Letters to the editor (2/28/10)

Assembly members, take bus and listen to its riders

The Anchorage Assembly members have a rare opportunity to experience firsthand how the decisions they make will affect the people they represent. For one day they should trade their Assembly seat for a bus seat on routes 76 and 77 before they are gone. While on the bus, they should talk and listen to the many people affected by the elimination of these routes. The AnchorRides replacing these routes is not an adequate solution. Not even close. Riding and talking will not change the elimination of the routes, nor will it resolve our severe budget shortfalls. But it will put a face and a story to the stroke of the pen.

A firsthand lesson in humility will only make better decision-makers of our policy-makers as we enter more difficult times ahead. Furthermore, it will give voice to the people who deserve it -- the very riders who for the most part cannot make it to an Assembly meeting to have their voices heard.

-- Scott Pickett


Health care option is needed right now

It's time for a public health care option. Recent increases in health care rates in California and other states highlight the helplessness of millions having to purchase health care from for-profit providers. At a time when people are losing jobs and their financial foothold on retirements (through stocks or housing prices), the health care industry sees nothing wrong with increasing rates for excessive executive salaries or for dividends to shareholders (but that is, after all, their job).

At the same time they are raising rates, they are dropping people with questionable medical histories and denying coverage to others. A public option, not for profit, would provide the competition needed to keep costs down for all of us.

The Congressional Budget Office (not Obama) says the health care bill proposed by Congress will save taxpayers almost a trillion dollars over the next decade. Now is the time to address this issue. Our kids and national deficit can't wait.

-- Bill Tremblay


Drop in FAS is great; now let's screen women and girls

I am thrilled to see the downward trends of fetal alcohol syndrome in the Native community. The rates are not going down in other communities precisely because it is perceived as a Native issue.

I regularly see pregnant women who share that they have consumed alcohol not knowing that they are pregnant yet. Binge drinking rates are high and half of all pregnancies are unintended. Women do get the message about not drinking during pregnancy; they just don't get it regarding if they could become pregnant. Any woman who drinks during pregnancy can harm her fetus.

We must begin to screen all reproductive-age girls and women for (a) alcohol use patterns and (b) effective contraception if sexually active and drinking. We know that screening and brief intervention strategies work and health care providers often do not identify those at risk.

Unless we come to grips with how we deal with human sexuality and alcohol as a society, we will continue to see women harming fetuses before they know that they are pregnant.

-- Marilyn Pierce-Bulger



Your plan was what, again?

Dear Sen. Murkowski,

Thank you for responding to my letter. I have been eager to hear your plan for health care reform.

Did I understand correctly?

Your plan is:

• Enact two new changes to insurance regulation -- ban both (1) lifetime caps and (2) denial based on pre-existing conditions.

• Enact junk-lawsuit reforms.

• Allow customers to purchase insurance across state lines.

• Emphasize mammograms, smoking cessation and services to prevent chronic disease.

• Require members of Congress to join any new government health care plan.

This is it? This is your plan for controlling the spiraling cost of health care? This is the way you assure that every Alaskan has access to health care?

-- Mia Oxley


Want no attention? Back off

I so enjoy that I don't even know Gov. Parnell's children's names. I don't know how old they are, who they've dated, whether they have children or not or how they feel about a woman's choice. I don't know these things because they have not been paraded all over the country as your "typical" Alaska family. I am a third-generation Alaskan. I know no other "typical" Alaska family that flaunts themselves as much as our now-famous one does.

If our famous "typical" Alaska family doesn't want to be mentioned in newspapers, magazines or comedy shows ... then they should back off on the amount of time they try to win votes by exposing their own children to everyone, everywhere who still (remarkably) believe you have something important to say.

-- K. R. Jones


We don't need bill; public wants to live with wildlife

Rep. Charisse Millett has co-sponsored HB 281, giving APD authority to shoot and kill large animals should someone have a dangerous encounter. APD already has the authority to do so and has exercised it on occasion, thus making this legislation unnecessary.

Rep. Millett thinks it's unfeasible to require people to clean up their garbage or other animal attractants. She states our city is too big.

A poll of Anchorage residents published in the Feb. 21 Daily News indicates that 89 percent of Anchorage residents state we "should learn to live with ... problems with wildlife." Most feel people create wildlife problems; they support issuance of bear-proof trash cans and fines for those who do not clean up.

Hmmm, bills on marmots and malamutes last year; this year another phrase to add to the Alaska state anthem and the redundant HB 281. Meanwhile, the meatier issues are bogged down and 90 days may not be enough to address them.

If you feel our legislators are not doing their jobs and HB 281 is piffle, send your representative a personal opinion letter at www.legis.state.ak.us/poms.

-- Susan Valenti


Officers showed compassion

We are fortunate to have such kind, compassionate and professional police officers serving the public in Anchorage. Recently I had the opportunity to watch APD assist a confused, scared, very cold, elderly citizen. After 911 was called, an off-duty officer stopped by first to offer assistance. Soon after, two other duty officers came by to assist the person. I was in awe of the kind, genuine and thorough assistance offered.

Lt. Nancy Reeder was one of the officers involved and I hope that if I ever need help, someone as caring will come to my aid. Watching her interact with the needy person was heartwarming. We are indeed a fortunate community to have such great public servants. Thank you, APD. -- Margaret Griffo


Use dividends for schools

Looking at the schoolchildren sitting outside in the dead of winter because of overcrowding is appalling. My suggestion to correct this is for all the Native corporations to get together and pool dividends normally handed out to shareholders, using them instead to repair, rebuild or build the schools needed.

Waiting for bonds to be voted on, legislative help, federal funding, etc., is not working. I would gladly give up my dividend. I know that these dividends help with catching up on bills, grocery shopping, etc., but it would give our future Native children a warm, safe environment to learn in.

-- Melody L. Cooper


Not all schools are equal

All public officials should address the immediate need for repairing substandard public school facilities. NEA's vision is "a great public school for every child." Our society's commitment to that vision can be determined by the physical facilities we allow our children to be taught in. Great public schools cannot exist in substandard facilities. What message of basic human dignity and respect do we send our children when they are taught in such schools? All students have the human and civil rights to a quality public education that develops their potential.

We believe public education is vital to building respect for the worth, dignity and equality of every individual in our diverse society. How do we reinforce those beliefs when the basic inequities of the schools around the wealthiest state are so stark and unjust?

-- Glen Ramos NEA director-Alaska