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Helpful Public Servant of the Week Award, June 15 2012 June 20, 2012

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Giving the OPSotW Award a break this week – not because I didn’t encounter any, but because I actually talked to some government employees so helpful that they deserve recognition. Not surprisingly, they were not from ’round here.

They’re actually Canadian, and I talked to them about the Alcan Highway closures that took place for several days last week. Even though they were swamped, they were totally willing to talk to a TV reporter from a small market (granted, seeing as they were based out of Whitehorse, Fairbanks is actually a much larger market, relatively speaking) several hundred miles away. When they couldn’t connect me to the people with the best information (usually because they were either at the washout sites themselves or overwhelmed with a variety of duties related to keeping a tent city of a thousand stranded motorists alive and happy), they would call me and apologize. When they did have time to talk, they were forthcoming and well-spoken. Makes me proud to have dual citizenship.

I didn’t get many of their names, but one that I did get was Aisha Montgomery, who is an information officer for the Yukon Territorial Government. Thanks Aisha, and thanks also to those who I spoke to for background. It’s refreshing to not always be herding cats when talking to public sector employees.

Obstinate Public Servant of the Week Award, June 8 2012 June 12, 2012

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My my, missed a few weeks. My bad.

Last week’s award goes to Robert Bizarro, a project manager with the Fairbanks North Star Borough who’s overseeing a project to redo the roof and repaint the walls of the Pioneer Park Civic Center (you know, the big building that looks like a cake). It’s not an enormously big or special project, but it *is* one you’ll notice if you ever visit the park, and it’s scheduled to cost about $600,000.

After getting the usual runaround from borough staff, I finally got put in touch with Mr. Bizarro as the man to talk to. Talking to him was like pulling teeth, and he repeated several times that, “There’s nothing really important about this,” and things of that nature. And he declined to be interviewed on record. 

To a certain extent, I can understand hesitance to appear on TV – it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But come on, man. This is a straightforward piece about a project that will have a moderate impact on folks around town. Answer a question or two, or direct me to someone who will. Don’t treat me like I’ve just stumbled onto the Watergate burglary. Also, while a project that spends 600 grand in tax payer money might not seem that important to you, I assure you that the people of Fairbanks would gladly take that money back if you don’t want it. Over half a million dollars still means something where I come from. Which, I guess, is here. It still means something here.

Obstinate Public Servant of the Week Award, May 6 2012 May 6, 2012

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The Obstinate Public Servant of the Week Award for this week goes to Mike Bork, Fairbanks North Star Borough Director of Parks & Recreation. Bork receives this award for dodging six (!) of my phone calls Thursday while I was trying to do a story on potential cuts to his department in the borough budget. Memo to Mr. Bork: I’m aware you probably don’t like talking about your budget getting cut. But you get paid six figures for a reason: not everything you do is going to be something as enjoyable as playing your ukulele. And talking to the press is part of that job as a public servant. You used to be a Marine. Start acting like it.

Honorable Mention goes to Guy Sattley, who was not suffering fools (or anyone else) gladly at Thursday’s Borough Assembly meeting. Homeboy was so grouchy you half expected him to pop up from behind the desk with a trash can lid on his head.

All right, that’s all until next week.

Facebook Is Weird Sometimes January 18, 2010

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No, I am not interested in the baby giraffe you just adopted.

Sorry, not interested, Ethan. What's next, Mafia Wars?

I mean, I guess he must not have anything better to do these days, but still?

Student Government: Valuable Experience or Sideshow? April 11, 2009

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Joe Blanchard prepares for an interview after winning a seat on the Fairbanks Borough Assembly.  Blanchard is a past president of the UAF student government, or ASUAF.

Joe Blanchard prepares for an interview after winning a seat on the Fairbanks Borough Assembly. Blanchard is a past president of the UAF student government, known as ASUAF.

Sorry for my absence over the course of the last month.  I’ve been sidelined for a variety of reasons, most of which have to do with reporting I’m doing on the student government at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  I’ve been doing a series of stories for the UAF paper – the Sun Star – on the efforts of some members of the student senate to remove the student president.  The experience got me thinking about student government and its relation to “actual” politics.  Is it a jumping-off point where future politicians can get their feet wet, or is it a backwater where political science majors with no hope of a career in real politics can stroke their egos and hold rein over their own little corner of the universe?

More after the jump.

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KELLY KEEPS SEAT December 9, 2008

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This is going to be short because I’m posting from my phone, but the News-Miner is reporting that Mike Kelly has won the race for House District 7’s seat by four votes. There were only four challenged ballots- one by Kassel and three by Kelly- so this one is over.

The 2008 Alaska general election is finally complete, and the state house will be split 22-18 with Republicans in the majority.

State Budget: We’re Screwed December 4, 2008

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So remember here, where I argued that Sarah Palin might want to stay home from campaigning in Georgia and deal with emergent crises like our massive potential budget shortfall?

 

This is bad.  This is so f***ing bad.

This is bad. This is so f***ing bad.

 

Yeah, that situation isn’t improving much.  I’d really like to hear someone from the executive branch at least talk about this, because we’re about 30% underwater for the state budget right now.  That’s a lot of money.

In other news, Alaska prices at the pump are still nearly a dollar above the national average per gallon.  It’s great when you get screwed both coming and going.

AP Calls Senate Race for Begich November 18, 2008

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There are only about 2400 ballots left outstanding, which is more than 1300 less than Begich’s lead.

 

I beat the Associated Press by about an hour and a half.  Suck on that, mainstream media.

…And Now For Something Completely Different. November 17, 2008

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If you read this blog and don’t know me personally, I doubt you’ll have picked up that I’m something of a classical music nerd.  Usually I keep it to myself, but every now and then I indulge myself.  Last week I gave myself a little post-election present and dove into a choral piece I’m sure you’ve never heard.

Enjoy the music, even though it’s nearly crowded out by my ramblings.  I’ll get back to posting politics this afternoon.

Debate Notes: Kawasaki v. Hull October 20, 2008

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These are debate notes for the third debate last Thursday- Scott Kawasaki (D) vs. Sue Hull (R) for State House District 10.

I’m testing audio functionality.  Enjoy Scott Kawasaki’s introduction, in which he makes a self-deprecating comment about how long it took him to finish college.

Kawasaki’s introduction:

DEBATE NOTES: KAWASAKI V. HULL

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