With All Due Respect....

With All Due Respect Episode 52

February 28, 2022 Andrew Halcro
With All Due Respect....
With All Due Respect Episode 52
Show Notes Transcript

Alaska's silent killer has stalked us for nine years and it's time for a plan not a bigger government handout. We review a book about an invisible power broker who probably touched your life. Mayor Bronson has decided to jump start Anchorage's economy with a project that will never happen.

Show 52
 
 Introduction
 
 Virginia Military Games
Major Benson Winifred Payne


 Exchange
 
 Disclaimer
 
 Content
 
 On this episode of With All Due Respect
 …in politics
 …a silent killer has been stalking
 …Alaska for nine consecutive years
 …and it’s time to make a plan
 
 Since 2012
 …Alaska has consistently lost population
 …and today we have 27,000 fewer working
 …age adults in Alaska
 
 It's time to stop
 …talking about larger dividends
 …and start talking about
 …how we save Alaska’s workforce
 
 In Entertainment
 …I’m going to tell you
 …about the best mob book
 …I have ever read
 …and how I stumbled upon it
 …purely by accident
 
 And in closing comments
 …on last week’s podcast
 …we detailed chapter and verse
 …about the long history
 …of fantasy project that
 …state policy makers
 …have been chasing for decades
 …
 …but today
 …
 …it appears our local mayor 
 …has caught the fever 
 …for the flavor
 …white elephant
 
 I’ll tell you how the pursuit
 …of Ship Creek is 
 …a fools errand
 …which will harm
 …existing downtown businesses
 
 Don’t look now
 …but all signs point to a new podcast episode
 …so let’s talk some politics
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Politics:
 
 

Alaska’s silent killer
 …has now stalked us for nine consecutive years
 
 2021 represents 9 years in a row we have lost population
 …which is slowly killing our labor force
 …and the bottom line is
 …it’s not getting the attention it should
 …from policy makers
 
 Today 
 …we have 14,000 fewer 
 …working age adults 
 …in Anchorage
 …
 …and 27,000 fewer 
 …working age adults
 …in the entire state
 …compared to 2010
 
 Now
 there are two segments that comprise our population:
 
 Net migration
 …which is people moving in and out of Alaska
 …and
 Natural increase
 …which is births minus deaths
 
 …Alaska has traditionally been a mobile state
 …while the national average is 2% transient population
 …Alaska is more like 8% transient population
 …and up until 2012 there was a balance
 …
 …50k a year would move out
 …50k a year would move in
 …and any small difference 
 …was made up in new births
 
 However
 …over the last
 …nine years
 …Alaska has consistently had
 …more people move out
 …than have moved in
 …and it’s been exacerbated
 …by the fact that average yearly
 …births have drop from 8,000 to 5,000
 …during that same time
 
 The end result
 …is a population
 …that is growing older
 …having fewer children
 …and failing to attract
 …working age adults
 
 So in the next ten years
 …where does the workforce come from?
 …if we don’t change course we could be short 
 …30,000 workers by 2030
 
 Historically
 …Alaska has been able to attract 
 …population due to the counter cyclical
 …economic cycles
 …
 …When Alaska’s economy is strong
 …traditionally the lower 48’s economy
 …has been week allowing us to 
 …attract new resident searching for employment
 …
 …However
 …the current economy 
 …in the lower 48 is strong
 …
 …workers are in demand everywhere
 …
 …and with the passage of the infrastructure
 …legislation from Washington D.C.
 …and billions in spending on the way
 …every state will be competing for workers
 …just like Alaska
 
 Bill Popp at AEDC 
 …has been sounding the alarm
 …on this for years
 
 Even Governor Mike Dunleavy’s 
 …while campaigning for governor in 2018
 …was asked about the outmigration
 …and replied
 …“the wrong people are leaving Alaska”
 
 well guess what
 …they’re still leaving
 
 

 

So what’s the solution?
 
 
 

So
 …Instead of big dividend how about
 
 ….becoming a leader in child care to help current workers 
 …every community is suffering
 …(Juneau, AK State Chamber, AERDC report)
 …In Juneau
 …In Anchorage
 …the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce
 …
 How about
 …
 …Investments in communities to help attract and keep residents
 …including a focus on affordable housing
 …
 How about
 …
 …Investing in the University System programs to attract new students
 …
 as well as a
 …concerted effort to improve education outcomes
 
 

And finally
 …we need to embrace immigration
 
 This is too big of a job for Anchorage
 …or any other Alaskan community
 …the only one who can solve this problem
 …is the governor and the state legislature
 
 For the last three years
 …Alaska’s public policy debate
 …driven by Governor Dunleavy
 …has been about budget cuts
 …and bigger dividends
 …meanwhile
 …we have lost population
 …for nine straight years
 …because we’ve failed
 …on the public policies
 …that make Alaska attractive
 
 Alaska is not going
 …to recover our workforce
 …or
 …return to economic glory
 …by paying larger 
 …cash dividends to Alaskans
 
 Alaska’s economic recovery
 …rests on addressing
 …child care cost and availability,
 …
 …making long term commitment
 …to the University of Alaska
 …to attract new students,
 …
 …leveraging AIDEA to provide
 …community development opportunities
 …to boost local investment,
 …
 …and realizing that local communities
 …cannot grow and prosper
 …without help from the state
 
 For the last six years
 …Anchorage has lost it’s ability
 …to invest in itself
 …and if you don’t believe me
 …just ask Mayor Dave Bronson
 
 In the last three weeks
 …Mayor Bronson has asked
 …for state money on everything
 …from solving Anchorage’s homeless problem
 …to solving it’s port problem
 …in addition to hoping 
 …Governor Dunleavy will
 …throw in some cash to 
 …solve Anchorage’s child care problem
 
 This is where Alaskan communities 
 …are at after five years 
 …of state budget cuts
 
 Alaskan communities are unable to
 …meet the needs of existing residents
 …let alone become an attractive 
 …destination for new residents
 
 For five years
 …Bill Popp at AEDC
 …has been warning us about this
 …impending work force crisis
 …
 …and during that same
 …time Alaska’s workforce
 …has been contracting
 …
 …we’ve been cutting investments
 …in education, transportation
 …and community support
 …while arguing for
 …a larger cash handout from government
 
 Alaska’s silent killer
 …has been stalking us for nine years
 …and the reality is
 …the governor and lawmakers
 …are the only ones
 …who have the resources to
 …address this growing problem
 
 If we do not reverse these trends
 …Alaska’s economy
 …will suffer significant harm
 
 Look 
 …I know Alaska is one big 
 …Hamilton/Jefferson debate
 
 

Half of Alaska is Hamilton saying
 …we need a plan 
 
 The other half of Alaska is Jefferson saying
 …we don’t need a plan 
 …we’ll figure it out as we go along
 
 Well let’s just remember Hamilton 
 ….gave us the current day financial system
 ….
 …while Jefferson
 …gave us Louisiana
 …

…I’ll take Hamilton
 
 

Alaska’s economy needs a plan
 …not a larger dividend
 
 A plan
 …that builds the workforce
 …that builds communities
 …
 …and recognizes 
 …
 …that without
 …comprehensive state investments
 …we will be left with 
 …a less educated workforce
 …and fewer of them
 
 
 
 
 


 Entertainment:

 

In entertainment
 …a great book about 
 …one of the
 …most powerful
 …and invisible mobsters
 …you’ve never heard of
 
 In order to talk about the book
 …I first need to tell you
 …how I came upon this book
 
 
 Last summer I was reading – entitled -  The Kid Stays in the picture 
 - a 1994 autobiography by Robert Evans
 - a former Hollywood studio mogul
 .who produced such hits 
 at the Godfather and Chinatown
 
 

1/3 into Evans story we are introduced to a mysterious figure
 who is described as a 6’3 ruggedly handsome man
 dressed in a dark suit and tie in 110 degree Palm Springs heat
 without a drop of perspiration.
 
 Throughout the book this mysterious character
 named Sydney Korshak appears in time of need
 to move mountains with one phone call
 
 This intrigued me.
 
 So I began to research Korshak
 …and stumbled upon
 …the best mob book I have ever read
 
 The book is called:
 Supermob
 …How Sidney Korshak and 
 …his criminal associates 
 …became America’s biggest power brokers.
 
 Am I exaggerating? 
 
 Absolutely not.
 
 Here is an example of one phone
 …call made by Sydney Korshak
 …that more than likely touched you
 
 Story of the Godfather…Al Pacino
 
 within twenty minutes
 …the head of the rival studio
 …called Evans and after a few
 …obscenities said he’d release
 …Pacino to star in the Godfather
 …and the rest is history
 
 Evans would later ask
 …Korshak how he persuaded
 …the rival studio owner to
 …release Pacino
 
 Korshak replied that
 …that the head of
 ..the rival studio
 ..was at that time
 …constructing
 …the new MGM Grand Hotel
 …in Las Vegas
 
 …so when Korshak phoned
 …the studio head
 …he simply asked the man
 …would you like to finish
 …your hotel?


 
 The book is called:
 Supermob
 …How Sidney Korshak and his criminal associates became America’s biggest power brokers.
 Gus Russo – 527 pages
 
 This is a must read
 seriously…this book is crazy good
 
 
 Closing Comments:

 

Closing comments:

 Last week on this podcast
 …we talked about how
 …Alaska’s political class
 …had wasted time and money
 …chasing fantasy developments
 
 …well ladies and gentlemen
 …I regret to inform you
 …that
 …Anchorage City Hall has now
 …caught the fever 
 …for a fantasy development
 
 In September
 …Mayor Bronson created
 …the Anchorage Economic Revitalization Development Committee
 …a group of 16 business leaders
 …who dedicated 14 weeks
 …at the direction of the Mayor
 …to identify economic development
 …projects to jump start
 …Anchorage’s economy
 
 In addition
 …as I mentioned earlier
 …the committee drafted
 …a fabulous report
 …on how action is needed
 …to address the issue of 
 …child care in Anchorage
 …
 …just great work
 …that both the assembly
 …and the mayor need
 …to put action behind
 
 So
 …after fourteen weeks
 …the committee came up with
 …five recommendations
 …
 …with the top recommendation
 …chosen by the Mayor as
 …
 …the development of Ship Creek
 …with a new waterfront
 
 Now
 …I am very familiar
 …with the Ship Creek Redevelopment Plan
 
 First
 …it’s not a plan it’s a wild eyed concept
 
 Second
 …it will never be built in our lifetime
 
 In order to understand this better
 …we need context
 …which means
 …we need a history lesson
 
 Yo Van
 …hit me one time
 
 (History lesson)
 
 In 2013 when
 …the state legislature
 …was spending billions
 …in capital projects
 …then Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan
 …got a $400,000 grant to do a
 …Ship Creek visioning plan
 
 I was at the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce
 …at the time 
 …and actually met 
 …with the consultants
 …to talk about the project
 
 

At the end 
 …of the day
 …it was a beautiful
 …$400,000 dream


 Pictures showed a cruise ship
 …docking at a modern dock
 …attached to a glorious waterfront
 …with vibrant retail
 …residential
 …and commercial activity
 …
 …accompanied by
 …
 …visions of Anchorage residents
 …cross country skiing right up
 …to the front door of a Starbucks
 …with stunning inlet views
 
 It was a $400,000 fantasy
 
 Now
 …given my knowledge
 …of the Ship Creek plan
 
 …I was curious as to why
 …the mayor’s committee
 …who was tasked
 …with jump starting Anchorage’s
 …economy would have picked
 …a project that won’t be built
 …in our lifetime
 …
 …and oh by the way
 …if ever were to be built
 …it would simply
 …cannibalize downtown
 
 In reviewing the committee
 …minutes it’s clear
 …the Ship Creek project was added
 …at the very last minute
 
 
 When I asked about
 …what materials the committee members
 …had reviewed in order to make this decision
 …
 …I was told the
 …committee was comprised
 …of individuals who posessed various
 …levels of knowledge about Ship Creek.
 
 Okay
 …but if even if
 …you possessed
 …the smallest amount of knowledge
 …about the Ship Creek plan
 …
 …again
 …
 …why in the world would
 …you recommend this project
 …to jumpstart Anchorage’s economy
 
 
 Allow me to explain:
 
 First
 …the actual site of Ship Creek
 …would be the most expensive
 …land to build on in Anchorage
 …if it’s even permittable
 …and that’s highly doubtable
 
 Even the Ship Creek analysis
 …warns about the cost
 …and uncertainty
 …due to the extreme topography
 
 Second
 …the actual site of the Ship Creek Development
 …in on land owned by
 …the Alaska Railroad
 …and is home to a working rail yard
 …which creates extreme conflicts
 …and costly remedies
 
 So if you’re a private developer
 …not only is it going
 …to cost you more money
 …to build at ship creek
 …but you’ll never own your land
 
 Third
 …this particular Ship Creek plan
 …at this particular
 …time will simply cannibalize downtown
 
 …this is a project to consider
 …when you Anchorage is growing
 …and the private sector is strong
 …
 …However today the state
 …is losing population
 …and the city already is going
 …to Juneau with a tin cup
 …for everything from the port
 …to child care and homeless shelters
 …
 …so why are we wasting time on this
 
 Ship Creek
 …is not downtown
 
 Ship Creek is not
 …easily accessible from downtown
 
 Even the projects analysis stated
 …the elevation difference has historically
 …created a barrier for connections between
 …the Ship Creek site and downtown
 
 So why when downtown faces
 …so many challenges
 …would we be diverting our attention
 …away on something that would
 …basically compete with downtown
 
 How does a development
 …of retail, multi family housing
 …and commercial space in Ship Creek
 …help downtown merchants
 
 It doesn’t.
 
 And let me tell you
 …from my experience
 …they are not going to appreciate
 …the competition
 
 For over twenty years
 …a civil war brewed downtown
 …between 4th Avenue merchants
 …and the Saturday market
 
 For over twenty years
 …4th Avenue merchants complained
 …that the Saturday market was keeping
 …tourists from their shops
 …and the market was located
 …only one block away
 
 Now-
 …imagine
 …how 4th Avenue merchants
 …will feel losing tourists
 …to Ship Creek retail shops
 …over a mile away
 
 First
 …it’s important to
 …understand what has kept
 …downtown Anchorage stagnant
 …for so long
 …and continues to stymie progress
 
 Downtown is comprised of small city lots
…owned by individuals
 …which makes it difficult for developers
 …to find a big enough piece of property
 …to make money developing
 
 Anchorage city lots are only 7,000 square feet
 …so if a developer can’t piece together three
 …or four lots
 …it doesn’t pencil out
 
 For instance
 …the Nordstrom building in downtown
 …sits on five different city lots
 …owned by three separate entities
 
 Downtown has really old infrastructure

…and in many cases new developments
 …have to pay the cost of upgrading old
 …infrastructure like water and sewer
 …which makes redevelopment too risky
 
 Downtown is split by two federal highways
…both 5th and 6th Avenue are federal highways
 …and it’s impossible to have a real downtown
 …feel when three lanes of cars
 …are whizzing by at 35mph
 
 Look at the difference between
 …4th Avenue and 5th Avenue
 …4th Avenue is more walkable
 …and more retail friendly
 
 But the biggest challenge for downtown
 …is that few live downtown

 Without a population base
 …downtown is almost
 …exclusively a destination
 
 You might go to the PAC,
 …you might go to your office downtown
 …You might go to downtown restaurants,
 …you might got to downtown community events
 …
 …but then you go home
 
 When offices shut down at 5pm
 …downtown shuts at 5pm
 …
 …this creates a real challenge for
 …downtown merchants who are 
 …small independent businesses
 …who don’t have the benefit of
 …downtown residents on
 …the street after 5pm
 
 A few years ago
 …I was speaking with a Wahlgreen’s executive
 …about opening a store in downtown
 …he said
 …we simply didn’t have enough feet on the street
 …
 …normally cities need at least 
 …15,000 downtown residents to attract
 …a grocery store or pharmacy
 …and currently Anchorage
 …has less than 3,000
 
 For the previous six years
 …under both the Berkowitz
 …and Davidson administration
 …we focused on building housing
 …downtown and getting feet
 …on the street
 
 Those efforts resulted
 …in the first two housing developments
 …in downtown Anchorage in 40 years
 
 So why now
 …under Mayor Bronson
 …are we taking focus away
 …from what Anchorage downtown
 …actually needs
 …which is to get more people
 …living downtown
 
 Why are we taking focus
 …away from improving the core
 …of downtown 
 …and supporting current 
 …downtown merchants
 …
 …to chasing
 …unicorns in the 
 …Ship Creek mud flats?
 
 I get the dream is always
 …sexier than the reality
 …but once again we live in reality
 
 

The committee could have
 …landed on any number
 …of ideas to strengthen downtown
 …especially now with the
 …so called stars aligned
 
 …For the first time in a decade
 …you have a Republican Mayor 
 …and a Republican Governor
 …who helped him get elected
 
 Now
 …they should be able to
 …accomplish things were 
 …others failed to get traction
 
 How about…
 
 …pushing AIDEA for development incentives
 …to increase downtown housing
 
 …pushing the DOT to work with local
 …groups to adopt traffic calming
 …on fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenues
 …that will slow traffic, increase on street parking
 …and provide a better retail environment
 
 …pushing to DOT to upgrade sidewalks
 …on fifth and sixth avenue that are the
 …responsibility of the State of Alaska
 …and have been ignored for years
 
 There are so many
 …needs in downtown Anchorage
 …and meeting them talks so long
 …as it is
 
 In 2015
 …after being on the job 
 …at ACDA for only 
 …three months
 …I sat for coffee with Larry Cash
 …who is an absolute downtown legend
 
 …On a dark October morning
 …as we sat at our corner table
 …at Kaladi’s downtown
 …I pointed across the street
 …to the transit center 
 …and all of it’s misery
 …and I said Larry
 …we’re going to fix that building
 
 Six years later
 …the project is still underway
 
 Getting things 
 …done downtown
 …takes a lot of time
 …especially in a boom and bust 
 …economy like Alaska
 …
 …that’s why consistency 
 …is so important
 …
 …that’s why focus 
 …is so important
 
 Allow me to close
 …with an example
 …of consistency and focus
 
 Many of you have probably
 …either heard about
 …or have seen
 …Oklahoma City’s
 …amazing downtown 
 …revitalization story
 
 Between 1990 and 1995
 …Oklahoma City suffered
 …two major setbacks
 …that forced themselves
 ..to look in the mirror
 …and rethink their commitment
 …to their city
 
 First
 …in the early 90’s 
 …Oklahoma City was publicly
 …embarrassed 
 …when United Airlines chose
 …not to relocate it’s new 
 …headquarters there
 …after United’s employees
 …called the city a dead end
 
 Second
 …in 1995 the city was rocked
 …by the bombing of their federal building
 …which left the community soul searching
 
 In response
 …the city made a commitment
 …to invest in itself
 …
 …the public approved a 1% sales tax
 …that would be used to boost economic
 …development downtown
 …
 …for the last twenty five years
 …mayors of Oklahoma City
 …have taken pride in improving the work
 …the prior mayor had accomplished
 …
 …for the last twenty five years
 …their consistency, their focus
 …their commitment to their city
 …has created a world class downtown
 …
 …that’s what Anchorage downtown
 …has always needed 
 …a consistent focus 
 …from mayor 
 …after mayor
 …but unfortunately we’ve never had that
 …
 …instead we’ve had a succession of mayors
 …for the last twenty five years who have
 …been both hot and cold about downtown
 …
 …starting in 1994 
 …former Mayor Rick Mystrom
 …was a downtown champion
 …he helped create the Anchorage Downtown Partnership
 …he created City of Lights
 …
 …then you had Mayor George Weurch 
 …who for three years was indifferent towards downtown
 …
 …then we had Mayor Mark Begich
 …who for six years was a downtown champion
 …a new convention center
 …new downtown street improvements
 …
 …then we had Mayor Dan Sullivan
 …who presided over the longest six years 
 …in downtown history
 …
 …bar break violence, riots in the street
 ...gangs in Town Square
 …and ironically the only thing
 …Sullivan did for downtown was
 …spend the $400k on a fantasy 
 …of downtown
 …instead of trying to fix the real one
 …
 …then
 …for six years we had
 …Mayor Ethan Berkowitz
 …and Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson
 …both who championed downtown
 …and as a result delivered the first new 
 …downtown housing in decades
 …and returned the police headquarters 
 …back downtown
 …
 …today we have Mayor Dave Bronson
 …and he appears to be picking up
 …where Mayor Dan Sullivan left off
 …
 …ignoring the real needs of 
 …downtown businesses
 …and instead chasing unicorns 
 …on the Ship Creek mudflats
 …
 …Any focus on Ship Creek
 …is a fools errand 
 …
 …and it takes
 …the focus away from
 …the downtown core
 …where small business owners
 …are paying property taxes
 …with the hope of getting
 …a more vibrant downtown
 …not subsidizing 
 …a Ship Creek fantasy
 
 
 (Closing Music)