Voices

Gov. Bill Walker’s labyrinthine fiscal plan to plug the state’s budget gap -- more a smoking crater than a gap nowadays -- has far too many moving parts, far too many gizmos, doodads and doohickeys for mere mortals to fully understand it or its eventual consequences. Despite that, proponents inside and outside government have deployed consultants and lobbyists and arm-twisters in some sort of high-stakes, pressure-cooker sleazefest to “empower” lawmakers to get it done -- this very moment! None of that will make the work simpler, faster or less tortuous, because it is chock full of worrisome and complex components we all should be fretting about. A lot. This puppy needs some time. It contains changes, for instance, in the oil and gas credit system that would turn it into a low-interest...Paul Jenkins
I can’t stop thinking about an article I read this week. It’s coloring so much of what I’m thinking about. The U.S. military -- specifically the Air Force, Navy and Marines -- has spent $400 billion on an airplane that doesn’t work. The plane is so unstealthy that 1950s-era radar can detect it. For nine of the last 13 years, the aircraft have been grounded by “takeoff issues.” What issues? Oh, catching on fire . (Although, let’s admit, catching fire before takeoff seems preferable to catching fire after.) There are software issues that won't allow the fighter to fire its weapons until 2019. During a simulated war scenario, the F-35 was found to be “double-inferior” because it “ can’t turn, can’t climb, can’t run .” After spending $400 billion on this craptastic runway ornament, the cost...Shannyn Moore
Last fall, I listened as a mother named Cary Dixon told her family’s story at a forum I convened in West Virginia. It was heartbreaking. Cary’s adult son has struggled with a substance use disorder for years, and she described the pain that families like hers have gone through. “We dread the next phone call,” she said. “We don’t take vacations for fear of the next crisis. We come back from vacations because there’s a crisis.” Cary and her family are far from alone. As the use of prescription drugs has increased over the past 15 or 20 years, so has their misuse -- as well as the wreckage caused by other opioids like heroin. In fact, four in five heroin users started out by misusing prescription drugs, and then switched to heroin. As a consequence, between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-...Barack Obama
More than one Alaskan has probably already called the new legislative budget-cutting hotline, 1-844-414-5949, to suggest the state could save some money by dumping the Anchorage Legislative Information Office lease. The Legislative Council, a joint Senate-House committee of legislative leaders, plans to meet again Thursday to try to make a decision on competing claims about costs and a buyout plan. What’s most disturbing about the events of the past two and a half years is how little energy the council devoted to this matter early on when its members could have made a difference in shaping the outcome. And how much time and energy they have wasted since the “Taj MaHawker" began to occupy a grossly exaggerated role in attitudes about profligate spending. I agree with House Speaker Mike...Dermot Cole
When oil prices went up in the early 1980s, Alaska spent $227 million studying the Susitna-Watana Dam, then abandoned the project as uneconomic and unaffordable. When prices went up again in the last decade, we spent another $187 million studying the same project, without having the $5.7 billion to build it. Including only projects that failed or were never completed, we have the agriculture project, the petrochemical project (I wonder how many readers remember that one), the Healy Clean Coal Project, the super-duper seafood plant that is now a church, the Knik Arm bridge (once every couple of decades), the Point MacKenzie Rail Extension and ferry, the Juneau Access Road, and the Ambler Road . I’m leaving out many others. Each time I write a column I get a bunch of additional nominations...Charles Wohlforth
Wash, rinse, but don’t repeat Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair. Oy vey! C’mon, ADN. A full page for UAA women’s basketball player Alysha Devine’s hair? When it’s cut, how long, why no braids (it’s a weapon), it’s curly, dad says keep it, no highlights, stuck to another player. And “frizz ball”? Frizz ball? With apologies to Tom Hanks in “A League of Their Own,” “There’s no frizz in basketball!” (Except for men in the NBA.) Offensive foul if The Hair swats a defensive player in the face? Out of bounds if The Hair brushes someone on the sidelines? Timeouts for Hair “adjustments”? Does The Hair get media interviews? (“What’s it like out there? Do you give 110 percent? Lots of trash talk? What about — gasp! — split ends?”) As the rock musical “Hair” said, “Gimme a head with hair/Long...Alaska Dispatch News
Recent events in Flint, Michigan, bring to mind the importance of access to safe and reliable drinking water for everyone, whenever and wherever it is needed. Anchorage is fortunate. Our principal municipal water sources are the pristine glaciers and snowcapped peaks of the Chugach Mountains. Protection of these watersheds as part of the Chugach State Park ensures exceptional water quality. Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility processes 24 million gallons from these sources daily, on average, through our Eklutna and Ship Creek Water Treatment facilities. Additionally, Anchorage operates 10 active wells, boosting peak production to 64 million gallons per day, if necessary. The treatment process, continuously monitored by analysts and operational staff, ensures removal of any contaminants...J. Brett Jokela
Would you like to see a plan to cover next year’s state budget deficit without tapping the Alaska Permanent Fund earnings, inflation-proofing or dividends? So would I, so here it is. First, consolidate and merge Alaska’s four independent lending agencies: • Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, (AHFC), net worth $1.49 billion; • Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA), net worth $1.33 billion; • Alaska Gas Pipeline Authority (AGPA), net worth $274 million; • Alaska Municipal Bond Bank, (AMBB), net worth $56 million. Total net worth of these Alaska-owned public companies is $3.15 billion. Merging them so they each can use the remaining net worth can free $3 billion to balance the upcoming 2017 fiscal year. Consolidating the independent agencies this session could make me...Jim Crawford
Thanks for the chuckle, ADN Seriously? Sarah PAC paid $66,000 for speech writing services? So what we have been hearing is the improved version! Best laugh in all of Tuesday’s paper! — Sarah Wright Eagle River Split the difference and put 2 women on $10 bill In the ongoing discussion of who to have on the new redesigned $10 bill, many have proposed having a woman on the bill. Good! But I have an even better suggestion: Have two women on the bill — suffragist Susan B. Anthony and civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. Why not? It is a politically correct solution and would prevent a possible future boycott of the bill. — Rudy Budesky Anchorage Give PFD sunset and horizon in case Alaska regains revenue Once again the chief name-caller in Alaska, Paul Jenkins, knows better than most — including,...Alaska Dispatch News
Sport, like mythology, subconsciously structures our mind to interpret the world in certain ways. Sunday is the de facto national holiday of Super Bowl Sunday, and football, more than any other sport, organizes social reality. Football philosophers would have us to believe that football mirrors war. Not really. Football mirrors corporatism. From Pop Warner to high school, college and the pros, football creates a world view. The head coach is the CEO of the metaphorical football corporation. David Biderman, writing in the Wall Street Journal (2010), found there are about 11 minutes of action in an NFL game -- lots of time for commercials. On TV, about five to six additional minutes are shots of the head coach talking into his headset, yelling at the referee or standing with arms folded in...Alan Boraas