Following Up and Following Down: March 2016

After giving his patient readers a break from WC’s feeble efforts at diligent journalism last month, it’s time to take up the shovel and dig a little deeper.

Anchorage Legislative Information Office (Photo Erik Hill/ADN)

Anchorage Legislative Information Office (Photo Erik Hill/ADN)

No one, not even Rep. Mike Hawker (R, Scandal), seemed surprised that Superior Court Judge Patrick McKay found the “lease extension” claim for the Taj Mahawker as bogus as most Alaskans. Judge McKay held that, unlike Rep. Hawker, Judge McKay was entitled to use his common sense and that a fish was not a bicycle. Rep. Hawker now has a choice: cut his losses, walk away from the legally void lease, and save the State of Alaska a big bucket full of rent monies, or appeal Judge McKay’s decision to the Alaska Supreme Court and, when the supreme court agrees the lease is void, walk away then leaving the state poorer by a big bucket of rent monies and a ton of lawyer fees. It seems like an easy choice to WC, but not, perhaps, to Rep. Hawker. Oh, and can we get Governor Walker to throw Mark Pfeiffer, the co-developer of the Taj Mahawker, off of the Alaska Municipal Bond Bank? Mr. Pfeiffer’s talents, such as they are, don’t include skills making him suitable for his position there.

WC will choose to pass on another Tale from Wasilla: the violent home invasion allegedly committed by Beauford Horman, Jared Blackmore,  and Joe A. Garcia. Reportedly, Jared Blackmore was angry at the female victim because she had “refused to shake his hand.” WC doesn’t want to paint with too broad a brush here, but it’s not clear to WC exactly what values the parents and schools in the Mat Su Valley teach their kids. WC could write a post every day on the criminals, thugs and idiots in the Valley, and never run out of material. Maybe it’s time for responsible citizens there to unwrap themselves from the American flag and religious hypocrisy and do some serious self-reflection?

You think WC is exaggerating? Wasilly Ray Pursche went all the way to the Alaska Supreme Court claiming that he didn’t owe property taxes because he derived title to his land through a federal patent. Set aside the complete silliness of such a claim; the Alaska Supreme Court had no problem throwing the claim out. What supports WC’s position on our friends in the Valley is the utter selfishness of such a claim. Effectively, Mr. Pursche is saying that he wants all of the advantages of municipal services without paying for them. And he wants the benefits of a democracy without having to be bound by the actions of a democracy if he disagrees with the outcome. It’s not even a form of anarchy; it’s pure, simple selfishness. Not all the good citizens of Mat Su Borough are so greedy and self-centered, but there seem to be an appalling number of them.

Patent Medicine, via Library of Congress

Patent Medicine, via Library of Congress

Idaho’s Governor Butch Otter lacks the cajones of Alaska’s Governor Bill Walker, and as a result Medicaid expansion hasn’t happened in the Gem State yet. The Idaho Legislature flopped around like a gaffed halibut on the issue, rejecting Governor Otter’s lame-ass substitute and then did a “will he/won’t he” through the whole session. It would be amusing except that Idaho’s refusal to act imperils some 78,000 Idahoans who make too much for Medicaid but not enough to afford subsidized health insurance. The Republican supermajority in both houses of the Idaho Legislature doesn’t have a good reason to turn away the federal dollars, except, you know, Obamacare. But they did. There are special circles in Dante’s Hell reserved for this kind of evil.

Their colleagues, the Republican majority coalitions in the Alaska House and Senate apparently woke up last Friday morning and noticed that Alaska will pay $825 million in cash tax credit payments to oil companies and in return receive $690 million in petroleum tax revenues. If you or WC ran a con where you took $100 from a mark and gave him $84 in return, you could expect to be indicted for criminal fraud. But the Alaska Legislature has let Alaskans be defrauded out of millions and didn’t even notice. Or maybe they were paid in generous campaign contributions not to notice? Or work in the oil industry, and were serving their employers and not the voters. Some of us have thought SB 21 was a fiscal disaster for Alaskans from Day 1. Even before there were billion dollar deficits.

It looks like Alaska’s Yellow Cedar may be headed for the endangered species list. There’s no final decision yet, but the species is disappearing from extensive tracts of Southeast Alaska. The leading culprit for the cause of the extirpation is climate change: there’s no longer snow to insulate the tree’s roots. Without the insulation, a hard cold snap freezes the tree’s roots and kills it. The Fish & Wildlife Service reports,

The primary threat described in the petition (and in references cited in the petition) is widespread mortality of yellow-cedar trees resulting from freezing of shallow roots after the trees have broken winter dormancy in the spring. This is currently understood to be caused by lack of snow cover during late winter, triggering early de-hardening of the trees and their root systems, followed by hard freezes when there is no insulating layer of snow. This threat is believed to be a result of climate change, with warmer late-winter conditions occurring now than when individual yellow-cedar stands were initiated.

As was the case with Alaska’s poster child for global warming, the Polar Bear, the only way to possibly recover Yellow Cedar will be to preserve, intact, large chunks of its habitat. Which means additional protection for Tongass National Forest, a very small silver lining to a very dark cloud. But Yellow Cedar won’t be the last species threatened by anthropogenic climate change. Merely the latest.

Enough, already. This seriousness and responsibility is killing WC. WC’s gonna go photograph birds.