Friday, May 28, 2021

Netflix Recs: Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz And Two Short Films

 Tip 1:  Prosecuting Evil:  The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz   

I'm doing this one first because it leaves Netflix on May 31 - so you need to watch it now if you want to see it there.  As portrayed in the film, Ben Ferencz is a truly remarkable person. (The link goes to his website which has a wealth of information.)   Born in Romania in 1920, he immigrated to the US before he was one.  A teacher alerted his mother that he was gifted - "We didn't know what gifted meant.  No one had ever given us gifts." - she encouraged him to go to college.  From City College of New York to Harvard law school where he was a research assistant for a professor who had written one of the only books on war crimes.  He was with the US army when they liberated some concentration camps and when he returned the US was called to DC - he assumes the professor had recommended him - to work on prosecuting Nazi war criminals.  

He ended up as the lead prosecutor in the Nuremberg Trials (at 27!) and went on from there to be a pioneer in human rights law including a long battle to establish the International Criminal Court to prosecute leaders who commit human rights violations.  

While there is, necessarily, some disturbing Holocaust footage, I got inspiration from a man who took on impossible tasks and saw them through.  Who never gave up on his quest to make the world a better, more peaceful place.  A true role model.  

He was still alive in 2018 when the film was made and apparently - looking at his website - is still alive today.  In the film he was still working hard on peace issues at 98.  

It leaves Netflix May 31 - That's Monday.  But it's also available through Prime (though I don't like to encourage people to support Amazon.)

A key relevant issue for me in this film was his arguments that Nazi war criminals should NOT be just forgotten and that they should be prosecuted, not as retribution, but as a warning to future leaders, to let them know these things will not go unpunished.  
That is a key reason why the January 6 investigation needs to be undertaken.  To not investigate and prosecute at the highest levels, is to encourage another insurrection.  Republican legislators in a number of states are already setting up ways to overrule election officials and make themselves in charge of deciding who has won the election.  Germans did not take the Nazi threat seriously until it was too late.  We are in early 1930s Germany territory right now in the United States.  

I'd like my junior senator - Dan Sullivan - to see this movie.  He doesn't seem to understand the values I hold.  The cultural background and values that Ferencz represents - highly valuing peace and justice and fighting injustice (no I don't think that that is redundant) - mirror the cultural background and values I grew up with.  Valuing peace and fighting AGAINST war, is not un-American and it's very much part of being a human being.  I just wish I was one percent as effective as he is.  I'll work on it.  

That's why this is such an important film.

Tip 2:  If you search "short films" Netflix will give you a page of short films, maybe 5 minutes to an hour.  (Some are longer because they are collections of short films.)  This is a great option if you don't have time for a long movie or don't want to get hooked into a series at the moment.

The first one we picked was Two Distant Strangers.  It said "Academy Award Winner" so we figured it was worth watching.  It's part of their "Black Lives Matter Collection."  Basically it's a Ground Hog day type movie where the black protagonist keeps running into the same cop who mistreats him in different ways and his attempts to avoid and/or improve the interaction.  

The second one was The Trader, because it was short and was a Georgian movie.  Not Georgia - the state of Staci Abrams, but Georgia in Central Asia.  How many films have you seen from Georgia?  Probably none.  

The film follows a man with a truck who goes from village to village selling trinkets and cheap household goods and used clothing.  He'll take money, but mostly he's trading for potatoes which he takes to Tblisi and sells to traders in the market.

What always strikes me about films from places that are foreign to me (though by now it shouldn't anymore) is how much people are alike.  The architecture, the landscape, the dress, the language may be different, but humans are really all the same.  Particularly poignant here were a couple of scenes with little kids.  The Trader uses bubbles to attract kids and then tells them to bring their parents to buy them things.  
The actions and smiles of  little kids chasing the soap bubbles was no different all all from little kids in well off households in the US.  Another, older kids was asked what he wanted to do when he grew up and his facial expressions and body language was no different from an embarrassed 12 year old anywhere in the world.  

Overall, I recommend escaping from the Netflix recommendations and searching by countries to find a lot of interesting films that help us see how much the human condition is the same everywhere.  Get over your aversion to subtitles.  Just do it.  There are excellent films and series  from India, Korea, Turkey, Scandinavia, the Spanish speaking world.  

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Redistricting Board Meeting May 26, 2021 - Board Picks VRA Consultant, But All Discussion Of Candidates Was In Executive Session

It was clear from the agenda that most of the meeting would be in Executive Session  to interview candidates for Voting Rights Act consultant.  They carefully explained the legal bases for going into Executive Session.  They estimated they would take 45 minutes per interview which would have been 135 minutes.  The phone was muted for just about two hours.  

They also announced beforehand that after the contract with the VRA consultant was signed, they would let us know who the three applicants were and give their proposals to anyone who requests them.  

My understanding of Executive Session in Alaska is that their discussion about who they were going to choose should have been in public.  But I"m sure they would argue they couldn't have had that discussion without revealing confidential information.  They did vote in public, but it was clear that all the discussion was held in Executive Session.  They'd already agreed before they came out of Executive Session.  

Here are my rough notes of the meeting:

2:35 - Meeting connected but LIO connection can't hear them.  So just hear the LIO person asking if they can hear her.  

2:42pm - starting to hear things - discussing training for computer redistricting program.

2:43pm - opening meeting.  Apologizing for technical problem delay

Establish quorum - taking roll - all there

John:  would like one change, item 5.  Haven't read minutes from past meetings and I'd like to hold off til next meeting so I can read them all carefully.  Modify to eliminate item 5.  

Budd:  Not really amending. Have another suggestion for form - add footer to each page that says ARB p1/x.  That would make it much easier to find a certain page.  

John:  Don't need to make it a motion.  They've got the message and all concur.  Discussion on motion to amend the agenda?  Hearing none, lets move to adopt amended agenda.  Adopted.

First Item:  Public Testimony - anyone want to testify.  One member- Sen Giessel:  Thanks Mr. Chairman.  Good afternoon.  Calling on behalf of myself.  Thank the board about hiring a Voting Rights consultant.  Worried about Census Bureau manipulating the data.  People knowledgable about the state and you should see the distortions.  Thank you.  


???:  Quick comment:  Thank Sen Giessel.  Concerned that Alaska Native/Aemerican issues with census.  

Giessel:  Glad to hear you're engaged.  Concern that data will be unfairly distorted.  

2:50pm Sound went dead.  

2:54pm  back on - Peter three responses that seem substantially qualified. We will keep the documents confidential until after someone is chosen.  That is to protect the competitive information from the other respondents.  Also to protect confidential information.  So for those reasons go into executive session, to interview voting rights consultants.  Again explaining details of legal reasons for going into ES

???:  Got text message that audio dropped.

Peter:  We paused for that and got it corrected.  Nothing was missed. 

2:50pm John:  Going into ES.  We set aside 45 minutes for each interview.  There are three.  It may not take that long.  Then we'll come out and discuss and possibly take action then.  

So back by 5:15pm maybe earlier.  

First respondent 

4:53 - out of ES


Rasie hand or go right to motion regarding VRA itself.

Bethany:  I move the Board move into contract with selected responded and set up contract. 

Melanie: 2nd

John:  Discussion?  No discussion?  Adopted.  

Staff and myself will negotiate the contract and get back to public.

Last item on agenda.  If not motion to adjourn?

Melanie:  So moved

John:  Seconded by Budd.  No objection.  Adjourned.  

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Redistricting Board Meets Tomorrow (Wednesday) May 26 at 2:30 Mostly Executive Session

 Call-in numbers:  Anchorage 563-9085, Juneau 586-9085, Other 844-586-9085 to listen and/or give testimony.

Here's the agenda for the meeting.  Most of it is minor procedural stuff.  

They will 

1.  Take public testimony

2.  Approve minutes for all the previous meetings - since they only recently hired a transcriptionist who had go through all the old minutes and tapes and do them in the format they approved recently.  All the old minutes up for approval are available here (along with the other documents for the meeting including the RFI that applicants are responding to.)

3.  Interview respondents to the Request For Information (RFI) for a Voting Rights Act consultant.  

4.  They may vote to select a consultant after the Executive Session.  

This is less important than ten years ago, before the Supreme Court struck down the requirement for 16 states (including Alaska) to get pre-clearance of their maps from the Department of Justice before they could adopt their maps.  The current bills - in the Senate the For the People Act, also known as H.R. 1 (Redistricting is covered in Section II) and in the House the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act - may change the rules again, but it's unclear if either will pass and if one does, in time to affect current redistricting.  The Senate bill has an outline which makes it easier to find sections.  But terms to search in both are 'redistricting' and 'preclearance.'

The Voting Rights consultant interviews will be done in executive session. The Board hasn't announced how many applicants there are or who they are.  


Date: Time: Place:

May 26, 2021 2:30 pm

T eleconference:

Public Numbers: Anchorage 563-9085, Juneau 586-9085, Other 844-586-9085

  1. Call to Order

  2. Establish a Quorum

  3. Adoption of Agenda


  1. PublicTestimony (dial in to one of the phone numbers above and indicate to the operator that you wish to testify)

  2. Adoption of Minutes from past meetings

  3. Executive Session for the purposes of interviewing Voting Rights Act Consultant RFI Respondents

  4. Board Discussion on selection of Voting Rights Act Consultant. Possible action.

  5. Adjournment

Video About China's Contribution To Saving Wetlands Along International Flyways Of Migratory Birds [Updated]

[UPDATE:  Here's a link to a great site about birding and other wildlife in Beijing and beyond:]

When I taught a masters of public administration class in Beijing in 2004, I paid close attention to the birds I saw.  We had a fifth floor walk up apartment in the faculty housing on campus and so we had a treetop view from our apartment.  The most prominent bird at the time was an azure magpie.  

But I was surprised to learn that most of my students were unaware of the birds on campus.  They simply didn't see them on campus.  They were surprised that there were birds and that their American professor was interested in them.  

I searched bookstores for birding guides.  I identified birds by taking pictures and sending them to a birder friend in Anchorage who sent them to her birder friend in Japan who would identify the birds and then I could google them to confirm.  

Eventually a student took me to the biggest bookstore in Beijing - about five stories - and we found a birding book published by, I think, the World Wildlife Association.  I'd even look straight up and sometimes see flocks of birds way, way up high above Beijing.  

So when Emily retweeted this video, I was excited.  The Chinese government has stopped reclamation projects along the Yellow Sea where migratory birds stop on their migration path.  

This post is for my students in Beijing. Ben (Frank), I hope you'll pass the video along to your old classmates.  

There is a variety of people speaking here - from China, from Cornell University, from New Zealand, and from Anchorage.  

Thanks to all these folks for making this happen.  (This video is dated May 23, 2021)

Friday, May 21, 2021

An Obsession With Motorcycle Gangs

The LA Times has an article today on Bo Bushnell, who became obsessed with collecting the memorabilia of outlaw motorcycle gangs.  He spent years finding and getting to know members and former members.  Many of the original members are now in their 70s or dead.  The article mentions at the end that Bushnell has a new obsession - street gangs.  

"It’s not that he’s obsessed with gangs any more than he was with motorcycle clubs.

“'The gangs and the clubs, they’re just the backdrop,' he said. 'It’s the people, and the personal stories, that fascinate me. I have always been interested in outsiders and outlaws, and these are the ultimate outlaws.'”

And I think that is something we need to always be doing all the time - look closer at the stereotypes we have of people and groups we only know through the media.  Yes, motorcycle clubs and street gangs have done terrible things.  But why?  Who are the people who were attracted to those organizations?  What do they have in common?  Are there things we can do as a society to minimize the number of people who get involved in organized violence against others?  I'm not sure Bushnell's interviews and documents answer those questions, but it's worth reading the article.  

"The real value of the collection is its capacity to correct the monstrous image of outlaw bikers and give them their true place in history, said Paul d’Orleans, motorcycle historian and curator of the influential bike culture website the Vintagent.

“These few hundred club members had an enormous impact on our culture at large by their mere existence, and they also created a unique and peculiarly American folk-art movement with their custom motorcycles,” D’Orleans said. Like it or not, he added, 'That movement evolved into a billion-dollar worldwide custom motorcycle industry'.”

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Denali Day At Denali

 There was sun and blue sky mostly this morning and when we got to the first point on the park road with a view of Denali, there it was.  There were a few clouds near the top, but on closer look they were behind the mountain.

But even before we got to that point, we saw a porcupine.  I remember seeing one live porcupine in the wild in Alaska a long time ago, so this was a big deal. 

And then that first glimpse of Denali.  It's in the middle and looks like a cloud in the first picture.

But then, that's what the telephoto lens is for.  

I've got about 15 or 20 pictures of Denali today. I'll limit myself to these three.  It just dominates the view and may explain why we didn't see too many animals today.  We also didn't drive in that far because we knew we also had to go home today.  So we didn't go past the point where you could see the mountain.  

At one view point, I just climbed up the tundra above the road and kept looking back down at the expanding landscape and the mountain.  

Denali is still very much in early spring.  There are few (I don't remember seeing any) new green leaves.  And driving home, past the Denali viewpoint at mile 135, the trees seemed to go from just budding to full on new green.  But on my tundra hike I did see a few of these.  Don't know what they are.  

We came upon this ptarmigan while we had some classical Indian music on.  It seemed to pay close attention to the sitar and flute.  

This is a white crowned sparrow we encountered as we did the Savage River trail again, this time with sun shining on us.  

We saw a moose and a caribou outside the park on the way home.  A man was taking a picture next to his car along the highway.  I thought of the mountains to the east.  When suddenly a caribou dashes into the road in front of me and doesn't a 180 when he sees my car rushing toward it.  I guess that kind of quick change of direction is good wolf dodging genes.  Was the man waiting to take a picture of a caribou being hit by a car?  

This sad picture was near the road to Willow.  Remnants of a fire now that many years ago.  

The Riley Creek campgrounds now distinguishes between the under 30 foot and over 30 foot spaces.  Our VW camper doesn't take up much room, but for the most part the bigger spaces have more privacy.  So the space we normally have had we couldn't use.  We'd reserved online as in the past, but this year there was no place to do it live.  The Mercantile - the shop at Riley where you normally got your receipt - was closed.  And they had cards on all the A sites (>30 feet> telling you not to park there.  

Also, with the gas tax Anchorage added last year, gas is cheaper in Wasilla.  And amazingly, the cheapest was at Trapper Creek - $3.04 for unleaded.  

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Caribou Day At Denali

 We saw lots of caribou, close by while hiking, and off in the distance today.  

And a couple of moose.

And a bear.

Lots of lichen on the rocks.  And a few ptarmigan.  

The hike along Savage River.

That should do it for today.  

Monday, May 17, 2021

Drive To Denali

 This is going to be quick.  I'm outside the visitor center to get WIFI and the mosquitoes are out.

We see good views of Denali a ways past Wasilla, but clouds were moving in.  When we got to the big view point at Mile 135 it was cloudy.  Was the white cloud on top the peak?  

It was the peak and as we watched, the clouds cleared up a bit and we saw more of the peak.

I just couldn't do this icy lake justice.  It's much more beautiful than the picture.

Near Summit Lake, we saw our first caribou.  We also saw a couple of moose, but I was driving and couldn't get a picture.

It was sunny all the way up, though it started raining slightly here.  The sun is out, but so are the mosquitoes.  

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Misleading Headlines: "In A Divided City . . .'

 Most of the headlines in the Anchorage Daily News today are relatively straightforward, probably accurate descriptions.  

"CDC's mask guidance spurs confusion and criticism as well as celebration"

There may be more lurking in this headline than I see, but it seems fairly accurate.  

But let's look at the headline on the ADN's editorial about the election:

"In a divided city, Anchorge's new mayor will face a tough challenge immediately" 

My focus is on "in a divided city."   Sure, there has been an obvious division between at the moment between maskers and non-maskers, between those who put failing businesses ahead of people dying.  But I would note there are also lots of other divisions - racial, financial, educational, religious, for example - that have existed and will continue to exist.  But those aren't what the ADN seems focused on.  They're talking about politically divided.  

This is amplified further on in the editorial.  

"[the election] has left half of Anchorage's residents on one side of a yawning partisan gulf, and the remainder on the other side."

The people who voted - less than 40% of registered voters - are evenly split.  But the ADN editorial board has cited no polls or other evidence to show that those who did NOT vote are so evenly divided.  I don't think they are.  We have had a segment of our population that has been loud and righteous in opposing things like women's rights to choose to handle unwanted pregnancies and LGBTQ rights.  But that doesn't represent the majority of Anchorage residents as our generally progressive Assembly (city council) demonstrates.  

But it's careless to assume we are evenly split.  It mirrors the false impression that our Senate is evenly split, when in reality enough small population states that are Republican disproportionately skew the Senate to the right.  

"But, according to the calculation of Ian Millhiser, writing for Vox, if you add up the population of states and assign half to each of their two senators, “the Democratic half of the Senate represents 41,549,808 more people than the Republican half.”  From MinnPost

Of course, that claim is also misleading because not all the people the Democratic Senators represent are all Democrats either. But then, neither are the constituents of the Republican Senators all Republicans. 

The ADN editorial board does make this point in reminding our likely new mayor, Dave Bronson, that he represents not just his supporters, but also those who didn't support him.  But then further contradicting the Divided City of the headline, they write:

"Fortunately, there's more common ground than the rhetoric of the campaign would lead you to believe, and Bronson knows it.  In meeting with the ADN editorial board, he estimated that he and Dunbar agreed on about 89% of municipal policy. . ."

So we aren't so divided after all?  But conflict draws eyeballs and sells newspapers.

The real concern I have is between those who take it upon themselves to use intimidation and defiance of the law to make their points and to get their  way.  Only the delusional believe still that Trump was cheated out of the the presidency, yet the Republican Party supports that lie in refusing to refute it and in expelling Lynn Cheney for saying those words out lout.  While not censuring representatives who helped the rioters and continue to repeat the lies about the election.  

Senator Dan Sullivan, for example, is a Marine.  He, presumably, was ready to put his life on the line to defend the US Constitution.  Yet he's not ready to put his job on the line to defend the Constitution in the Senate.  

Friday, May 14, 2021

Biking Chiang Mai To Bangkok This Summer In Anchorage

 Back around Fall 1981, the University of Alaska Anchorage swimming pool had a challenge - swim the Bering Sea over the semester.  In the pool.  50 miles.  I've never been as fit as I was that semester.  Each swim was not just a swim, but a leg across the Bering Sea.  That was a lot of incentive to get in the pool three or four times a week.  

So last summer I decided I should have a mental trip in mind for my biking.  I chose Santiago Chile to Concepción - a distance of about 650 kilometers, depending on which route you take.  So, as I rode last summer, I was in Anchorage, but also in Chile.  I looked at maps and pictures of the places I was passing.  Just like swimming the Bering Sea, riding from Santiago to Concepción was the inspiration I needed to get on the bike, even on days I was feeling lazy.  And once out, I never regretted it.  

So I've started already this summer and thought about going from Chiang Mai to Bangkok.  I wasn't exactly sure how far that was, but it seemed in the ballpark.  I looked on line to see if it was doable.  Not only is it doable, but there are a number of companies that will take you on the actual trip and so I picked Exo Travel because their trip was 745 km and the itinerary included a stop in Kamphaengphet - a town I lived in for two years teaching English.  I've also spent six months in Chiang Mai over two years and about a year in the Bangkok area.  

I've added up the miles from Exo Travel's itinerary and marked the distance from Chiang Mai for each daily destination.  The 165 km from Kamphaengphet to Nakhon Sawan would be way too much for me to do in one day.  I think about that trip on the main road back in the late 1960s.  It was a red dirt road.  Very dusty. Lots of rice paddies and some interesting hills jutting up oddly out of the earth.  Of course, it's paved now - they were working on that back when I was first there.  

So, as of today, I've ridden about 102km.  (That doesn't count three or four early, shorter rides on the old mountain bike before the ice was totally gone.)  

So let's look at today.  Before riding I swept the cottonwood catkins off the deck.  I have to do that twice a day right now.  

The catkins are VERY sticky.  If I don't sweep they stick to the deck, except for the ones that stick to my shoes.  Very messy period every year.  But they do smell very sweet.  

The tulips opened today.  At least two of them did.

There was a moose browsing by the trail as I went past the UAA student housing.  I'm always amazed at how such huge creatures can be so well hidden out in plain sight.  

Then up the trail toward Stuckagain Heights and Campbell Airstrip.  

Here's the north fork of Campbell Creek as it crosses under the Stuckagain Heights road.  

So given my bike rides so far since April including today, I've covered 102 kms, so I'm about 20 kms out of Lampang.  This is an old northern town that still has horse drawn carriages you can use to get around town.  There are no moose, but the elephant sanctuary is nearby.  

Here's are some links to posts I did at the elephant sanctuary in Lampang.

Elephants Part 1

Thai Elephant Conservation Center Hospital in Lampang and the Nursery (Part 2)

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Alaska Redistricting Board - The Five Board Members [Updated]

The five Alaska Redistricting Board members are chosen by the Governor (2),  Senate President (1), House Chair (1), and the Chief Justice of the Alaska Supreme Court (1).

Since the meetings have been available by audio only so far, I haven't had a chance to see or talk to individual Board members.  So I'm giving you some brief overviews of the Board members based on information  available online.  

[UPDATED July 24, 2021:  The Board has put up their own bios on the Redistricting website this week. Also, the pictures here are ones I found online.  My post on the board training on mapping software has my photos of board members, attorneys, and some staff members.  ]

From KTOO:

"Gov. Mike Dunleavy appointed two members of the powerful board that will draw new boundaries for legislative districts.

"Bethany Marcum of Anchorage and E. Budd Simpson of Juneau are the first of five new members to be named to the board. Marcum was an aide to Dunleavy when he was a state senator. She is the executive director of the Alaska Policy Forum, a conservative think tank. Simpson is a lawyer who has served as outside counsel to the Sealaska Corporation."

From APF website

Bethany Marcum, Anchorage

From the Alaska Policy Forum:

Bethany Marcum is the Chief Executive Officer at Alaska Policy Forum. In this role, she directs the policy priorities and strategic initiatives of the organization. By educating the public and elected officials on Alaskan issues, Bethany works to maximize individual opportunities and freedom for all Alaskans. When she's not at work, Bethany spends her time going on hunting trips all over the country and around the world."

From a State Policy Network interview with Bethany Marcum

"In this interview, we chat with Alaska Policy Forum‘s executive director, Bethany Marcum. Prior to joining the Forum, Bethany worked for the Alaska state legislature. Her involvement with the Forum started as a donor and occasional volunteer, then as a part-time writer, and eventually she joined the organization as a full-time team member.

Here are her insights on advancing freedom in America’s “last frontier”:

SPN: How did you first get involved in the freedom movement?

Bethany: I was about as non-political and non-informed as a person can be for most of my life. Exasperation about the 2008 bailouts brought me into the Tea Party movement and from there I gradually found my way to the policy world after seeing that rallies could not accomplish the change I wished to see.

SPN: Was there a moment or a role model that inspired you to choose work that’s dedicated to the cause of freedom and human flourishing?

Bethany: While there was a long delay before I took action, I can remember a moment around 1986. I was a small-town Midwest country girl who was in “the big city” of Boston for a few months, and I found a copy of Reason magazine on the subway.  As I thumbed through it, I thought, “Wow, there are actually people out there who think like I do. Sure didn’t know that!” And that was the end of that for over 20 years. Flash forward to my wake-up in the Tea Party movement in 2009 when I saw a copy of Reason magazine at an event. My first thought: “Holy moly, those people are still at it. And now I’m one of them!”

As a way to get a sense of her values, here the mission and principles of APF,  the organization she heads:


Our mission is to empower and educate Alaskans and policymakers by promoting policies that grow freedom for all.

  • Free people are not equal, and equal people are not free.
  • What belongs to you, you tend to take care of; what belongs to no one or everyone tends to fall into disrepair.
  • Sound policy requires that we consider long-run effects and all people, not simply short-run effects and a few people.
  • If you encourage something, you will get more of it; if you discourage something, you will get less of it.
  • Nobody spends someone else’s money as carefully as he spends his own.
  • Government has nothing to give anybody except what it first takes from somebody, and a government that’s big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.
  • Liberty makes all the difference in the world.

Budd Simpson, Juneau

From the Simpson, Tillinghast, Sheehan & Araujo, P.C Law Firm website:

E. Budd Simpson devotes a large portion of his practice to serving as the principal outside legal counsel to Sealaska Corporation (one of the twelve Alaska Native regional corporations formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act), which has been a client of his since 1978. Mr. Simpson's practice includes the timber, banking, resource development, real estate, subsurface, risk management, personnel, state securities regulations, and litigation activities of the corporation.

He is also General Counsel for The Juneau Empire, the region's largest daily newspaper, and its parent company, Morris Communications Corporation, which has media holdings throughout the state and the Lower 48.

Martindale-Hubbell awarded Mr. Simpson its highest rating, AV. He is a member of the Alaska Bar Disciplinary Board and chairs the Alaska Bar Fee Arbitration Panel in the First Judicial District. He is a former President and served on the Executive Board of the Southeast Alaska Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America from 1985 to 2005. He served as a member of the Alaska State Physical Therapy Board for six years, and was a director of the Port of Juneau, Docks and Harbors Board, from 1996 to 2008, including two terms as Chair."

John Binkley, Fairbanks - Chair of the Alaska Redistricting Board. 

Image from Wikipedia

From Wikipedia:

"John Emerson "Johne" Binkley (born February 4, 1953 in Fairbanks, Alaska)[1] is a riverboat pilot, businessman and Republican politician from the U.S. state of Alaska. Binkley served for one term apiece in the Alaska House of Representatives and the Alaska Senate during the mid and late 1980s, but is perhaps better known for his candidacy for governor of Alaska in the 2006 primary election. In that election, he finished far behind Sarah Palin (who would go on to win the governorship), but also far ahead of one-term incumbent governor Frank Murkowski, by then deeply unpopular amongst Alaskans.

In 2017, the Anchorage Daily News was acquired by Binkley Co., a group run by John's son, Ryan Binkley. [2]

Binkley was elected chair of the non-partisan Alaska Redistricting Board in 2020, following his appointment to the five-member board by Senate President Cathy Giessel."

  Nicole Borromeo, Anchorage

Image from Census site
  "Alaska Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham,    has named Alaska
Federation of Natives attorney Nicole Borromeo to the board in charge of redrawing the state’s House and Senate districts after the 2020 census."   (From ADN)

From the Census Bureau website:

"Nicole Borromeo serves the Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the Alaska Federation of Natives, the oldest and largest Native organization in Alaska. In addition to providing executive level leadership, Ms. Borromeo advises AFN’s Board and President on a wide array of Alaska Native legislative and litigation matters, including civil and voting rights.

Prior to joining AFN, Ms. Borromeo held positions with the reputable law firms of Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker, LLP; Patton Boggs, LLP; and Sonosky, Chambers, Sasche, Miller & Munson, LLP.

Her legal work has included researching policies, regulations, and laws related to federally recognized tribes, analyzing matters impacting Alaska Native corporations, and representing tribes and tribal consortia in a wide variety of areas, including governmental affairs, business transactions, and infrastructure development.

Ms. Borromeo’s volunteer civic engagement includes participation on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Indian Country Energy and Infrastructure Workgroup, to which she was appointed in 2017. Additionally, she is a Founding Board Member of Justice Not Politics Alaska, a nonpartisan organization promoting the independence of Alaska’s judiciary.

Since 2008, Ms. Borromeo has also served as a mentor to girls, young women, and minorities of all ages who are considering legal and judicial careers through the Color of Justice Program.

Ms. Borromeo is a shareholder of Doyon, Limited, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) regional corporation for Interior Alaska, and the Board Chairman for MTNT, Ltd., the ANCSA village corporation representing four Interior Alaska villages."

Melanie Bahnke, Nome

"Alaska Chief Justice Joel Bolger has picked Melanie Bahnke of Nome for the final seat on the board that will redraw Alaska’s election boundaries following the 2020 census. Bahnke is the president and CEO of regional nonprofit Kawerak Inc. and is an Alaska Federation of Natives board member.

Bahnke is an undeclared voter, meaning the board will have two undeclared voters and three Republicans."   [From the ADN]  

From the Alaska Federation of Natives website.   

"Melanie is the President and CEO of Kawerak, Inc. and has been employed by Kawerak since 1999. In 2012 she was promoted to the President position. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Rural Development from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and a Bachelor of Education degree in Elementary Education from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Melanie is a tribal member of the Native Village of Savoonga and speaks St. Lawrence Island Yupik as her first language. She is married to Kevin Bahnke, and they have three children."


Tuesday, May 11, 2021

First Anchorage Election Totals Have Dunbar Ahead By 114 Votes Out of 72,036 -UPDATE 3

UPDATE 3:  Friday May 14, 2021 - The Bronson lead continues to grow.  With 6,043 new votes reported today, Bronson now leads Dunbar by 1,116 votes - 489 more votes than yesterday.  

So Bronson must have gotten 3266 new votes and Dunbar must have gotten 2777.  So that would be 54% for Bronson and 46% for Dunbar this round.  

I suspect later analysis will show that Bronson had much more enthusiastic supporters - they were angry about how COVID restrictions affected their businesses and their sense of liberty. And many of them believe or pretend to believe that the presidential election was stolen.  Dunbar's supporters were split among three candidates and were mostly motivated by fear of Bronson winning - a fear they apparently didn't feel too strongly.  

I would guess that national GOP supporters did a better job of targeting their voters via social media and other forms of communications than Dunbar was able to do.  But that's just speculation.  

UPDATE 2:  Thursday May 13, 2021 - The tallies are following the pattern of the original election.  Each new report increases Bronson's lead.   It's now 627.  Of course, I exaggerate a bit since there have only been a total of three reports.  But it's not looking good.  Add your own favorite profanity.[

[UPDATE 1:  Wednesday May 12, 2021 - new numbers today put Bronson ahead by 278 votes. 


There we're 3,986 new votes counted.  (Today (76,022) minus yesterday (72.036).  In this batch Bronson would have received 2189  and Dunbar 1797 - Bronson needed 114 to catch up with Dunbar and then another 278 to get 392 votes ahead today.  

That means out of 72,036 votes reported yesterday, Dunbar got 50.08% and Bronson 49.9%.

But out of 3,986 votes counted since yesterday, Bronson got 55% and Dunbar got 45%.  That's quite a difference.  I don't know which votes were counted today.

But in the general election, Dunbar led the first two or three results, then Bronson went ahead and his lead kept increasing.  That's not a good sign.  

How many votes are left?  Not sure.  if we speculate about the same as came in today (I'll round up to 4000 to make it easier to calculate), Dunbar would need to get 55% of the votes just to break even with Bronson.  

The odds aren't good.  The only positive I foresee if Bronson wins is that the Assembly will fight him all the way.  But there's still a lot of damage he can do. ] 

People said the vote would be close, but I believed that Anchorage had moved further along than this, than half the voters voting for a pandemic denier, a virulent pro-lifer who has been equally opposed to LGBTQ rights.  

These are the results as of 8:15pm.  There haven't been any updates since then, so  that's probably it for tonight.  I'm guessing these are all the mail in ballots that arrived by yesterday or this morning.  Maybe people who voted in person before today.  So people who voted today in person or by mail are probably not counted.

There are more votes to come in during the next week - mail in votes that were post marked by today. Maybe people who voted in person today.  I'd like to think that the anti-masker crowd got all its voters out and the progressive folks just couldn't believe it could be this close.  But that's probably wishful thinking.  

Unless the first mail-in votes depart radically from the trend so far, it looks like we aren't going to know who our next mayor is for at least ten more days.  And if it stays this close, there will be an automatic recount.  

For the visually impaired whose devices can't read the image, Dunbar is ahead by 114 votes:

Dunbar   36,075

Bronson  35,961

72,144/236,777 - These numbers are listed as "Times Cast" which has never been an obvious descriptor.  It also says 30.47%.  I understand this to mean the number of votes over the number of registered voters.  If that's correct, then 69% of Anchorage voters did not vote.  (Well, we probably have a few thousand more votes coming in.)  

But it also raises the question of the 108 difference between this number (72,144) and the number of votes listed if you add Dunbar and Bronson's votes.  Are those write-ins?  There's a line that says "Unresolved Write-ins = 0".  I'm guessing they mean they've resolved all the write ins.  

Anchorage, I'm ashamed it's this close.  Ashamed that so many people voted for Bronson, ashamed for all the people who didn't vote.  I had thought people had learned from Trump and Dunleavy, but I am obviously wrong.  

Monday, May 10, 2021

Getting Out - Short Hike At McHugh Creek And Watching Birds At Potter Marsh

Went for a walk at McHugh Creek Sunday.  This was our greeting at the beginning of the trail (to Potter Marsh).  That's when I realized that the bear spray was at home.  I figured it was better off in the house than in the car during the winter.  [Of course, when I say something like that, I have to look it up.  There are forums where people talk about bear spray, but not very authoritatively.  But from

" Do not store unit in a cold environment under 32 degrees F (0 degrees C). This may cause depressurization and the loss of effective range."]

Never mind, we aren't likely to see a bear.  

It's still that in-between-time, not white and not green yet.  But lots of light from very early to later and later each night.  But it was a gray - not rainy - day and my phone camera was having trouble getting the colors right.   


 We took the trail going up to the homestead, but by the third long stretch of very muddy trail.  Actually, water is using the trail to get down the hill.  We decided to go back down and just stay on the trail that goes to Potter Marsh.

If you look closely, there are spots of green where plants are pushing their way up out of the earth.  

A surprise was the vibrant green and apparent health of the spruce trees.  Lots of trees have been killed by spruce bark beetle in South Central Alaska.  But there were good sized young trees that were doing just fine.  Or so it seemed.   Notice the healthy spruce in some  of the other pictures too.

The nasty spines on the devil's club are even more apparent than normal when the plants are still naked.

And during this still leafless period, the odd shaped trees along this trail are apparent.  

And there were lots of broken trees leaning in odd angles and piles of broken branch debris.  It was about this time that I remembered that our 2021 State parks parking permit was in my wallet and not on the dashboard of the car.  

Unlike the first trail, this one has boardwalks when the water gets to be too much.

The picture below is my favorite from yesterday.  The lower resolution on here doesn't help.  But I just like the texture of the tree covered hill and the various subtle shades of orange to budding green with trunks and branches here and there.  

We are almost back to the parking lot.  

My windshield was free of notices and I quickly transferred new parking pass from my wallet to the windshield.  The view of Turnagain Arm never disappoints, no matter the weather.

Right near McHugh Creek,windsurfers were out.

When we pulled over at Potter Marsh, the photographers were out.  

Soon all the straw colored grasses will be bight green.

There was even a pair of swans guarding a nest.  I'm still battling my camera when it comes to focusing on distant birds.  Eventually I hope to have a truce.  

A steady wind kept the water dancing.