Voices

A young Iñupiaq man tried to sell me his pocket knife for $10 on the plane from Kotzebue to Kivalina. He’d just gotten out of jail in Kotzebue, hadn’t eaten for a day and wasn’t sure where he’d find his next meal. He told me about the uncertainty he’d face when he returned to Kivalina – a criminal record, no job and no money. I gave him some snacks I had, explained that I didn’t have any cash and wished him luck. When we got off the plane he didn’t even have a bag...

Tim Aqukkasuk Argetsinger
GOP can’t seem to understand how to court minority voters

It’s no secret that the Republican Party has had a rough go courting minority voters this election cycle. The inability to appease a right-wing base, while simultaneously adapting to changing demographics, has haunted the GOP’s nationwide efforts. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard at least something about Donald Trump leading the GOP pack in polling, even after his now infamous remarks about Mexicans. Donald may be the biggest and loudest kid on the block, but that doesn’t mean other GOP candidates aren’t saying something along the same lines. This week Sen....

Alaska Dispatch News

Since the dawn of the jet age, Alaska has been a prime place for presidential stopovers, usually at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, and usually when the No. 1 passenger on Air Force One is headed to or from Asia. Nearly every president since statehood has landed in Alaska for carefully scripted visits, though there are often surprises, as President Ronald Reagan discovered in 1984.

About 10,000 people turned out on a blustery 35-degree morning in May that year when the travel plans of Reagan and Pope John Paul II intersected at Fairbanks International Airport. Reagan was returning from China and the pope was bound for South Korea. The pope was on the ground for about three hours, while Reagan stayed overnight...

Dermot Cole

Frank Gerjevic is an opinion page editor at the Alaska Dispatch News, one of the old guard from the world of print who somehow survived the acquisition by the digital Dispatch. It was never a secret Gerjevic didn’t care for Republicans, but it is a surprise he would expose his prejudice so transparently and in print. His commentary, printed Aug. 20 , was especially offensive to me on several levels...

Frank McQueary

For most people in the Lower 48, knowledge of Alaska’s changing climate is limited to images of diminished sea ice or melting glaciers. However, northern changes are much more complex. For example, as permafrost warms and thaws, it no longer holds moisture near the surface. The ground dries, new kinds of vegetation grow and geese, ducks and other creatures lose their habitat. Within decades, the landscape can be completely transformed. Change that happens with this speed is just not happening elsewhere...

Larry Hinzman

Dear President Obama,

I am interested in applying for the position of Alaskan Presidential Tour Guide. This is a unique and important role for Alaska. I have not only filled out and attached the application below, but I also created the position and application, because Alaskans are resourceful like that.

Sincerely, Don Official-ish application, First Tour Guide

Name: Rearden, Don

State of Residence: Alaska! Is there anywhere else to live? (Except maybe Hawaii?)

Education: I am now and forever a student of Alaska's rich, complex history, cultures, and wilderness. I have a Ph.D. in wood-chopping...

Don Rearden

President Barack Obama is coming to Alaska this week. Unlike our fellow Americans in Washington, D.C., and other parts of the Lower 48, Alaskans aren't accustomed to such a high-profile visitor and the impact such visits have on the daily lives of ordinary citizens. That's why the satirical blog One Hot Mess has penned this helpful list of 10 things Alaskans need to know about President Obama's historic visit to Alaska.

1. By the time it's over, you'll be nostalgic for press coverage of Sarah Palin...

Libby Bakalar
Regulate marijuana like alcohol

That’s what was on the campaign signs said and that’s what Alaskans voted for. The Anchorage Assembly is not respecting the voters’ will with it’s “open container” requirement that marijuana be carried outside the passenger compartment (in the trunk). Alcohol can be carried inside a car as long as the seal is not broken. This law assures that alcohol is not being used by the driver. Thus the term “open container.” Open containers must be carried in the trunk or in a locked glove box. Too bad there isn’t a way to tell if marijuana is being used by the driver. Oh wait, there is! Unburnt marijuana is marijuana that is not currently being used. The open container law should define burnt marijuana as an “open container” and treat it like alcohol....

Alaska Dispatch News

“The Medicaid provisions of the Affordable Care Act, in contrast, require States to expand their Medicaid programs by 2014 to cover all individuals under the age of 65 with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty line.” (National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 2012; opinion of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts).

If you’ve ever believed that lawyers are in overabundance in the world, you might find this piece unsettling. Members of the Alaska Legislature have attorneys dedicated to the legislative branch. When asked whether Gov. Bill Walker could unilaterally expand Medicaid, those attorneys concluded he can. Indeed, at least two of the Legislature’s own staff attorneys have reached this conclusion...

Rep. Andy Josephson

Last Thursday, I and the other public employees in my office stood uncomfortably in a semicircle facing our supervisors as they made the type of announcement being echoed around the state: all nonunion employees must take mandatory unpaid furlough days. Most of us already knew something like this was coming. At the very end of the last special session, the Alaska Legislature withdrew money from the budgets of many state offices – money it had already approved – to pay for the raises union employees were guaranteed under their contracts. The cuts were severe enough, we were told, that furlough days were the only way to avoid layoffs...

Marcelle McDannel