AD Main Menu


Poetic crash landing

In honor of Bad Poetry Day (Monday) and National Aviation Day (Tuesday):

Alaska pilots are bush. They fly by the seat of their tush. But the weather gets crazy. And they surely aren’t lazy. So they walk when they’re in a real rush.

— Val Van Brocklin Anchorage...

Alaska Dispatch News

Editor's note: The commentary below differs from the version that was first published here. An earlier draft was accidentally published in this space first. We regret the error.

Polling shows that Bill Walker is the only candidate who can beat the incumbent governor in November. As a result, a target has been slapped on Bill's back...

Donna Walker

About a month ago, I got hit by a car while riding my bike.

The car drove away immediately. Incredibly, I wasn’t hurt or even knocked off my bike. (Later, the only evidence I found was a cracked Tupperware in my bike pannier, which is incredible when you think about other possible outcomes of cyclist versus car.) This experience, coupled with the knowledge of three tragic bicycling deaths already in Anchorage this year, led me to reflect on what it means to safely ride a bike and drive a car in this town...

Alli Harvey

Alaska is big place that offers big opportunities, but also presents some big challenges. For too long, high energy costs have put strains on family budgets and continue to push businesses from profitability to bankruptcy. The rising price of fuel, remote locations, and lack of statewide infrastructure requires creative, reliable solutions. And while there may be no silver bullet to solve the high costs of energy, there sure is a lot of silver buckshot...

Greg Porter

This column’s deadline is before the results of yesterday’s primary are announced. So congrats to the winners, better luck next time to the runners-up and to the rest of Alaska, enjoy the brief 20 minutes of silence we will have before the onslaught of political noise leading up to the general election...

Elise Patkotak

The election is over -- well, for now at least.

Our summer has been inundated with phone calls, knocks on our doors and full-color glossy photographs with a paragraph on each one telling us why to vote for their particular candidate. At this point, we should all be experts on the very finite details of oil taxes -- instead we are likely more overwhelmed by the minutiae.

Well, it’s over, we have survived, what Alaska Dispatch News reported yesterday as the most expensive primary election in Alaska’s history , and we don’t have to do this again until November, which gives us plenty of time to enjoy the fall...

Mike Dingman

One thing Alaskans will know by the time votes from the Aug. 19 election are fully counted is this: Most people were OK with SB 21.

How will we know this? Because whether Ballot Initiative 1 passes or fails, most people won't vote for repeal. Most people simply won't vote.

Former state Rep. Mike Doogan of Anchorage crunched the numbers from past primaries and discovered primary turnouts seldom draw more than 35 percent of registered voters, if that...

Craig Medred
Indebted to rescue effort

On Monday, Aug. 11, our son was separated from our family at the peak of Mount Baldy. I am deeply grateful to all who helped reunite us. My thanks to the state troopers who coordinated the rescue, the APD officers who ran up the mountain (with gear!), the search and rescue team, the KTUU team that broadcast his information, and to the Alaska Air National Guard crew on the helicopter that located our son.

Most humbling was the community response. Thank you to every hiker and family that came out to assist. The sheer numbers and enthusiasm of the searchers was amazing.

In short, the help we received was swift, well-coordinated, and led to a happy ending. I am indebted to all who helped.

— Patricia Gifford Eagle River...

Alaska Dispatch News

Opinion round-up: Alaska decides 'yes or no' on repeal of SB21 oil tax changes

It should surprise no one that in the leadup to Tuesday's primary election, Alaska's public forum was so thoroughly dominated by comment about Ballot Measure 1, the proposition to repeal the current oil production tax laws.

Few topics are as critical to the state as oil taxes. Revenue from oil accounts for the vast majority of annual state funds available for things like education, emergency and other state services, and the large amount of money involved has allowed Alaska to abolish its income tax and do without other kinds of statewide taxes. Because of reasons like that, and the fact that the oil industry is such a large part of the state economy, every Alaskan has a stake in the argument triggered by the referendum.

Did the legislation called SB 21 go too far in encouraging the oil industry to produce more oil from Alaska's North Slope? Was the previous tax system an unwise gouging of an industry that has a long history in Alaska and has taken on plenty of risk to develop the state's most valuable resource? Questions like those were asked and answered dozens of different ways in the last few months by Alaskans of all kinds. And the conversation seems far from over.

At its most basic level, the ballot question asks voters for a YES to repeal the tax laws enacted in SB 21, or a NO to keep those reforms in place. But beyond that simple choice, a host of more difficult notions reside. Those rest in the realm of ideas and values, and they will continue fueling the community conversation about state policy in our pages for quite some time, referendum or not.

The sheer volume of submissions on the topic of repeal meant that many submissions could not be considered in time for publication. Alaska's oil production may be trending downward, but its production of commentary on the topic is very healthy. Many good commentaries were published about Ballot Measure 1 this election season, and below we've tried to present a balanced selection of what we think are the highlights in the debate.

But the list below should not take away from the hard work of community members whose work we were not able to feature here or to even consider in time for publication. That we received such an overwhelming response on this issue is a testament to the importance of the topic and Alaskans' willingness to vigorously engage it. That bodes well for Alaska's future oil policy, no matter what.

Thank you, everyone, for your dedication to the public contest of ideas about issues central to Alaska.

The views expressed below are the writers' own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)

Alaska Dispatch News

Some people believe everything happens for a reason, that there are no coincidences. For opponents of the proposed Pebble mine in Southwest Alaska, Mount Polley is affirmation of that theory.

On the eve of the latest public hearings, as the Environmental Protection Agency seeks comments on its proposal to sharply limit any large mine development in the Bristol Bay area, the recently constructed Mount Polley mine in British Columbia suffered a catastrophic failure to its tailings dam. Water, debris and toxic contaminants such as metals and acid runoff spilled into creeks and lakes connected with the Fraser River, one of Canada’s most productive salmon rivers...

Carey Restino | Arctic Sounder