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Amanda Coyne: Fandango-mango dreams up in smoke

Amanda Coyne
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I'm calling it. It's officially breakup. Matching my heart, also breaking up, burdened with grief and shame. My mother had worked for months on a secret mango recipe for the Pillsbury Bakeoff Contest, which offered a grand prize of more than $1 million. I insisted on proof-reading the recipe for her. As I was doing so, the time slipped away. And so did the deadline. Poof went the $1 million do-the-fandango-mango dream.

There's always next year, she said. Which is what those lawmakers who have been pushing for a constitutional amendment to allow for vouchers are thinking. Poof went the educational no-more-slouchers-choose-vouchers dream. What happened? Teachers. Some people like to beat them up, but I challenge you to find a more committed, organized and hard-working group in Alaska.

Anyhow, it's not all bad, waiting for the next year, the next big thing. We Alaskans are really good at it. The bridge to Point McKenzie? Boosters have been pushing that dream since 1925. The Susitna Dam? That idea has come and gone and come and gone since the 1940s.

And then there's the large-diameter natural gas pipeline.

Those perpetual projects and more are all back. Parnell's really good at keeping all the flickering hopes alive. How does he do it? Even though deficits loom: he never says no to any of them. Keep them all funded just enough so they won't go away, but don't give them enough to actually do anything.

Nor does he apparently say no to raises for some around him. If Parnell's FY 2015 budget goes through, the salary of his chief of staff, Mike Nizich, will have increased from $148,000 in 2010 to more than $209,000, or about 40 percent, not including benefits.

Speaking of money: The former Atwood Mansion was the site of a fund-raiser this past week for U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan. The house now belongs to John and Candace Hendrix. It was packed with about 100 of Alaska's best dressed, including real estate pro Lisa Herrington, railroad chair and ACS exec Linda Leary, BP Alaska prez Janet Weiss, and many more. Sen. Hollis French might have called them la haute bourgeoisie.

Sullivan charmed as he does with certain deep-pocketed types. Although he needs to work on his common touch, people like giving the man money -- witness the checks reportedly pouring in from everywhere. According to one recent poll, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell is the candidate with name recognition. But few want to give him money and many are writing him off, which surely feels worse than missing the Pillsbury Bakeoff.

Going nowhere? Rep. Lora Reinbold, reportedly perturbed that I write so much about her, seems perturbed about many things, most recently about educational issues and the Common Core curriculum, the current Tea Party bogeyman, on which she recently held a two-and-a-half-hour hearing. What did she learn?

No, Bill Gates didn't fund it. No, the feds haven't foisted it on the state. Surely, though, there's something nefarious in the works, and she's going to find out what it is. "This is going to be a series. This is only Part 1," Reinbold said after the particularly torturous first part. "We don't know how many more meetings . . . This is going to be ongoing for many, many years . . . I'm not going anywhere."

Going places? Anchorage Sen. Lesil McGuire hired Harmony Shields, Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux staffer and Veep of the Young and Restless, to run her campaign after the session's over.

Spotted on the tank of the toilet in the unisex bathroom on the fourth floor of the Capitol: a pregnancy test, sitting sad and lonely in a Tupperware bowl.

Only in Fairbanks: Did you hear about the priest for UAF who was pulled over in Fairbanks and blew three times the legal limit? When stopped, he remembered that he had a.357-caliber handgun in the back seat but forgot to mention the 9mm pistol in his back pocket. He was also carrying a bag of pot in his hoodie. Many punch lines with the phrase "higher calling" followed.

More news: Mary Halloran is reportedly going to try to breathe some life into Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallot's campaign. Halloran has been around for a long while. She worked at OMB for Gov. Steve Cowper, and was a staffer for the late Speaker of the House Hugh Malone.

Mallott will also get some help from a newly formed SuperPAC called Mallott One Alaska, which has the sweet smell of union money.

Speaking of sweets: It's Sen. Mark Begich's 52nd birthday on Monday. The National Republican Senatorial Committee was thoughtful enough to send him a cake, on which was written, "Happy Birthday to the Senator that votes with Obama 97 percent of the time."

Good enough for the Pillsbury Bakeoff? Nah. Begich's office said that, like the NRSC itself, the cake was "just plain vanilla with artificially sweetened facts."

More chow! The Alaska Mental Health Board on Tuesday afternoon hosted a wild game feed in the Capitol's parking lot. Served up: bear, goose, reindeer, halibut, salmon and deer. There followed a couldn't-miss reception co-hosted by the NRA, the Alaska Outdoor Council, the Safari Club and the Kenai Sports Fishing Association. Lots more food. Probably some guns. No fandango mango, pot or priests in sight.

Don't be like me and let your dreams and deadlines pass by: Remember to vote on Tuesday.

Independent journalist Amanda Coyne writes about Alaska politics on her blog amandacoyne.com. You can contact her at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com

 


By AMANDA COYNE
amandamcoyne@yahoo.com