Paul Jenkins

It is difficult to watch King Cove’s decades-long fight for a short medical evacuation road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge and not remember Martin Luther King’s admonition , “We should never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal ...” What Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has done to kill the road is legal too. A federal judge even says so -- but Jewell could not be more wrong. U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland says Jewell, indeed, met legal requirements of the 2009 Omnibus Public Lands Management Act approving a land swap for the road -- and in siding with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to shelve it because of environmental concerns. Congress, it turns out, left it to the Interior secretary to decide between the proposed road’s competing public health...Paul Jenkins
Ah, you can just hear it, the slowly rising crescendo of grumbling and whining from the left, the frantic incantations from those desperate to have the Legislature impose taxes -- please, please, any kind of taxes -- or grab Alaska Permanent Fund earnings to plug holes in the state’s cataclysmic budget deficit. Now, not later. Right now. Hurry. You can smell the panic. Depressed oil prices and sagging production have knocked the state budget akimbo. Lawmakers are skimming Alaska’s savings to make ends meet. Those infernal Republicans hoping to cut more are recalcitrant to levy taxes of any kind to stop the bleeding. News stories. Commentaries. A dopey poll. They claim Alaskans are atwitter at the notion of taxes and using the Permanent Fund to mend our fiscal woes. They forget to mention...Paul Jenkins
As I cogitated about the recent Rasmuson Foundation-financed poll purporting to show Alaskans are in a dither to have the Legislature abandon deep spending cuts and, instead, pile on “revenue enhancements,” I remembered Albert Einstein’s admonition: “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” The Rasmuson Foundation has anted up something like $250 million over the years to make Alaska a better place, but, have no doubt, it needs government to continue spending and plans to invest $2 million more to persuade the public it should do just that. What caught my eye was an Alaska Dispatch News headline ballyhooing the Alaska Attitude Survey on the State Fiscal Climate, conducted for the foundation by Strategies 360. It said, “Poll: Alaskans...Paul Jenkins
While the left revs up its propaganda machine to decry the Legislative Council’s correct -- sublimely correct -- decision to sue the pants off Gov. Bill Walker for embracing Barack Obama’s penchant for ignoring constitutional strictures and playing overlord, the rest of us should be thanking our lucky stars. Perhaps the folks in black robes can pound a stake into the heart of Walker’s misbegotten drive to bankrupt Alaska by expanding Medicaid, a program that eventually will cost billions, just as the state wades through its cash reserves and teeters above a very deep fiscal abyss -- although that is not what they will be asked to do. They will be asked to decide whether Walker tap-danced on the constitution in announcing he would take -- without even a by-your-leave to the Legislature...Paul Jenkins
After a few years of loitering in courtrooms as a reporter, after being able to see inside a few correctional institutions, to sense the dreary, concrete block sameness and the numbing, noisy claustrophobia, prison, at least for me, is a huge deterrent. Perhaps the worst would be the loss of control; the tiniest minutiae of your life decided by someone else. You are a number on a list, taking up space, something to be accounted for in a ledger. What if you were helpless? What would happen if you were mentally ill? What if those responsible for taking care of you were not adequately trained or did not care? What if you were 20-year-old Davon Mosley? Mosley was one of about 5,100 people confined in state facilities in Alaska. He also was bipolar and schizophrenic, held for days in solitary...Paul Jenkins
As Gov. Bill Walker’s campaign promise to expand Medicaid in Alaska without the pesky Legislature’s approval chugs along, it only gets curiouser and curiouser. There are reasons galore to question the program’s fait accompli expansion as of Sept. 1: We are broke and may get broker; Walker could be breaking the law; the idea stinks as public policy; expansion without the Legislature presents a separation-of-powers thingy; it could shred the economy; arguments supporting expansion are questionable; it hoses the elderly and military families; and, perhaps worse, it could threaten education, pensions and other critical spending. That is just for openers. Alaskans could find themselves doing without a Permanent Fund dividend -- and paying a snarl of taxes to pay for the new, improved, expanded...Paul Jenkins
Gov. Bill Walker’s dogged effort to unilaterally expand Alaska’s Cadillac-class Medicaid program -- despite the Legislature’s reluctance -- is being peddled to Alaskans with a massive propaganda campaign replete with misleading information and outright fibs. Worse, he plans to pull it off -- to join 29 other states and the District of Columbia in expanding Medicaid -- while wading in legal quicksand; by pretending he can accept federal money and tell lawmakers to butt out because he simply would be expanding an existing program. It is malarkey. That’s not me saying that; it’s the Supreme Court. There are only two questions Alaskans -- riding into a fiscal abyss on plunging oil prices -- should be mulling as Walker plods ahead. First, how much do we want to ante up in taxes to underwrite...Paul Jenkins
When good sense overcomes the nincompoopery of politically correct cultural cleansing in the name of “diversity,” it is, well, heartening. Take the flag fiasco at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, for instance. Exhibiting lap-dog eagerness to appease those laboring mightily to eradicate all traces of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia battle flag, the university pulled down the Mississippi state flag from a 50-state campus display because its canton depicts the easily recognizable battle flag The silly removal set off howls, including a blistering July 12 editorial from the Anchorage Daily Planet . UAF rightly reversed itself Friday . In 1861, folks in Mississippi ardently believed secession was a right. They were not alone. It was a hotly debated, but widely held, belief...Paul Jenkins
News of the Mad Hatter accord ostensibly aimed at limiting -- or ensuring, depending on your viewpoint -- Tehran’s ability to conjure up a nuke by next Tuesday in return for lifting international oil, weapons and financial sanctions understandably triggered night sweats about oil prices and Alaska’s iffy fiscal situation. As good Alaskans, we should not concern ourselves that a hostis humani generis, an enemy of all mankind, with bloody decades of coups, hostage-taking and exporting terrorism under its belt, now has access to $150 billion, a phony nuclear facility inspection regimen (Really? 24-day delays before inspections?), and a green light to produce as much nuclear fuel as it wishes after the pact’s 15th year. No need to worry, either, about lifting the ban on Iran’s import and...Paul Jenkins
Whenever a writer fires off something that can be construed as biting or controversial in a volatile atmosphere, pushback -- some good, some not so good -- should come as no surprise. A few weeks back, a piece I wrote about the predictable and distasteful reactions of some American officials and businesses to the insane killings of nine parishioners in Charleston, South Carolina’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church predictably stirred all of that, and more. It even prompted a nice lady to conclude in print that I am “misguided.” “Jenkins misleads readers with his mention of mass shootings in other countries,” she said, and characterized the column as being “riddled with inaccuracies.” Hardly. Not being in the business of purposefully misleading anybody, I was quoting what one of...Paul Jenkins