Elise Patkotak

Here’s what I don’t understand. I don’t understand why we always seem so surprised at the health care needs of veterans returning from wars. It’s not as though this is something new. Every war supplies us with heartbreaking pictures of veterans living in cardboard boxes on streets; of veterans pushing their legless bodies on wooden boards with wheels begging money; veterans reliving the nightmare of what they saw and what they endured to keep their homeland safe...

Elise Patkotak

It’s funny how progress gets made sometimes. We often don’t even recognize it as such until we stop and ponder the implications. On first hearing the news last week that same-sex couples receiving health benefits through the state employee system would now have to be married, my gut reaction was that this was just another effort to deny same-sex couples their rights. Then I remembered that same-sex couples have the same rights as anyone else to marry here, and I realized this requirement was progress...

Elise Patkotak

I am an ardent supporter of public broadcasting. Until last year, I had been on a board or commission for public broadcasting since my first stint at KBRW in Barrow in the late 1970s. I was there as public radio brought the Inupiaq language into the public sphere by broadcasting in Inupiaq as well as English. I listened as people from far-flung villages wished distant friends and relatives "Happy Birthday" on the birthday show. I anchored a show on Saturday mornings called "Discount Radio." Its motto was, “You get what you pay for, and I’m a volunteer.” This tamped down any expectations that I knew what to do when dead air went out over the airways because I had once again hit the wrong button...

Elise Patkotak

Anchorage in the summer likes to think of itself as a city of flowers. And it is. But it is also a city of sounds, sounds that we don’t hear in the winter because we close our doors and windows to the cold. But in the summer, we open those windows and the sounds of everyday life come rushing in.

Last night I lay in bed reading while outside I heard a train whistle, kids playing and yelling to each other, dogs barking, lawn mowers roaring, birds singing -- compared to winter in my house, it was a cacophony of sounds. It brought me back to my childhood, to the days when not everyone had air conditioners, but just about everyone had windows to open to the street. Our windows overlooked the main street in our neighborhood...

Elise Patkotak

Between trying to destroy our public schools by underfunding them, refusing an expansion of Medicaid that would help children throughout the state, and now trying to twist Erin’s Law so that it becomes nothing more than a bastardization of its original intent, I have to wonder just how much our current legislators really hate children. Or maybe they owe so much to their money overlords that they are not allowed to provide for children, if it comes out of the pockets of the people who pay to get them into office...

Elise Patkotak

It must have been the dental surgery I had last week. That can be the only reason I missed my legislators coming to my door to find out what I really think about the work they did this session. They did come around, didn’t they? Isn’t that the reason they gave for their little two-week working vacation? So did anyone have a Republican legislator come knocking on their door to see how they felt about budget cuts? And remember, if you were one of those foolish people who thought the Legislature existed in the 21st century and used email, Twitter and telephones to express your feelings, you don’t count...

Elise Patkotak

Etok, Charlie Edwardsen, Jr. , was definitely one of the most colorful people it has been my privilege to know. He was amazing in many ways, and in just as many ways could make friendship a challenge. He was who he was and made no apologies for that...

Elise Patkotak

Since this coming Sunday is Mother’s Day, I thought I should take a break from writing about Alaska's incompetent, pathetic Legislature. But it’s not easy. No matter how hard I try, they keep handing me ammunition that is impossible to ignore. Let’s take, for instance, the two-week break that Republican legislators felt they owed themselves for the backbreaking labor they’ve been doing for the past three months...

Elise Patkotak

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen something as pathetic as our esteemed leaders in Juneau begging the press corps to carry their message to Alaskans that there just isn’t enough money in the budget for frivolities like education or health care. There is obviously enough money for the really important things like Knik Arm Bridge but not to expand Medicaid to those people so silly as to have been born poor...

Elise Patkotak

Once again Alaskans are being treated to the spectacle of a Legislature unable to finish its business in the time allotted. This gives further credence to my theory that the reason Republicans are so hard on government employees is because they know that they themselves are some of the worse government employees imaginable.

Every year our legislators troop down to Juneau, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for the challenge of creating the needed laws and budgets to keep the state going another 12 months. And every year we are treated to the sound of three months of hot air blowing out of the capitol buildings followed by the steam that ensues when the Legislature realizes that the end is near. Suddenly, everyone goes into overdrive...

Elise Patkotak

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