We live in the digital age. With a few clicks of the mouse or finger taps on a smartphone we have access to a wealth of information that was unimaginable just a few years ago. An entire generation has grown up with the Internet, and it seems like there is an app for everything. You may even be reading this on your smartphone right now. But there is one aspect of our lives that has not embraced the digital transition. And it relates to the most important aspect of our democracy: voting. For some reason, we Alaskans cannot register to vote without printing out a piece of paper and mailing it to the State Division of Elections. It is hard to believe we are still dealing with such an anachronism, especially when we have been able to apply for our annual Permanent Fund dividend (PFD) online,...Penny Gage,Erin Harrington,Katherine Jernstrom
I was pleasantly surprised, on Sunday to see Paul Jenkins and Shannyn Moore actually agreeing on something. The percent of market value plan for the Alaska Permanent Fund, including a cap on dividend payments, is a sensible part of the solution to our state's financial woes. Regretfully, neither Jenkins, Moore or Gov. Bill Walker have taken this idea far enough. The dividend should be capped at zero dollars. Please don't throw the paper down in disgust until I have explained my reasoning. I really didn't want to be the first to say this, but it appears our only other option is some kind of statewide tax. As a 37-year-old lifelong Alaskan I have received a check every year since 1982. Including this year, the total comes to nearly $40,000. I understand the importance of the dividend as an...Tim Hale
FAIRBANKS -- It's not that September snowfall is unheard of in Fairbanks, it's just that it usually arrives in small doses and fades fast. Not this year. More than a foot of heavy, wet snow fell in the hills north of Fairbanks Tuesday. Unlike the fluffy material that falls in cold weather and scatters like dust, this was more like cold oatmeal. It coated and stuck to tree branches like glue. Before long, millions of trees swayed in the slight breeze, unsteady as novices on ice skates. All day long I could hear the crack of birch and aspen limbs that refused to put up with it anymore, stressed beyond the breaking point. Those that I saw fell harmlessly, but we live in a part of Alaska where there are always healthy-looking trees with shallow roots just waiting for the slightest...Dermot Cole
When Mat-Su voters read their voter pamphlet they will see a proposition to move the October local elections to November. While there is nothing about the upsides or downsides, a number of questions deserve some answers. How much does it cost? Is it needed and what will it accomplish? Will it increase voter participation? How will it change the election process? Currently the borough elections, together with local city elections, take place the first Tuesday in October every year. The borough borrows the state’s voting machines and piggybacks city elections during the same voting process. In even-numbered years the state holds a general election a month later in November. Moving the borough election to November would not actually combine it with the state’s general election held in even-...Jim Sykes
There are times in each year when we tend to stop and take inventory of our lives. For many people, this inventory happens on New Year’s Eve. But for me it happens on Oct. 1. That’s the day, 43 years ago, I first set foot in Alaska. I don’t know what expectations I had when I arrived. I’m guessing I was too busy sobbing from homesickness to really articulate any, even to myself. Being a New Jersey-New York-Pennsylvania hybrid, I would assume I arrived with a rather jaded attitude towards this whole Last Frontier shtick being tossed at me from real Alaskans. Of course back then, real Alaskans looked a little different than real Alaskans look today. Real Alaskans, Alaska Natives excepted, wore bunny boots and Carhartts to formal affairs. They wore strange hats and gloves that had actual...Elise Patkotak
Windy Corner not a quarry site The horrific and permanent eye sore created by DOT several years within Chugach State Park (Bird Creek parking lot) is a sad but poignant reminder of what they’re capable of doing when it comes to acquiring fill for projects along the Seward Highway. The idea that they want to do it again and turn our park into a quarry site to “fix” Windy Corner should have the public up in arms. The park was not established to be a quarry site for road projects. Let’s hope our state division of park administrators realize this and require DOT to get their fill from a site outside Chugach State Park. After all, no one wants another permanent and ugly scar to further mar what still is a beautiful highway corridor. -- Mark Miner Anchorage Save PFD, cut frivolous spending So...Alaska Dispatch News
It is easy enough to interpret the decision by Shell to pull the plug on its offshore drilling project as the end product of federal overreach. That's how the Alaska Congressional delegation put it in their predictable statements blaming the Obama administration for Shell's pullout, downplaying other challenges. Those include an expensive well that only produced "indications" of oil and gas, a worldwide campaign pressuring the company to abandon Arctic drilling, the link to climate change and the continuing costs of operating in extreme conditions at a time of weak oil prices. Sen. Lisa Murkowski lamented the "burdensome and often contradictory regulatory environment," while Sen. Dan Sullivan spoke of "unprecedented regulatory hurdles and delays" and Rep. Don Young said the administration...Dermot Cole
As with alcohol, so with pot Lets be fair, Lets put a moratorium on the selling of alcohol until we can sell marijuana. Fair is fair. -- Sharon Webb Anchorage Give legislators a wake-up call Instead of us railing against these legislators, who don’t seem to give a fig about how they spend our money on frivolous and expensive trips, why don’t we remember them at the next election cycle? Or we could start recall proceedings now. They need to wake up and start doing what they were elected to do, and wasting our money is not on the agenda. -- Rita Hatch Anchorage Incompetence across the board I must carefully choose my words to express my disgust for our legislators, primarily Republicans, so that you will print my letter. The folks who stayed in $400/night hotels in Seattle top the list...Alaska Dispatch News
At first I thought about assembling a staff for my proposed new College of Human Interaction, but concluded that after paying professors more than $150,000 each per year, hiring an administrative staff with yearly salaries of more than $250,000 each, and assigning myself a salary of about $400,000, along with an annual performance bonus of about $60,000, that I’d have zero enrollment because students couldn’t afford the stratospheric tuition fees required to support my budget. So I decided to scale back the curricula and teach the courses myself. And even though I’m certainly not qualified as a college professor, I figured a lot of this material is pure common sense. Here are a few of the course descriptions under Human Interaction (HI) to perhaps whet the appetite of those interested in...Frank Baker
Alaska has a long history of national leadership regarding the protection of civil rights of our citizens. Sixteen years before the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1961 outlawed racial segregation by an act of Congress, Alaska had enacted its own Civil Rights Act in 1945, becoming the first territory or state to do so. Considered by some to be one of the greatest victories for racial equality of its time, the 1945 act outlawed discrimination against any citizen of the state in public accommodations and facilities and was championed by one of the great Alaska Native leaders, Elizabeth Peratrovich, along with then Territorial Gov. Ernest Gruening and a diverse array of allies both Native and non-Native. Why was Alaska so far ahead of the rest of the nation when it came to equality? Because living...Mike Prozeralik