Voices

Who do the elected folks work for?

I thought we lived in a representative democracy where we elected folks, by geographic area, to represent that constituency as well as the interests of the state as a whole. So what is behind the current nonsense in Juneau where the so-called political leaders refuse to hold a vote on the expansion of Medicaid that recent polls show the majority of the citizens support? Who do they work for? Maybe Sen. Huggins is only being honest when he acknowledges that “Sen. Huggins works for the majority.” Not his constituency, not the state as a whole. Enough with the political games; get to work for Alaska.

— Susan Olsen Anchorage...

Alaska Dispatch News

Since the regular legislative session is about to end, if meaningful progress is not made on implementing the marijuana initiative, the proverbial can will be kicked down the road until next session. This leaves a handful of entrepreneurs, innovators, and aspiring industry leaders left in limbo not knowing what they can or can’t do, and what will be or is legal...

Tim Kacillas

We in Alaska know only too well how a power outage can damage our heating systems in winter. That’s why so many of us have generators. The long-term development of the fledgling film industry in our state is currently “frozen” and we need to ensure short-term concerns don’t create permanent problems. We need to keep the “generators” running by not supporting Senate Bill 39, which completely eliminates incentives for filming by changing the “freeze” to a “kill.”...

Mary Katzke

In its National Strategy for the Arctic Region, the U.S. government identifies the state of Alaska as one of two key partners. Further, President Barack Obama's more recent executive order establishes a coordinating body within the federal government to liaise with Arctic partners, and fundamentally with the state. Partnership has yet to be defined, however, and with the U.S. chairmanship of the Arctic Council, it is all the more crucial...

Nils Andreassen
Legislators put prisons before schools

The state of Alaska pays to incarcerate a prisoner at a cost of $136 per day per prisoner, or $49,800 per year, according to 2009 data.

On the other hand, the state believes the price of public education is too high and the Alaska education system should do more with less, which means less teachers, less pay, more students per class, etc.

Over the past three years, the Anchorage School District has cut 266 administrative or support positions and used the savings to close the inflation gap and add 61 additional teachers in our classrooms in order to improve the performance of every child, to ensure at least one year’s academic growth each year. This is a net reduction of 205 positions or about 3.57 percent...

Alaska Dispatch News

OK, we’re all Alaskans and we seem to love a good political fight. We really like to fight about fish. So grab the popcorn for the next round. If you’re following this, then you’ve seen half a dozen editorials, letters to the editor and stories over my nomination to the Alaska Board of Fisheries, all written by someone else. Most recently from an out-of-state individual paid to advance one group’s vision. With a couple days to go before the Legislature makes a decision, you need to hear from the applicant himself...

Robert Ruffner

I live in Kenny Lake, which is part of the Copper River School District. My wife is retiring at the end of this school year after 27 years of teaching grades K-2. It is a very, very demanding job and she usually gets home between 6 and 6:30 every evening exhausted but full of “interesting stories.”

She receives approximately $77,000 a year and this is with a master's degree in reading and 26 years of experience. She works 183 contracted days per year at 7.5 hours a day. This equates to a pay rate of $56 an hour, and divided by the 16 students she has in her class, that equates to a rate of $3.51 per hour per student. This is below the rate one would pay for baby-sitting services...

Denny Wallace

As industry prepares to drill in the Arctic Ocean this summer, it is critical to ensure that disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the Kulluk drill rig grounding near Kodiak do not happen.

In February, the Interior Department released draft Arctic-specific regulations for exploration drilling in the federal waters of the ecologically rich Chukchi and Beaufort seas. Although these regulations would not prevent every problem that could arise, they are an excellent first step to ensure that drilling operators and their contractors are Arctic-ready. Having clear and established requirements also provides regulatory certainty for all companies operating in the U.S. Arctic and places the companies on equal footing...

Marilyn Heiman
Ruffner for Fish Board

As an Anchorage sportfisherman, I am excited to hear that Robert Ruffner is a nominee for Alaska’s Board of Fisheries. I support Ruffner for Fish Board because he has demonstrated his dedication to Alaska’s fisheries through his extensive work to improve fish habitat and advocating for salmon, trout, and the anglers who dedicate their lives pursuing them. I am confident that Ruffner will provide the Fish Board with the fresh and big picture approach it desperately needs. Please join me in confirming him to the board and ask your legislator to do so as well.

— Eric Booton Anchorage

Don’t drill in ANWR

Our class had to write an essay about drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and here is my opinion:...

Alaska Dispatch News

We are now less than a week away from the end of the regular legislative session. Two and a half weeks before its end, state Sen. Mike Dunleavy introduced Senate Bill 89 with an amendment just this past week directly attacking Planned Parenthood politically and ideologically. Now there are two bills, SB 89 and House Bill 192, masquerading as parental rights bills. While these bills appear to be about parental rights, they have dangerous consequences that put the health and future of our youth at risk by limiting access to necessary resources and information regarding reproductive and sexual health...

Melissa Engel