Saturday, March 29, 2008

Seavey Wins All Alaska Sweepstakes!

Congratulations to Mitch Seavey, who overtook Jeff King after the Safety checkpoint 20-some miles from the finish, and will pocket $100,000.

Mackey, mushing's iron man with iron dogs in the last two years, finally faded several checkpoint earlier.

Seavey, by crossing the finish line 10 minutes ahead of King, saved the bacon of race organizers, who had really made a hash of communicating how the winner would be decided. Race rules stated one thing, another decision was made at a closed musher's meeting, then suddenly on Friday, they were back to time differentials and total time on the trail.

Jeff King, who finished behind Mackey in the 2008 Iditarod, once again had to settle for second place. He'll get $11,224.00 for that finish, which is the amount raised by Nome's 2008 AAS Queen, Janice Doherty. In yet another interesting wrinkle of this race, finishers after first are awarded prizes based on how much contestants in the AAS Queen contest raise, according to the table found on the AAS website:

1st Janice Doherty (Queen) $11,224.00 2nd Place
2nd Kristina Rasmussen-Hoffert $9,892.00 3rd Place
3rd Dana Sherman $6,441.00 4th Place
4th Tammy Gologergen $5,607.00 5th Place
5th Peggy Darling $5,437.00 6th Place
6th Meridith Ahmasuk $2,016.00 7th Place
7th Dora Hughes $435.00 8th Place
8th Katie Schobert $140.00 9th Place
9th. Myrna Outwater $100.00 10th Place

Friday, March 28, 2008

Who Won?

It's 11:20 p.m. and I'm sitting here at the Chili's at the Anchorage Airport. Yeah, gross and greasy, but it's my first BEER in ages.

Well, days.

So, I landed in Nome on my way back to Squarebanks, and as we left town, the Alaska Airlines pilot announced some mushers below and was kind enough to roll the plane first south, and then north, so everyone could take a look below.

I had an aisle seat.

But it was a pretty cool sight - a bunch of passengers hopped out of their seats to peer down at whatever action might be happening below. But was the pilot correct or was it just some folks out on the trail on snowmachines? I don't know and the darned AAS website says those guys aren't finishing yet.

Even though I'm pretty sure King has it, the suspense is killing me.

Sweepstakes Update ... and correction

There are few things less fun than being wrong in print. So, starting at the most recent ones:
  1. The mushers are not having the start differential fixed at an unknown checkpoint. At the closed musher's meeting before the race, the mushers just wanted to flat out race. Editor's Note: Per the latest ADN article posted at 1:46 p.m., they will do the differential. Would someone make up their frigging mind and communicate the decision clearly?
  2. Race officials will not wait 24 hours to declare a winner.
  3. 16 mushers started the race. One bib number was an honorary one.
Not that race organizer's issued an update or press release or anything. I found this out by reading two blogs trying to follow the race.

I've been bemoaning the lack of information about the race for a couple of days. However, I came across two blogs that are getting out a bit more info, Josh's Blog and Northern Lights. Both have some pictures, and Josh's had a podcast that offers some more info.

Apparently, Hugh Neff has scratched, and the rumor was that another musher had also done so.

Oh, and according the AAS site, King leads, Seavey is in 2nd, and Mackey is still running third with all three mushers as far as council. That means the race will probably finish some time today.

King ahead, followed by Seavey and Mackey

It's the big names in front this morning as I'm having my first cup of coffee. The three have made it as far as Boston, which I believe refers to Boston Creek. Next up is Council, some 80+ miles from the Nome finish.

King has the lead, according the the All Alaska Sweepstakes website, but I really can't tell you much more because there has been such a low press interest in the race.

I've tried getting some info on KOTZ radio, but haven't managed to catch an update. And the local radio station, KNOM radio, doesn't stream its broadcast. But I bet they are covering the heck out of this.

Part of the quiet may be logisitics - in the Iditarod and Yukon Quest, which are well-established with tons of places and means from which to communicate, while most of the route of the Sweepstakes goes through some pretty isolated country.

The News Miner at least got another story up on their website from Kevin Klott, even if doesn't have a lot of insight into what is going on out there. Klott, I believe, is an ADN reporter, but the ADN didn't have anything up online this morning.

It doesn't look like he has much in the way of transportation (snowmachine) or informants who are tied in with the ham radio operators communicating from the checkpoints. It's a little disappointing, but I'm getting the impression the ADN had neither the budget nor desire to really cover this one. But geez, couldn't a news outfit just hook up with some locals to drive you around out to where the race is happening? It is only a few hundred miles, which is nothing in good weather on a snowmachine. Get a couple of photos?

If I were living out there, I'd take any excuse for a snowmachine trip and a promise that later on, my bar tab was covered in Nome. But that could be a budgetary issue, too. We're talking about Nome.

Our only print guy filed a story from the Safety Roadhouse checkpoint, 20-some miles out of Nome. It's not a bad feature on some of the characters out there at Safety right now - a place where I misspent a little time back in the day. One thing though: there is no such thing as Cougar Rock Road.

There is, however, Kougarok Road.

First Gels, Now Pickled Asparagus

I was resolved to say something postive about my trip to America, but the latest gestapo action executed by the KCI private airport security contractor has smashed that to bits. I had my 3-1-1- all done up: hand lotion in its proper little quart-sized bag...and was carrying two jars of homemade jam and - horrors - a jar of pickled asparagus from some farms I visited yesterday - gifts for the next place I am going to rest my head. Well, you guessed it - I was relieved of the jams and asparagus.

When the hell did this country sink to such abysmal lows? Can anyone really believe that when this country comes under attack it's going to be by a jar of pickles? The inconsistency of all of this is also what drives me insane. In one airport, you can pass through freely with pickles, water and way more than 3 ounces of lotions, in another, they take everything. In fact, these KCI gestapo let me keep my two 8-ounce bottles of lotion (hey that's a liquid), but they took the pickles and jams - making me think they just needed to augment their lunch.

Homeland security my nether regions - it is the same thing that oppressed people in totalitarian regimes have experienced thoughout all of time - abitrary and capricious behavior by petty little shits that get off on their power.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mackey and Lanier Lead at First Chance

Iditarod champ Lance Mackey and the Iditarod-veteran-but-not-a-big-name Jim Lanier are running in front as of 9:00 a.m. in the All Alaska Sweepstakes. The AAS website had both men into the checkpoint of First Chance ahead of the rest.

There's a whole pack of mushers listed in at the previous checkpoint, including Jeff King. King and Mackey are continuing to take potshots at each other through the press, behavior that kept many of us entertained (and groaning) during the Iditarod.

Conditions are decent, weather-wise, but the trail conditions, according to an ADN article posted in the wee hours this morning, well, kind of suck. Which is not a big surprise. While the trail was well-used back in the day when the AAS was organized, the race route traces a string of abandoned gold mining sites across the Seward Peninsula.

There's Council, a Gold Rush community predating Nome that once held hotels, a post office, and 11,000 people. Nowadays, it's the location for a lot of recreational cabins owned by Nomeites. An older couple, the Holly's, were the last to live out there year-round. The 80 mile drive is worth it to get away from the hustle and bustle of Nome. And for the tree-sick transplant in Nome, there's the chance to hang out with trees.

I jokes. But it is nice out there in the summer. And it does have an airstrip.

But many of the checkpoints are now historical footnotes, though I've at least met people who were born at Candle.

Also amusing so far is coverage listing the location of checkpoints as a range, such as "124 to 143 miles into the race."

Despite what I read elsewhere, ahem, there is no bad luck drawing a later starting position, according to the AAS rules:

" The time differential will be made up at a randomly selected checkpoint decided by the lead judge just prior to the race start at 10:00 AM on March 26, 2008. Mushers should not sign in at this checkpoint until the dog count and dog identification is verified by the checker and himself. The differential checkpoint will remain confidential until the first musher’s arrival at that point."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

100 Years, 100 Grand

For the record, my money is on Ed Iten, Aaron Burmeister, or Lance Mackey.

"The what?" "The who," you ask?

Only the most historic sled dog race in Alaska, the great-grandaddy of them all, the All Alaska Sweepstakes. This one goes back to 1908 and ran up until the end of World War I. The last time it was run was in 1983, when the then dominant musher, Rick Swenson, took it. The News Miner had a decent story on it this morning; however, zippo on the front of the ADN. And I must say, boo AND hiss.

Only 17 mushers are competing.

It's a 408 mile race from Nome to the old mining area of Candle and back. And it's not your groomed-trail Iditarod or your bone-chilling cold Yukon Quest. This my friends, is mushing on the Seward Peninsula.

The winner is the musher who completes the trip in the least time (starts are staggered.) Mushers are not bound to take mandatory rests. The race isn't going from village to village. If the weather stays uneventful, as the forecast seems to indicate, it could be a tight race among the big names. If you get wind and ground storms, it will be about who has the experience in those conditions and whose dogs are toughest.

And, perhaps, the musher who best knows and cares for their dogs.

The Nome Kennel Club adopted the historic rules with some clarifications and they're quite interesting. In particular, regarding the issue of dog care.

You can't drop dogs and win the race:
  • You can carry a dog in the sled if it is unable to continue. But you have to carry that dog the whole way to Nome or until it is healthy enough to continue in harness.
  • Vets at checkpoints can evaluate a dog and determine it is unable to continue and keep it at the checkpoint for care. You can finish the race, but then you are not eligible for first place and you are fined 10 hours of time.
  • If a dog dies (oh, how I hate the word 'expires') you can continue the race... but you are not eligible for first place and you are fined 10 hours of time.
An interesting concept, yes? Mushers will have to bring healthy dogs and they will have to care for those dogs in a manner that keeps them healthy.

Another rule I found interesting concerns big game animals:
"There may be numerous wildlife along the trail. In the event that an edible big game animal, i.e., moose, caribou, muskox, is killed in defense of life or property (DLP), the musher must gut the animal and report the incident to a race official at the next checkpoint. Following teams must help gut the animal when possible. No teams may pass until the animal has been gutted and the musher killing the animal has proceeded. Any other DLP animal killed must be reported to a race official, but need not be gutted."
At the moment, Jim Lanier is leading the race into Topkok, followed by Nome musher Connor Thomas.

(Side note: it is heartening to see all the local mushers in this race. You have Thomas, Cari Miller, Kirsten Bey, Jeff Darling and Aaron Burmeister from the Nome area - Burmeister being a Nomegrown musher who has since relocated to Nenana - along with Ed Iten from Kotzebue.)

I'm having a blast listening to updates on the radio and have to wonder when the big name mushers will make their move.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dispatches from America

Somewhere over the rainbow,
this is what well-dressed leprechauns are wearing.

Don Young should consider trading in his bolo for a gold lame jacket and emerald green knickers. He'll need that pot of fools gold too, if he keeps up his current pace of spending on legal defense ($850,000 smackeroos and counting).

Meanwhile, Somewhere Else in America

Two Things I Did Not Expect to See Today

Sheep heads on shelf.

Don Young. In person.

While Flic is back east in McWorld, I find myself once again out in my favorite part of the 49th, Northwestern Alaska. Sadly, due to 10 minutes of photographic inadequacy, I failed to get a single picture of Mr. Young in action. Hence the photo saved off the web.

He does pretty well meeting with folks out here, telling lots of humorous anecdotes and such. He had the high school students entertained with a story about Libby Reynolds (sic) and Susan Busher (sic) and their pretty awesome victories during stormy Iditarods - particularly in desribing how Riddles ended up so far ahead the year she won that she stopped, built a fire, cleaned up and applied make up before hitting the finish chute. He fielded some pretty easy questions from the students, and then had to dash off to his next destination. He's hopping about northwest Alaska the next few days.

Guess he might think he actually has to campaign this time around, eh?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Somewhere in America...

From there, 36 hours ago,

to here:

From moosehead soup to Midwest corn-fed, feedlot beef. It's the town at trail's end of the great cattle drives, it's the place that birthed Hallmark Cards and H&R Block. It's the place where every restaurant sells, and every hotel room stocks, Starbucks coffee, even though you can watch 18-wheelers rotate belly up and dump their loads of coffee beans into the Folger's coffee plant.

Transitioning from village potlatch to America rapidly is a good thing, because at least there is a recognizable difference. Even if it engenders dislocation at least I know I have traveled - gone from one place to another. Outside of Alaska, it is only the destination on my boarding pass that tells me where in monochromatic McCulture I presently am: LA, Phoenix, Kansas City, Chicago, or Boston.

Land in any one of the mega-ports, with their miles and miles of gates all stuffed, sausage-like, with people rushing about, talking earnestly to themselves, blue lights winking in their ears. There's oxymoronic Wolfgang Puck selling gourmet fast food; kiosks hawking the little U-shaped neck rolls , the five-minute chair massage, and the more intriguing, but always empty, aqua-massage units ("You Don't Get Wet!!!" proclaim the signs).

Sure, palm trees, cacti, mountains, ports, or architecture help orient and anchor, but these cultural and geographic icons, once dominant in the landscape, are obscured by the ubiquitous Starbucks, Old Navies, Victoria Secrets, Walden Books - to say nothing of the Lego-plexes of neo-country, neo-Italianate McMansions, business parks and mall sprawls that cram all available acreage between air port and fading urban cores where once architecture and businesses strove for individuality, innovation, and interest.

Nowadays, it takes a lot of work to travel in the US and ferret out visual and experiential diversity - it doesn't happen on a business trip, which guarantees a stay at a convention center in any one of the cookie cutter big hotels - Westin, Hyatt, Marriott (all that changes there is the color of the wallpaper and the awfulness of the wall art).

Perhaps the majority are reassured by this reality: that no matter where they travel, there they are - never far away from an Olive Garden, an Applebees, a Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware.

Me, I'm counting the days til I leave America and head for home.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I'd Blog About It, If I Could Only Concentrate

(zap, crackle) This past year has been full of lessons learned - such as never get involved with someone who has 275 convictions in the family and is proud of it - or assume that one can't fall under the spell of sexy belly fat.

(pop, ping)
There is also my rueful acknowledgment, which doesn't really count among new lessons, that I utterly lack the ability to keep my head below the line of fire; the origins of my nom de blog.

And then there is the perennially valuable lesson: never ever quit drugs cold turkey, be they legal or illegal.

For well over a week now I have been in the throes of brain buzz; (zip, zap) forget about sleeping, and never mind reading, comprehension, or anything contemplative. All this would be the fuel of brillant intellectual genesis, if only I could slow the synapses down enough to engage in the activity instead of firing wildly and madly from one half-formed impulse to another.

(crackle, snap) Amazingly enough, it never occured to me that quitting Big Pharma one day cold (when I woke up and decided I was fed up with the ever-ballooning need for larger jeans ; Pharma = Phat) might lead to really unpleasant side effects. Perhaps that is indeed one of the other side effects of Big Pharma - since it smooths out anxiety and panic, why would one think about the potential nasties of quitting? After all, it's all good in the Pharmacopia.

CabinDweller was dumbfounded that I hadn't even googled for potential side effects (let alone consult with a doctor) before I just quit. But that would have required focused thought, which has been the root of the problem all along. (bzzzt, bzzzzt)

Seems like withdrawal can last anywhere from one week to seven. There's lots more unpleasant side effects than the brain quakes (as the literature calls them) - some of which I am now experiencing as well....

At least I think I am, but I can't really focus long enough to find out. (zap, zap, zap)

Seems like I can notch up another realized stereotype: the medicated friend who drives her friends nuts as she richochets from manic to depressive to manic again (" she' s off her meds again, time to let the calls go through to voice mail"). (snap, crackle, pop)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fairbanks Fluoride Foes Gobsmacked

The Fairbanks City Council demonstrated level heads last night when they voted against removing fluoride from city water. Councilwomen Tonya Brown and Vivian Stiver, who introduced the measure, supported the ban.

Maybe fluoridated water is a newly emerging health issue, maybe it is not. Maybe people who think fluoride should remain in drinking water because of its proven efficacy in preventing dental caries are Luddites (as opined by Doug Yates, director of Fluoride Free Fairbanks) and dullards blind to the mad conspiracy hatched by bureaucrats, scientists and gasp - the ADA - or maybe they aren't. Maybe fluoridated water really just wasn't much of an issue for the vast majority of city residents, not as gas and heating oil and electricity costs sky-rocketed this winter, not as the housing market collapsed, not as more and more servicemen and women were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So how on earth did fluoridated water, a complete non-issue in this area six months ago, make it onto the city council agenda? You might expect it was championed and pushed there by a group of concerned Fairbanks residents ... residents who drink city water and thus might have legitimacy in questioning what is in the water they drink.

Nope, gentle reader, it wasn't. It was the work of a hobbyist shit-stirrer, a person who trolls for molehills to make into mountains. This person makes a cause where none exists, shops it around and persists until a gullible ear is found. If a bit of a conspiracy can be manufactured into existence, so much the better. And there's always some bunko science or skewed statistic to hyperinflate the matter to one of dire importance.

Since the council voted the ban down, and Fluoride Free Fairbanks is now talking about mounting a citizen's initiative, I spent some time trying to find out who is Fluoride Free Fairbanks. The only two people that I could find openly associated with the group - billed as a group of concerned "residents" - are two that are most definitely not residents of Fairbanks, and thus do not drink the water.

So, here we have a non-issue that had its genesis in people who are not even directly affected by the matter. Already it has consumed city resources, and like a sulky, pukey child, demanded time and attention of the Mayor and Council - who really do have far more important issues to deal with: for starters, how about the deplorable lack of behavioral health care, the dearth of beds in the region's only detox center, and the inadequate size of the city police force?

Don't get me wrong. I am a strong and vocal proponent of the public process. But illegitimate end runs like this one - by people who are not stakeholders - steals legitimacy from the public and cheapens everyone's voice.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Great Jeebus! I'm Melting!

Holy moley, my people, did I fall asleep and wake up in Southeast?

Who turned on the heat?

Temperatures in this neck of the woods, a.k.a. Squarebanks, have been topping 40 degrees during the day. Some of you folks unfortunate-enough-to-live-elsewhere might wonder why I am complaining. There are several reasons why this sucks:
  1. I had to plug in my outside freezer.
  2. All the little frozen dog bombs I missed in the yard during the serious winter months are now exposed.
  3. The outhouse is no longer odor-free.
  4. My beer no longer stays perfectly cold when I put it by the door. (Inside the cabin.)
  5. It cools back down below freezing at night - so all that melt turns into a crust of ice. And it's embarassing to fall down in your front yard, not to mention dangerous on the roads.
  6. March is traditionally the best month of winter. Meaning we have lots of daylight without severe temperatures. Meaning we have excellent snow conditions for skiing, skijoring and mushing. This melt-thaw-melt thing going on out there is seriously screwing with the best month of winter.
Am I the only one out there desperately hoping for another cold snap and a fresh batch of snow?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Posting Bail For Someone Near and Dear? Important.

Getting Alaska Airlines Mileage For It? Priceless.

Let's tag this as Things Learned:

1) There are only three bailbondsmen in the phonebook. Contrary to what one might think from the movies, they are not necessarily available when you need them.
2) You can post bail with a credit card.
3) You get to keep the miles earned if you use your Alaska Airlines credit card.

At right: Mastercard and Visa accepted here. A cellphone pic of the entryway at FCC.

But I am getting ahead of myself here.

It was the kind of phone call you don't want to get. A recorded voice with a heavy Southern accent came on to explain that the call was coming from the Fairbanks Correctional Facility, prompting the next thought that came into my head, something about one of my favorite movies, Cool Hand Luke. "What we have here... is a failure to communicate."

Then came the short clip where your near and dear one states either their name or a short phrase. In this case it was, "Come get me!"

I then took the opportunity to press a number on the keypad to accept the call.

For those of you living existences so pure and untrammeled by a brush with the law that you have never had cause to find it, our local hoosgow is located on a street just behind the Denny's on Airport Way. Which I find somehow appropriate.

As it was 11:30 p.m., the lobby was closed so I had to stand out there in the 90 degree entryway until a corrections officer came to let me in. And I should say, he was very polite. We got to the paperwork.

"You have a cash, check, a credit card?" As it turned out, my bank account couldn't cover it, so I picked through the credit cards. Aha. I looked at him and displayed my choice.

Why not get Alaska Airlines miles out of the situation? Why not create one's own silver lining?

1000 miles later, driving back out to the Valley, I had to wonder, do I get to keep the miles after the case is over? Because if they refund the card, don't they just go away? Turns out, the answer is no. The court system issues a refund check, so the charge stays on the books. I confess, I was really looking forward to having that conversation with Bank of America.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The G-Man Diet

First there was Scarsdale, then Eat-Right-for-Your Blood-Type, closely followed by Atkins, the Zone, and South Beach. Now, brought to you by the men in black is the G-Man Diet. I couldn't help but notice that the federal corruption investigation has helped Jim Clark achieve what years of jogging around Juneau and the Hill couldn't - he is downright svelte in his court room appearance.

It's a trend that is hitting the country - from Abramoff and DeLay to our own home-grown corrupt bastards politicians and lobbyists, Kott, Kohring, Hayes, Allen and Smith, thin is all the rage. Melted away by months of fretting about search, seizure and subpoenas are the pounds and pounds of flesh extracted from others, and larded on during Baranoff and Beltway bacchanales.

Yup, the fat cat image of the power brokers in this State certainly has been taken down a notch or two by the G-Man Diet!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Another One Bites The Dust

No doubt in Juneau watering holes frequented by Fish & Game biologists and DNR staffers, there's many a beer being tipped to the fall of Jim Clark. There are quite a number of community members in Sitka, Ketchikan and Fairbanks that are bellying up to the bar too - those that had their lives and livelihoods trashed and ridiculed by Mr. Clark in his capacity as lead counsel for the Alaska Pulp Corporation, operator of the Sitka and Ketchikan pulp mills, and Fairbanks Gold, operator of the Fort Knox Gold Mine.

As this moment of divine karma unfolds, and the men in black draw ever closer to the Holy Trinity, the Triumvirate, the Big Three, I am flooded with memories of Jim Clark - whom I internally nicknamed the Devil's Spawn.

For instance, can anyone forget policy by pizza? I am of course referring to the relocation of Habitat to DNR at the start of the Clark/Murk administration - payback Clark demanded because of the alleged pizza party thrown by Fish & Game biologists when the Ketchikan pulp mill closed.

Or the fact that Jim Clark, formerly of Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh, was counsel of record for Fairbanks Gold, operator of the Fort Knox gold mine, and Teck Cominco, operator of Pogo and Red Dog?

And that Tom Irwin, formerly the general manager of Fort Knox, and FOC (friend of Clark), first became Commissioner of DNR under the Clark/Murk administration?

Or how about that prior to the development and construction of Fort Knox, all permitting processes that involved both federal and state permits were led by the Division of Governmental Coordination - a state branch that industry did not control quite as thoroughly as DNR. Well, Mr. Clark really didn't like that at all - thought it far too burdensome and time consuming for his client, Fairbanks Gold, and thus he lobbied successfully to have mining projects exempted and permitted through DNR. This was later immortalized by the Clark/Murk administration as the Office of Project Management and Permitting, headed up by Bill Jeffries, another Fort Knox alum and FOC and expanded to include timber and oil and gas projects as well.

While on the subject of mining - here is another little gem: that Mr. Clark was involved with American Reclamation Group - composed of Harry Noah, a former Commissioner of DNR, and Ken Pohle, another former manager of Fort Knox - which was awarded the "mine to reclaim" plum of a contract to clean up (and profit from) the bankrupted and unbonded mess that was Illinois Creek Mine. The "mine to reclaim" concept was shamelessly touted by then DNR Division of Mining Director Bob Loeffler as a win-win situation. Never mind that had DNR been doing the job it is charged to do under statute and constitution, this kind of polluting, bankrupted mess would not have happened.

Then there was the proposed golf course on Douglas Island that Mr. Clark had an interest in. Oops, some Fish and Game biologists did their job and nixed the proposal - too close to too many salmon spawning streams, and you know how golf courses use pesticides and herbicides. Some got pink slips, others got sent to the Alaskan equivalents of Siberia when Clark - I mean - Murk came into office.

And speaking of pink slips - let's not forget about how Mr. Clark "allegedly" made the rounds of legislators that were FOC and industry and asked them if there were any Fish and Game employees that were particularly doing their jobs well, just so as to make sure he didn't miss handing out any pink slips that he should have.

How about how Mr. Clark treated his staff attorneys? Well, it was staff meetings six days a week at 7:30 AM sharp. And personal life? Fuggedabout dat! One young staff attorney was told at the 7:30 AM meeting on a Saturday to catch the next plane for Sitka - which he did - packing for what he thought would be a few days. Four months later he was still in Sitka - kept there round the clock working dinky do stuff like reviewing blue prints and doing copying - and allowed home only under threat of losing his job. Which in short order, he decided was a sweet deal.

Then of course there are my own memories - of the time Mr. Clark was overheard boasting in the Fiddlehead Restaurant that he had run off Trustees for Alaska on a federal litigation matter, which was then eventually won - much to his surprise and no doubt dismay - in state court.

And the time that I got his veins popping in his forehead in a particularly contentious lawyer meeting that had quite the cast of characters there - including not only officials from the company Mr. Clark was representing, but also Dick Lefebvre and Bob Loeffler of DNR . Why industry counsel brought along parties he didn't represent and who were supposed to be objective third parties in the process was never quite explained by Jim, but it was too novel for our side to protest - we were far too curious to see just how these "impartial" agency representatives were going to comport themselves in the meeting.

Ah, how the mighty do fall. It is almost enough to make one a believer.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Six Down, How Many More to Go?

Jim Clark, most bad-ass of the Alaskan Republican establishment, former Murkowski chief of staff, once dubbed Alaska's most powerful (unelected) official, timber lobbyist, and general anathema to anything remotely pro-environmental ... has pleaded guilty to fraud in a case relating to the Corrupt Bastards scandal.

Flic will be passing out, I suspect. Perhaps it is time to revisit her list from December:

Santa's The FBI's Little List --- (First posted in December 2007 - Updated 3-3-08)
Tom Anderson : Naughty Convicted
Bill Allen: Very, Very, Very Naughty Convicted
Rick Smith: Naughty Convicted
Pete Kott: Naughty and Easy Convicted
Bruce Weyhrauch: Naughty Indicted
Vic Kohring: Naughty Indicted Convicted
Ben Stevens: Very Naughty In the Bag
Ted Stevens: Very, Very Naughty and Haughty In the Bag Under Investigation and Getting Grumpier by the Minute
Don Young: Naughty and Rude In the Bag Under Investigation and Spending $ Like Crazy
Frank Murkowski: Naughty and Slow Give 'im rope
Jim Clark: Very, Very, Very Naughty There's always hope Pleading Guilty to Fraud

Fair, Equitable, and Just Who Are You Talking About Anyway?

The ADN ran a story today on a couple of proposals in the Lege to aid Alaskans hard hit by the astronomic price of fuel oil.

In "Energy assistance debated as Bush Alaska shivers" the AP's Anne Sutton began by talking about the high price of fuel oil in rural Alaskan communities, i.e. the villages. The story then describes the two proposals, one, a direct payment of $500 to households, and another that would give a credit of $750 to every household to be applied to utility bills. Utility companies would receive a lump sum from the state as opposed to households getting a check to use toward those utilities.

Right, okay, but then what was with this quote from Kenai Republican Senator Tom Wagoner, the proponent of the $750 credit ?

"It's fair and equitable and it doesn't give out a cash payment that can be turned into bottles of whiskey, tobacco, bingo parlors or whatever," Wagoner said.

I might be seeing a thinly veiled bit of racism where none exists here, folks, but is he implying that ALL Alaskans are prone to turning a check into whiskey, tobacco or a night of bingo? Hell, I'd like to believe that he is talking about all of us. And as a Heinz-57 variety of Caucasian, I must point out that I am pretty fond of whiskey myself.

Or is he talking about the folks living in Bush Alaska, where CITGO distributed gas last year, where the majority of people are Alaska Native? Is the quote a sort of shorthand?

I believe my answer to that question can be found in the 'Comments' section of the ADN's story, where once again, anonymous racists are posting their filth. The story certainly seems to have stirred the pot over there.

So, am I reading this one wrong? I'd love to be told that I am, because despite all of my bitching, I like this place and want to believe the best about it.