Alaska Ear: Empty seat (12/2/12)

December 2, 2012 

EMPTY SEAT ... The chit-chat is building over who wants Harriet Drummond's Assembly seat, and who the divided Assembly is likely to appoint.

Drummond just won election to the Legislature from District 16. Her Assembly term expires in 2014. This means the Assembly has to appoint someone to keep her seat warm from January, when she becomes a legislator, to April 2, when who- ever wants her seat gets to run for it in the muni election. The winner of that election gets to serve only one year, until Drummond's original term expires. Then they have to run again.

Is it just Ear, or does this seem like a lot of fuss for a thankless job?

Anyhow, lists are circulating. Names reported by earwigs include: Mark Butler, Matt Claman, (former assemblyman and mayor for a minute), Jimmy Crawford, Cheryl Frasca, Phil Isley, Pat Redmond, Steve Straight, Tim Steele, Liz Vasquez, Lisa Vaught , and Jim Kubitz (a former assemblyman). A bunch of assemblymembers are trying to talk Eric Croft into applying but word is he's more interested in the School Board. Former Assemblyman Charles Wohlforth was on the list, but he told Ear he's not interested.

We'll just have to wait until Dec. 31, end of the sign-up period, to see who's really interested. (Applications open on the 10th.)

ORGANIC GOSSIP ... Is there any truth to the persistent rumor that Whole Foods is coming to Anchorage? Ear neither knows nor cares but this is one of those things people who cook get frighteningly excited about.

Really, d'Ears, it's just food. Calm down.

Anyhow, here's what earwigs report: Joe Rogoff, the company's Pacific Northwest regional president, wrote in an email that he visited here in September and plans a follow-up visit in late spring "to get some idea of the area, who's there, and whether it looked like a place that Whole Foods could be successful. ... I toured the city pretty extensively, stopped in every grocery store I saw, and went out to Wasilla and down to the Girdwood area."

(He needs to get over the idea of Wasilla right now.)

Rabbit Creek cookbook writer/blogger Laurie Constantino is threatening to organize a "Whole Foods Now!" committee. Other earwigs claim the decision has been made and the company will be opening a store in the Sears Mall. Seems unlikely though, unless Sears or Carrs are planning to move. Those are the only spaces big enough, right?

IT'S HEEEERE ... There's no question the 2014 U.S. Senate race has begun. Have you seen the don't-tax-energy TV ads that are running for Begich as he begins the inevitable campaign slide to the right? (We all remember how well that worked for Lisa. Moderate GOPers and Democrats had to rescue her in the write-in.)

On the other side, sort- of declared Republican candidate, Lite Gov. Mead Treadwell, is like Waldo -- you can find him in every crowd. This week he guest-hosted a radio squawk show in Anchorage. Today he'll be singing in the annual Anchorage Community Messiah Chorus and Choir. To be fair, he's done this before and it's a really fun event. At West High, 2 p.m. Sponsored by the Anchorage Concert Choir.

DRINK UP ... Apple cider, that is. The governor's Christmas party for the people of Juneau is set for Dec. 11. It's also a late birthday party for the gov, who turned 50 last week.

Turns out they used to serve rum punch at these events. Dorothy Gruening's was "quite famous," according to Carol Sturgulewski's book, "White House of the North."

Today we have to be oh so politically correct. But there are still 20,000 cookies to be had.

A QUESTION ... Where did Rep. Bob Herron of Bethel get that fabulous barong?

He got it during a recent "state visit" to Manila and the Aklan Province in the Philippine Islands with a group that included his wife, Margaret, Rep. Cathy Munoz of Juneau, and Jenny Strickler, Honorary Philippine Consul to Alaska. The trip was to aid trade or whatever.

Turns out a barong is a ceremonial shirt made of pineapple stalks.

OUT AND ABOUT ... The Swing Bar at Chilkoot's was -- well -- swinging Friday night as hundreds of friends helped owner Mike Gordon celebrate his 70th birthday. Tommy Rocker was the entertainment at the invitation-only event. Mike has owned the popular bar for 42 years.

ON THE MOVE ... Paula Swanson, long-time aide to Rep. Mike Hawker, is leaving the Legislature for a new branch of government: the governor's office. Earwigs report she'll be Parnell's deputy legislative director starting in January.

Assemblywoman Elvi Gray-Jackson was in Boston this week, getting elected to the board of directors of the National League of Cities.

DOUBLE FEATURE ... Just as slow lobes figured out the announced opening date for "The Frozen Ground" -- Nov. 30 -- wasn't going to happen, news arrived that another Hollywood movie with Alaska connections is being shot. The working title is "50 to 1." It's about Mine That Bird, the miracle horse that stunned everyone by winning the 2009 Kentucky Derby. Production is in New Mexico.

Huh, you say? What's that got to do with Alaska?

Surely you remember the owner of Mine That Bird --Veco Bill Allen's little boy Mark. Actor Christian Kane will play Mark.

Director Jim Wilson is a legitimate big-timer -- "Bodyguard" and "Dances with Wolves" are two of his hits.

A casting call for 50 extras went out in September.

Hmmm. A serial killer and the son of a corrupter. Do we think an admirable Alaskan will ever be the subject of a modern Hollywood movie?

WE'RE NUMBER 6 ... The governor was so excited about us being named the sixth best run state in the Union this week that he put out a press release. Was Ear wrong to be the tiniest bit skeptical?

Let's see: The surveyors deemed North Dakota No. 1, followed by Wyoming, Nebraska, Utah ... hmmm.

Why did we rank high? Low taxes, lots of "active extraction of abundant energy resources," relatively low poverty, etc. But we have the second highest debt per capita.

Wonder who did the survey?

An outfit called "24/7 Wall Street."


Compiled by Sheila Toomey. Message Sheila at

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