Dermot Cole

An ominous statement from Standard & Poor's and the stubborn slide in oil prices should leave no doubt in anyone's mind that the state needs to be looking at new revenue sources now, instead of waiting until the easily accessible financial reserves are gone.

Legislators who are predicting that only spending cuts will happen in 2016 -- and that significant actions are unlikely because it is an election year -- should realize that continued inaction accelerates the arrival of a real crisis...

Dermot Cole

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan should reverse his stand on the Law of the Sea treaty. For guidance, he need look no further than the reasonable positions taken during the second Bush administration by a guy named Dan Sullivan.

Sullivan has used his first half-year in the Senate to explain why the U.S. needs to show leadership in the Arctic, build icebreakers, respond to the Russians and take an active role in deciding the future of the region...

Dermot Cole

On an October night in 1997, a 15-year-old boy was knocked to the ground near downtown Fairbanks and repeatedly kicked in the head. He was left for dead on a quiet street, not far from the city center.

The four young men, ages 17 to 21, later arrested and convicted of the killing of John Hartman have now spent half of their lives in prison, but questions about whether justice was served in the case continue to haunt Fairbanks.

Marvin Roberts, George Frese, Kevin Pease and Eugene Vent are now in their mid- to late-30s, with varying amounts of time yet to serve. Earlier this summer Roberts gained a measure of freedom with his release to a Fairbanks halfway house. ...

Dermot Cole

Oil prices tumbled this week as China devalued its currency, continuing a trend on world markets that exacerbates the financial challenge facing Alaska.

With oil below $50 a barrel, Alaskans will worry a bit more about the $3 billion budget gap, but savings stashed away before the oil-price collapse will continue to insulate most people from the stark new reality of state finances.

This has yet to sink in, but the largest revenue source supporting education and state government operations in Alaska is no longer oil, but a rapidly dwindling bank account.

Something has to give and fast...

Dermot Cole

On the day after Veteran's Day in 2009, Gov. Sean Parnell declined the opportunity to travel to Elmendorf Air Force Base and attend a 15-minute speech by President Barack Obama.

Parnell was in Anchorage that day, but he said he skipped the ceremonies because he wasn’t granted a tete-a-tete with Obama during the president's two-hour refueling stop.

Parnell should have attended the speech and represented Alaskans. But he said that since he couldn't meet with Obama he would stick to his prearranged appearance at the annual conference of the Associated General Contractors...

Dermot Cole

For many political and business leaders in Alaska, it’s not a love-hate relationship they’ve enjoyed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

It’s a hate relationship, one that springs from disclosure and enforcement actions that occasionally create uncomfortable moments for those at the intersection of politics and power...

Dermot Cole

It takes a little effort to become a registered voter in Alaska. A new initiative would reverse the system so it would take a little effort to become ineligible to vote.

We would replace our “opt-in” system with an “opt-out” approach, potentially adding tens of thousands of names to the voter rolls. ...

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