Voices

You have to wonder about a state where elections sometimes are decided by a coin-flip or vitally important questions about its future are decided by one in three registered voters. Heck, one in three people here routinely wear tin-foil hats. In Tuesdayʼs primary election balloting, with Ballot Measure 1 -- and arguably the stateʼs fiscal future -- on the line, only about 157,000 of the stateʼs 494,900 registered voters, or a fraction more than 31 percent, even bothered to wander over to the polls and vote despite the angst, hyperbole and near-hysteria generated on both sides of the tax issue. (The total percentage is expected, with absentee ballots, to reach about 35 percent.) There is no way anybody could claim they did not know there was an election. Every stop was yanked out in the oil...Paul Jenkins
Thanks for the business and friendship, Anchorage This is to all our good friends who have trusted us over these last 33 years with their art framing needs at The Frame Workshop and Gallery. It is bittersweet to finally close our doors, but it is time for us to start a new chapter in our lives. We will miss all of you and encourage you to stop in to say goodbye over the next few weeks. Thanks for the journey. — Carol Merritt, owner Bill Boyd, manager The Frame Workshop and Gallery Anchorage Public school cuts run deep Thanks to Michelle Theriault Boots for her Aug. 21 article about the state of our Anchorage schools. However, a point of clarification is needed. While few teachers involuntarily lost their jobs, the district was forced to eliminate many teaching positions. Every year dozens...Alaska Dispatch News
The outgoing chairman of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, Eric Olson, has responded to my commentary "Canada's trawlers drastically cut bycatch, why can't Alaska's?" In his response , he says I have ignored all the good work done by the council in the way of bycatch reduction. Rather than refute my claims, several of the statements, misdirections and omissions he makes serve to illustrate my points. While trawl bycatch reduction is problematic for many species, I will limit my remarks to halibut, which I am most familiar with. First a few facts. Over 20 years ago the governments of the U.S. and Canada signed an agreement to reduce trawl bycatch mortality by 50 percent. In a couple of years Canada reduced its trawl bycatch mortality 85 percent. We did nothing. Then a...Joe Macinko
Matt Kaso’s commentary on August 7 regarding the Susitna Dam got me thinking. Voters just finished being embroiled in debate about SB 21 and how we are going to manage our oil wealth. Alaskans have spent part of that oil wealth on several megaprojects: The Susitna Dam and the road to Juneau being two of them. These projects may have merit, but do we need them now? The current cost estimate for the Susitna Dam is $5.19 billion according to MWH Global. The state has already spent $172 million on study, design and permitting. The proposed Juneau Access Road along the east side of Lynn Canal is projected to cost $250 million to build between now and 2020. The Legislature appropriated $35 million this year and has spent a little more than $179 million since 2006 to keep the project alive. This...Pete Panarese
Yesterday was the last day of summer vacation for my children. After a week of rain, the sun came out in its blazing glory, polishing the jewel of Alaska’s summer landscape. Every stem of fireweed was brilliant purple, the grasses gave off a pungent air of life, and the breeze, though steady, was warm. Determined to wring every drop out of the day for my kids, we quickly finished up our chores and headed for the beach. My friend has a setnet site there and the fish were coming in. I took along a couple of visiting houseguests to see the fish that have made Alaska famous. The children clambered into the old truck, bouncing along the beach rocks and laughing. When they got to the net, spread out across the mud, partially still in the ebbing tide, there were shrieks. The net was full of...Carey Restino
This is a story of the human cost of sexual abuse in Alaska. There was a girl who grew to young adulthood thinking she was not normal. Through the swirling angst of puberty and teen years her peers went through much the same thing. But most of them dealt with it and moved on to functional adulthood. She did not. Constantly gnawing at her psyche was the feeling she had done something terribly wrong. At 9 years old she developed an eating disorder that gradually escalated. She nibbled at her meals and became very good at hiding her disorder, “Oh, I’ll just grab a bite later. ...” Her family, some friends and teachers were concerned, but few had the skills to understand. “Just eat, how hard is that?” they’d tell her as she grew thinner. She did go through periods of relatively good health...Alan Boraas
State was sold to Big Three So for a mere $15 million in advertising propaganda, Alaskans, led by Gov. Parnell and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, sold our state and its future to the Big Three oil companies. And we thought the Russians were stupid. — Sheila Burke Anchorage Run all the election results Like Pat Wendt, I opened the paper expecting to see a list of election results and didn’t find one. Please run a list including each race and the numbers/percentage of votes. I’m hoping to see one in November. — Cheryl Lovegreen Anchorage You have a right not to vote From time to time someone suggests that voting should be mandatory. What, exactly, would that accomplish? In a recent letter George Barrett suggests withholding PFDs if people don’t vote. Does he think better people would be elected? How...Alaska Dispatch News
At the same time that Alaskan writers are making literary headlines around the globe for their stories, the University of Alaska Anchorage is working on writing its own story. A “UAAmazing Story Written Everyday,” if you will. This particular tale has the hints of a tragedy in the works and involves the 32-year legacy of publishing excellence known as the Alaska Quarterly Review. Known far and wide simply as "AQR," the publication is one of the nation’s leading literary journals, a powerhouse of recognizing and publishing up-and-coming authors as well as many of the top writers and poets of the nation in the prime of their careers. Called a “fresh treasure” by fiction legend Stephen King, AQR has over 30 years of awards and acclaim. Since it was featured last year in the New Yorker, and...Don Rearden
Earlier this month I announced that I intend to spend up to $200,000 this coming fall in certain key legislative races. The reason I am doing that is simple. Two years ago, the Institute of Social and Economic Research, the state’s best economic think tank, said this about Alaska’s direction: “Right now, the state is on a path it can’t sustain. ... Reasonable assumptions ... suggest we do not have enough cash in reserves to avoid a severe fiscal crunch soon after 2023, and with that fiscal crisis will come an economic crash.” ISER warned that if current trends continued, Alaskans would be faced in the near future with “broad based (income or sales) taxes” and the diversion of a portion of the earnings of the Permanent Fund to help fund state government just to maintain a minimal level of...Brad Keithley
America’s increasing attention on the Arctic is timely and well-deserved but it’s important to recognize that there have been many individuals and organizations whose focus on the Arctic over the years we are now building on. We can point posthumously to statesman such as Wally Hickel and Walt Parker whose life work contributed to this issue, and more recently to our congressional delegation, the U.S. Arctic Research Commission (chaired by Mead Treadwell and subsequently Fran Ulmer) and the University of Alaska, all of whom have developed a body of Arctic expertise over decades. Too often the response to “Arctic” is from a position that the U.S. is behind in understanding the reality, challenge and opportunity of the region. Alaskans have been at the forefront in responding to and...Nils Andreassen