Dermot Cole

In January, the state Senate Finance Committee approved a contract with a former Alaska health and social services commissioner to provide expert advice on Medicaid expansion.

Among other tasks, the $45,000 contract called for Bill Streur to produce a “written report for committee use that presents strategies and options for Medicaid expansion” by the end of April. He was also to provide information on potential savings from Medicaid expansion and identify ways to change state operations to save money in one of the biggest programs in state government...

Dermot Cole

The upcoming international conference headlined by President Barack Obama presents an unprecedented opportunity for Alaska.

It wouldn’t hurt our congressional delegation to be gracious hosts.

Actually, it would help a lot, especially at a time when Alaska leaders hope to change federal policy on everything from the King Cove road to the proposed troop reductions at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, not to mention the demands of dealing with climate change in the Arctic...

Dermot Cole

With the federal highway trust fund running on empty this week, the sensible thing for Congress would be to raise the gasoline tax to provide money to fix our crumbling roads and bridges.

But Congress isn’t sensible.

The federal gas tax, now 18.4 cents per gallon, hasn’t been raised for more than 20 years and brings in about $16 billion less a year than the nation spends on highway projects...

Dermot Cole
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KENAI -- In her own gentle way, my wife asked if she should expect fish, or at least a fish story, when I returned.

I said that one led to the other.

For my first attempt at dipnetting along the mouth of the Kenai River last weekend, I didn’t quite know what to expect...

Dermot Cole

KENAI -- In her own gentle way, my wife asked if she should expect fish, or at least a fish story, when I returned.

I said that one led to the other.

For my first attempt at dipnetting along the mouth of the Kenai River last weekend, I didn’t quite know what to expect.

I have been to the Copper River many times over the years and have memorized the drill -- swirling waters, windblown sand and minutes or hours spent waiting for the pole to try to leap out of your hands...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- About once a year, as regular as the first Tuesday in October, Fairbanks voters face a ballot measure about whether wood smoke pollution is simply the price we pay for living in Interior Alaska or if the cost to human health warrants at least some local regulation.

For the sixth time since 2009, local voters are expected to weigh in on a pollution initiative this fall. It's championed by state Rep. Tammie Wilson, who wants to limit the Fairbanks North Star Borough's ability to do anything about wood smoke except to have people breathe it.

Divided views on the initiative will highlight the race for borough mayor, with Wilson and Assembly member Karl Kassel expected as the leading candidates...

Dermot Cole

Repeating what has become his mantra on the state budget, Fairbanks Sen. Pete Kelly said in a Fairbanks meeting this week that “government in Alaska has had a good run,” but the paradigm has shifted.

On other occasions he has supplemented his slogan by saying government has to feel pain or that individual Alaskans should not have to pay for the “ lifestyle of government.” It's a curious choice of words. If you didn't know better, you’d think he was not part of the government...

Dermot Cole

No company has done more to advertise its receipt of oil and gas tax credits in Alaska than Miller Energy Resources, which has received close to $100 million over the past year or so.

Now the company is likely to become a case study for why the laws governing cash incentives -- with no requirement to show what the state gets out of the bargain -- need an overhaul by the Walker administration and the Legislature.

The Legislature has structured the tax credit law so that individual payments to companies are a state secret. But Miller is one of the companies that volunteers to share what it receives in state incentives, highlighting those numbers in presentations to investors...

Dermot Cole

For those who will write the history of modern Alaska, nearly 5,000 numbered boxes in the basement of the University of Alaska Fairbanks library are likely to be a critical element in achieving accuracy.

In those boxes is the written record of the Senate career of the late Sen. Ted Stevens, one of the most influential members of Congress in the late 20th Century and the most influential Alaska leader. It’s an enormous collection. Think of a paper column 6 feet wide by 6 feet deep that nearly touches the top of the Captain Cook Hotel...

Dermot Cole

A sign near the corner of Tudor and Boniface violates a state regulation. So it needs to go, the state says.

But the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities should listen to Leola Holloway, 70, and recognize that the sign should stay. It's the regulation that needs to go.

At 2 a.m. on Dec. 6, 1996, Leola’s daughter and two friends were headed home in a Honda after an evening spent playing bingo. After traveling east on Tudor Road, they turned north on Boniface Parkway just when a 22-year-old, Roger James, ran the light in a Nissan pickup.

The truck smashed into the passenger side and dragged the Honda 40 feet, killing Sheila Unique Holloway, 27, and Kori Hornstein, 20, and injuring driver Alison Glover, 21...

Dermot Cole

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