Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Lege: Is No One Capable of Making a Sandwich?

I realize that times are rough for our legislators. Our expectations are high. One minute we're cutting the amount of time they spend working by 25 percent without cutting their pay; the next, we're expecting them to report when a lobbyist spends more than $15 on them at lunch.

The ADN has a story from the Juneau Empire on the new $15 lunch rule, which I found interesting. The new ethics rules don't stop anyone from getting an expensive meal and drinks on a lobbyist's tab, it just ensures that we, the folks who they are supposedly working for, might know who is getting wined and dined and how well. But the tone of the story was odd, it read like somehow lean times were ahead for the members of The Lege. It listed items on Juneau menus that our employees can have for a lunch with a lobbyist and not report it, along with things that are off limits for secret lunches.

I'm having a bit of trouble working up sympathy as I contemplate my lunch for today, a sandwich composed of whole wheat, peppered chicken, provolone and red onion. Wrapped in wax paper. Ooh, and Gatorade was on sale at Freddie's, so I'm having one of those, too. Big spendah!

It must be a trial to settle for the Baranof's wok-seared tuna, grilled baby lamb chops or dungeness crab cakes. How terrible to have to pass up the pesto-crusted Taku River wild salmon ($25.95) or the Halibut filet and Dungeness crab, ($25.95)! And only two glasses of wine at the Zephyr ($6.50 - $10) on the q.t.?

Hmmm. Wine or food? That would be a tough choice. If I were a legislator, I think I'd pick two glasses of unreported wine for lunch (just to make it through one of those committee meetings.)

I dunno, if I really, really, reaaaaaaaaaly wanted that pesto-crusted salmon, I just might consider ... having it? Reporting it?

Or, more radically, just buying my own damn lunch? If the situation is one of trading legislative favors for future lucrative consulting jobs/careers in corrections, couldn't I just eat on my own dime for appearance's sake, banking on that fat paycheck courtesy of the lobbyist's employer in the not-that-distant future? Hell, I could save the receipts from all the lunches I'm being forced to buy and hand the lobbyist a summary a few years down the line.

Back here in Squarebanks, the sort of real world, I'm still considering asking my boss to only require me to show up 30 hours per week and still pay me for my full 40.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Falwell: The Send Off, aka The Jerry Falwell Goes to Hell Party

Above: Party attendee, deejay and long-time friend, Igor, drives a stake through the cardboard Falwell's heart.

What do you do when a particularly hateful God-bag (not a word I coined, unfortunately) kicks it? If you are in the Goldstream Valley with a bunch of leftie, liberal, libertarianish, free thinking, Bohemian types, you celebrate the reduction in hate-masquerading-as-religion and throw a party to do so.

And there was beer drinking. We are all strong proponents of beer drinking.

Of course, I also found myself having what I thought was a perfectly normal -- if a bit sloshy -- conversation by the fire about shooting squirrels (and my 2006 war on 'Bob') with a young woman who was, shall we say, disturbed by the idea of taking out the evil little creatures. She made a remark about "Red Fern" and skedaddled.

I am so proud to finally work that word into a post.

The highlight for me was when Rosario, my possible dog/alien and obsessive squirrel tree-er, got loose and rather than run off and get into trouble with The Law again, stood in the yard barking at the cardboard mockup of Falwell. She might be an extraordinary pain in the ass, but at least she got that right. Party attendees were very impressed by her - and I got a few pictures as proof.

So to summarize: beer-drinking, burning of mockup, an appearance by Tinky Winky (which is still in my yard), followed by fog machine, black lights, music and dancing in the cabin. I'm not sure what all followed after 1:30 a.m., not because of the alcohol, but because that is when I grabbed my thermarest and sleeping bag and went out to the Soob to get a decent night's sleep. Unlike everyone else, I had to go to work at 9 a.m. that morning.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Overheard while riding in a full-size pickup truck over the back side of Ballaine Hill...

"Did we just get passed by a Subaru?"

Stranger things have happened in the Goldstream Valley, but not recently.

Friday, May 11, 2007

When things are going to hell all around you....

It's a good time to make biscuits.

Photo above: biscuits the way my aunt made them, prior to the baking. They will lack the additional topping of bacon grease, despite the fact that everything tastes better with Vitamin B. No hillbilly genes required to make them, despite what Flic says.

Zut alors, my peoples, but this whole 1.5 jobs thing is kicking my ass. Back in the day (my glorious, misspent 20s) I could have pulled it off and still gone out partying like a Nomeite. These days, I need to sleep.

So, once again I'm dealing with the sensation that I just stopped paying attention for a minute and all this crazy stuff has been going on:
  • The AGIA has moved forward. I'm not an anti on that one yet, but does anyone else have the sense that no one really knows how to proceed on this gasline thing and voted for it figuring at least we'd have some place from which to start? Or, as it came out during the vote - that unless you had a better idea to offer - best to put up or shut up?
  • HJR 9 died, finally, by not passing in the House. I'm sure Coghill will revisit this again, but the whole sitch was dwarfed by the latest Big Oil scandal.
  • Speaking of scandal, how could Lege Republicans kill legislation that would have prevented Big Oil from deducting the expenses to repair the pipeline that came about through its own negligence?
  • Speaking again of the latest Big Oil scandal, I'm reminded of an adage often repeated in a certain boozy little town where I used to live, one that seems particularly apt regarding Kohring and Co., aka, the Corrupt Bastards Club. "If you're going to be a whore, don't be a cheap whore."
  • Municipal revenue sharing, my people. What is it going to take to bring this program back? I am reminded of the sudden flurry of publicity over a month ago when the stats came out on sexual assault in this state. The problems in rural Alaska are varied and compounded by nonexistent law enforcement, shamefully few beds for alcohol and drug treatment in our communities with high rates of alcohol and drug abuse, not to mention the lack of basic services.
  • Ethics? About damn time.
  • Hmmm. Looks the Lege that couldn't get its business done in 120 days, surprise, shock ... can't get its business done in 90.
  • I look forward to the special session on the petroleum production tax.
  • Um, I'm profoundly disturbed by the fact that I like Sarah Palin right now. But then again, after Murkowski, my expectations were so low.
  • Only 607 days left in the Bush Administration. My god/dess, the chickens are really coming home to roost on those guys -- the Ashcroft hospital strong arm, Iraq, etc. But seriously, they impeached Clinton over a blow job. How on earth can they not impeach Dubyah? What happened to the Republicans safeguarding us against big government?
Well, must run off again to the other job. Don't worry about me, it's not been one long working slog. The 'Jerry Falwell Goes to Hell' party was a great bit of fun. Pictures as soon as a certain savage sends them.

[Note: Ignore Blogger, this was posted on May 23rd.]

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Hats off to the Men in Black

Corrupt Bastards Chickens Come Home to Roost
I am not usually a big, vocal fan of law enforcement, but a shout out to our local FBI agents who have outdone themselves in white collar crime investigation - rooting out not only the Rev. and Mrs. Hayes (who are beginning to look like very small potatoes compared to the Lemon Creek* gang) but also the "Honorable" Senators A & B, Representatives Kohring and Kott, former Representatives Weyhrauch and Anderson and now the Messieurs Allen and Smith.

These are the salad days, my friends, for those of us who have endured four years of "Frank-the-Bank" and his cronies, and have, for even longer, watched Big Oil and its arrogant minions thumb their noses at the people of this state - many of whom are living in remote communities in decidedly third-world conditions. To say nothing of the rest of us who struggle to meet our monthly bills as fuel and electricity rates skyrocket while Big Oil posts record obscene annual profits and cries poverty whenever the lege proposes additional taxes or royalty increases that would go towards stopping the State from giving away Alaska's oil for practically nothing.

This promises to be juicy for months to come - with many memorable quotes as the sordid story unfolds. To start, here are some of my current favs, along with my editorial comments:
  • "I just want to be the warden in Barbados", Kott [People, savor the irony in this one. Seems more likely to be a federal pen in the lower 48 and a stint as inmate not warden for our soon-to-be defrocked Kott]

  • "You'll get your gas line, the governor gets his bill, and I'll get my job in Barbados ", Kott to Smith, a VECO vice president, referring to his desire for the plum job of warden at a new prison in Barbados under construction by VECO.

  • "I'm going to get this fucking gas line done so I can get out of here", Kott in a January 2006 phone call to Bill Allen [kudos to the wire tap team]

  • "Mr. Stevens was surprised [and no doubt dismayed] to learn that Bill Allen and Rick Smith pleaded guilty to various federal crimes today and hopes that neither one of them is falsely [heaven forbid] accusing former and current members of the Alaska state Legislature of crimes in order to mitigate the consequence of their own admitted criminality [last-ditch and weak effort to save his client's ass]." John Wolf, attorney representing Senator Ben Stevens; editorial comments mine.

  • "The public doesn't give a damn what I do for my money", Ben Stevens in 1994 [sorry, Ben, indeed, the public does give a damn how you earn your money, considering you are supposed to be representing all your constituents, not just the ones that line your pocket with cash.]

  • "I own your ass", Allen to Kott (federal allegation)[need any more be said??]

  • "[Kohring] would kiss our ass", Allen to Smith after Allen gave Kohring $1,000; (federal allegation)

  • I have little doubt that tomorrow's news will reveal that the mysterious Senator B is indeed Ben Stevens...let's see what your daddy can do for you now, Ben!

    Note: Mr Roo and his ladies agreed to pose as models only on the condition that it be known that they come by their chicken feed honestly and legally

    *local state pen in Juneau

    Corrupt Bastards Busted

    "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"

    Wow. Here I go and ignore the larger world for a week* and once again, all hell breaks loose.

    What to offer about the recent arrests of Veco's CEO Bill Allen and its VP for Community and Regional Affairs Rick Smith, along with Representative Kohring, and former reps Kott and Weyrauch? Is anyone surprised? Can anyone actually be surprised, given that Ben Stevens (who is likely to be in a pair of handcuffs sooon) has for years worked as a consultant for VECO all the while refusing to say exactly what it is he did?

    Well, for one thing, might we here at FBH suggest that when one is engaged in illegal activity, you ought not to have commemorative hats made? The term "Corrupt Bastards Club" will become a shorthand for arrogant corruption in the future, I think.

    Also, can anyone be surprised to find out that Big Oil was corrupting our government? Is anyone still that naive? Face it, we're the Appalachia of the West, and not just because of the yard art and 'No Tresspassing" signs one finds surrounding some of the homes out here in Squarebanks. Big Oil is King Coal. It wields just as much influence as the latter did in the coal mining states, but with the added touch of a continual diet of propaganda slickly produced print and television ads fed to the populace.

    This sucker is being followed extensively in the ADN and Rachel D'Oro's story for AP has been picked up internationally. But more later, if Flic doesn't beat me to the punch.

    *I'm up to 1.5 jobs for the summer.

    Wednesday, May 02, 2007

    A Different Sort of Grow Operation

    Spring has sprung

    Nothing says spring in the Valley, and generally throughout Squarebanks than the grow operations that are springing up everywhere; some are fairly fancy with banks of shops lights, seed starter, 4-packs, cells and flats. Many are yogurt & cottage cheese containers and anything else that can hold some soil and a seed - crowding window sills and sunny floor spots and anywhere a little plant can get a ray of sun.

    I am, of course, talking about the annual rite of spring - starting the garden indoors.

    Valley grow operation : Siberian Wallflower

    It goes without saying too, that spring chickens are happy chickens. Now:

    and then:

    Mr. Roo shows the effects of “coop fever” in early April

    This surely was one sorry-ass long, dismal winter for this former cabin-dweller, and if I never go through the same sort of caca again, I will be forever grateful and happy...warmth, sun, and lots of deck sitting with various forms of booze got here just in time!