Paul Jenkins

If it looks like a fiscal crisis, walks like a fiscal crisis, quacks like a fiscal crisis, is it really a fiscal crisis? Or is it a downturn? Or a glitch? How about a fiscal situation? A bump in the road? Or is it any of those?

In Alaska, it depends on who is doing the looking -- and sometimes, when they are looking.

The facts are clear: A proposed Alaska budget of about $5.7 billion combined with projected revenues of $2.2 billion -- and dropping like Bill Clinton’s pants -- equals a projected deficit of somewhere between $3.5 billion and $4 billion.

The state gets 90 percent of its revenues from oil -- stable at about $110 a barrel from 2010 until the middle of last year -- and the commodity has lost half its value over the past six months...

Paul Jenkins

Newly elected Gov. Bill Walker and his attorney general and former law partner, Craig Richards, find themselves neck-deep in a messy, complicated ethics dilemma as they try to break new ground in the halls of power.

Walker and Richards in 2012 filed a public interest lawsuit challenging the state’s hard-won settlement with ExxonMobil for development of the long-delayed and problematic Point Thomson oil and gas field so pivotal in Alaska’s dream of marketing its vast North Slope gas reserves. In an opinion piece later, Walker called the settlement the "worst, dirtiest backroom deal in state history."...

Paul Jenkins

The headline was straightforward enough: “ Lt. Gov. Mallott to assess governor's, attorney general's legal conflicts .”

Fusion Gov. Bill Walker, it turns out, has handed his subordinate, Byron Mallott, final say on whether Walker and his attorney general and former law partner, Craig Richards, can join in at least a half-dozen legal proceedings they were involved in as private lawyers, cases that possibly could pose a conflict of interest for the state...

Paul Jenkins

Media organizations cobble together 'Top 10" lists this time of year because news of any consequence is, well, exceedingly rare -- and space and time must be filled. My list -- “Big screw-ups” -- is short. It contains only one item: Anchorage Ordinance 2013-37, the Responsible Labor Act.

The way AO-37 was rammed through the Assembly was a monumental mistake. The city missed an opportunity to modernize its complicated, antiquated labor law -- last amended in 1989. Much worse, it changed dramatically the political landscape in unimaginable ways. It is fair to say the fight over AO-37 led to Sean Parnell losing the governor’s seat to Bill Walker...

Paul Jenkins

It was difficult to read the Dec. 22 Alaska Dispatch News commentary by Etta Kuzakin and not wonder how much a human life is worth to petty bureaucrats safely tucked away in their Washington, D.C., offices -- and so beholden to special interests.

Kuzakin, president of King Cove’s Agdaagux Tribe, worries Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s refusal to allow a short road linking King Cove, her tiny Aleut fishing village far out on the storm-raked Alaska Peninsula, and the nearby all-weather runway at Cold Bay someday will cost a life. She has reason to fret...

Paul Jenkins

This was supposed to be a warm and fuzzy Christmas column. Unbridled joy. Elves. Kids. Sugar plums and cookies. You know, to fit the season. Then, I saw a chilling video of useful idiots in what major news outlets called a “peaceful” protest in New York City chanting: “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!”

That got me wondering: Who are we?...

Paul Jenkins

It is easy to shrug off the notion of federal “overreach” -- dismissing it as rhetoric or political mumbo-jumbo -- until you get a peek inside a federal agency hell-bent on getting its way, no matter the law, that uses any and every possible means to tilt the playing field.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency, it turns out, is just such an agency. It is waging a relentless, precedent-setting campaign to preemptively veto development of the Pebble project in the Bristol Bay region -- using junk science, secrecy and authority it does not have -- even before the first development plan sees daylight...

Paul Jenkins

It is unsurprising Bill Walker would rejigger an election with his new union pals and Democrats to finally pocket the keys to the governor’s mansion. The surprise is that he did it willingly -- without a gun to his head.

Who in his right mind, given Alaska’s grim fiscal reality, would want the job? A normal person would dodge it like ringworm. Perhaps Walker should follow the late Gov. Wally Hickel’s lead and have his noggin examined to prove he is not nuts.

What does Walker win? In his own words, “lean times” -- a laughably optimistic assessment...

Paul Jenkins

With dust from recent elections still clouding the air, many political junkies itching for fireworks -- and unwilling to quietly eat their popcorn and await the train wreck that is our new state government -- already are focusing on the 2016 Senate race. It has possibilities.

The big question seems moot: Sen. Lisa Murkowski almost certainly will seek re-election, barring her being squished by a meteor. Already she is rejiggering staff.

With a dozen years seniority and a new job as Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee boss, she is coming into her own. It takes forever for a senator to gain enough seniority and clout to do Alaska any good -- and she is about there. Think Ted Stevens...

Paul Jenkins

Obamacare, it turns out, is just another in a long string of big lies from the political left. A huge, complicated fantasy cloaked in gibberish, it is a whopper so enormous, so monstrous it could transform the United States into something unrecognizable if it is not stopped.

Why lie in creating the law? The left -- surprise! -- says it believes you are too stupid to handle the truth; that Obamacare is designed to fail; that it will cost too much; that it is a massive redistribution of wealth from the young to the old; that it is a first, necessary step to the single-payer, socialized health care system of its dreams.

In fact, it fears you are too smart, so the left does what it must to survive -- it lies...

Paul Jenkins