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2012 in review: Key debates explored in Alaska Dispatch

Scott Woodham

As public debate goes, 2012 was full of contention. The newsmakers, public intellectuals and spinmeisters were indeed busy making sense of the world around us.

The past year featured some blockbuster debates and expensive campaigns, as well as some grassroots political and cultural battles. And, in hindsight, some of the debates did not even come close to being settled this year. Alaska's high court has recently ensured, for example, that the debate over the state's redistricting process will stay alive for at least another year. And fish and wildlife have been a contentious issue in Alaska since long before statehood, even since before Raven deeply insulted Salmon Woman.

What's more, some of the answers arrived at in the past year by consensus and argument simply created new sticking points. The end of oil tax reform looked pretty much settled with the implosion of last year's special session, but will that billion-dollar debate split into dozens of constituent pieces and related arguments in 2013?

For that matter, will the rancorous rift exposed in the Alaska Republican Party affect its apparent new legislative dominance in 2013? Will coastal zone management arise from the dead? How will Alaskans continue addressing the epidemic of suicide and violence that plague their communities? When the international community arrives in the rapidly opening Arctic, will Alaska be ready?

Below, relive some of the most significant opinions published in 2012 by Alaska Dispatch. And in reading them, imagine you're glimpsing the future.

  1. 1 Our heroes of suicide prevention

    OPINION: Many Alaska Natives can tell you that they honestly do not know how many funerals they've been to that were caused by suicide. But things are getting better. We have a chance to heal.

  2. 2 Alaska oil tax debate: Playing ACES high

    OPINION: As oil production declines and investment flees, state senators continue to play ACES high.

  3. 3 Why Alaska needs oil-tax reform: It's our oil, and it's our future

    OPINION: Opponents of reform have labeled the effort to breathe new life into North Slope oil production, and to foster long-term investment, as a "giveaway” to the industry. In fact, these very critics are stifling Alaska’s future oil development and economic stability.

  4. 4 Doogan: Death of Parnell's oil tax cut, ain't seen nothin' like it

    OPINION: I’ve been to two goat ropings, a county fair, and have watched the Alaska Legislature since 1964, but the sudden and complete death of the governor's plan to cut oil taxes is the weirdest thing I've seen.

  5. 5 An accessible Arctic: Opportunity of a lifetime

    For Arctic states across the globe, including Alaska, the accessible Arctic Ocean poses the opportunity of a lifetime.

  6. 6 Redistricting plan divides and conquers Native vote in Southwest Alaska

    OPINION: Using the Redistricting Board's interim plan for the 2012 election -- no matter what the final plan may look like afterward -- will dilute the voting strength of Native people for years to come.

  7. 7 Alaska's GOP should embrace the Ron Paul effect

    OPINION: Rather than shun people who supported Ron Paul in Alaska's Republican Party preference poll, party leaders and old-guard members should welcome the surge of passionate, inspired new blood.

  8. 8 Alaska's louder and ruder Republican Party

    OPINION: Randy Ruedrich, the outgoing Alaska GOP chairman, was qualified, connected and experienced navigating rough-and-tumble politics. In other words, he's everything that incoming chairman Russ Millette is not.

  9. 9 Four necessary Arctic planning and infrastructure investments in Alaska

    OPINION: Due to ever-increasing activity in the melting Arctic, immediate investment in Arctic infrastructure is a foremost priority for Alaska and the entire United States.

  10. 10 Alaska can, and should, take politics out of collecting oil revenue

    OPINION: The unstable political arena is poorly suited to optimizing the tradeoff between variables affecting Alaska's revenues and oil developments. Long-term success requires a different course from the one we're on.

  11. 11 With love, to Shungnak

    OPINION: "... I love "Gooooood Evening" on the VHF ... I love fall time, picking berries on the wide-open tundra ... I love boat rides to pick masru ... I love trying to speak Iñupiaq and never getting it right ..."

  12. 12 How Prop 5 may have been defeated in Anchorage, and why fight's not over

    OPINION: Fear is what keeps so many people from wanting to grant to those who are in some way fundamentally different from them the status of being fully equal to them.

  13. 13 Living with Mike Weyapuk's story, seven years after his death

    Seven years after 26-year-old Mike Weyapuk died at the far northwest corner of North America, his story and that of his Inupiat village of Wales are still emblematic of Alaska's most horrific problems.

  14. 14 ANCSA at 40: Where are we and where are we going?

    The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act clearly remains controversial more than 40 years after its passage, but is it a tool that allows Native peoples to better their own lives and communities? Why or why not?

  15. 15 Alaska's most pressing issue: Save our dying oil companies!

    SATIRE: Alaska oil companies are on the brink of complete destruction. Meanwhile, Alaskans are reaping record profits and living high on the hog. We need leaders who have the courage to fight against this injustice.

  16. 16 How Alaska can avoid the third-stage resource curse

    A curse can strike resource-rich states in three different forms. Alaska has avoided the first two when it comes to oil, but whether it will be prepared for a decline in revenue remains to be seen.

  17. 17 The next 'Arctic Five' will be oil companies, not nations

    The next decade's 'Arctic Five' will not include Canada, Russia and the United States – it will be BP, Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, Lukoil and ConocoPhillips.

  18. 18 Vic Kohring: Positive mental attitude lifts this 'phoenix'

    OPINION: Brooding and feeling sorry for myself is not an option. While my life may have been devastated, it's by no means over. Life is short, and I intend to make the best of it.

  19. 19 What if Tea Partiers and Occupiers realized they aren't opposed?

    OPINION: Media members and political parties have painted the 'Tea Party' and 'Occupy' movements as opposites. But their core protest is the same, and outraged Americans will not be free unless they work together.

  20. 20 Salmon closures, protests highlight Alaska food insecurity

    OPINION: Federal disaster funding is just a short-term band-aid for a poorly understood problem in Alaska, and it ignores an older, more complex human rights issue.

  21. 21 Why Alaskans should vote to restore coastal management program

    OPINION: Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Texas and Louisiana haven’t found the Coastal Management Program an obstruction to development. Neither did Alaska for the 34 years we used the program. So let's bring it back to Alaska.

  22. 22 Arctic oil-spill response: Coast Guard's Papp should be ashamed

    Recent comments by the top Coast Guardsman indicate U.S Arctic policy is to cede responsibility for coastal protection to the oil industry. Farm it out, as they say. It's a national embarrassment.

  23. 23 Pedro van Meurs to The Concerned: 'I am ready to be governor'

    In response to Alaska Dispatch's The Concerned, petroleum consultant Pedro van Meurs expresses his readiness to become governor of Alaska and confirms some of our worst oil and gas fears.

  24. 24 Feds should resume Alaska corruption probe

    OPINION: An apology to the family of the late Sen. Ted Stevens over the botched case against him would do little more than perpetuate a culture of corruption. Instead, the Feds should resume their corruption investigation in Alaska.

  25. 25 Race in the Arctic is on, but US and Alaska are riding a nag

    OPINION: A race is on to develop Arctic natural resources and take advantage of newly open shipping routes. Alaska could benefit financially if it got a horse in this race. So far, many would argue we are still in the stables.