Voices

The Republicans who lead the Alaska Legislature are comfortable talking about the desire to “right-size government,” the ideal one-size-fits-all euphemism. Every time I hear those words I think of someone picking out a new pair of pants for the seat of government. Or the time my daughter Anne had to give up on getting a favorite couch into her apartment because she didn't have the right-size door for the right-size couch. Soon we'll be seeing red baseball caps emblazoned with “RIGHT-SIZE GOVERNMENT,” the best thing for the legislative fitting room since former House Speaker Pete Kott ordered hats for the various heads of the Corrupt Bastards Club. Just as some claimed the CBC was a harmless joke and others found proof of wrongdoing, Alaskans will never agree on the right size of...Dermot Cole
I found Beth Bragg’s article featuring University of Alaska Anchorage women’s basketball player Alysha Devine (Jan. 29) to be extremely disappointing because it was not about Devine as a person, scholar or athlete -- but about her hair. Out of approximately 30 sentences published, only two had substantive information (peppered with hair puns) about Devine’s playing career. The subject of the other 28 sentences was her hair. What made ADN think it was a good idea to publish an athlete profile solely about the athlete’s hair? I can’t presume to know what the author’s intentions were when this article was penned. Perhaps imagination ran short that day, or maybe just enough material to fill the page was needed. The author possibly thought that a news article about hair would be cute, funny,...Katina Ozrelic
The unanticipated strength of anger and resentment unleashed by the current presidential campaign raise ancient questions about the character of American democracy. The questions may seem new, but they go back to the nation’s beginnings. As imagined by the Founding Fathers, democracy depends on an informed and educated electorate, willing and able to make reasoned, careful judgments about the character and capability of the people they choose to represent their and the nation’s best interests. That electorate was likely a fantasy, one that never existed in their time, or ours. But it was the theoretical foundation of the system of government they fashioned. The founders were not enthusiastic about democracy. Most of them shared to some degree Hamilton’s belief that the common mass of...Steve Haycox
As a lover of wild places, I’ve thrived on Alaska’s wilderness over the past 40 years. Like thousands of others, I’m grateful for amazing places such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, and Prince William Sound. In these protected public lands we can all find beauty, open space, peace, wildlife, subsistence food, adventure, isolation, discovery, fascination, and inspiration. Prince William Sound embraces a wilderness that I’ve explored over the past few summers. While paddling up the magnificent College Fiord and camping near the face of Harvard Glacier, it’s hard to imagine that Anchorage is just an hour away. The Chugach Mountains form a spectacular rampart that separates an urban, noisy setting from a wild mosaic of thunderous...Debbie S. Miller
More than 25 percent of all wild sheep in North America live in Alaska. Dall sheep are highly valued by countless sportsmen, photographers, nature lovers, subsistence users, and scientists. Weather patterns and predators have influenced Dall sheep populations through the millennia but now there is a relatively new threat on the scene. Wild sheep are susceptible to diseases carried by domestic sheep and goats that can affect herd survivability. The most significant diseases affecting our wild sheep are respiratory infections that result in pneumonia. Pneumonia in North American wild sheep has been documented in numerous scientific studies resulting in more than 70 technical publications. Pneumonia most often results in death across all age groups of wild sheep, and is typically followed by...Kevin Kehoe
I now write in defense of megaprojects. Some of my friends will gasp. Some may even lose their breakfasts, at least figuratively. It’s worth a discussion, though. It has become fashionable to bash large state-sponsored infrastructure projects, but some points are being missed. I will not defend these projects, which will rise or fall on their own merits, but I will critique the way we’re thinking of them. Susitna hydro, the Ambler resource road, Juneau access road, the Knik Arm Crossing and the extension of the Alaska Railroad in the Mat-Su Borough have been getting press lately. I do believe criticism is good because critics keep us on our toes. To cite a famous example, the trans-Alaska oil pipeline was built to be much safer, particularly in regard to permafrost, thanks to the...Tim Bradner
Readers ignored past coverage of UAA basketball player I resisted the urge to respond to George Harbison Jr.’s letter stating his displeasure with the ADN’s article regarding UAA women’s basketball star Alysha Devine’s hair, assuming that he, being from Homer, has little else to do but complain about things during these winter months. It wasn’t easy because, although it was pretty well-written, he displayed an obvious lack of knowledge about Devine, which can only mean that he doesn’t read much of the sports pages on other days. But I can’t ignore the Feb. 7 letter from Mary Mendonca who also seems to have focused on just this one article regarding Devine, ignoring the many times the UAA player has been mentioned in articles regarding the UAA women’s team. Her comment that the ADN needs...Alaska Dispatch News
The Anchorage School Board apparently violated the Alaska Open Meetings Act in October when it decided in secret to not renew the contract of Superintendent Ed Graff and extend it a few months to finish the school year. Now the board’s opaque process has backfired. Board members who had reasonable concerns about Graff have kept silent for three months, creating suspicion and confusion among parents. Facing mounting political damage, they are struggling to free themselves from the secrecy they created. The board met six times in executive session to discuss Graff’s evaluation and contract renewal from August through October. Board member Eric Croft, who is running for Anchorage Assembly, said the board wanted a unanimous decision. “It was a lot of give and take in executive session, but...Charles Wohlforth
As the state grapples with a $3.5 billion budget deficit, we must not lose sight of slowly acquired gains, those that require continued investment now before they pay off in the future. If we don’t, the dollars the state might think it is saving now will be lost later when we have to spend more as we try to undo trauma-based harm to our state’s future workforce. This presents a crucial intersection of social and economic policy that should not be overlooked. In a bare-bones fiscal era, we need to find a way to protect what the Alaska Mental Health Board’s Pat Sidmore calls “an infrastructure investment in people.” Sidmore, who works for the board as a health and social services planner, conducted an analysis for the Mental Health Board and Alaska’s Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug...Jill Burke
The Legislative Information Office (LIO) in downtown Anchorage has become an easy target for those eager to find a scapegoat for excessive government spending in tough economic times. These attacks ignore the significant history of the LIO in Anchorage, and overlook potentially devastating financial implications for our state should a satisfactory solution not be reached. While breaking the lease and moving the Legislature elsewhere may be a popular or “easy” decision, truly independent economic analysis demonstrates that this “easy solution” would inevitably be a woeful mistake. As oil prices have rapidly plummeted, my partner and I have been actively working with the state to find a pathway to savings. We understand that we are in a different economic climate than when the Legislature...Mark Pfeffer