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

Posted by roothogreport in Uncategorized.
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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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Remembering Bob Bartlett December 2, 2008

Posted by roothogreport in Legislature.
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Constitutional delegate Vic Fischer (center) talks to Bob Bartletts grandson (left) and historian Terrence Cole (right) at the Bartlett reception Monday night.

Constitutional delegate Vic Fischer (center) talks to Bob Bartlett's grandson (left) and historian Terrence Cole (right) at the Bartlett reception Monday night.

I’ve been busy for the last couple of days, with some assignments and otherwise, and yesterday I attended the University of Alaska’s Board of Regents meeting on the UAF campus.  It was an interesting meeting for a variety of reasons, and there were a few political tidbits I gleaned, but this post isn’t about that.  While I was there, I talked to UA public relations officer Kate Ripley (a former Alaska newspaper reporter), who was kind enough to let me know about a semi-exclusive reception in honor of E.L. “Bob” Bartlett yesterday evening at the UAF Museum.  My interest in history predates my interest in politics, so I jumped at the chance to attend.   (more…)

Sweeps Week November 17, 2008

Posted by roothogreport in Executive, Legislature.
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You might think that the week two weeks after the election is a dull week in politics.  This year, you’d be very wrong.  In addition to national happenings, such as the selection of President-elect Obama’s cabinet, the ongoing economic crisis, and some pretty tough back-and-forthing among members of the GOP about who is actually responsible for the party’s collapse on election day, there are quite a few significant events which will take place this week.  Here’s the rundown as I see it.

  • Monday will see more ballot counting by state elections officials. 24,000 ballots are still outstanding, and the plan is to count almost all of them tomorrow.  A few close local races will likely be decided on Monday, and Alaska’s U.S. Senate race could be as well.  This could be good news for both Republicans and Democrats on the national level, because of what happens Tuesday.
  • Tuesday, both Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate will meet (in separate caucuses, of course) to determine assignments for the new Senate.  If the outcome of the Alaska Senate race isn’t determined by Tuesday, the Republicans will face the unpleasant question of whether or not to eject him from the caucus (as some Senate Republicans have suggested they will attempt) in the event that he wins his race.  The Republicans are understandably uneasy about doing this to an elder statesman of the party, but many feel they have no choice after Stevens’ felony convictions.  Realistically, while they would like to keep the seat, many Senate Republicans would count a Begich win as a mixed blessing, as it would spare them a difficult decision about one of their party’s most senior figures.
  • In the Democrats’ Tuesday meeting, they will decide whether or not to let fairweather Dem Joe Lieberman keep his important chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee.  If they decide to let him keep it, the internet will explode with the fury of a million (this number is probably not an exaggeration) liberal bloggers who insist Lieberman must be punished for deserting Obama (who, ironically, helped campaign for Lieberman in his Senate race) and campaigning for McCain.  Lieberman actually spoke against Obama at the Republican National Convention, so if the Democrats let him keep the chairmanship, it probably means bad things about their collective political will.  On the other hand, if they strip Lieberman of his chairmanship, he is left in a bind about whether or not to defect to the Republicans, who are currently in the minority and can’t offer him much in the way of powerful positions.  All right, enough national news, it’s back to Alaska.
  • Also Tuesday, the Division of Elections should effectively finish counting ballots, though a few may trickle in on Wednesday.
  • Wednesday is the last day ballots can be received by the Division of Elections and still be counted.  Almost all races in the state (except for House District 7 between Kelly and Kassel, with its one vote margin) will be decided on Wednesday if not before.
  • Thursday and Friday… uh… okay, I don’t really have much for Thursday and Friday.  Oh yeah, if you’re a student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, there are the student Senate elections on Thursday and Friday, but if you’re not a student, there’s really no reason for you to care.  In fact, even if you ARE a student, there’s really very little reason to care, as every seat has only one candidate running for it.  There’s even one seat- Senate Seat P- for which NO candidates will be on the ballot.  To highlight this travesty of disinterest in government, and also to make light of Alaska politics in general, I’ve started a campaign to write in Vic Vickers for ASUAF Senate Seat P.  As far as I know, Vic has no idea he’s a candidate, which will make my call to him on election day if he wins all the sweeter.  Who says politics can’t be fun?

All right, I’m done here for the night… check back on Monday to discover what I’ve been doing with my time such that I don’t update more often!

Debate Notes: Guttenberg v. Finley October 17, 2008

Posted by roothogreport in Legislature, Uncategorized.
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I attended the State House/State Senate debate tonight as a reporter for UAF’s student newspaper, the Sun Star, and also for this site.  I meant to do a liveblog in the same manner as the municipal election, but both my laptop and phone died early on.

Long story short, I’m posting a sort of executive summary of the first debate, David Guttenberg (D) vs. Will Finley (R).  These are not quotes, they are simplifications and often oversimplifications of the candidate’s responses.  Do not base your vote on this.

Without further ado, I give you:

DEBATE #1: DAVID GUTTENBERG VS. WILL FINLEY (more…)