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Readers write: Letters to the editor, Aug. 26, 2014

Alaska Dispatch News
LETTERS: Readers reflect on the consequences of low voter turnout, the corruption of college athletics and the view from Kodiak. U.S. Post Office, Smithsonian National Postal Museum image

Non-voters make their beds

After reading that we only got a 31 percent turnout for the last election I am reminded of a quote of Plato:

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

— Bob Bell
Anchorage

Oil not be-all and end-all

I live on Kodiak Island. Most of our community works in the fishing industry, so we need clean water. The last thing that we need is an offshore drilling platform.

The legacy of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill is never far away here. Most people harmed by the spill had to wait about 20 years to get some financial compensation and that money didn’t change anything — too little, too late. Most people here would rather work for themselves in the outdoors on their boat than hold a job at a mine or oil field. Conservation of our natural resources matters more here than the number of potential industrial jobs. 

There are plenty of places in the U.S. that fund education and create jobs without the oil industry. Alaskan politicians need to remember that regardless of yes or no on Ballot Measure 1 there are plenty of Alaskans that will survive with or without ConocoPhillips. 

I can’t believe that anyone is supporting a politician working to create Pebble mine or a similar project. The need for money in today’s world will never go away, but don’t let anyone tell you that a job with BP or Pebble mine is your only option.

— Francis Barton
Kodiak

Academics first, please

Intercollegiate sports are rife with brutality, corruption, and physical/emotional/sexual abuse, as media accounts attest to. Why do universities put up with it?

Regarding the new UAA athletic facility, venues for college sports and pedestrian entertainment have no place at a university. They are a mockery of the mission of colleges, and take away funding for basic higher education. Athletic scholarships and budgets are a waste of strained academic resources. UAA administrators are to be castigated for their apparent philosophy of athletics first, academics later, as shown by their actions.

The university’s prioritization study neglected the real problem — a bloated, inept administration. Higher education in Alaska is fast becoming an employment agency for incompetent administrators and aberrant faculty. Funding for the University of Alaska should be tied to a 20 percent reduction in its administration.

The purpose of college is education, not entertainment — entertainment demeans education.  The new UAA athletic facility should be turned into classrooms and renamed the Alaska Airlines Center for Academic Excellence.

— Thomas H. Morse
Anchorage

What if officer were black?

I do not know the circumstances surrounding the death of Michael Brown.  I wonder whether the outcry and unrest would be the same if he had been shot by a black officer.

— Mark Ryan
Anchorage

Beautiful path; one idiot

I would like to acknowledge everyone who had a hand in the beautiful pedestrian path recently built on the south side of Benson Boulevard between Forest Park Drive and Lois Drive in West Anchorage.

I understand Lindsey Holmes is to be credited for acquiring the funding from the state. (I don’t care about her party affiliation.) I do not know who is responsible for the design, I can only say it is beautiful. To the entire crew who worked to complete this project, I personally thank you all.

What a wonderful improvement to an area in need of TLC.

However, to the jerk who felt the need to ride their bicycle off the sidewalk, marring the topsoil on the slope just off the newly completed path I would like to give you a raspberry. Are you proud of yourself? You should be ashamed.

 So many people did such fine work. Thank you all for a job well done. To the one idiot who decided to cause damage, shame on you.

— Laura Risinger
Anchorage

Probation system flawed

Sunday’s cover story on former probation officer Stanton is appalling. It is time that the state required appropriate counseling, training and supervision for its probation officers. There are supervision and training and licensure requirements for other counselors in this state. There should be similar requirements for probation officers.

Sexually vulnerable, drug-addicted women should also be assigned to female correctional officers.

Possibly the UAA Justice Department could take some leadership in correcting the current gross state oversights in training and supervising these state employees.

— Janet Lindeman, psychologist,
Anchorage

Make education paramount

I am sorry that I am not in Anchorage to stand with Byron Mallott and Hollis French personally. Alaska’s future depends on the strong leadership of this team. 

Their commitment to high-quality education and post-secondary training is long-standing and passionate. They know that Alaska’s future depends on high quality education for all of Alaska’s students regardless of geography or socioeconomic status. They are committed to providing a significant, and ongoing, investment in education so that educators can focus on teaching and learning and connecting with families and communities, and not struggling for funding every year. 

Byron Mallott and Hollis French are the leaders needed to guarantee a strong Alaska for the 21st century.

— Carol Comeau
Bellingham, Wash.

Victims often re-traumatized

There is no single answer or solution to the high rate of suicide in Alaska. But a good place to start is the current research.

Ninety percent of the individuals who commit suicide have a diagnosable mental illness. A South Carolina study concluded: 47 percent of the individuals provided mandatory psychiatric treatment will experience institutional trauma during treatment or transportation. “Subjects consistently reported experiencing fear, helplessness, or horror in response to these events.”

A line from a trauma specialist, “As a result of … paradigmatic 'blindness,’ conventionally accepted psychiatric practices and institutional environments repeatedly re-traumatized Anna.”

For 20 years, Alaska has not improved the grievance procedure law for psychiatric patients. And psychiatric institutions and units generally refuse to recognize and treat institutional trauma.

There is no total solution to the prevention of suicide. But improving the grievance procedure law for psychiatric patients, many of which the state considers disabled, and requiring psychiatric institutions and units to recognize and treat institutional trauma would be a good place to start.

— Faith Myers and Dorrance Collins
Anchorage

The views expressed here are the writers' own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.