Alaska used to have a 120-day legislative session, during which the legislature sat on their thumbs, drank too much, chased interns through the Baranof Hotel corridors at 3:00 a.m, badmouthed each other behind closed doors as they nursed hangovers - all this - for 117 of the 120 days.
Now they have a 90-day session. It is supposed to waste less of the taxpayers' money and time. It does. Now the Alaska legislature sits on their thumbs, drinks too much, chases interns through the Baranof Hotel corridors at 3:00 a.m, badmouths each other behind closed doors as they nurse hangovers - all this - for 87 of the 90 days.
Almost everything gets done in the last 72 hours. If you're not there then, you have a 50/50 chance of getting ripped off. I know. My harbor got ripped off twice about 30 hours before the end.
Of the two, the one that makes the best story is the 1982 session. I was the harbormaster in Whittier from 1976 to 1981. The main harbor there was my design - with a lot of user input - along with the late Don Statter and the late Mark Dawson.
Between 1977 and 1980 the Whittier VFD had created a ragtag search and rescue unit. We needed a boat. We kept on having to cajole harbor-based boat owners to let us borrow or commandeer their vessels to perform searches and rescues on Western Prince William Sound. Our basic return for use was a full tank of fuel.
Between late 1980 and late 1981, I compared a number of designs, with input from the late Mike Livingston, who succeeded me as chief of the WVFD. We came up with a design that could go out into 7-foot seas, had radar, loran and a recording sounder. It also had the sweetest radio suite for communication with places like the Elmendorf RCC and USCG Valdez that yet existed. Valdez tankers had less local radio comm capability.
Mike and I convinced Pete Zamarillo to loan his lobbyist to the WVFD to push through our $55,000 appropriation. One of Pete's pet legislators walked the bill through committees. We were in!
Or so we thought.....
Neither Pete's pet legislator nor his lobbyist had enough time or presence to assure our stuff was being watched during the last 72 hours of the session. About 30 hours before the session was over, the representative from a place on the Chukchi Sea, who had liked the boat package, sent an aide into Pete's pet's office. The aide took the bill, walked it around to one busy committee chairman's office after another, after having all the wording changed from Whittier to another town.
They got the boat. We got ours two years later.
We'll soon see how well Sarah does from the 16th on, in the 2009 session.
Meanwhile, here's Shannyn Moore on tonight's Keith Olberman program on MSNBC: