Alaska Ear

Sheila Toomey

OOPS ... At a Senate Finance Committee hearing Monday to consider a bill about the proposed Knik Arm Bridge, the folks pushing it (KABATA) handed out a printed "history" of the bridge project. Earwigs report one of the photos included was a shot from Point MacKenzie, looking toward the Chugach Mountains. The caption read: This is what you will see as you drive back to Anchorage "from your day of business with the legislature at the capital in Willow."

Uh-oh. Old photo. Very old and rejected capital move initiative from the 1980s. Wrong audience for that mistake.

Committee member Sen. Dennis Egan of Juneau hit the roof. Not a good way to ask for his vote, Egan suggested.

Reports an earwig: Chairman Bert Stedman of Sitka/Ketchikan then used his gavel to adjourn the meeting "like a drummer in a rock band."

NOT MINE ... A funny thing happened to Bella Hammond, our favorite former Alaska first lady, who is basically living her life and minding her own business out there in Port Alsworth on Lake Clark. Bella is vehemently opposed to the Pebble mine -- oh, sorry, the Pebble Prospect, uh, Partnership? -- so she was upset to find the Pebble people have created a website in her name without her permission, or even knowledge.

Call up bella.pebbles and you get a page with her full name and address and the slogan "Join Us Support the Pebble Project."

Said Bella to Ear: "It's appalling to me. I don't understand it."

Nance Larsen at Pebble explained: "It's a basic marketing tool ... a data collection landing page."

Ear said, "Huh?"

Translation: Pebble sent a package of advertising to lots of people and invited them to comment or ask for more information by using a private Web sign-on in their name. Nobody but Bella was given her sign-on, so technically it's not a "public" use of her name, Larsen said. And the page is not meant to suggest that the person named supports the project, she said. It's just a convenient way to get information.

Oddly enough, that didn't make Bella any happier. She doesn't normally use computers. A page that has her name and an exhortation to support Pebble looks to her like an endorsement from her for something she is "absolutely" against.

"I just don't appreciate my privacy being invaded that way," she said.

(The memo about privacy being dead hasn't reached Bristol Bay yet.)

NOT A GOOD SIGN ... One of the School Board candidates in Tuesday's election felt the need to include her astrological sign in her bio data in the Eagle River Star. And it's not that good a sign --- Cancer. (Ear knows because it's also Ear's sign: a crab.)

YECH ... Rep. Tammie Wilson thinks farmers shouldn't have to wash their hands before serving food to the public. OK, so that might be a bit of an oversimplification but not by much. The North Pole Republican is sponsoring a bill to gut food safety regulation in Alaska. Ear understands. Why should we only worry about contaminated spinach from Outside?

To be fair, you should read the bill yourself on the legislative website -- it's HB202.

To be unfair, but amused, check out the story about a committee meeting on the bill, posted at The photographs of Wilson "serving" food are particularly illustrative, and gross.

IT'S HERE ... Howard Weaver's long-awaited book (well, Ear's been waiting!) is out. "Write Hard, Die Free. Dispatches from the Battlefields and Barrooms of the Great Alaska Newspaper War" is now gettable on It's one of those books in which earwigs will personally know half the people mentioned. Doncha love those?

Howard, Ear's boss during the epic battle between ADN and the OP, will be in Alaska later this month for the Alaska Press Club conference, April 19 to 21.

EVERYONE'S A COMIC ... A Juneau earwig reports: On Thursday, someone from the Alaska Oil and Gas Association dropped off a fat three-ring binder in every legislative office in the Capitol. It was full of copies of comment cards from "Make It Meaningful," those rallies for oil tax "reform." Amid the cards was this gem:

"I am scared and under a lot of pressure. I hope to be able to form an original opinion of my own someday. Please help Alaskans keep working."

It was signed "Vince Beltrami."

Ear hears Vince was actually amused.

ON THE MOVE ... Channel 2 has a new news director: Tracy Sabo, a producer from CNN in Dallas, is taking over from Tom Lindner. Tom's going to a job as special projects manager for Schurz Communications, KTUU's corporate owner.

Compiled by Sheila Toomey Message Sheila at or 257-4341. Find Ear online at