Alaska Ear

The divine appendage

May 9, 2009 

WHO KNEW ... They had a remembrance service Friday for police officers who have died in the line of duty. As they do on these occasions, they played taps. And who was the bugler? Mayor Matt Claman.

REAL MAVERICKS ... The defection of Arlen Specter to the Democrats prompted the N.Y. Times to compile a list of the 10 U.S. senators who most often defy party marching orders. Seven are Republicans, three are Democrats.

Specter was only fourth on the list. No. 1 was, of course, Olympia Snowe, long-time Republican maverick from Maine. This year she voted against her Republican colleagues nearly half the time (46 percent). The other Maine senator, Susan Collins, was second (41 percent).

Specter, in fourth place, voted against his now ex-party 35 percent of the time.

And in seventh position, our own Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who broke with her bosses 24 percent of the time.

Real Alaskans don't take orders.

NOT UPLIFTING ... Andree McLeod, the Anchorage activist who's usually busy second-guessing the governor's ethics, is unhappy with the way some state workers dress. In an e-mail to administration commish Annette Kreitzer, Andree allowed as how she's "astounded at the amount and magnitude of cleavage being exhibited by female employees in State of Alaska offices these days. Upon entering an office, I'm initially embarrassed when subjected to such low cut tops. ...The negative impact this all has on the business I have to conduct is not to my benefit. I leave the office feeling offended."

And, in a follow-up to Mike Nizich, the governor's chief of staff, she noted, "That's a lot of pressure to put on guys, whether they are members of the public or colleagues, to just ignore the fact that these women are wearing tops with breasts popping out. ... and not cross the lines."

A restrained Kreitzer sent Andree the state dress code, which includes: "Clothing that reveals too much cleavage, your back, chest, upper thighs, stomach, or underwear is not appropriate."

YET ANOTHER ONE ... Todd Purdham, a writer for Vanity Fair magazine, has been in Alaska for a couple of weeks, working on a story about our Sarah. Earwigs report he chatted with Wally during a stop in Anchorage, presumably about Wally's brief fling (politically speaking) with Palin, followed by his current disenchantment.

Purdham, a former New York Times reporter, is married to Dee Dee Myers, White House press secretary for Bill Clinton. If Google is any measure, Purdham is best known for a not-very-flattering story last year about ole Bubba that was criticized for resting on a multitude of unnamed sources.

Frankly, it's hard to imagine there's anything left to say about Sarah, sourced or not.

THE BEST REVENGE ... This comes from Wednesday's Roll Call, the Capitol Hill paper: "No Tear in His Beer. Post-Congress life is looking pretty good for former Sen. Ted Stevens. An HOH (Heard on the Hill) spy saw the Alaska Republican greeting well-wishers and quaffing a drink Saturday night at the Off the Record bar located in the Hay-Adams hotel. Stevens, wearing a suit and accompanied by an older gentleman, was drinking what appeared to be a dark beer from a tall pilsner glass, our tipster says."

An "older" gentleman?

SO THERE ... The euphoria of Mine That Bird's spectacular Kentucky Derby win still hasn't worn off -- and Ear is not talking about the owners. Mine That Bird is the son of Birdstone, the Triple Crown spoiler who beat Smarty Jones in the 2004 Belmont Stakes, and is owned by our own John Hendrickson and his wife, Mary Lou Whitney. Birdstone's Belmont win was dismissed as a fluke until his children started winning races, with Mine that Bird taking the biggest race of all in one of the most exciting runs ever. (Even if you're not a race fan, check it out on YouTube).

An immediate result of the win: Birdstone's stud fee is skyward bound.

LANDMARK ... That big noise in Anchorage Friday was the party for Helen Nienhueser, celebrating her first 50 years in Alaska. The author of "55 Ways to the Wilderness in Southcentral Alaska" arrived here in 1959 from New Jersey in a dusty station wagon, pulling a trailer, to homestead in Eagle River. In addition to her book (an updated edition is available), Helen is best known for her years with Alaska Common Ground and the Alaska Conservation Foundation. She was also a big noise in the fight over the park around Loussac Library.

BIG SWITCH ... Marc Antrim, commissioner of corrections in the Murkowski administration, is now a rep for the corrections union. Didn't the Murkowski folks eliminate most rehab programs in Alaska prisons? So, is this a good sign?

KUDOS ... Winner of the Department of Fish and Game exceptional employee performance award: former ADN reporter Elizabeth Manning.

ON THE MOVE ... Earwigs report Elizabeth Arnold, one of Alaska's many former reporters who went on to stardom at NPR, has been hired as a journalism prof at UAA.

HUH? ... An earwig reports hearing a TV ad for some show at the new convention center several times on a local station. Now, darlings, Ear agrees Dena'ina is an unusual kind of name. But "go see the show at the Denial Center" is really lame.

Compiled by Sheila Toomey. E-mail Find Ear online at

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