Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Grussendorf - If The AK Dem Senators Swallow This Lie, They'll Deserve Him

According to Sean Cockerham, from the Anchorage Daily News, this evening:

A big issue hanging over Grussendorf among Democrats is that he was a Republican until just weeks ago. Grussendorf said he thought he was undeclared

but was mistakenly registered as a Republican

in 2006 when he asked the state for an absentee ballot to vote in the Republican primary.

In order to keep himself from being cut off from stories for a week by the Palin "communications" machine, Cockerham also wrote, "It is a little hard to read."

Not on the important element, Sean.
Juneau Democratic Party rules prohibit their recommending somebody who has not been registered as a Democrat for at least a year for any office. Grussendorf only re-registered as a Democrat once word was out that Sen. Kim Elton was slated for a job in the Obama administration.

The Juneau Democrats cannot accept or recommend this man by their rules.


For Alaska Democratic Senators to accept Palin's recommendation would create a volatile situation.

Meanwhile, one of my Juneau informants tells me that when Shannyn Moore tried to corner Mike Doogan today in Juneau, he locked himself in a rest room. I can't wait to find out the real story from Shannyn.

Update - 10:00 p.m: Two Juneau phone calls later.

#1 - Shannyn says the hallroom chase with Doogan is far more hilarious. She has it on tape. Can't wait!

#2 - (not Shannyn) Sarah's Grussendorf slice of stale bread is toast. Not even close to marketable.

This Afternoon, After the 4:07 p.m. Explosion

from the hut webcam

Anchorage Assembly cuts school budget to make room for special tax breaks for three people

--- by Ray Metcalfe


Yesterday the Anchorage Assembly voted to cut funding for Anchorage schools by $3.8 million.

On July 20, 2004, the Anchorage assembly, voted to exempt developers John Rubini, Leonard Hyde, and Ted Stevens brother-in-law Bill Bittner from the requirement to pay property taxes on one thousand and sixty-eight housing units they own.


Each housing unit is worth about $170,000. They received the units almost for free, compliments of Uncle Ted and they collect over a half million dollars per month in rents. If their units were taxed at the same rate every other apartment owner in Anchorage pays, each unit would produce about three thousand dollars per year for the Anchorage treasury.


Three thousand dollars times one thousand and sixty eight units could be producing over $3.2 million per year for the Anchorage treasury, but the Anchorage assembly would rather kiss Rubini's a - - than educate your kids.


Yours truly
Ray Metcalfe
RayinAK@aol.com


image - Ray Metcalfe, explaining some of Anchorage's crooked political real estate deals to me 11 & 1/2 months ago

Support Mudflats!!!

I haven't even used three asterisks for the volcano.

Yet.

Go to
The Mudflats, go to the Mudflats store and support my great, courageous friend!!!! (I'm still saving some up....) If you don't want one of these T-shirts, they have high rubber boots there, for when you go to GOP political events, for instance.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski's Senate Lecture to Bobby Jindal

No mention of the Drift River Terminal situation, but her talk is primarily about the importance of comprehensive monitoring, how well it has worked in this set of eruptions, and plans for improvements to the system.

Saradise Lost - Book 2 - Chapter 37 - "She Was a Mail-order Bride..."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Doogan Beginning to Inspire Alaska Art! Way to Go, Mike...

Maybe Mike has inspired a new mystery story?


What will he call it?
The story sorta sounds like this
anonymous commenters come to AKM's defense
and, soon, signs of Doogan doo-doo begin to show up in the state's capitol


As Mike's rage grows, the title for a new book emerges

images -

from top - 1 & 2 Esther Republic; 3 & 4 Juneau mudstock; bottom - Just a Girl from Homer

My Music Played in London Today to Help Rebuild Gaza Hospital and Finance Israeli Interfaith School

My dear friend, political soprano Deborah Fink, joined others today in London to perform music of peace, in a benefit for the Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza, and for Intergratsia School in Israel. It was in the glorious acoustic environment of St. Marlybone Parish Church, on Baker Street.

Ms. Fink was joined by Siobhan Mooney, a rather political mezzo-soprano, Richard Black, piano, and Rev. Garth Hewitt, on guitar.

His Grace, Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal, former Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, gave a keynote speech. In it, Dr. Abu El-Assal detailed the rebuilding work at the Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza, and integrated education efforts of Intergratsia.

Baroness Jenny Tonge and Dr. Ang Swee, who founded ‘Medical Aid for Palestinians’‚ also spoke of ongoing relief and integrated peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians.

In addition to my music, the artists performed work concentrating on children. The concert was titled:

Benefit Concert
'Remembering the Little Ones'
a commemoration of, and a tribute to, all children





Here's a picture of the sanctuary of St. Marlybone, known for its choice acoustics.





Deborah sang two movements from The Skies are Weeping, in their reduced piano and voice version. Here they are, in their versions for percussion and soprano, sung by Ms. Fink in London, in 2005:


Song: God the Synecdoche in His Holy Land i.m. Rachel Corrie


Around you the father gods war. This
Father. That father. The other father.

What more dangerous place could
A woman stand, upright, than on that sand, as if
She were still antiphon to that voice, the other
Mind of that power. The very idea!

Crush her back in to her mother!
Crush her. Crush her. Consensus. War.

-- Linda McCarriston


Song: The skies are weeping
The birds have flown away
With rain-sodden flowers in hand
I wait for you, Rachel…

The rain drops trickle
Washing the scent off the mourning tulips
Pounding the healing earth
The howling winds and trembling blades of grass
Calling for you, Rachel…

Dust dancing around my knees
Walling me in, and my grief
From the weeping heavens faintly at first
I hear you, Rachel…

You give strength to my tears
And resolve to my limbs
As I stand up with my broken tulips
The skies are clearing
The earth is sprouting fresh blades of grass
That whisper your name, Rachel…

The winds are gentle
Reassuring in their calmness
Heaven and earth rejoice today
As you’re with me again, Rachel…

-- Thushara Wijeratna

top image - Deborah Fink

Please Ask Alaska Democrats To Take Action - Nicely...

I've been on the phone this morning, getting information on how the Alaska Democratic Party is reacting to Mike Doogan's placing himself in potential legal jeopardy. All I can say at this point is that Democratic Party of Alaska rules don't touch this subject explicitly, and that I've voiced my concern to state headquarters in Anchorage. I've explained that there needs to be a firewall between Doogan's potential liability and our Party.

Trust me, Alaska's Democratic Party understands.

Meanwhile, Doogan has not removed his Friday letter from the Alaska Legislative Democrats' web site. And, it should be noted that the akdemocrats.org site has nothing to do with Alaska's Democratic Party or the Party's leadership. It is a separate entity.

You can reach the webmaster to demand his letter's removal:

Peter Stein (907) 465-2430
peter.stein@legis.state.ak.us

Saradise Lost Book 2 - Chapter 36 -- Murkowski's Popularity Exceeds Palin in Hayes Poll




So, Lisa Murkowksi's popularity exceed Palin's by almost 12%. Additionally, Palin's negatives exceed Murkowski's by 20 points.

Details...

Saradise Lost - Book 2 - Chapter 35 -- John McCain and Shannyn Moore on Palin



Punish Mike Doogan


From: Kelly Walters [mailto:kwalters@alaska.com]

Sent: Sunday, March 29, 2009 11:32 AM


To: Rep_Bob_Buch@legis.state.ak.us; 'Sen. Lesil McGuire'


Cc: 'Representative_Mike_Doogan@legis.state.ak.us'


Subject: Punish Mike Doogan


Importance: High


Representative Buch and Senator McGuire,

I am extremely disturbed by the actions of your colleague Representative Mike Doogan. Doogan’s outing of Mudflats is extremely unethical and probably illegal. That he used state resources-legislative email account, state time, his constituent email list, etc. justifies the legislature taking prompt action against him.

The right to anonymity is critical to political discourse and plays an important role in checking our politicians. Anonymous communications have an important place in our political and social discourse. The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that the right to anonymous free speech is protected by the First Amendment. A much-cited 1995 Supreme Court ruling in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission reads:

Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical, minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society.


The tradition of anonymous speech is older than the United States . Founders Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay wrote the Federalist Papers under the pseudonym "Publius," and "the Federal Farmer" spoke up in rebuttal. The US Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized rights to speak anonymously derived from the First Amendment.

The right to anonymous speech is also protected well beyond the printed page. Thus, in 2002, the Supreme Court struck down a law requiring proselytizers to register their true names with the Mayor's office before going door-to-door.

These long-standing rights to anonymity and the protections it affords are critically important for the Internet. As the Supreme Court has recognized, the Internet offers a new and powerful democratic forum in which anyone can become a "pamphleteer" or "a town crier with a voice that resonates farther than it could from any soapbox."

This country was founded on: Life, Liberty , and the Pursuit of Happiness. It really boils down to this:

The Supreme Court opinion is righteous and rooted in precedent and history. Representative Mike Doogan was irresponsible, unethical, illegal and blatantly wrong in his callous disregard for anonymous free speech. His ill-thought action is rooted in malice and envy and demonstrates he is absolutely and unquestionably unfit for public office.

This is an extremely urgent and important non-partisan legislative issue. It requires the highest and swiftest punishment that can be dealt to a sitting legislator.

Please demand the immediate resignation of Representative Mike Doogan.

Regards,


Kelly Walters

image - Doogan and Bud

Draw Down the Drift River Storage Tanks!

March 29, 2009


In the wake of the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, apparently we have learned NOTHING.


Chevron has left 6 million gallons of oil in harms way, atop our Cook Inlet fisheries. Yet Chevron, the Coast Guard, EPA, ADEC all agree on one thing: we do not have the capacity to clean up 6 million gallons of oil in Cook Inlet.


It’s true. The barge capacity to lighter spilled oil in Cook Inlet is only half the volume in the tanks - 3 million gallons. So what’s the response plan? The Coast Guard said on Friday “we’re working on it.” Seriously.


They have no actionable plan to response to a worst case spill.


Instead, they have a crop duster and several thousand gallons of dispersants to push the oil out of sight/out of mind. And the primary focus from the USCG and Chevron now? Get the facility back into production.


Don't stop the flow of oil.


Risks to fisheries are secondary to profits in Cook Inlet.


And don't forget - Chevron dumps BILLIONS (yes, BILLIONS) of gallons of toxic waste into Cook Inlet fisheries each year under a Clean Water Act loophole.


Write to the Captain of the Port - Mark Hamilton - mark.h.hamilton@uscg.mil - and ask him to:


1) draw down the oil in the tanks at the Drift River Terminal until the volcano subsides and


2) position spill response equipment so we’re ready in case things turn south.


Thank you -


Bob Shavelson
Cook Inletkeeper


image - View up the Drift Canyon and the central ice gorge carved by floodwaters.

Picture Date: March 26, 2009 17:30:20 AKDT
Image Creator: McGimsey, Game;

Image courtesy of AVO/USGS.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Picture of Mudflats' AK Muckraker Posted!

Right-wing blogs around the country may soon be running this picture of
AK Muckraker.


Posing below AK Muckraker (upper left) are Independent Commentator Shannyn Moore,
Alaska Report Editor Dennis Zaki, and gadfly-blogger Phil Munger. Notice the snarky smile on AK Muckraker's face.

Seriously, what has happened since Alaska Legislator Rep. Mike Doogan (D-Spenard) used state and party resources on the morning of March 27th to reveal the identity of Alaska's most prestigious anonymous blogger, has been remarkable. As figures representing the expiring paradigm of elitist journalism (Amanda Coyne, Tony Hopfinger and Sheila Toomey, for example) have come forward to defend Doogan, without any reference whatsoever to possible legal questions regarding Doogan's move, commenters at their articles have been surprisingly supportive of the longstanding concept of anonymity.

On Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. I was assisting at the registration and resource tables for the Alaska Press Club annual conference, being held at the Anchorage Senior Center. The story of Doogan's e-letter seemed to grow during the day, as an emerging low-key background buzz. For good reason, Doogan is held in high regard among members of the Alaska Press Club. But I sensed growing concern among journalists I spoke with, who have covered constitutional, privacy or civil rights issues.

When I got to the annual journalists' bash at the Anchorage Press offices, I was immediately assailed by my good friend, Amanda Coyne. Right away, she was jumping me for cussing out anonymous commenters at Progressive Alaska. She was right that I have done that. And I have challenged the courage of some anonymous commenters, who made baseless assertions or accused me of having done or written something particularly egregious.

I responded to Amanda that I'm not concerned about knowing who a commenter is, but rather find it difficult dealing with a number of people who want responses from me on an issue, and are each signing on as "anonymous." I couldn't tell one anonymous from the next. All I usually wanted was for the commenter to create a nom de blog - a pseudonym.

I've used a purposeful pseudonym locally. I signed in to KUDO's old forum as "Gustav." I mostly showed up there to defend people like Richard Mauer against Jack Frost. I also am registered at the Anchorage Daily News as "niklake," which the early on-line ADN automatically took from part of my email address. When I post what some might consider a significant comment at an ADN article, I usually sign my real name at the bottom. If I'm merely making an observation, niklake will do. It's certainly easy enough to find out who "niklake" is.

I've known AK Muckraker since the August 26th Alaska primary election. AK Muckraker came up to me at the Egan Center gathering, saying warmly, "Hi. I'm "Mudflats."

In September we got to know each other much better, at dinners, rallies and other gatherings. My admiration for AKM grew, as several of the Alaskan progressive bloggers became a fairly close-knit group of friends. We shared resources quite openly, understanding the whole time the importance AKM placed on anonymity.

Did I feel a tinge of jealousy when the Mudflats became a national phenomenon? Yes, I did. But I'm quite happy with PA being what it is - a little Alaska blog, presented from my quirky set of perspectives.

Many have asked me, "Who is Mudflats?" Most were less rude than was Rep. Doogan, when I declined to provide information.

Throughout the fall presidential campaign and the current legislative session, we Alaska bloggers have witnessed the decline in jobs in regular media, and its impact on the ability of traditional outlets to track Alaska politics and other issues important to our state and its diverse regions. We've applauded efforts by regular media outlets to try to focus on growing problems with diminishing means. I've answered every one of the dozens of questions posed to me by regular Alaska reporters, working on a story. And I've been helped in my efforts to learn more about a host of issues, by several mainstream reporters.

Doogan's lashing out at AKM has been characterized by some of the thousands of commenters at the stories on his action, as a sign of his anger at new media for displacing what he cherishes. Sheila Toomey's meretricious item about this in today's Alaska Ear column is just as pathetic, if not worse. After all, Toomey did exactly as Doogan is complaining AKM shouldn't be allowed to do, for years. She made scores of thousands of dollars doing it. Right across the newsroom from her, sat Mike Doogan, who knew exactly who she was, what she was doing.

The lack of concern for the Doogan-Toomey connection in Coyne's article troubled me over the weekend. As several emails from civil rights attorneys, offering to provide pro bono help for AKM piled up in my email box over the weekend, I thought, "This story has national impact, yet all the regular and newly emerging regular media (as in Alaska Dispatch) seem to be able to see are the most superficial aspects of this."

The superficial nature of this story's coverage by some outlets is matched, of course, by its non-coverage by most other local outlets here. The most detailed, powerful or far-reaching articles, so far, have been, in my opinion, these:

Bob Poe Speaks About Mike Doogan and Mudflats
- by Bob Poe

The Right to Privacy - Bloggers and Privacy - by what do I know Steve

Blogging the Big Stuff - by what do I know Steve

My Friend Mudflats -- Not a KKK Member, Mr. Doogan
- by Shannyn Moore

Rep. Doogan's main accomplishment for this session....
- by Celtic Diva

Mudflats has compiled many of the articles about this at this link.

Doogan sprang this Friday morning. Over the weekend, the only mainstream print coverage of an important emerging civil rights and political issue in Anchorage, was by a gossip columnist. The gossip columnist, who for years was protected, in part, by the person who "outed" the influential blogger, failed to make this incredibly obvious connection in a meaningful way. That in itself is newsworthy.

It is interesting that over this weekend of a press club conference, where this story was discussed widely, that it began with the "outing" of a blogger, and ended with the election of one of that blogger's protectors - Shannyn Moore - to one of the Vice President positions of the Alaska Press Club.

No doubt, some are spewing their coffee or Irish whiskey, upon reading of Moore's new responsibility. Yet, somewhere else, someone is hoisting glass of tea, a pitcher of beer, or a container of spring water, toasting, "Here's to you, Shannyn!"

Alaska media is painfully contracting and growing simultaneously. There's pain in growth:

In AKM's new concerns about family and income; in Moore's new worries about press responsibilities in the face of hostility toward new media; and, most likely, in Doogan's several hangovers, as he begins to realize what an awful thing he just did to his legacy, merely to spite somebody who crossed him.

Friday's Drift River Terminal Disaster Declaration Petition

On Friday, Trustees for Alaska filed a petition requesting the governor declare that a disaster is threatened by the continuing presence of six million gallons of oil in the Drift River storage facility at the bottom of erupting Mt. Redoubt. The terminal is situated in the flood plain of a river that has now flooded twice in just a few days.

I've created a jpeg set of the three-page petition:

Happy Birthday, Katie Hurley


Katie Hurley is the most distinguished elder of the Alaska Democratic Party. OK, along with Vic Fisher. Anyway, Katie will be 88 on Monday.

I was fortunate enough to be able to lead about 50 people in "Happy Birthday To You!" for Katie, Saturday evening. Even Wasilla's current mayor, Verne Rupright, stood up to applaud this marvelous woman.


I described her upcoming birthday as "44 times two."

The image is from the uplifting speech Katie gave last June, at the opening of the Palmer Obama headquarters.

PA Arts Sunday - March 29, 2009 - Some Volcano Art

This first image is by my friend Darkblack, from Canada. Bobby Jindal, speechless for the moment, seeks solace in a tiny windmill:


The second image may be my favorite Alaska volcano picture of all time. It is of a Mt. Augustine eruption, and was taken at sea by Cyrus Read:



The last image is by Bretwood Higman, of erin and hig and the trek from Seattle to Unimak in 2007 and 2008. He has posted some of the best pictures so far of the current eruptions of Mt. Redoubt.



And the last art featured today, is a recording of my 1993 electronic ballet for robots,
Robot Gagaku. The action takes place outside and inside of Kiska Volcano, and ends in a gigantic eruption. The music to the final part was inspired by Alaska-Washington artist John Hoover's sculpture (in the main lobby of Anchorage's Egan Center), Volcano Woman.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What Doogan Did and What Alaska's Progressive Bloggers Hope to Do

What Alaska Rep. Mike Doogan (D - Spenard) Did:

1. He lied. In his email to constituents and others, from March 27th, he wrote:

The identity of the person who writes the liberal Democratic Mudflats blog has been secret since the blog began, protected by the Anchorage Daily News, among others. My own theory about the public process is you can say what you want, as long as you are willing to stand behind it using your real name.

For several years, Mike Doogan knew the identity of Anchorage Daily News figure "Alaska Ear." During several of those years, Doogan worked near that person, while that person was anonymous. Many people attempted to find out who that anonymous person was. Doogan, who was also then a writer for the Anchorage Daily News, helped protect that person's anonymity. Alaska Ear, every week, hundreds and hundreds of times, commented on politicians in ways that anonymously criticized Alaska political figures.

Yet Doogan wrote to a constituent yesterday, "I don’t believe in anonymity in the political area. It’s too much like people wearing sheets and hoods for my taste." Did Doogan out Alaska Ear? No. did he protect Alaska Ear's anonymity? Yes.

2. He may have broken Federal Law:

Anonymous speech over the internet is entitled to First Amendment protection. Reno v. ACLU, 521 U.S. 844 (1997).

Anonymous internet speech in blogs or chat room in some instances can become the modern equivalent of political pamphleteering. McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm’n, 514 U.S. 334 (1995)

Many participants in cyberspace discussions employ pseudonymous identities. For better or worse, then the audience must evaluate a speaker’s ideas based on her words alone. This unique feature of the internet promises to make public debate in cyberspace less hierarchical and discriminatory than in the real world. Lyrissa Barnett Lidsky, Silencing John Doe: Defamation & Discourse in Cyberspace, 49 Duke L.J. 855, 896 (2000).


3. He may have broken Alaska Law:

A legislator or legislative employee may not use government assets for his/her own, or another person"s, private benefit, for a non-legislative purpose or for partisan political purposes. Government funds, buildings, equipment, and services should not be treated as the personal possessions of legislators or legislative employees.
AS 24.60.030(a)(2)


Sec. 11.56.850. Official misconduct.
(a) A public servant commits the crime of official misconduct if, with intent to obtain a benefit or to injure or deprive another person of a benefit, the public servant
(1) performs an act relating to the public servant's office but constituting an unauthorized
exercise of the public servant's official functions, knowing that that act is unauthorized; or
(2) knowingly refrains from performing a duty which is imposed upon the public servant by
law or is clearly inherent in the nature of the public servant's office.


Sec. 11.56.860. Misuse of confidential information.

(a) A person who is or has been a public servant commits the crime of misuse of confidential
information if the person
(1) learns confidential information through employment as a public servant; and
(2) while in office or after leaving office, uses the confidential information in a manner not connected with the performance of official duties other than by giving sworn testimony or evidence in a legal proceeding in conformity with a court order.
(b) As used in this section, "confidential information" means information which has been classified confidential by law.


3. He may have broken Alaska's rather easygoing legislative ethics code. i'm still am working on getting the correct citation.


4. He may have violated U.S. and Alaska Civil Rights codes:

This is a violation of federal law and of the state common law right to privacy. The fact that he did it on state time and in his capacity is what is called “state action” for a section 1983 civil rights claim. The Mudflats blogger, who was absolutely entitled to comment on matters of public interest and equally entitled to do so anonymously, has a significant lawsuit against this clown. Were I admitted to the Alaska bar, I’d love to handle it. Since I am not, I very much hope that she finds a lawyer with experience in civil rights claims. In addition to awarding damages, they also award attorneys’ fees. That is the only way to stop this sort of abuse of public position.


5. He may have violated Alaska Democratic Party rules. More on that on Monday.


What AKMuckraker's friends hope to do:

1. We'll help protect AK Muckraker's rights. If we need to raise money to help AKM defend a case or business or position, there will be a lot of us there. If we need to hold fundraisers? - believe me, they will be big, fruitful events.

2. We will help AK Muckraker's family.

3. We will pursue the search for informed legal opinions on what violations Rep. Doogan may or may not have committed by his actions Friday morning.

4. We will pursue the search for his accomplice or accomplices.

5. We will request that the Alaska Democratic Party and Alaska Legislature review the possibility that Rep. Doogan has committed violations of rules governing the use of State of Alaska resources in his Friday morning actions.

Update - 11:50 p.m. Saturday: Sheila Toomey, at the Alaska Ear, may have just penned one of the most meretricious column entries in ADN history.

If the facts about Doogan and Toomey, as I related above and confirmed with several longtime ADN employees today escaped Toomey, it is sad. But if she realized Doogan's duplicity, and then penned her entry on the Mudflats case, she's as truth-challenged as her former colleague and accomplice in her longstanding masked activities, Mike Doogan.

note: Back in 1990, Toomey penned a column at the ADN under her own name that very cruelly and untruthfully hurt a person under my care. I've helped that person grow beyond the hurt. It is quite sad, 19 years later, to now see her as a probable Doogan accomplice.

Update - 12:10 a.m. Sunday: I asked several people who either have worked with Doogan or claim to actually know Billy Muldoon today, if Mike is Billy Muldoon. All said that Doogan is not Billy. Two claimed Billy is "another ex-ADN worker." I didn't take it any further, but the consistency of the statements lead me to believe that Doogan isn't Billy.

Diane Benson to Portray Elizabeth Peratrovich This Evening at UAA

Diane Benson will perform When My Spirit Raised Its Hands this evening at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Her monodrama about Alaska civil rights icon, Elizabeth Peratrovich, will be performed in the Fine Arts Building, in the small recital hall (Room 116) at 7:00 p.m.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Mike Doogan Outs Mudflats in Challenge to Outdo Eddie Burke as 2009 Anchorage Slimeball of the Year

Alaska legislator Mike Doogan announced today that it is his civic duty to reveal the identity of Alaska's most prestigious anonymous blogger. In his weekly email bulletin, Doogan ended with this:

The identity of the person who writes the liberal Democratic Mudflats blog has been secret since the blog began, protected by the Anchorage Daily News, among others. My own theory about the public process is you can say what you want, as long as you are willing to stand behind it using your real name. So I was interested to learn that the woman who writes the blog is Anchorage resident [name redacted by PA].


Doogan tried to get AKMuckraker's identity from me back on December 29th, 2008. It was an interesting email exchange. Since he's all for "the public process," and "being willing to stand behind your real name," here's my email exchange with him on AKM's ID. I've reversed the order of the chain of letters, to make it easier to follow the thread:. So, you're reading them in the correct order:


Dear Rep. Doogan,

Although I wasn't one of the many concerned Alaskans who have written to you about possible executive ethics actions being addressed by the upcoming session of the Alaska Legislature, I've had an opportunity to read a response you sent out to a number of people who had sent similar mailings to you. One part of this communication from you interested me:

Third, I intend to move forward with legislation to prevent a
re-occurrence of some of the problematic behavior that has arisen
from the mess commonly called Troopergate. That legislation will
define more closely what is a public document and seek to prevent
public officials from shielding their communications by using
private email accounts, and the state from stifling public access
by charging an arm and a leg.


This is an excellent idea, Rep. Doogan!

I would like to recommend that you consider also looking at tightening travel regulations for the members of the chief executive's family. Gov. Palin's trip to New York City in 2008 with one of her daughters, to speak very briefly on one day, then spend the work week in a pricey hotel with her child, at taxpayers' expense, shouldn't merely be unauthorized, I feel it should be criminal activity entered into the "fraud" statutes of Title 11.

I am also disturbed to read of Todd Palin's access to confidential personnel files and other sensitive materials, as described by ex-commissioner Walt Monegan, in his statements to investigator Steven Branchflower.

Although I am not a constituent, as an officer of the Alaska Democratic Party, I eagerly await your reply to my earnest query.

Sincerely,

Philip Munger

Philip:

Read your email. Thanks for sending it. You expressed several
opinions, but asked no question. So what query would you like me to
respond to?

Mike

Mike,

Thanks for your prompt response. Here are questions, in three sets:

1.) You seem to be proposing legislation that tightens the definition of what a public document is. I assume by referencing both private e-mail use by state employees and elected officials, and proposing to address the "charging an arm and a leg" for access to state government documents, you are looking at
something fairly
comprehensive. Have you begun to articulate what that might be in terms of a bill?

2.) The trip by Gov. Palin to NYC last year, upon which she brought one of her daughters at state expense, to be at a 4-hour (or shorter) gig, and then to stay on for days (with the daughter) at an expensive hotel at taxpayers' expense, is highly questionable, ethically. Have you looked at how the Governor felt she could get away with this?

Have you or any other legislative members looked into how the first
family's travel and expense account prerogatives can be tightened so this kind of activity cannot happen? Do you contemplate any legislative action over the next two sessions which might tighten executive travel and expense rules?

3.) I'm bothered that Todd Palin has access to the kinds of personnel information and other documents that are alluded to in the Branchflower Report. Do you know for sure that Mr. Palin is not on the state payroll for any of his activities, either as a consultant to the governor, or as a sub-contractor, for instance, in the remodeling/renovation of the Juneau mansion?

If he is not a paid employee, consultant or sub-contractor of the state, what specifically gives him the right to go through the kinds of documentation described by Monegan in the Branchflower report? If Mr. Palin merely felt he could gain access to documents I would have had to, under this administration's policies, pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to see, then we need to - IMHO -fix at least one serious flaw in statutes or administrative code.

I hope this formats my interests in a more helpful way.

Regards,

Phil Munger

Phil:

Thanks, that's a much better set of questions. Now, why are you
asking? Running low on fodder for your blog? And if it's not for
the blog, why are you asking me instead of your own representative?

Mike

PS: Who writes the Mudflats blog?

Mike,

I'm asking because you are the first member of the House who has expressed interest in any of the issues I feel fall under the general cover of executive ethics reform, to the point of beginning to articulate a proposed bill.

If you check with Kay Brown, you'll find out that I have expressed explicit interest in the issue that you brought up in the email I referenced, since the issuance of the Branchflower Report. She can also verify that I hoped as early as mid-October, to interest Democratic Party legislators in taking the mantle of so-called "reform" away from Sarah Palin between now and May, 2009.

I feel you and I both have the responsibility of keeping her away from ever again getting as close to national office as she came between August 29th and November 4th, 2008. As you may know, Rep. Doogan, your district went for Obama by over 200 votes.

In regard to why I don't bring this up with Carl, - I have.

Although I like Carl Gatto and his wife as neighbors, I feel he
will do little to bring executive branch legislation to the fore. I'll be back in touch with him about this between now and the opening of the 2009 session.

As a Democrat, and as one who seeks to help build a Democratic Party majority in the Alaska legislature, I hope members of my party in the legislature can be at the forefront of needed reform legislation, whether it be of the executive branch, or more fine tuning of your own branch.

I am not "running low on fodder for [my] blog." As you've probably figured out, I posted my initial letter to you on this at Progressive Alaska. But at this point, I only hope to develop a constructive dialog with you on reform legislation, with a final goal of helping our legislature getting it passed, and am only hoping at this point, to be able to put a far more positive face on how you're dealing with this than have others.

I've had my blog for almost 14 months now. Some of my readers have a higher regard for it than does the proprietor. I try to learn from my readers and from those who comment, and to make headway in the craft of essay writing. Unlike legislators and ADN columnists, I get to swear openly from time to time.

A friend of mine writes the Mudflats blog. He or she lives in a neighboring district of yours, not mine. There is concern that to go public might be detrimental to Mudflats' professional and/or business situation.

I'm copying this to Kay, as further indication to you that she is aware of how important I feel executive ethics reform is to Alaska, and to Alaska's Democratic Party elected Representatives. (Kay is not "Mudflats," BTW.)

Phil Munger

Phil:

Thanks for the response.

I think that if blogging might be detrimental to the "professional and/or business situation" of the person writing Mudlfats, then he/she shouldn't be doing it. But even if it is, are your arguing that it's okay for people to stand in the shadows and shout into the public debate? What next? Hoods and torches?

How does you keeping this person's name a secret comport with your "let's put everything on the blog" ethic? You are talking out of both sides of your mouth, Phil. As long as you are going to pick and choose what information you make public, there's really no reason for me to communicate with you.

Good luck with your own representative.

Mike

Rep. Doogan,

You indicated earlier that you wanted my interest framed as questions. Now you seem to indicate you don't intend to answer them. Or am I misreading your statements, "As long as you are going to pick and choose what information you make public, there's really no reason for me to communicate with you," and "Good luck with your own representative"?

Phil

Phil:

Sorry if I only indicated that I would not answer them. I will not answer them for you.

Mike

Rep. Doogan,

Thank you for your consideration, or should I say, lack thereof, in this matter.

Warmest regards, and wishing you and yours a very happy new year,

Phil Munger

Mudflats (Doogan, typically, got her name wrong) has written a post about this issue.

Redoubt Eruptions Cloud Alaska Air Travel


That's the view of Thursday morning's big blowup from outer space. Seems small, doesn't it.

Here's the view from erin and hig's yurt in Seldovia:

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sarah Palin - Sucking So Bad, She Was Keeping Alaska's Volcanoes from Blowing Too Hard - Until Today


On the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, as Redoubt Volcano threatened a long-neglected retainment dike system holding 6 million gallons of crude oil, on Alaska's pristine Cook Inlet, Gov. Palin erupted again and again about media unfairness.

Both Gov. Palin and Redoubt Volcano have been erupting periodically over the past week. The height of eruptions for both occurred Tuesday, the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and 45th Anniversary of the Great Alaska Earthquake.

Another Palin eruption occurred this Tuesday. Alaskan progressive blogger, Linda Kellen, filed an ethics complaint against Gov. Palin at the beginning of the week. Here's Linda's press release:


Linda Kellen Biegel, better known as blogger "Celtic Diva," is filing an ethics complaint with the Attorney General today against Governor Sarah Palin. The complaint alleges a conflict of interest when Governor Palin wore specially designed snow-machine gear advertising her husband Todd's biggest Iron Dog sponsor, Arctic Cat Inc. She did so while acting in her official capacity as Governor of the State of Alaska and official starter of the Iron Dog Snow Machine Race.

Not only was she well aware that there would be extensive Alaska media coverage, the Palins also knew that international magazine Sports Illustrated was coming to do a story on Todd.

Palin Declares Open WAR on Alaska Natives

How did we get from this:


To this?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On Celtic Diva's Executive Ethics Complaint and the Alaska Press Club Anne Kilkenny Recognition

Sarah Palin's first mentor was John Stein. He helped her understand municipal government and basic civics, when she was a member of the Wasilla Planning Commission. John, who at that time was Wasilla Mayor, encouraged Palin to run for the city council. She did that, and won. He continued to help her.

In 1994, Scott Ogan, Beverly Masek and Vic Kohring won seats in the state legislature. Coming in on the Newt Gingrich-led "Contract With On America" wave. They replaced Democrats who had ably represented the Mat-Su Valley for years.

Kohring inspired Palin. I listened to him describe how he hoped to convince her to run for mayor. He helped craft her campaign. It was the most dishonest municipal campaign I can ever remember witnessing. She dismissed Stein as part of a corrupt "good ol' boys network." A whispering campaign about John's wife and alleged Jewish heritage was conducted with full knowledge of Palin.

After Palin beat Stein, she not only took full credit for many reforms and improvements Stein had either implemented or begun planning for, she continued to denigrate his accomplishments. She began using terms only Masek and Kohring were using, when describing civil functions. For instance, other than Masek and Kohring, Palin was the only local public official to go around describing public schools as "government schools," in a scornful, dismissive tone.

Masek, her former mentor, is facing prison. Kohring, her former mentor and advisor, is in prison. Stein, the person she abandoned, and so dishonestly treated, has gone on to lead a very successful career as one of Alaska's most honored administrators.

After her two terms as Wasilla mayor, Palin claimed to have reined in more "corrupt" people - like Randy Reudrich, for instance. However, Reudrich is still - as he was when Palin lied about how she dealt with him - the state chair of the political party she represents. She openly cooperated with him several times during the fall presidential campaign.

Palin has recently been forced to return more money to the state of Alaska that she illegally took, than Vic Kohring is serving his time for having gotten from Bill Allen.

She was forced to do that a a result of an ethics complaint.

To compare Linda Kellen to Anne Kilkenny may be a stretch. I know Linda very well, but have only known her for about two years. I've known Anne for 20 years, but we barely know each other.

I've worked with Linda on several projects, though not on this complaint. I'm a member of the Alaska Press Club Board, but missed the meeting at which the decisions about Anne were made that have come under criticism this week.

Linda is being criticized for having complained about Palin's self-serving conduct at the start of the 2009 Iron Dog race. Anne isn't being criticized, but the Press Club's elevation of her to an honor, is. Kilkenny was, after all, a runner-up, and awards are seldom given to runners-up (unless they are powerful, vindictive people).

I probably would have voted to honor Anne the way she is being honored. Although I don't think I would have joined Linda in this particular complaint, had she asked me to, I'm not sure. I do believe Linda's complaint is fully justified. How best to honor Anne is perhaps another matter.

The Anchorage Press' BJ Kelley is working on a feature for Thursday's edition that appears to be, from the questions he is asking, a fairly critical view of the AKPC's decision. Club president John Creed has detailed his reasoning, and Club vice president Rhonda McBride, has written an op-ed that comes down against the Kilkenny decision.

Kelley and others have raised an interesting point - was Andrew Halcro considered for this award? I don't remember. Whatever, the First Amendment award is being given to a very deserving couple.

Andrew is certainly deserving of an award of some sort. As Kelley observed in an email late yesterday, "I submitted a name (Andrew Halcro's, for breaking Troopergate on his blog) in early December to [name deleted by PA] when she asked if we at the Press had suggestions for potential candidates."

My view is that had the Anchorage Daily News, KTUU-TV, the Frontiersman, KMBQ-FM, APRN and others fully covered Palin between 1996 and 2004, there would be no controversy over an award to Anne Kilkenny, or about Linda Kellen's valid complaint. And Andrew Halcro might be Governor of Alaska.

Palin is the most polarizing figure in Alaska history. The two distinguished Alaskans she got to write an ethics white paper in early 2007, Wev Shea and Ethan Berkowitz, have come down on opposite sides recently, on issues relating to Palin's ability to do her job, or to understand what the term "ethics" means.

Sarah Palin's divisiveness and attractiveness, in combination, are certainly historical too. Here's Glenn Beck, this afternoon, fawning over her, as he and a FOXblonde take on Celtic Diva:


image - Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis

Jane Hamsher and Rachel Maddow Discuss ConservaDems and Sen. Mark Begich

Progressive Alaska has noted Alaska Senator Mark Begich's enlistment into Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh's and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman's mega-corporation friendly ConservDem Blue Dog coalition. The consensus among progressives is that this coalition will work to thwart important components of President Obama's agenda. Here is Jane Hamsher from firedoglake on the Rachel Maddow Show Tuesday evening:


Howie Klein from Down With Tyranny! wrote about this week's activities of the ConservaDems, and here's Jane Hamsher's article about recent developments, from this morning:



--- by Jane Hamsher

I was on Rachel Maddow last night, talking about the efforts of Campaign for America's Future, USAction, blogs and others to push back against Evan Bayh and his coalition of self-described "centrists" who have announced they will join with the Republicans and undermine Obama's ability to use the reconciliation process.

Bayh, Carper and Lincoln pen an OpEd today in the Washington Post they call "Building Bridges on The Hill":

As moderate leaders, it is not our intent to water down the president's agenda. We intend to strengthen and sustain it.


Who wrote that, Frank Luntz? What a load of horseshit.

This is nothing more than a naked power grab by corporatists who use the conservative bent of their districts to push through legislation on behalf of lobbyists and control campaign cash, and become the arbiters of any law that gets through Congress. It's Jack Abramoff/Tom DeLay all over again.

Consider: after the bank lobby took a hit and couldn't get cramdown killed in the House, the next step was the Senate. Surprise! The bill passed by the House hasn't been taken up there yet, because Senate "moderates" want to "narrow" it to include only subprime loans, just like the Mortgage Bankers Association, the American Bankers Association and Financial Services Roundtable want them to. From their letter to the Senate (PDF):

Title IV is not the “narrow,” targeted approach to the problems in the mortgage market that proponents claim. Although an attempt was made to narrow the focus to “subprime” loans, the definition of subprime is very broad and would include many prime loans.


The person pushing for a "narrower" cramdown bill, blocking the House version and reported to be writing his own?

Some Senate Democrats, including Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, continue to push for ways to narrow the bill, encouraged by the banking industry, which says the legislation would drive up the cost of credit.


Indiana has a huge foreclosure problem (see map). It's estimated that giving bankruptcy judges the ability to write-down mortgages would cut the foreclosure rate by 20%, without any cost to the taxpayers. But Bayh doesn't seem to be responsive to that concern. I wonder why. . . .



Top 5 Contributors, 2003-2008

Goldman Sachs $123,750
Eli Lilly & Co $65,722
Latham & Watkins $50,300
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe $47,816
Next Generation $46,750


Top 5 Industries, 2003-2008

Lawyers/Law Firms $1,363,171
Securities & Investment $1,005,186
Real Estate $432,200
Misc Finance $255,701
Insurance $241,748


Bayh's little "lobbyist problem" is considered by many to be what tanked his Vice Presidential aspirations. His wife Susan earns about $837,000 a year serving on seven corporate boards, among them Wellpoint, a health insurance company for which Bayh helped secure a $24.7 million dollar grant. She's on the board of ETrade, even as Bayh is on the Senate Finance Committee.

Bayh wants people to believe he's a "moderate" who sits in the "center."

Center of K Street, maybe.

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