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As more than a thousand people prepare to plunge themselves into the icy waters of Goose Lake this Saturday as part of the 2014 Polar Plunge and Pledge Drive for Special Olympics Alaska, I find myself reflecting on the changes I have seen in the lives of people with special needs in our world, specifically in my world over the last 35 years. I wear a lot of hats -- I am a police officer, wife of a police officer and mother of two daughters, both who have attitude and one who has Down syndrome. I’m the niece of a 62-year-old with Down syndrome and I advocate for all people with special needs as a member of the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education...

Angelina Fraize
Trash slogans for New Year

The New Year is almost here. It will probably bring a collective sigh of relief to many. Finally — 2014 is over.

I think most of us are tired. Tired of the constant political hyperbole that preoccupied 2014 as well as the tiring metaphors that were endlessly used or misused.

I suggest that the way to start the New Year is to resolve to stop using these dubious slogans. Those that I would like to see added to all the campaign trash are;

1. “Think outside the box.” Since when do creative ideas come in a box? It seems to me that if an idea is in a box, someone else has not only thought it up already, but packaged it. We need a better expression for new ideas — like maybe “just think.” That in itself would be creative for some...

Alaska Dispatch News

“Government is broken ... too partisan ... not enough cooperation.” We hear this, and nod -- yet every other November, we accept the choice of voting between candidates who are on the ballot solely because of their partisanship. Our antiquated election laws produce exactly the result most Americans say we don't want.

Alaskans have the power to fix the problem, and to provide a model for the nation...

Pam Brodie

Each season, with the same regularity as the swallows returning to Capistrano, the trampers arrive back in Western Alaska to haul away the sea’s mother lode. Kind of a sea gypsy, a tramper is a ship that wanders around the oceans of the world, without a schedule, searching for and collecting goods until her holds are full. Trampers are small compared to other deep-sea ships, averaging around 500 feet in length. While there is no argument that fish are valuable, they are not economic equals to oil or some of the other high-volume bulk commodities shipped over the globe. Because of this, ships chartered to transport fish to foreign markets operate along much thinner profit margins than their larger and more expensive cousins...

Capt. Pete Garay
Property taxes will rise to cover vehicles newly exempt from registrations

The Anchorage Assembly passed an “opt in” ordinance to exempt trailers, not motor vehicles.

This action should not be amended to include vehicles with motors at some future date.

The burden of the registration “tax” would be shifted to property owners in the amount of approximately $6 million.

Consequently, this action should be rescinded.

Why should I subsidize, through increased property taxes, another person’s desire to have a trailer or any other vehicle — especially when that person probably has a larger and more valuable piece of property than my condominium?

— Grant W. Hunter Anchorage...

Alaska Dispatch News

Black lives matter.

Richmond, California, Police Chief Chris Magnus bravely stood in uniform holding a sign adorned with that statement standing next to protesters.

Magnus told the San Francisco Chronicle that he does not regret his decision and under similar circumstances he would do the same thing.

No reasonable person could deny that there have been a number of disturbing incidents recently involving the death of unarmed black men -- and sadly, at least one child.

Eric Garner was killed in New York City after he became agitated when officers there accused him of selling single cigarettes on the street corner. In this case, police used a chokehold, which wasn't approved by the department...

Mike Dingman

My wife and I drove into Anchorage recently. As we were stopped at an intersection waiting for traffic, I looked around. Buy this! Buy that! Oh look; over here you can get a tasty fast-food burger. It brought my mind to a jarring halt. Where does that ground round come from anyway?

Some cow. Some cow born and raised with no option other than to grow big and fat as quickly as grass and grain could be pushed into him. When old enough, he likely went to a feedlot where he was fed corn and antibiotics so he could gain more weight (becoming fat that we throw away) before slaughter...

John Schandelmeier

The murder in Barrow last week is one of those horrible, horrible moments in time. Most of us can’t imagine walking into someone’s house and blasting a shotgun at another person’s face. So while psychologists may be able to help us understand the mind of someone who does, comprehension will never translate into any empathy. That action will always remain over a line the majority of us will never cross...

Elise Patkotak

Even the most relentlessly positive people in my life are showing signs of stress about this ripoff winter. Many of us wake up late and depressed, watching the daylight trickle down to solstice, marking a mid-point, while there is not enough snow on the ground to really play in.

Alaskans complain about making it through an intense winter only to get a lackluster summer, but right now I feel that winter isn’t doing its part. Alaska is a place, after all, of extremes, and you need one to balance the other...

Alli Harvey
Alpenglow kids make her day

A bazillion kudos to the Alpenglow Elementary School Choir and their music director for a heartwarming display of Christmas cheer. While checking out at a local store, I heard a group of children singing way over in a corner. Upon investigating, I found a group of kids singing their hearts out with an enthusiasm that touched my heart. Further questioning of parents provided me with information that indicated the group was also singing at various other locations all day providing warmth and good tidings to anyone within hearing distance...

Alaska Dispatch News

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