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Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- When the Air Force looked for a contractor to own and operate housing at Eielson Air Force Base and five other installations, it advised the company to "assume full payment of property taxes" and include a one-year cash reserve in its financial plan to pay the tax bill.

But Corvias Military Living, the company that took control of more than 900 housing units at Eielson last year, said it never assumed that it would have to pay property taxes nor made plans to pay property taxes...

Dermot Cole

Dan Sullivan, the former Alaska attorney general and natural resources commissioner, declared victory early Wednesday in one of the most divisive Alaska Republican primaries in decades, while Fairbanks lawyer Joe Miller ran 8 points behind in second place. Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell trailed third in the fight to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Begich in the fall...

Dermot Cole,Nathaniel Herz

FAIRBANKS — While the long-running debate in Alaska over oil taxes enters a new stage Tuesday with the first statewide vote to repeal or endorse a tax system enacted by the Alaska Legislature, the election results will hardly be the final word.

The oil production decline, which began a quarter-century ago, will remain a key focus, just as it had been under the three previous oil tax systems in Alaska.

Some involved in the campaign against repeal of the SB 21 oil tax cut have made much of assertions that the decline in production has slowed or almost stopped, but executives of ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil Corp. who deal with tariffs for the trans-Alaska oil pipeline offered contradictory forecasts within the past few weeks in testimony to the state...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- They may not be from the automaker's home country of Sweden, but the 56 two-member teams of drivers who pulled into Fairbanks Sunday say there are no limits to how far they'll go in vintage Volvos.

That's why they have spent the past five weeks driving about 10,000 miles from Panama to Alaska in various models of old Volvos, most built 40 or 50 years ago and bedecked with international decals and license plates.

To take part in the “Volvo Classics -- Panamericana/Indian Trail” journey, the drivers had to own one of the classics -- the Duett, the Amazon, the Volvo 140, the Volvo 240, the Volvo 164 or the P1800...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- One of the most misleading statements put forward during the course of the debate over the oil tax repeal effort is that increasing oil production, and therefore the amount of oil royalties collected by the state, is the key to increasing the size of the annual Permanent Fund Dividend check.

It reflects a basic misunderstanding of the size of the fund, its future potential and the key factors influencing its growth. It also adds to the confusion between the dividend, which is important, and the fund, which is more important...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- When Parnell administration officials described the economic consequences of SB 21 for legislators and the public before its approval, they did not say that under certain conditions the state would be better off with no production tax at all than the incentives the law includes for "new oil," Anchorage Rep. Les Gara contends.

Gara says that, had the "net present value" calculations for the gross value reduction been known a year ago, the Legislature would not have approved SB 21. A referendum to reject the tax cut is on the ballot next week.

“I have never once heard another legislator during the SB 21 debate say that we would get a negative long-term or near-zero, longterm value of any oil after 2003,” he said...

Dermot Cole

The contradictory visions at the heart of the debate over repealing the SB 21 oil tax cut took center stage at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium on Monday night.

Supporters of repeal said the law adopted by the Legislature in 2013 gives away too much, while opponents said the repeal effort began as soon as the bill became law and voters should “give SB 21 a chance.”

The televised debate sponsored by KTVA-11 and Alaska Dispatch News featured three representatives from each side, offering conflicting statements on investment numbers, jobs, tax credits, oil production, state revenue and the future economy of Alaska.

One of the major points argued before the audience of 100 was whether oil production is up or down in the seven months since SB 21 took effect...

Dermot Cole

The idea of sending people to Congress who are willing to put up their dukes on behalf of the the 49th state is a tried-and-true staple of Alaska politics.

In his review Sunday of the stranglehold this idea has on political discourse, reporter Nathaniel Herz links the history of rhetorical combat to figures of the past such as former Sen. Ernest Gruening...

Dermot Cole

Forty years after Richard Nixon resigned the presidency in disgrace, the secret tapes that proved his role in the Watergate cover-up continue to reveal the inside story of his years in the White House.

Three new books this summer draw extensively on hundreds of taped conversations about Watergate, foreign policy, political strategy and Oval Office intrigue.

Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward refers to Nixon’s taping system as the “most consequential self-inflicted political wound of 20th-century America.”...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- The U.S. Air Force selected Eielson Air Force Base as the preferred location for the first squadrons of F-35 fighter aircraft in the Pacific, the next step in a process that could lead to a final decision next year on basing 48 aircraft in Alaska.

"The decision means that in 2016, after completing an environmental impact statement process, one or two squadrons of F-35s will likely head to Eielson Air Force Base for stationing," a statement from Sen. Mark Begich said.

The Air Force did not select alternate sites in the Pacific for study, which was the biggest surprise with the announcement. Before their call with Air Force Secretary Deborah James, Begich and Sen. Lisa Murkowski said, they fully expected alternate sites to be included in the mix...

Dermot Cole