Alaska Ear

Sheila Toomey

WHAzZIR NAME?. . . Darlings, you know Ear loves questions but Our Sarah posed what must be the most disingenuous (that means phony) question ever asked, after John Kerry used her famous "can see Russia" moment to ding Mitt Romney Thursday at the Democratic convention:

"Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska," Kerry said. "Mitt Romney talks like he's only seen Russia by watching 'Rocky IV.' "

Kind of a lame joke, based on old material and totally forgettable. But Sarah couldn't let it pass:

"How does he even know my name?" she asked -- ever so coyly -- during a FOX Business Network interview

OMG. This from someone whose whole life is about self-promotion. And then ...

"I mean, aren't these guys supposed to be these bigwig elites who don't waste their time on the little people like me -- me representing the average American. ..."

Right. The average American who's worth $14 million, starred in a television show, is a network commentator, had a best-selling book and, oh yes, ran for vice president of the United States.

HEEES BAAACK . . . Earwigs will recall that two years ago Rep. Mike Hawker stepped down as co-chair of House Finance after being told he had cancer and six months to live. Now, coming up on his second anniversary cancer-free (Dec. 10), Mike is the stuff of legend at the Mayo Clinic and jazzed up to resume his old job -- running the House budget.

Of course, politics doesn't work like that. The Bills -- current Finance co-chairs Bill Stoltze and Bill Thomas -- haven't said anything about wanting to retire, so ... three people, two jobs, Mike said.

It's probably more complicated than that. There's a rumor that (presumably) outgoing House Speaker Mike Chenault wants to co-chair Finance, and that Bill Thomas, along with Craig Johnson, is in the running for speaker.

"I would very much like to be back on Finance," Mike Hawker said between meetings Friday. But "it will depend on how the House organizes" after the November election.

The election is one thing Mike doesn't have to worry about. He's unopposed.

OUT AND ABOUT . . . Was that Dan Coffey, Ernie Hall and various other city-type officials downing lattes Wednesday at Café del Mundo? What were they talking about? You know the answer: Title 21 (the revision of city land use law). Make up your own conversation.

WELCOME HOME . . . Four-time Olympian (in nordic skiing) Nina Kemppel is back from the London hoopla -- and her role as a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee board of directors -- to start her new job as CEO of the Alaska Humanities Forum.

Nina's been gone from Alaska for 10 years or so, getting an MBA and being a management consultant in Boston and Portland, but she told ADN sports editor Beth Bragg she never stopped being an Alaskan. Her family's here.

FAIR WARNING . . . Alaska license plate spotted last Friday on a white Dodge Ram heading south from the Mad-Zoo: C NILE.

A QUESTION . . . Who were all those strangers flitting through Dutch Harbor last weekend with zillionaire Alice Rogoff? Local officials and Outside energy pressers were reportedly among the visitors who spent Friday and Saturday there, one stop on a whirlwind tour (giggle) of several coastal towns expecting an effect from new offshore drilling by Shell and others.

Earwigs say Dutch Harbor/Unalaska expects to be a major supply port for a new oil boom.

ON THE MOVE . . . Sen. Mark Begich has chosen Fairbanks-born Amy Miller to replace the irreplaceable Julie Hasquet as his press secretary. Miller has been working as a writer and editor for Thompson & Co., an Alaska public relations firm.

Reporters will be happy to learn her bio on the company website promises "strong writing skills" and "the ability to make a press release sing."

Singing press releases? Let's hope not, or if they do, please include a box of candy.

SIGNING OFF . . . Dave Donaldson, APRN's reporter on politics and state government for more than 20 years, is retiring Sept. 20. Dave came to Alaska from North Carolina in 1991 and says he plans to stay in Juneau, where his wife works for the school district.

Unlike so many others, Dave told Ear he really is retiring, not just becoming a consultant or taking some job-in-disguise.

"I would love to see a solid year I don't have to go into that building," he said of the Capitol. He's a volunteer at public station KRNN (on the music website) and plans a life as "an enthusiastic audience" for music.

A LITTLE TOO REAL . . . OK, so three boatloads of Outside bigwigs were traveling from Bethel to Napaskiak along the Kuskokwim River last week when the engine on the third boat screamed like Metallica and blew the smoke of death.

These were a bunch of hotshots from giant charities, brought here by the Rasmuson Foundation for a glimpse of the "real" Alaska. They were not guys used to being adrift among the reeds on a sketchy Kusko slough.

Just when all hope was lost (yes, d'Ears, the Divine Appendage exaggerates), a boat appeared out of nowhere. It was Father Nick (Russian Orthodox) to the rescue. He pulled alongside, tied up to the powerless boat and towed the strandees into the village.

UNALASKA COP BRIEFS . . . Aug. 13. Theft -- "Taxi driver reported a man who habitually fails to pay his fare in her and other's taxis had once again absconded without paying. Officers found the man sleeping in another man's house, and walked with him through the neighborhood until he was able to beg enough money from friends to pay the taxi driver."

Aug. 14. Welfare Check -- "Officers responded to the airport regarding an intoxicated man who had apparently crawled from the terminal to the waterfront, after which he had not been seen again. Officers located the inebriate, who had simply been looking at the pretty beach, and ensured he had transportation back to his hotel."

Aug. 16. Drunk Disturbance -- "Officers responded to the Grand Aleutian hotel regarding some sort of commotion involving a man and a woman in the women's bathroom. Officers found an intoxicated woman who claimed the two had engaged in consensual carnal relations and an intoxicated man who denied any sexual activity at all with the woman. Officers issued trespass advisements, per hotel staff, to the couple."

Compiled by Sheila Toomey Message Sheila at or 257-4329 Find Ear online Sunday night at