit to be a candidate on a presidential ticket. I have to say, these youngsters give me hope.

Max, like many of the people who visited Judy and me, or stayed with us, combined an awesome sense of humor with total dedication to his work. He left Alaska with a lot of raw material, and did as much or more than any other Outside reporter to get the truth out in September. Here's one of his video productions:


image - Ray Metcalfe being photographed by Riki Ott

11 comments:

Annette said...

Congrats Phil, Nice job...

AK Willie said...

Speaking of muckrackers, Shannyn was Steve Heimel's guest yesterday on Talk of Alaska. They were talking about the missed stories of 2008. The biggest missed local story that never got any coverage was the destruction of KUDO by Tati's Mike Robbins and Cary Carrigan. The on air product now is dismal. I wonder how much longer the IBEW will fund inferior product? When there is extra money--like when Rishi quit due to his abusive and overbearing boss-Cary spent his salary on a tv ad to promote his show! NOT a mention of CC's show in the ad. Cary, like Palin, suffers narcissitic personality disorder...

AK Willie

AK Willie said...

btw...Steve and Shannyn didn't mention KUDO...I think it's worth a mention though...
AK Willie

Anonymous said...

AK WILLIE!

Couldn't agree with you more. I started listening to KUDO in 2004. The Shannyn-CC-Aaron team was a fine, diverse local lineup. I am surprised there are any listeners left-especially to Cary's show. He and Mike singlehandedly sabotaged lefty radio in Anchortown. I can hear Krusty the clown (Cary's alter ego) laughing...

clark said...

most people i know listened to KUDO before the shakeup, and still do. i mean, where else are you going to go? but it has definitely lost its urgency. i have listened to carrigan babble on endlessly with various guests, and it's just confusing. what is this man talking about? i have no idea. no disregard to aaron, who was no slouch either, but shannyn was just such a supernova of local radio, i don't think the broadcast establishment could handle her -- coming in out of the blue with no previous experience and absolutely, undeniably killing everybody.
the IBEW must be crazy. i suppose they didn't know what they were doing, there's all kinds of reasons why they'd be susceptible or prone to bad decisionmaking. but they had a really good thing going and they screwed it up!

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