Category Archives: politics

A vote for satire — Triumvirate’s election-year “Lame Ducks and Dark Horses” set to spoof

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. The cast of “Lame Ducks and Dark Horses” performs a parody song of “West Side Story,” where Republicans and Democrats are the rivals.

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. The cast of “Lame Ducks and Dark Horses” performs a parody song of “West Side Story,” where Republicans and Democrats are the rivals.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

It’s down-to-the-wire time as Nov. 4 approaches. Campaign signs dominate the landscape. Election rhetoric is omnipresent. Speeches are being perfected. Images are being tweaked. Digs and jabs at opponents are being sharpened. Song-and-dance routines are being polished. All the last-minute stops are being pulled out to catch attention.

That’s not only the case for candidates. The performers of Triumvirate Theatre’s “Lame Ducks and Dark Horses” political satire show are rehearsing their lines for Friday’s opening night as frantically as a candidate in the homestretch of the election.

Chris Jenness serenades the crowd as borough mayor candidate Tom Bearup.

Chris Jenness serenades the crowd as borough mayor candidate Tom Bearup.

It’s hard to say which is funnier at this point — the sketches as written, lampooning some of the biggest quirks, quips and personalities of this year’s election season — or the sidebar comments made while preparing them.

“Am I supposed to be screaming because I’m getting attacked by a bear, or because someone wants me to go on Sound Off?” said Chris Pepper, seeking clarification during a sketch where he plays Thom Walker, the one-time Libertarian nominee for U.S. Senate, trying to survive in the literal wilds of Alaska as well as the political wilds as a third-party candidate.

“Wait, are you going to talk like you’re on helium the whole time?” director Joe Rizzo asked Dan Pascucci, playing, at that moment, an agitated Matt Wilson, KSRM’s general manager, berating news director Catie Quinn for not being able to drop her Australian accent in pronouncing the radio station’s call letters. A “My Fair Lady,” “Wouldn’t it be loverly” riff ensues.

“Yes,” Pascucci replied. “I’ll probably pass out, but it will be hilarious.”

Triumvirate has been doing “Lame Ducks” every other year since 2006, creating each show from scratch to parody whatever is making news, raising eyebrows and rolling eyeballs that election year. The actors onstage poke fun at people on the local, statewide and national stage, and the donations of humor are doled out evenly between the parties.

Delana Duncan does a “My Fair Lady” takeoff of KSRM news director Catie Quinn’s Australian accent.

Delana Duncan does a “My Fair Lady” takeoff of KSRM news director Catie Quinn’s Australian accent.

“Humor is the highest value, not the politics,” Rizzo said.

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New vote count approves animal control

By Naomi Klouda

Homer Tribune

After 1,800 absentee ballots were tallied, Kenai Peninsula voters spoke in favor of animal control by a 3,388 to 3,383 count. Proposition A would have been defeated if not for the absentee and early ballots. 
Since it was an advisory vote, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly is given the voters’ go-ahead to launch a boroughwide animal control department to respond in areas outside of cities.
The second question on funding the new program, however, did not meet with voter approval, by a big margin — 4,306 no to 2,451 yes. That question proposed to pay through an additional service area tax that amounted to about $3 a year per property owner.
The new borough ballot count put a further spread between incumbent Mayor Mike Navarre, who won re-election at the head of the Kenai Peninsula Borough with 5,895 to Tom Bearup’s 3,894 and Carroll Martin’s 1,000 votes. Navarre took 54 percent of the vote to Tom Bearup’s 35.9 and Carrol Martin’s 9.2 percent. That is up from the preliminary count of Navarre’s 4,794 votes to Bearup’s 3,270 and Martin’s 846 votes.

Status quo from voters

Voters most notably went for the status quo in the Oct. 7 elections. Mayor Mike Navarre agreed that voters on the borough level were satisfied with the current administration, or he would not have won re-election. Continue reading

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Senate stuck in rut — Sen. Murkowski: Partisan politics harm progress

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, addresses a joint meeting of the Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce on Aug. 20.

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, addresses a joint meeting of the Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce on Aug. 20.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Sen. Lisa Murkwoski’s report in Kenai on Wednesday regarding the U.S. Senate’s accomplishments this session was a frustration-laden, “Effectively, not much.” Her hope is that there will be more progress on which to report during her next recess trip back home to Alaska but said that, unless her Republican Party wrests control from the current-majority Democrats, she’s not optimistic of that, either.

“The reason that you’re not seeing things happen is not that there is nothing to do. It’s because we’ve gotten so entrenched with the partisan nature with what is happening in the Congress, particularly in the Senate,” Murkowski said during a visit to a joint Kenai-Soldotna chamber luncheon meeting at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center. “You’re not seeing a lot of productivity, and that hurts us as a nation because we’re not governing when we’re not being productive.

“It’s been unfortunate because we’ve got a whole host of things that I think are front-burner issues. I feel pretty strongly that we’ve got a responsibility to deal with the budget, deal with appropriations, we’ve got debt issues that we need to address, we’ve got an immigration situation, we have a weak-kneed foreign policy approach and issues as they relate to what is going on overseas,” she said.

Matters of particular relevance to Alaska also aren’t being considered, she said. Instead, Murkowski said that the majority leader, Harry Reid, D-Nevada, is using his ability to set the schedule in the Senate to fill time with judiciary appointments.

“Alaska’s agenda is not being heard in the Senate right now. I believe that is due in main part to the fact that you have a majority leader that just has a different agenda than a resource-development state like Alaska.”

She’s hoping for six Senate seats to go to Republicans in the November election — including the one Mark Begich, D-Alaska, is seeking re-election to, in order to switch majority control. With her seniority, that change would move her into chair positions on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Interior and Environment Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and allow Republicans to set the Senate agenda.

“I need to have a majority leader that agrees that our nation’s economy is better, that the opportunities for Alaskans and all Americans are better when we’re able to access our resources in a responsible way. I need to have the confidence that that person is helping set the agenda, and we’re not going to have that if Harry Reid continues,” she said.

But Murkowski acknowledges that having control can be a double-edged sword, as it would also be a litmus test for Republicans.

“As Republicans if we reclaim the majority and we fail to govern, my view is, as a party, you will not see us come back into power for years and years after this. We have to demonstrate that we can govern or we will not be placed with that authority. There’s a lot on our shoulders and we’ve got one shot to do it right,” she said.

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Sign thefts rankle campaign supporters

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

While free speech is a tenant of democracy, area Democrats are feeling silenced by thefts of their political signs this election season.

Signs supporting a yes vote on Ballot Initiative 1 — repeal of the oil tax reform bill passed by the Legislature — and Democrat-supported candidates for state and national offices, including Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, Democrat gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallot and nonaffiliated candidate Eric Treider for Senate District O, are disappearing around town, supporters say.

“There are probably close to a dozen signs that have disappeared in the last month,” said Dick Waisanen, of Soldotna.

Most are going missing in and around Soldotna. Signs posted at the Y intersection of the Kenai Spur and Sterling highways have been taken down three times now — twice left in a pile, and the third time, last week, stolen altogether.

“For the amount of money the candidates are trying to raise and trying to budget and all of a sudden they’re missing some signs, it does put a crimp in their fundraising. I don’t know if some people think, ‘Well, it doesn’t mean anything.’ It is vandalism, it is against the law,” Waisanen said.

The signs were placed on private property with permission of the property owners, in accordance with city and Department of Transportation regulations, Waisanen said.

“We always get permission,” said Waisanen, who is familiar with political sign-posting regulations from his previous runs for office. The city of Soldotna confirmed they did not remove the signs.

Even more frustrating is that signs backing Republicans and the No On Prop 1 campaign don’t seem to be touched, he said.

“The Democrats respect the right of free speech. If they (Republicans) want to put up a sign, that’s their prerogative, but they should respect our right to do the same.”

This has happened in previous elections, as well. Mary Toutonghi, of Soldotna, has had campaign signs taken right out of her front lawn.

“I’m just beyond yelling and screaming and shouting,” she said. “I’m ticked. I didn’t have a word to come out. It’s stifling my free speech. I don’t have the equal ability to express my views because (my signs) are being stolen. It’s vandalism and theft.”

Toutonghi said that sign thefts are not only a violation to the candidate or cause being supported, but also to the owner of the property from which the signs are being stolen.

“A number of them, some people who are worried about what will happen on their property, haven’t put the signs back up when they’ve been stolen. This is really ridiculous,” Toutonghi said.

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Oil taxes initiate friends of foes — Recall petition sees support across political spectrum

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

To those who follow the central Kenai Peninsula political scene, the following could sound like the setup for a bit of local humor, or at the very least be cause of a wryly raised eyebrow: Dick Waisanen, Tom Wagoner, George Pierce and Bob Shavelson walk up to a bar, or stand in front of Safeway, or meet up at the post office, and … .

The humor is predicated on the premise that while these folks share a reputation of outspoken political involvement, they do so from often widely divergent points on the political spectrum.

Waisanen, of Soldotna, has twice run as a Democrat for a Kenai-Soldotna seat in the Alaska House of Representatives, supportive of many party platforms, such as wanting to increase state spending on education and development of alternative energy projects in the state. Wagoner, a Republican, was Kenai’s senator from 2003 to 2012.

Pierce, of Kasilof, with undeclared voting registration, has been a proponent of fiscal conservatism, limited government and having term limits for elected officials on a state and local level. He’s been particularly outspoken lately against the assembly’s passage of expanded protections — through rules and regulations — for lands bordering anadromous streams.

Shavelson, of Homer, has been a vociferous leader in Cook Inlet’s environmental conservation community, in 1996 becoming executive director of Cook InletKeeper — which Pierce has lambasted in his public testimonies as a “special interest group” in the anadromous streams issue.

What do they have in common, other than being regulars in the peninsula’s political fray? Since May 22 they, and many others in the state representing a wide continuum of political persuasions, have all been on the same side of an issue, united behind one banner — or clipboard, rather — in support of a recall initiative targeting repeal of the bill recently passed by the Alaska Legislature that revamped the state’s structure of taxes and incentives for the oil industry.

“This probably is a first in the fact that the issue itself is so important to people of all different walks of life and different political persuasions that they’re looking at this and saying, ‘This is an Alaska issue, this is something for the state. If this is allowed to continue the state is going to suffer dramatically,” Waisanen said.

He and his wife, Sharon, are two of about 30 people on the peninsula who volunteered to gather signatures to get a repeal question on the next statewide election ballot. The list reads like the public testimony queue of people weighing in on an issue before the assembly, or a list of frequent authors of letters to the editor. Many of the names are usuals in the political activism crowd, but usually not on the same side of an issue.

“This is not identified as a Democrat issue or a liberal issue. I think it’s important enough that we just have to get on-board — I don’t want to say against the oil companies — it’s just against their philosophy of trying to get every dollar they can out of the product they’re working with, and we just say, ‘Hey, the oil belongs to the state of Alaska. The constitution says the government has to work the resources to the best benefit of all Alaskans,’ and this Legislature has not done that,” Waisanen said.

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Up in arms — 2nd Amendment rally draws vehement opposition to federal gun regulations

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Federal government, take heed: Alaskans stick to their guns.

That was the overwhelming sentiment of a Second Amendment rally held at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium at Kenai Central High School on March 4. Though the speakers had various backgrounds, different areas of interest and, at times, somewhat differing calls to action, all were united in advocating resistance against any potential federal action to enact gun bans or other restrictive regulations on firearm ownership.

“Your right to self-defense is something that both the state of Alaska and the U.S. Constitution recognize as something they won’t mess with. … Well, you know that they are in complete and utter defiance,” said rally organizer Bob Bird, of Nikiski, a teacher at Nikiski Middle-High School and former candidate for U.S. Senate.

Bird has helped put on several Second Amendment events on the central Kenai Peninsula in the last four years, including open carry days in Soldotna, attended by U.S. Rep. Ron Young, and a previous rally at KCHS in March 2010 that featured representation from Alaska’s Citizens Militia, based in Nikiski, and Schaeffer Cox, then representing the Peacemakers Militia he founded in Fairbanks. Cox has since been convicted of conspiracy to commit murder — against U.S. employees and law enforcement officers — and sentenced to nearly 26 years in federal prison. No militia representation was featured at this year’s rally.

Much of the message of the previous rally was revived, particularly that the federal government is running roughshod over individual and state rights.

“George Washington said that, ‘Government, like fire, is a fearful servant and a deadly master.’ If we allow the government to master us, we’re dead,” Bird said.

Speaker after speaker, followed by comments by audience members who numbered over 300, supported the idea that Alaska and its residents need to stand up to the federal government should it attempt to enact gun restrictions, such as any that have been discussed since the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012.

“We must draw a well-defined line in the sand and never back up no matter what is said or done. We must be willing to die to protect our right to keep and bear arms no matter what, because if we ever let anyone take our guns away then we have also died with no means to defend ourselves or our families,” said Seymour Mills, of Sterling, introduced by Bird as a law and governmental scholar.

Mills said that he began his activism in 1968 while living in Kodiak, gathering petition signatures to protest the Gun Control Act of 1968.

“I have never stopped fighting the government’s ongoing attempt to disarm us ever since, and I will never stop until my dying breath. If you ever allow the government to take away any of our guns — no matter what those guns might be, no matter what the reason might be — from any one of us, we will become slaves to a totalitarian government that our ancestors spilled their blood to prevent. We must make absolutely no compromises whatsoever to our constitutionally secured right to keep and bear arms,” he said.

In particular, citizens should not participate in any attempts to have owners register their guns, as that’s the first step to confiscation, Mills said. Also, he urged listeners to contact their legislators to oppose any modification to mental health laws that would impose restrictions on firearms ownership.

“Mental health laws are fully as dangerous as gun laws because then they can diagnose your mental health to disarm you,” Mills said.

Justin Giles, a former Marine and combat veteran, of Wasilla, representing the Oath Keepers organization, couched his support of the right to keep and bear arms in terms of chilling world events.

Giles spoke of instances of “democide” — the murder of innocent citizens by their government — in the 20th century perpetrated by what he termed as Marxist regimes, such as Mao Tse-tung-created regime in China and Pol Pot, of Cambodia.

“The mass graves of the 20th-century Marxists are filled with citizens who obeyed gun laws, and the citizens were put there by cops and soldiers who were simply following orders,” Giles said.

“Why should we care so much about this Marxism? It’s critical. We need to understand the nature of the beast that we’re facing,” he said, adding that people with power and influence in U.S. government today have been involved in Marxistlike activities.

“It’s important to understand the nature of what we’re up against, and the nature of who we are. Sometimes good, forgiving Christian folk tend to be overly forgiving, overly timid. Understand the nature of what we’re up against here, that’s my hope,” Giles said.

“I’m concerned about what I’m seeing in the country, I don’t like it one bit. I’m seeing and hearing things said since this horrible tragedy (at Sandy Hook) that happened in Conneticut that have got me wanting peace. I’ve seen war and because I want peace I think it’s important that we know who we are and we know who they — who are asking us to disarm — are,” he said.

He is heartened by Americans’ response to recent talk of gun laws, and the statement that such a response makes to those in federal government who would seek to restrict or ban firearms in the country.

“Since that time (of the shooting at Sandy Hook) U.S. citizens have purchased enough firearms to equip both the entire Chinese army and Indian armies combined,” he said, to a burst of applause from the audience. “…We’ve been arming ourselves and we’ve been talking tough. We’ve made it known, ‘Don’t tread on me. If you ignore the rattle, you’ll get the fangs.’” Continue reading

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Pizza and politics — Sen. Micciche holds midterm constituent meeting

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Sen. Peter Micciche, R-District O, met with constituents Saturday afternoon at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Chambers in Soldotna, for discussion over a wide range of topics and legislative issues.

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Sen. Peter Micciche, R-District O, met with constituents Saturday afternoon at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Chambers in Soldotna, for discussion over a wide range of topics and legislative issues.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Sen. Peter Micciche made use of a midterm break in the Alaska Legislature to tour his Kenai Peninsula District O, meeting with constituents in town hall meetings in Homer on Friday and Soldotna on Saturday.

“My goal was to get back here and have you be proud of the job I did whether you have a ‘D’ or ‘R’ next to your name,” he told the 50 or so attendants of the Soldotna meeting in the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Chambers.

Micciche gave a legislative update and answered wide-ranging questions from the crowd in the two-hour meeting, chewing over substantive issues along with the pizza and other snacks provided for the crowd.

Priorities

Micciche said his top three priorities have been to rein in state spending to a reasonable level, reduce the decline of North Slope production and address energy needs for all Alaskans.

“I think everyone is probably aware that our spending is unsustainable to any level of future revenue. What we’re trying to do is match probable revenue streams in the future and bring our spending to a responsible level that leaves some for savings for our kids and grandkids,” he said.

But that is no easy task.

“The problem is, hopefully we can get Alaskans behind us that we are in a declining revenue picture, and until we can turn it around we’re going to have to streamline things,” he said. … “No one wants their budget cut — no one, ever. And it’s tough, they are tough decisions. But I think it should be done with a scalpel and not a hatchet.”

His favored approach would be to support local priorities for funding and then engage state departments about where to reduce spending, “to ensure that cuts are done in a way that steps down responsibly.”

Discussion about reducing the decline of North Slope production largely morphed into talk of Senate Bill 21, proposing to adjust the state’s oil and gas production tax structure.

Micciche supported an amendment that raised the proposed base tax from 25 percent to 35 percent per barrel of oil produced and also supports eliminating tax-credit incentives to companies that don’t end up producing oil. That’s a flaw in the current Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share oil tax structure, he said.

“ACES is designed to entice new entrants to come into the market that don’t have any money and don’t necessarily have a burden for production. So it exposes the state to having to write large checks (without oil being produced),” Micciche said.

Micciche supports an oil tax structure that is consistent, rather than progressive, with 66 percent going to the state and companies keeping the remaining third, he said.

“It allows producers to take home a third of their earnings. That’s competitive,” he said.

“No one can explain why progressivity is good and no progressivity is bad. It should be fair. As the price increases the state should get the same proportion, but we’ll earn more money, just like any other business. … It makes planning easier, it makes understanding markets easier and it makes planning for funding this state easier,” said Micciche, who is manager of ConocoPhillips’ LNG plant in Nikiski. “I don’t think that we should like small companies and dislike big companies. I think we need to pull the emotions away from corporations and treat businesses fairly.”

He said that he supports SB 21 as it currently stands, but “if it ends up going to a very low tax rate I will likely not support it.”

On energy for Alaskans, Micciche said he’d like to see a comprehensive energy plan for the state that “divides this state up in regions with likely sources of energy, determining what sources of renewables are possible in the future and supplementing the hydrocarbons today. I’d really like to see that plan,” he said.

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