Paul Jenkins

Turnout, if not truckloads of cash, will decide this week’s Anchorage mayoral contest. Ethan Berkowitz, former Democratic legislator, has the lion’s share. His opponent, Amy Demboski, a conservative, has an electorate that largely mirrors her views in many areas. As important is the question of who supporters of Dan Coffey and Andrew Halcro in the April 7 general election will vote for in Tuesday’s runoff. While both claimed to be Republicans -- Coffey for a few weeks, anyway -- neither has been of much help to Demboski. In fact, Coffey has been downright spiteful. Demboski teed off on him in the general election and it is time for payback. “She’s too far right, you know?” Coffey told the Alaska Dispatch News. He said he’s told his supporters: “I am not endorsing Amy. And I am not...Paul Jenkins
If the notion of wielding the IRS as a weapon against political enemies or wiretapping the Associated Press does not bother you; if the NSA's pervasive eavesdropping or Barack Obama’s lawless presidency does not make you nuts, what happened in Wisconsin will seem like, well, just a walk in the park. If all that winds your crank, though, and you wonder what America would look like if some liberal Democrats had their way, take a moment and read David French’s “ Wisconsin’s Shame: ‘I Thought It Was a Home Invasion ,” in the National Review. As I read it, recalling images a few years ago of angry union protestors in the Badger State chanting, “This is what democracy looks like,” I laughed aloud. What happened in Wisconsin, more aptly, is what leftist thuggery looks like. While the National...Paul Jenkins
Reading through a recent ideological litmus test masquerading as an election Q&A piece grilling mayoral hopefuls Amy Demboski and Ethan Berkowitz, a favorite cartoon came to mind. Drawn by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Michel Ramirez , it depicts a short-haired, dumpy frau wearing geeky glasses and a yellow T-shirt emblazoned with “LEFT” in big, red letters. All that is needed to complete the picture is a Subaru station wagon sporting Obama, Begich and Greenpeace bumper stickers. The caption: “We are opposed to intolerance and anyone who disagrees with us.” Absolutely perfect. You would think that as adherents of a political construct spawned by what Winston Churchill painted as “a philosophy of failure,” leftists would understand they are clinging to beliefs and values stemming from...Paul Jenkins
For a guy with no natural gas, no money, no support from North Slope oil producers and no legislative backing worth a hill of beans, Gov. Bill Walker is clinging to dreams of building a gas line on his own terms like a shipwreck survivor clutches a life ring. It smacks of deja vu all over again. He did the same years ago, with the Alaska Gasline Port Authority, and is hard at it again, even surrounding himself with people he worked with in those days. There was, it should be noted, no gas line built then; there may not be one built now if he gets his way. Some fear that in chasing his dream he may be tossing out the baby with the bath water. This time, he says, all he needs to snap the oil industry into line on the proposed $65 billion Alaska LNG project is unfettered access -- an open...Paul Jenkins
Correction: An earlier version of this column incorrectly said a local businessman was prosecuted years ago for vandalizing his own business. There was no such prosecution. This is the corrected version. As the dust settles from a shocking bit of vandalism that stirred so much attention in Anchorage, all of us in this city -- each and every last one of us -- should be thanking our lucky stars. It seems Sudanese immigrants living in a Spenard apartment awoke last Sunday to find “Go Home,” “Leave Alaska,” “Get Out,” “Go Now” scrawled on their cars, and their tires flatter than Gov. Bill Walker’s re-election chances. Oh, and there may have been a profane word used too. One of the two reported to police what he interpreted as threatening messages on the vehicles. He wanted a cop sent...Paul Jenkins
A little more than four years ago during a Senate election campaign, I wrote , “Joe Miller's political future in Alaska is, not to put too fine a point on it, deader than Alabama roadkill. Draw a chalk line around it and call somebody to clean it up. The worst part? Miller insists on killing it even deader.” Things change, but at the time, that observation was spot on. Fast forward to today’s packed Anchorage mayoral contest, substitute Dan Coffey’s name for Miller’s and you have a good assessment of Coffey’s predicament as some view it nowadays. It is difficult to imagine a guy who has run longer or harder for the mayor’s job than Coffey, or who has more money tied up in the effort -- or a guy who is more inclined to hoist himself on his own petard. He apparently has only one button...Paul Jenkins
When I was a kid in Florida, my dad let me use his car for the evening. It was an MGA, a wire-wheeled wonder I dreamed of getting upon graduation. He warned me not to take it to Daytona Beach that night -- or else. "You understand?" he asked. No beach. Or else. Ah, Daytona at night. Heaven. Testosterone and steamy possibilities. Irresistible. It was only a quick 45 miles thataway, and my friends were going, and, hey, how would the old man ever know? Over and back, I says to myself. Who’s the wiser? So, I did what any kid would do; I disconnected the odometer cable and headed northeast at warp speed, running lights-out in the moonlight to dodge cops on unopened sections of Interstate 4. There may have been alcohol involved. The next morning, the old man rousted me out of bed at home and we...Paul Jenkins
If you are around politics long enough, you come to know there is but a single certainty: It is as nasty as the floor of a bologna factory, and twice as messy. Eventually, unless you have the soul of a dung beetle, it will turn your stomach. Take, for instance, the shameful political ambush of June Stein. Stein is the hard-nosed former Bethel district attorney sacked without warning as head of perhaps Alaska’s busiest, most difficult rural prosecutor's office -- one dealing with an agonizing number of cases involving sex crimes and domestic violence. “It’s the toughest,” says Stein, who should know. She has been a prosecutor for 25 years. In New Mexico. In Kenai. As part of a three-person traveling Alaska attorney general’s rural prosecution team -- and in Bethel since 2011. She and the...Paul Jenkins
Gov. Bill Walker now finds himself at loggerheads with lawmakers correctly cranky about his grandiose expansion plans for the $10 billion Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline. His idea is to have ASAP compete with the $65 billion Alaska LNG Project, even though that could ball up the state’s business relationship with producers, who have spent hundreds of millions getting this far, and scare the bejeebers out of the market, which craves stability. For its part, the House leadership -- to its credit -- stepped up with House Bill 132 in a bid to block him from recklessly, irresponsibly competing with the much larger project now being undertaken by North Slope producers BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil, along with the state of Alaska and TransCanada. (Walker promises a veto.) The producers’ project...Paul Jenkins
So, there you are, Big Oil Inc. plugging away, spending hundreds of millions of dollars doing prep work for a long-awaited $65 billion liquefied natural gas project to monetize vast North Slope reserves. After fits and starts spanning decades, a gas line finally may make economic sense, you are thinking. It would be a nice, long-term addition to your investment portfolio, and promises decades of stable returns. Then -- kablooey! -- the public end of your public-private project partnership goes nuts. Everything had seemed peachy. Your public partner was, well, your partner; not a pal, but a partner. Oh, he had his moments and he worked a side gig, a little gas line thingy of his own, just in case the partnership’s bigger undertaking stalled, but now he is telling you he wants his project...Paul Jenkins