Friday, May 9, 2008
Two Reasons That Alaska is the Most In-Flux Political Environment in the USA
After former Alaska State Representative Vic Kohring (R - Lesser Wasilla) was sentenced to 42 months in Federal prison this morning, the reporters initially flocked around Kohring and his flamboyantly expensive, if otherwise useless attorney, John Henry Browne. Kohring's defiant statement at the close of sentencing presentations probably surprised some in the courtroom more than it did me. As the post below, and the blog USA vs Victor H. Kohring explain, I've been following Vic's trajectory since launch.
Anchorage media coverage of the sentencing was full-court press. When Judge Sedwick stated "42 months," you almost had to hold on to your hat, as reporters left the room to file, by one means or another. I stuck around, because I didn't have to file, and I wanted to hear and see how the issues of Kohring's tentative appeal and reporting date turned out. Kohring, whose spinal problems have become chronic, needs more disc surgery, and has to find a way to get it, in his current impecunious condition. Sedwick gave him until the last Monday in June to deal with this. Then he has to go join the GOP Veco caucus in Oregon.
I sat between longtime friend Dewey Taylor and recent friend Ray Metcalfe at the trial. Dewey is one of the most effective grassroots community activists in the Mat-Su Valley, bringing people from all across the political spectrum together to build recycling consciousness and infrastructure to maturity in the Valley's core area. His wife, Gini King-Taylor, ran against Lyda Green four years ago.
Ray needs no introduction, although I was able to introduce him to Dewey after the event, outside the courthouse. Ray, who yesterday took an APRN reporter on a newer, more extended version of the Anchorage real estate tour he gave me earlier in the spring, was interviewed by a few news reporters on things like "what happens next?" and "did you make a difference in these prosecutions?"
In short, he did make a difference, and probably knows no more than me what will happen next. It was interesting watching various press folks engage Ray, either for interviews, or because they've come to know and respect him over the years. His demeanor was so different from Kohring's in so many ways.
Ray gets lambasted for being "Disco Ray," or a "showboater." Most recently, in respect to his allegations and distributed documents about Anchorage mayor and U.S. Senate candidate Mark Begich's relationship with powerful Anchorage developers, I've heard that "there's no 'there' there." I can say that Ray is about to release more material he says support his Quixotic quest against Mark.
KUDO talk personality Shannyn Moore was at the sentencing. She and I laughed out loud at some of the banter between Sedwick and Browne. Afterward, outside the building, as she kidded Ray about people confusing him with Jake Metcalfe this past week, I was laughing so hard I forgot to tell Shannyn how powerful her tape of the Talk Radio Panel session at the Alaska Press Club conference is. I've listened to it twice now, and was there, participating in it. Unfortunately, it appears to have been recently removed from KUDO's public archive.
Shannyn is the most dynamic and perceptive person to enter the talk radio format in recent years in Anchorage. She and I have argued and disagreed on several issues over the past eight months, but she sees the connection of what is happening in Alaska politics to how important the current political change dynamic is nationwide better than anyone else here, either on the air or in print. She doesn't hesitate to bring national figures - live, onto her program for up to an hour. People like Thom Hartmann, Greg Palast, Brad Friedman and Jeff Cohen Shannyn's hoping to interview Sibel Edmonds.
For starters, she knows who these people are. Other than Hartmann, even a majority of Alaska liberals and progressives might not recognize the other three names, or why they are important figures. I loved it, earlier in the week, when she jumped Matt Zencey's well-hidden column on local talk radio, saying something like "Matt Zencey is an asshole," or whatever she knew she could get away with short of an FCC fine.
Ray Metcalfe and Shannyn Moore are pressing the envelope on what Alaskans can digest, in their own unique ways. They know, more than most, how important it is for citizens to regain control of our political machinery.
And to conclude - the most thoughtful coverage of Vic Kohring's sentencing.