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Readers write: Letters to the editor, Sept. 2, 2014

Alaska Dispatch News
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On Common Core standards, without interruption

To the man behind me in line at Freddy’s,

When you asked me if I was a teacher and then asked me what I thought about the Common Core standards, I actually believed that you wanted to have a conversation. Instead you interrupted, talked over me, and accused me of being a communist. I stand by my statement that although you seem to have read quite a lot about CCS, it was clear to me that you had only informed yourself about one side of the argument. I’d like to take this opportunity to answer your question without interruption.

There is a great debate going on in our country about the merits of implementing Common Core standards in our schools. While I agree with the critics that in many instances the standards were implemented without a transition period for the kids and adequate training for the teachers, I don’t think holding students to a high standard is inherently bad. There were standards when you and I went to school, and there will be standards for students in the future. These days our students are very mobile. A student might have attended eight to 10 different schools before graduating. Having standards aligned from district to district and state to state would end the problem of students entering a new program unprepared simply because the program they left was radically different. As educators we might not have gotten it right the first time, but implementation of these standards can and will help to level the playing field for our students, and we’re working on it as hard as we can.

I would urge you, sir, to do some more reading and to talk to other teachers. I guarantee if you speak politely they will be glad to discuss this topic with you. 

-- Deb Abshier
Eagle River 
 

Halt pot commercialization

When Ballot Measure 2 (the Act to Tax and Regulate the Production, Sale and Use of Marijuana) got enough signatures and was certified to be on the ballot I think it is safe to say that many Alaskans thought it was a “slam-dunk” to pass. However, now that there has been more discussion and thoughtful dialogue about what this initiative is really all about more Alaskans are taking a second look and reconsidering.

A recent statewide poll conducted by Public Policy Polling shows that for the first time since the initiative was placed on the ballot, 49 percent of Alaskans would vote no on Ballot Measure 2 if the election were today, while 44 percent say they would vote yes. Thankfully, Alaskans are now paying more attention to the details of this initiative. This initiative is not just about legalizing marijuana (as most Alaskans know, it is already legal to have and use small amounts of marijuana for personal use in Alaska). This initiative is about the commercialization of marijuana. It is about legalizing marijuana concentrates and edibles. It is about advertising to increase consumption of marijuana. 

Bottom line: this initiative is really about building a massive new industry promoting the increased use of marijuana. We don’t need that in Alaska. Join me in voting no on Ballot Measure 2 in November.

-- Jeffrey Jessee 
Anchorage
 

Take back the power

You and I are paying for more of the cost of government as the burden is shifted onto our property taxes.

“They” can’t stop. “They” bust our budget year after year.

“They” squandered our rainy day funds, while cutting taxes on business. 

“They” strangled our schools and public services, while “budgeting” for dams, bridges, railroads and hundreds of boondoggles.

“They” are our “fiscal conservative” elected state legislators and borough assembly members.

Let’s vote to fire these chameleons who are running our government into the ground.

It’s our government. We own it. We can elect folks who can balance the budget and can provide forward funding for our schools and the public services needed for our mushrooming population.

Mat-Su Borough elections are Oct. 7. Alaska’s general election is Nov. 4. Absentee ballot applications are available now.

Your vote is your power. Let’s do this for our kids.

-- Sid McCausland
Palmer (The Butte)
 

Pondering metaphysical fog while out walking my dogs

The fog was dense today when my dogs and I walked along our familiar morning route. Landmarks we’ve passed a hundred times looked strangely out of place, off-kilter. This has happened to me before in more distant yet familiar locations. A place I think I know like the back of my hand becomes strange and foreign while swathed in obscuring mists of fog.

There is, I believe, a metaphysical fog that enters people’s minds, obscuring truth and common sense. There is the fog of severe depression, which caused Robin Williams to take his life, despite his gifts of humor, intelligence, and a geniality that provoked the love and admiration of millions. There is the fog of intolerance and bigotry, such as affects both sides of the tragedy in Ferguson. There is the fog of zealotry which causes some to brutally murder those who practice a different religion, or practice the same religion differently.

I was taught to believe there are always two sides to every issue but there are times when I just don’t understand. I don’t know what kind of fog it is that causes society to permit a 9-year-old girl to fire an Uzi submachine gun for fun, with which she accidentally kills her 39-year-old instructor. At least we can take comfort from the old adage “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Now a 9-year-old girl can be “consoled” by that thought the rest of her life.

-- Betsy Blassingham
Anchorage
 

Hamas cartoon offensive

In your Aug. 29 Opinion page, you show a cartoon depicting a Hamas claim of victory with a sarcastic caption questioning their victory. Had you bothered with honesty you may have noted that Israel’s objectives have not been achieved. After dropping 20,000 tons of explosives, demolishing houses, schools, places of worship, hospitals, U.N. schools, and murdering over 2100 people, 550 of which were children, Israel’s objectives have not been accomplished -- mainly to demilitarize Gaza and destroy Hamas.

You tell me honestly, who is the winner? Remember, winning is relative.

Hopefully, next time you may want to do a bit more in-depth analysis before you print.

-- Abe Qutub 
Anchorage
 

Alaska Bar has responsibility to police itself, protect public

Attorney Ray Brown’s recent fact-free defense of the Alaska Bar Association could only be believed by those naive enough to believe that a lawyers’ association that adopts barriers to investigating unethical conduct can be considered fair and responsible.

My accusation against the bar association is that they force Alaskan complainants, who are unschooled in the law and unfamiliar with legal rules and processes, to meet a preposterously high standard of proof before the bar will even investigate.

Mr. Brown argues that the clear and convincing evidence standard is not applied to a complaint filed by a citizen. He’s just plain wrong. Here’s a quote from William Bankston, an attorney who affirmed bar counsel’s decision to dismiss an ethics complaint without investigation: “The evidence in this case is measured by the clear and convincing standard.” Further, in a recent appellate case, bar counsel nowhere denied my assertion that this standard was their complaint screening standard.

Mr. Brown also stated that the standard is “not something concocted by bar counsel,” but required by the rules. Again, not true. Even the bar association calls the standard “our policy” and the rules contain no standard for declining cases without investigation.

Look it up. Alaska Bar Rule 22.

I checked the standard of proof demanded by other states and, in each case, citizens must merely show probable cause that unethical conduct occurred before the bar will investigate -- exactly the standard I argue should be adopted in Alaska to assure that the Bar Association fulfills its responsibility to protect the public and police the profession.

-- Brant McGee
Anchorage
 

Police shootings easily skewed

“What’s wrong with this picture” that Mr. Minshall paints (Letters, Aug. 31) is  called “cherry picking!” For every example of a police officer of Caucasian ancestry who has shot an African-American suspect or perpetrator, and who has not shot a Caucasian suspect or perpetrator, there are 10+ examples of police officers of Caucasian ancestry who have not shot a African-American suspect or perpetrator, and who have shot a Caucasian suspect or perpetrator.

-- Jim Lieb
Palmer
 

Voiceless on toxic chemicals 

According to APRN, the state of Alaska decided in 2013 it was no longer necessary to seek community input when spraying toxic chemicals along roadways. That is positively amazing! Just who decided this? Was it DOTPF? The Legislature? Our infamous governor? Exactly who decided that folks about to have their environment bombarded with toxins no longer have a say?

Currently a highway on Prince of Wales Island is slated for herbicide spraying -- possibly beginning almost immediately. DOT has stated this was an experiment in cost-effectiveness. No mention was made of the proven toxicity of the chemicals chosen for spraying. Not a word was printed confirming facts that have long been established on the dangers of these chemicals. No mention of costs to our birds, plants, wildlife, fish and humans.

There may not be a great many of us here on Prince of Wales, but are our lives and safety less important than those in Anchorage or Juneau or did DOT figure they could just steamroll us and nobody would even notice? If the state wants to experiment, how about starting in the governor’s front yard.

Prince of Wales Island residents (and most rural Alaskans) are hunters/fishers/gatherers. We rely on our wild resources for our sustenance. POW residents resent being treated as second-class citizens. We are human beings too, not a warped chemistry experiment. Alaska DOT needs to steer clear of this irresponsible chemical track immediately.

-- Bob Andrews
Craig
 

New path needs tending

I am also pleased with the new path on Benson by Forest Park. I live off Aero Avenue and we too had an upgrade a few years ago. The problem is it is not being taken care of. There are so many weeds and so much tall grass it is hard so see the bushes. I phoned to complain  and someone came out but did a very poor job and completely missed the grass on the east side, next to the sidewalk. I get my weed wacker out and trim by my street. In previous years, it has been trimmed on both sides a few times a year. Seems like a waste of taxpayer money to put all the trees, grass and bushes in and not tend to them.

-- Linda Morrison
Anchorage
 

Emergency care outstanding

My 911 call Friday had the paramedics responding in a few minutes.

At the local hospital the registered nurse in my care plus the hospital staff were all attentive and concerned.

To both the paramedics and nurses, I applaud your skill and dedication in your chosen field.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Our city is fortunate to have experienced and focused people responding to our needs.

-- Mary Jane Bader
Anchorage

 

Planned Parenthood misguided

Re: Planned Parenthood’s attack on Dan Sullivan in the Saturday (Commentary, Aug. 30) paper: I cannot believe Alaska women would base their vote on just getting free contraceptives and on getting their abortion paid for by the government. Once again the Democratic party is trotting out these old worn-out talking points.

-- Dorothy Wilhelm
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 letter for consideration, email letters@adn.com, or click here to submit via any web browser. Submitting a letter constitutes granting permission for it to be edited for clarity, accuracy and brevity.