Alaska Politics Blog

This is the place to talk about Alaska politics, state, local, national. Public life in the Last Frontier has rarely been more interesting -- a full slate of federal and state elections, the influence of former Gov. Sarah Palin, the usual hardball Alaska politics. Come here for news, tidbits and information, and join the discussion. We encourage lively debate, but please keep it civil and stay on point. Don't use profanity, make crude comments or attack other posters. Posts that violate the Terms of Use will be deleted. Repeat offenders will lose their ability to post comments.

New Senate organization announced - 11/7/2012 12:48 pm

Homer Revealed - 8/22/2012 2:08 pm

Seven-day countdown - 5/25/2012 8:37 pm

Anchorage city clerk resigns (UPDATED) - 5/23/2012 10:51 am

Gara to seek re-election - 5/2/2012 2:04 pm

For one lawmaker: Good news - 4/27/2012 12:20 pm

Anticipation in the Capitol - 4/26/2012 11:38 am

Election Commission finds 1/2 of precincts ran out of ballots; recommends no investigation - 4/25/2012 5:08 pm

Parnell tells oil crowd he wants to cut their taxes, get feds out of the way

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –

Gov. Sean Parnell continued to bash the federal government Tuesday and said he’s lobbying legislators to pass his proposal for a major reduction in how much the state taxes oil companies.

Parnell on Tuesday morning gave the opening address at the Alaska Oil and Gas Congress, an annual petroleum trade gathering being held at the Marriott Hotel in Anchorage.

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Alaska delegation reacts to Obama jobs speech

AP Photo/J. Scott ApplewhiteAP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Alaska's congressional delegation was quick to respond to President Obama's speech Thursday on jobs and the economy.

The Republicans were critical and the Democrat was upbeat. Each issued a written statement:

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Proposal would ban accused rapists from driving cabs

By KYLE HOPKINS
khopkins@adn.com

Assemblyman Dick Traini is proposing a change to city law that would ban accused rapists from driving taxicabs — even before they get their day in court.

The plan first appeared before the Assembly Tuesday night and is scheduled for a public hearing Sept. 13, the city clerk says. As written, it would allow the city to suspend cab drivers charged by police with a sexual assault.

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Airships in Alaska?

Time to try this again?Time to try this again?

From Kyle Hopkins –

Stay with me on this. What if fuel arrived in remote Alaska villages by airship instead of barge?

What if you didn’t need ice roads to distant oil and gas projects because you could fly in your heavy equipment latched to a giant dirigible?

Those are some of the ideas behind a two-day meeting called “Cargo Airships for Northern Operations” that started this morning at UAA. How pie-in-the-sky are they? Hard to say, but Pete Worden, director for NASA's Ames Research Center in California is a believer:

“By the end of this decade, there will be a reasonable number of air ships – maybe tens, maybe hundreds, used in many places in the U.S., particularly Alaska,” Worden said.

Here's what a modern airship looks like, according to Montreal-based Discovery Air Innovations, one of the sponsors of the meeting.

Concept art of a hybrid air vehicle at an Arctic oil rig, courtesy of Discovery Air Innovations. The first ship Hybrid Air Vehicles delivers to Discovery Air is expected to carry 50 tons and measure just under 400 feet long.Concept art of a hybrid air vehicle at an Arctic oil rig, courtesy of Discovery Air Innovations. The first ship Hybrid Air Vehicles delivers to Discovery Air is expected to carry 50 tons and measure just under 400 feet long.

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State expected to cover Knik bridge costs

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –

Consultants on the billion-dollar Knik Arm bridge project were pretty clear today the financial plan for the bridge is for the state to foot the bill for any difference between how much money is collected in tolls and how much the private developer will be paid.

“Any difference between tolls and the (developer’s) payment -- that is made up by the state,” said Grant Holland, vice president for Wilbur Smith Associates, which did the traffic forecast.

The question is whether the Legislature agrees to put the state on the hook for a project that had earlier been pitched as not requiring any more state government money. Wasilla Sen. Linda Menard did introduce a bill this spring to give an initial $150 million in state money for the project, as well as another bill to make bridge financial obligations into “obligations of the state.” The bills will be considered in the coming legislative session.

Holland and an executive from Citigroup this morning discussed the project with the technical advisory committee for AMATS, a city-state planning board for Anchorage transportation projects. At least some of the committee members were skeptical of the project and irritated that no one from the Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority was there to answer questions.

KABATA chief financial officer Kevin Hemenway attended the first 20 minutes but left, citing a commitment.

The committee members said they need information on the financial plan for the bridge because it is a requirement of the Federal Highway Administration for projects that are included in AMATS’ long-term plan. They said they are planning to ask Hemenway to come back and speak to them next week.

Citigroup executive David Livingstone told the committee the construction is $715 million, with a cost of $1.063 billion including associated expenses.

KABATA is currently looking for a private developer who would borrow money to pay for the bridge construction and operate the bridge in exchange for payments from KABATA. The amount of the payments would be determined as part of the bid process for a developer. The idea is KABATA would make the payments using tolls drivers pay to use the bridge ($5 each way, with the cost of the tolls rising 2.5 percent each year.)

The initial $150 million requested from the state is meant to cover the shortfall between the expected toll revenue and the payments to the developer in the first few years of operation. The executives from Citigroup and Wilbur Smith Associates said the bridge should then break even, and eventually start creating excess money the state can use for other projects.

Jamie Kenworthy, a bridge critic and former director of the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation, argued that’s all based on unrealistic assumptions, including that there will be 36,000 trips a day by 2035 over the toll bridge between Anchorage and what is now mostly undeveloped Mat-Su land near Point Mackenzie.

The Wilbur Smith study for the project figures there will be 26 percent more households in the Mat-Su than the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Anchorage forecasts, he said.

Wilbur Smith vice president Holland, who described his company as “one of the premier traffic and revenue consultants in the world,” responded that it’s staking its reputation on the study.

The Knik Arm bridge project has challenges other than the willingness of the Legislature to appropriate money.

The financial plan includes federal loan funds that have yet to be authorized, and the Municipality of Anchorage has sued over the design of the project.

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School budget vote tonight

From Rosemary Shinohara --

The Anchorage Assembly is expected to decide tonight whether the school district can raise its total spending limit for the 2011-2012 school year -- which started today for students, and last week for teachers.

The district is receiving unexpected grants from the state, including a $6 million, one-time grant to offset high energy costs.

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North Slope exploration renews oil tax debate

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –

Gov. Sean Parnell is getting ready to resume his push to roll back Alaska’s oil tax while supporters of the tax are pointing to news of increased exploration and jobs on the North Slope.

The latest report getting attention from lawmakers came from Petroleum News. It reported in an Aug. 14 article that “operators on the North Slope and nearshore Beaufort Sea are preparing for what promises to be one of the busiest exploration seasons since 1969, when 33 exploration wells were drilled following the discovery of the Prudhoe Bay oil field.”

Legislators opposed to Parnell’s attempt to lower oil taxes forwarded the article by email with comments like “amazing news” and “great article.” But advocates of lowering the tax say exploration does not necessarily mean production, and that the tax dissuades companies from investing in the development of Alaska fields instead of elsewhere in the world.

Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said Monday the governor will continue to push for lower oil taxes when the next session of the Alaska Legislature begins in Juneau in January.

Fairbanks Democratic Sen. Joe Paskvan sent a statement to the press soon after the Petroleum News article first appeared. Paskvan is among the skeptics in the state Senate who blocked Parnell’s tax cut.

“It appears that Alaska’s tax credits under its production tax system are working to promote capital expenditures, including new exploration wells. Good news for the industry and the state, which relies upon the industry for revenues to its treasury. Exploration should mean increased oil production and increased throughput down the pipeline,” he said.

Paskvan went on to say he didn’t want to be overly optimistic and wanted to learn more from the companies, but that “this is strong evidence that the independents in the oil industry are both looking at Alaska as a place to do business and that they are actually coming to Alaska to develop our abundant oil resources.”

The Petroleum News reported that, if all goes as planned, as many as 28 exploration could be drilled between October 2011 and mid-2012. The trade industry publication cited exploration by Brooks Range Petroleum Corp., UltraStar Exploration, Repsol, Linc Energy and Great Bear Petroleum.

Leighow, the Parnell spokeswoman, on Monday sent a statement from the governor saying that such exploration is “great news” but that Alaska also needs to get a big financial investment in the currently producing fields just to maintain the existing level of flow in the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

The flow of oil through the pipeline has been declining since 1988 and is now at about 600,000 barrels per day. Parnell has said he would like to see production up to a million barrels a day within a decade, which he figured would require a $4 billion annual investment from the companies instead of $2.5 billion now.

“If we don't see renewed investment in the legacy fields to keep production on a slow decline, any new discoveries are going to be entering a pipeline with substantially reduced throughput and, therefore, higher tariffs. We need more than new exploration to keep the pipeline full (enough) and functioning well,” Parnell said.

Parnell’s bill, which the Department of Revenue estimated could result in more than $8 billion in lost production tax revenue to the state over the next five years, passed the Alaska House of Representatives this spring. But state senators resisted and the bill didn’t make it very far in the Senate.

Parnell’s plan still has little support in the Senate. Some senators cite Alaska Department of Labor employment figures that show oil industry employment up around record levels.

The Senate Finance Committee has paid for a review of what is happening with oil employment in Alaska, including data showing nearly half the North Slope jobs go to nonresidents. The review, by the McDowell Group of Juneau, is supposed to be turned in to the Legislature in December.

Advocates for lowering Alaska’s tax attribute the increased jobs to maintenance, rather than production, and say Alaska is missing out on the kind of drilling boom enjoyed by North Dakota.

Anchorage Sen. Lesil McGuire said Monday she's seeking an effective way to get some certainty that the companies would reinvest any Alaska tax reductions in the state.

McGuire said she’s heard from oil companies that Alaska has a good tax structure when it comes to exploration, but that at high oil prices the state takes too big of a bite from production in comparison to other places they could develop.

Senate President Gary Stevens said he’s interested to see if there might be “compromise between what the governor might be thinking and what we’re thinking” in the Senate.

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Federal coordinator and TransCanada to testify on gasline

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –

There will be a lot of natural gas pipeline talk in Anchorage over the next several days, with TransCanada and the federal coordinator for the project among those who will be giving presentations on the viability of actually building the pipeline.

The federal coordinator for the Alaska gasline project, Larry Persily, will kick it all off on Friday with a presentation to the public policy group Commonwealth North. Commonwealth North says Persily will give an update on the viability of the effort to bring North Slope natural gas to North American markets.

He'll meet with Commonwealth North’s “Energy Action Coalition” from noon to 1 p.m. in the ANGDA conference room at 411 West 4th Avenue in Anchorage.

Then the state Senate Resources Committee will start three days of natural gas pipeline hearings Monday in Anchorage. The first day will include a presentation from Dan Fauske, who is working on a proposed in-state natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to Southcentral for customers inside Alaska.

TransCanada’s Tony Palmer will testify to the committee Tuesday about how his company's state-subsidized effort to build an Alaska gasline through Canada to the Lower 48 market is going.

Tuesday will also include presentations on the Cook Inlet gas supply.

Then Persily will speak Wednesday morning to the resources committee, which will also be taking public testimony from 1:30 to 4:30 that afternoon. The committee meetings will be held at the Anchorage Legislative Information office at 716 W 4th Ave.

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Murkowski convenes meeting after Yukon-Charley controversy

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –

Sen. Lisa Murkowski is bringing together the state attorney general and the superintendent of the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve following the controversy over how the National Park Service has enforced boating regulations in the preserve.

Murkowski is describing it as a roundtable discussion to “address jurisdictional issues on navigable waterways within federal lands in Alaska.” Congressman Don Young put a provision in the House version of the Interior Department budget bill seeking to forbid the National Park Service from enforcing regulations on waters in the Yukon-Charley preserve.

Young says he wants to stop the kind of boat safety inspections that led to a confrontation between rangers and a 70-year-old Central resident in September. The Park Service argues the language is so broad that it could open the preserve to dredge mining and close it to subsistence fishing.

Murkowski is holding the panel discussion next Monday at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

She says it will include Yukon-Charley Superintendent Greg Dudgeon, Alaska Attorney General John Burns, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Geoff Haskett, Alaska Department of Natural Resources Deputy Commissioner Ed Fogels and senior state natural resources lawyer Elizabeth Barry.

Young asserts "the Park Service in Alaska has become, very frankly, like, I would say, an occupied army of a free territory." He maintains the Yukon River is state water and that the Park Service has no business enforcing its rules there.

The Parnell administration made that same argument when it filed a friend of the court brief in the case of the Central man, Jim Wilde, who was jailed after a confrontation with rangers on the river last September.

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Proposed city sidewalk rule: Stand. Play guitar. Just don't sit.

From Rosemary Shinohara in Anchorage --

At an Assembly work session today, city attorney Dennis Wheeler explained some of the provisions of the administration's proposal to prohibit sitting or lying on sidewalks except in certain situations. It goes to the Assembly Tuesday, with a public hearing after 6 p.m. in Assembly chambers at the library.

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Young raises $88,000 for campaign, remains unopposed

From Erika Bolstad in Washington D.C. --

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, reported raising $88,828 over the past three months, according to campaign filings with the Federal Election Commission.

The campaign spent $44,574 during that period, leaving $266,462 in the bank. Young, first elected in 1973, is so far unopposed going into the 2012 election.

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Begich holding live chat on the deficit

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –

Alaska Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, who has been calling on Congress to raise the debt ceiling, is hosting an online live chat on the federal budget on Wednesday. He says he’ll answer questions and “gather thoughts” of Alaskans on how to control the budget.

Begich’s office says people can participate live on on his Facebook, Twitter (#AskBegich) and his UStream channel. It starts at 6 p.m. Alaska time.

You can sign up on his website to get a reminder email 30 minutes before the chat starts with instructions on how to join and ask questions.

Begich spoke on the Senate floor last week about the budget, saying that if Congress doesn't go ahead and vote to raise the federal debt limit it could “send the economy into a tailspin.”

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New Alaska poll on Palin (updated)

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –

There's another poll out that says former Gov. Sarah Palin has an approval rating of less than 40 percent among Alaskans.

The latest poll was released today but taken in mid-June. It’s by Ivan Moore Research of Anchorage.

The Moore poll gives Palin a 39 percent positive rating and 49 percent negative rating among Alaskans. Twelve percent said they were neutral.

Moore said it was a statewide poll of 647 registered voters and he gives a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent. Respondents were contacted on landlines and cell phones, according to Moore.

The results are similar to other polling on Palin in Alaska, although a Dittman poll in March had higher negatives for her.

That poll by Dittman Research of Anchorage found 36 percent favorable to her in Alaska and 61 percent unfavorable.

The Dittman poll was of the public at large, while the Moore poll was of registered voters.

A poll by Hays Research of Anchorage last month said Barack Obama would beat Sarah Palin among Alaskans if they were running against one another for president. That Hays poll found 42 percent of Alaska voters would pick or lean toward Obama in a head to head race with Palin. It said 36 percent of Alaska voters would choose or lean toward Palin.

Sixteen percent of the respondents said they were undecided and another 7 percent volunteered a different candidate.

UPDATE --Moore says his pollsters also asked the 49 percent of Alaska respondents who were negative about Palin to name one issue or main reason that contributed to their bad feelings.

He said the top reason given was that Palin quit as governor, with 22 percent picking it. He said the next most common answer, from 11 percent, was a perceived lack of intellect.

Moore said other top reasons cited included inexperience and desire for the spotlight.

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Legislators enthusiastic about in-state gas pipeline

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –

Legislators are pretty excited about today's release of a report on what it would take for them to build an in-state pipeline to bring North Slope natural gas to Interior and Southcentral Alaska.

As skepticism grows about the prospects a big natural gas pipeline to export Alaska’s natural gas to the Lower 48 will happen anytime soon, lawmakers are increasingly turning their attention to the idea of a smaller in-state line just for Alaskan consumers.

It wouldn’t be cheap.

Previous estimates have figured a 24-inch line from the North Slope to tidewater in Southcentral Alaska would cost a $4 billion to build, not counting essential gas-handling and other facilities. Those would raise the total price to between $5.7 billion and $11.8 billion.

Alaska lacks the customer base to support such a project without a big state subsidy.

Petroleum economics consultant Roger Marks put out a report in February suggesting the state subsidy would have to cover at least $4.2 billion of the cost -- or more if there were cost overruns.

Marks suggested in his report that the state could be better off putting its money into pursuing hydroelectric (like the Susitna dam) or potentially using such a big subsidy to increase the chances for a natural gas pipeline to export gas to the Lower 48, a project that would bring in far more money to the state.

But legislators are losing patience with the dream of a gas pipeline to the Lower 48 and say Fairbanks, in particular, badly needs lower cost energy.

The report being release at 1 p.m. today was prepared by Dan Fauske of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. The Legislature in 2010 put Fauske in charge of the “Alaska Gasline Development Corporation” effort. The report is supposed to address the viability of the project and how to make it happen.

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Parnell budget vetoes coming this afternoon

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage ---

Gov. Sean Parnell plans to make at least $400 million in budget vetoes this afternoon.

Interest groups from around the state have been lobbying the governor’s office in an attempt to protect their stuff from getting cut.

Parnell will announce at 1:30 p.m. just what he’ll cut from the capital budget (which stands at between $3.2 billion and $4 billion depending on how you count it.)

He may also do some vetoes from the $12 billion operating budget that pays for state services.

The Legislature’s spending reached historic levels this year. Spending in the capital budget includes $37.5 million for the troubled Anchorage port expansion project, $34 million for the new University of Alaska Anchorage arena, and $2 million to help the declining Great Alaska Shootout basketball tournament.

It includes $220 million to help do work toward a possible small-diameter natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to Southcentral Alaska, and $100 million (four times more than Parnell asked for) in home energy rebate and weatherization money.

Other big projects include $28.5 million for expanding the Blue Lake hydroelectric project in Sitka and $17.6 million to start work on the Chikuminik hydro project near Bethel. There’s $65 million for work toward the proposed Susitna River dam but Parnell supports that money and won’t veto it.

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Parnell would veto bill to save coastal management program

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –

Gov. Sean Parnell says he will veto the bill keeping the state's coastal management program alive if the Legislature passes it.

“He said he would veto the bill in its current form,” said Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighow.

Parnell said at a Resource Development Council luncheon in Anchorage today that it’s too late to meaningfully save the program, which expires on Friday if the state doesn't act before then.

The state House is in a special session in a last ditch effort to keep the program alive.

The Senate last night passed the bill and is now waiting on the House to act.

But Parnell said all but five of the 33 employees in the coastal management program have left for other jobs because the Legislature could not agree on a compromise to keep it alive during the 90-day regular session that ended in April or a month-long special session that immediately followed.

“The reality is that ACMP is decimated. There is no physical ability at this point with existing personnel to meaningfully process consistency review applications,” Parnell told the Resource Development Council crowd.

He said jobs would be lost if oil or mining projects were held up because they had to be reviewed by a coastal management program with little staff. The oil and gas support industry Alliance and the mining trade association are also lobbying against the bill.

Legislative supporters of the program say Parnell is to blame to the mess, and that he hasn't been engaged in finding a solution. They say the state could figure out how to make it work, perhaps having other agencies do review work on permits until the coastal management program can be restaffed.

Parnell said he was engaged in working out a compromise during the regular legislative session this spring but the Senate rejected it after it unanimously passed the House.

Senators said it was too weak and didn't really represent a compromise.

They wanted a version with more local input into resource development decisions, and that factored in "local knowledge" when the decisions were being made. It's been a huge issue for Arctic coastal communities and the legislators who represent them.

Alaska has had a coastal management program since the 1970's under the federal Coastal Zone Management Act. Alaska would be the first state to ever drop the program, which provides state input into federal activities.

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Poll shows Alaskans would vote for Obama over Palin

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –

A new Hays Research poll shows Barack Obama would beat Sarah Palin among Alaskans if the presidential election was today.

The poll found 42 percent of Alaskan voters would pick or are learning toward Obama in a head to head race against Palin for the presidency, while 36 percent of the voters would choose or are leaning toward Palin over him.

Conservative Anchorage radio host Mike Porcaro paid for Hays Research to ask the question.

“Sarah Palin showcases her Alaska roots at every opportunity, but the surprising reality is she has become highly unpopular in her home state,” Porcaro said in an emailed statement.

“Whether it is the fact she left office after serving barely two years or that some Alaskans believe her tax policies have punished our vital oil and gas industry or the ‘rock star’ nature of her media coverage, these results show Sarah Palin would lose to Obama in Alaska, where voters overwhelmingly support conservative candidates,” Porcaro said.

Porcaro hosts an afternoon show on KENI AM and owns an Anchorage advertising agency.

Hays Research of Anchorage polled 500 Alaskans statewide who voted in at least two of the four statewide elections. The poll was on June 21st and June 22nd.

It asked:

“Although it is some time from now, thinking about the election for President of the United States next year, if the election were held today and the candidates were Democrat Barack Obama or Republican Sarah Palin, for whom would you vote or are you undecided?”

Respondents who had “strong” views favored Obama 34 percent to Palin’s 25 percent.

Obama’s margin goes to 42 percent versus 36 percent to Palin when voters who described their views as “not so strong,” or just leaning a particular way were added in to the results.

Sixteen percent of the respondents said they were undecided and another 7 percent volunteered a different candidate.

Hays gives the margin of error at 4.4 percent.

The last time Alaska voters favored a Democrat for president was Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

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Mike Doogan back in the hospital

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –

Anchorage Rep. Mike Doogan is in Seattle for treatment related to his brain tumor surgery last year and isn’t going to be able to attend the special session on coastal management.

House Democratic staffer Aurora Hauke said Doogan entered Harborview Medical Center on Saturday.

The details weren’t immediately available.

“Duration of his treatment is unknown but the prognosis for his recovery is good,” Hauke said in a written statement.

Doogan had surgery last summer for a benign brain tumor, a meningioma.

The surgery initially left him with cognitive difficulties but during this spring’s legislative session he appeared back to normal.

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Ireland ambassador wants to meet Alaska's Irish tomorrow

Foreign diplomats take a class photo at Alyeska Resort during their Alaska visit Wednesday. Somewhere in there is Ireland's ambassador, who wants to meet with Alaska's Irish and Irish-Americans tomorrow. (Photo courtesy of the State Department)Foreign diplomats take a class photo at Alyeska Resort during their Alaska visit Wednesday. Somewhere in there is Ireland's ambassador, who wants to meet with Alaska's Irish and Irish-Americans tomorrow. (Photo courtesy of the State Department)

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

All those ambassadors touring Alaska this week will soon head home -- or at least back to Washington D.C. -- following a four-day field trip/junket/vacation across the state.

One diplomat, Irish ambassador to the U.S. Michael Collins, is sticking around Saturday and hopes to meet Irish and Irish-Americans here in Anchorage.

Collins plans to be at Kaladi Brothers Cafe at Title Wave Books, 1360 W. Northern Lights Blvd., from 9 to 11 a.m. tomorrow. He will also be at the Alaska Scottish Highland Games from 12:30 to 4 p.m. at the Eagle River Lions Park.

Meantime, Ugandan ambassador Perezi K. Kamunanwire, who wasn't big on the Alaska cod they served in Anchorage, finally got that red meat he was looking for.

Barrow residents made the Ugandan diplomat a special plate of moose meat during the ambassadors' visit Thursday, a State Department spokesman said.

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Redistricting pushes French to start campaigning a year early

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage --

The Alaska Democratic Party is trying to decide whether to sue over the state’s new redistricting plan. But Sen. Hollis French says he’s already about to start campaigning in his new district to get ready for the legislative elections in the fall of 2012.

“I’m going to start introducing myself to the people in my new district as soon as I can,” the Anchorage Democrat said.

French said his new district “is a little more conservative than the one I’m in.”

French, who was elected to the Senate after the last redistricting ten years ago, now has a district that runs east-west along Northern Lights roughly from C Street to the airport. His new district in the redistricting plan runs more north and south in the area of Jewel Lake road.

Alaska Democratic Party Executive Director Kay Brown has not responded to repeated phone messages this week about the party's redistricting plans. But Party Chair Patti Higgins told the Associated Press that a lawsuit is under consideration.

Others, like Alaskans for Fair Redistricting (a coalition of labor unions and Native Corporations), might also sue over the plan.

“I think a lot of people right now are sort of looking at the maps and trying to figure out which districts are the most ripe for a challenge, and can the interested parties who are considering bringing challenges link up and form a united legal front,” French said.

The deadline to file lawsuits over the plan is July 13. French said he’s not waiting for any possible court action to be resolved before starting to campaign.

“There are going to be some tweaks to this at some point down the line but it would be foolish of me to wait for that to happen…it’s a big district and there are a lot of new people,” he said.

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