Paul Jenkins

Gov. Bill Walker’s labyrinthine fiscal plan to plug the state’s budget gap -- more a smoking crater than a gap nowadays -- has far too many moving parts, far too many gizmos, doodads and doohickeys for mere mortals to fully understand it or its eventual consequences. Despite that, proponents inside and outside government have deployed consultants and lobbyists and arm-twisters in some sort of high-stakes, pressure-cooker sleazefest to “empower” lawmakers to get it done -- this very moment! None of that will make the work simpler, faster or less tortuous, because it is chock full of worrisome and complex components we all should be fretting about. A lot. This puppy needs some time. It contains changes, for instance, in the oil and gas credit system that would turn it into a low-interest...Paul Jenkins
Big Money, Big Government and Big Influence are desperate for the Legislature to pitchfork Permanent Fund earnings into Alaska’s nearly $4 billion budget abyss and they are engaged in a full-court press to dupe lawmakers into seeing it their way -- and right now. The governor, KTUU reports, has spent $100,000 for lobbyists -- hey, aren’t we broke? -- to hustle the notion of using the fund’s earnings. GCI's president and CEO, Ron Duncan, has rounded up large Alaska businesses, unions, a former governor, Native corporation executives and others in a strange coalition -- "Alaska’s Future" -- to push using the earnings. Most involved, it is safe to say, receive dough from the state, have people working for government or depend on a healthy economy to invest or make a profit. If they succeed...Paul Jenkins
It is beyond mind-numbing in a nation of 320 million, a nation with mandatory education, a nation that is a powerful, albeit dimming, beacon of freedom and what is right, that the presidential election front-runners are all wackdoodles. Donald Trump? Hillary Clinton? Bernie Sanders? Is it a joke? Can anybody in their right mind envision any of them at the controls? Really? Any halfway intelligent person, even a Democrat, should be mortified. Trump? The guy is phenomenal: a quintessential showman, master of the deal, and, unfortunately, a demagogue. He gets what Americans are dying to hear, and he gives it to them -- forgive me, H.L. Mencken -- good and hard. He also, it turns out, is wildly unqualified to be president. Trump bombastically, proudly is no politician, a huge plus among...Paul Jenkins
As the president revved up his carny act to trash the Constitution and implement “common sense” gun control by imperial fiat, it was hard not to admire his chutzpah. With cold, calculated fanfare, a blizzard of the same ol’ tired, threadbare fibs about guns and some crocodile tears, Obama outdid himself. He got the nation’s attention with a load of gun-control twaddle that, while obliquely advancing his misguided aim of stamping out private gun sales in this country, was, at best, anemic. As with his other anti-gun schemes, this executive order will have a niggling effect on violence by armed criminals and not deter them from obtaining guns. A landmark Justice Department survey of 18,000 state and federal convicts reveals 40 percent of them get guns on the streets, another 39 percent from...Paul Jenkins
Every now and then, you see something in government that gives you the heebie-jeebies. A case in point is how the referendum to dump the ordinance giving additional anti-discrimination protections to Anchorage’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community is being blocked. The ordinance went on the books in September. That is when the Anchorage Assembly -- Amy Demboski and Bill Starr were the only two to vote no -- decided to ignore voters who in 2012 turned out in huge numbers to defeat the notion of adding such rights. The proposed language in the current referendum to dump that ordinance, an effort headed up by conservative talk show host Bernadette Wilson, is very clear, very short, very concise: "Shall AO No 2015-96 (S-1) (as amended), an ordinance adding sexual orientation and...Paul Jenkins
The pool hall in Lockhart, a gritty speck of a town straddling Florida’s Highway 441 outside Orlando, was a hangout eons ago for kids who would swarm there on blistering afternoons for ice-cold, sweating bottles of RC Cola and air conditioning. Nestled among vast orange groves, the community boasted only two things of note: the Rimar Drive-in Theatre, which played a steamy, pivotal role in many young lives, and the pool hall. Entering the town’s billiards sanctum sanctorum meant having to listen to crusty, old guys who smoked and spit and knew everything and had been everywhere. They would rail about this, sputter about that. My memory is they all wore stretched-out suspenders holding up baggy pants, and dirty white shirts. One of them, a Gus or Ben, I think, liked to hold forth -- fueled...Paul Jenkins
While the political left, unions and myriad others who get fat from profligate state spending predictably castigate Republican legislators wanting to -- gasp! -- cut expenditures further before burying us in taxes and grabbing our Permanent Fund dividends, remember this: Those sensible souls who insist on cutting more before letting government empty your pockets into perpetuity are absolutely, positively right. Mind you, that has not saved them from a wrong-headed, vigorous savaging by the left. One apoplectic pundit -- apparently convinced the end of the world is near -- even smeared budget-cutters as “either incompetent or cynically self-serving or both. In a lot of cases, probably both.” The goal among the government-as-religion bunch -- they believe we exist to serve government, not...Paul Jenkins
The killers’ empty cartridge casings still were falling to the ground in the San Bernardino terrorism attack when President Barack Obama issued yet another feckless call for “common sense” gun control, as if somehow more rules would stop terrorists in their tracks. Obama’s predictable response to the well-planned California attack that killed 14 and left 21 wounded should come as no surprise. It is the same tired rhetoric we have heard for years; the same approach. Make a law. It didn’t work? OK, make another one. That did not work, either? Make yet another. We are left with thousands of “common sense” gun control laws that have no effect on bad guys with guns. It is business as usual. Again, no surprise. The political left’s hallmark, after all, is mindless doubling down on whatever the...Paul Jenkins
Maybe it finally is time for a city sales tax of one sort or another to help make ends meet in Anchorage, but -- and this is a big but -- trusting this Assembly would require a very long stretch. Its majority already has blithely ignored voters’ will on the matter of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual rights and then monkeyed with how the voter-approved tax cap is calculated to allow the Assembly to jack up property taxes. The question of whether to have a sales tax, seasonal or otherwise, revolves around this: Can this tax-and-spend Assembly majority and Mayor Ethan Berkowitz have a sales tax and a property levy -- and not abuse both? Many have real doubts given their recent track record. If Anchorage Assemblyman Bill Evans has his way, voters will be asked for the umpteenth time to...Paul Jenkins
A little fudging here, a little of the ol’ soft-shoe there and the Anchorage Assembly’s left wing - kowtowing to Hizzoner Ethan Berkowitz - gave away the budgetary farm, sending the bill to property taxpayers. While pretending Berkowitz’s $481 million operating budget is $2.6 million less than last year’s - and that assertion is laughable - the Assembly’s liberal majority rejected dozens of money-saving amendments and voted 7-4 to let the mayor spend as he pleases. The majority last week voted down 48 cost-cutting amendments offered by more conservative Assembly members - Bill Starr, Amy Demboski and Bill Evans - trying to scrub the budget for even the tiniest savings. The seven approved only two amendments; both - surprise! - added spending. They refused to trim even library and fire...Paul Jenkins