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August 6, 2019 / This week from The Signal

How did Alaska's ferry strike end?
What did Joe Biden have to say about it?
And how did Gordon Ramsay survive Alaska's Icy Panhandle?
This year, there are about half as many fishing boats in Chignik’s city harbor as there might be in a good fishing season. For the second year in a row, Chignik fishers have mostly been left to twiddle their thumbs. They didn't have a single opener during the summer of 2018. A second year without fishing — and without income — is pushing things to the brink of catastrophe. (Photo and story by Alex Hager/KDLG)

But first… Gordon Ramsay survives Alaska

We here at The Signal's Alaska Overexoticification Watchdog Bureau were shaking our heads last week when National Geographic published an article with this headline: "Gordon Ramsay Braves the Icy Alaska Panhandle." The article covers the celebrity chef's adventures in the foreboding tundra of Southeast Alaska, where polar bears roam freely and penguins flock in droves. Ramsay visited Juneau this past winter to film an episode of his show "Uncharted," in which he travels to strange and distant lands and learns how the locals survive on scant food items like spruce tips, lichens and frozen pizzas from Costco. I'm looking forward to watching!

Let's check in with the governor of Alaska

His name is Mike Dunleavy.
  • Even Stevens: The governor made a big personnel change last week. He announced last Wednesday that former Alaska Senate President Ben Stevens will serve as his new chief of staff. Stevens replaces Tuckerman Babcock, who will shift to a new role as a senior policy adviser for the governor. For a little background on Dunleavy's new right-hand man, Andrew Kitchenman of KTOO and Alaska Public Media gives a brief overview.
  • Takesies-backsies: August could be a politically trying month for Dunleavy. As CoastAlaska's Jacob Resneck reports, an effort to recall the governor is underway across the state. The first hurdle for the campaign is to collect 28,501 signatures.
  • We're not in Kansas anymore: Alaska Public Media's Elizabeth Harball tells us that for some economists, Dunleavy's approach to state finances is reminiscent of "the Kansas experiment," when the governor there cut taxes and slashed government spending in a big way. How did that work out for the Kansas economy? And will Alaska see similar effects?

A ferry tale ending

The ferry strike is over, and the Alaska Marine Highway System is back in service.
  • Anchor up: The Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific and the state of Alaska reached an agreement late last week, putting Alaska's ferries and ferry workers back to work on Sunday. Jacob Resneck of CoastAlaska says the union got the three-year contract it had been seeking at the outset of negotiations.
  • Pretzel down: In a weird way, the ferry strike worked out pretty well for some folks — namely, pretzel enthusiasts in Haines. Claire Stremple of KHNS-Haines explains how the ferry strike somehow led to a pretzel boom in this Southeast Alaska borough.
  • Tweet around: The ferry strike drew some national attention last week, most notably from a few of the 2,435(?) Democratic Party presidential candidates. Alaska Public Media's Elizabeth Harball shows us what Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders had to say about it.

Just one more thing…

In case you missed it in last week's newsletter, we're gathering feedback from our listeners and readers (that's you!) about how the state budget cuts are affecting everyday Alaskans. If you have a story to tell, send us a note at or leave a voicemail at 907-586-1600. Your contributions will go a long way toward helping us report on budget issues in Alaska. Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far!

More news around Alaska

The Signal is written by KTOO digital media editor Ryan Cunningham
and edited by KTOO managing editor Jennifer Pemberton.

KTOO News is member supported.

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What are you waiting for? For an entertaining inside take on the biggest news in Alaska, try The Signal – just enter your email to get the latest edition delivered every week - it's free, we keep your email safe, and you can easily unsubscribe any time.