Letters to the Editor

Readers write: Letters to the editor, March 19, 2017

Cut state-subsidized cafeteria

Give me a break. The state budget proposals include cutting funding for prescription drugs for the poor and disabled. Yet these same politicians continue to subsidize their gourmet chef and cafeteria. What happened to free market capitalism which is supposed to cure all the ills of society? If the cafeteria can't make it on its own business plan shouldn't a meaner, leaner competitor (i.e. vending machines) be allowed to prevail? Bipartisanship can be achieved at no cost to the state.

Those that lead should not make exceptions for themselves while imposing austerity on their constituents.

— Douglas Hope

Missing point of PFD program

Last year's reduction of the Permanent Fund dividend amounted to a more than
$4,000 reduction in potential income for my family. A percentage of our potential income far greater than an income tax, money that is sorely needed to help pay college expenses for our two boys.

There are some who say, "Well, it's free money" (usually those who need it least), but they are missing the point of the program, which was established by Gov. Hammond with the philosophy that "the people know better how to spend state earnings that the Legislature."


What is happening now is tantamount to a college fund set up by grandparents being pilfered by parents to pay off their credit-card debt. The Permanent Fund is a successful program that has been imitated in other countries around the world. Let's not allow it to be bled to death by shortsighted fiscal policies in Juneau.

— Thomas Crowley

Senate, listen to finance advisers

I see the Senate is out to destroy the Permanent Fund dividend and destroy the Alaska Permanent Fund. Financial advisers tell us not to take more than 4 percent of our nest egg if we want it to last until we die. Lately they have been saying this is too high and should be less than 4 percent.

What kind of Kool-Aid are they drinking?

— Charles Bingham

Successful Assembly candidate forum; now vote April 4

Thank you to all who participated in Anchorage Faith & Action Congregations Together Assembly Candidate Forum held March 12 at Central Lutheran Church. Of the 20 officially registered candidates on the April ballot, 12 representing all six assembly districts participated in the forum. Candidates answered questions that addressed issues of concern to AFACT members in three targeted areas: budget priorities, public safety, and bicycle and pedestrian safety, in an atmosphere that was respectful to both candidates and audience. Attendees had the opportunity to hear where the candidates stand on the issues and to gain a better sense of how prepared they are to represent our communities.

AFACT, which represents 16 different churches and congregations throughout Anchorage, is nonpartisan and never supports or sponsors any candidate or party. Operating from their faith principles and values,
AFACT's goal in sponsoring pre-election forums is to offer the public the opportunity to become more informed voters, and in so doing, help all of us to work together to build community.

AFACT is doing their part. Now let's do ours. Vote in the municipal election, Tuesday, April 4.

— Louise Dekreon-Watsjold
Eagle River

Join Earth Day march to support truth, a sustainable environment

Today the Trump administration's new EPA administrator Scott Pruitt confirmed that he, like his boss, is a climate denier. "I would not agree that its (CO2) a primary contributor to the global warming we see," he said. This, in spite of the fact that 98 percent of Earth and atmospheric scientists are convinced by overwhelming research-based evidence that our greenhouse gas emissions are a main cause of increasing and accelerating environmental threats to our community, state, nation and Earth.

There's clear evidence of the growing impacts: changing seasonality, permafrost melt, sea level rise, ocean acidification, drying wetlands, more intensive wildfires and more extreme weather events. Yet we now have an administration that is in denial and busy slashing the budgets of agencies whose research reveals the causes and the need for action.

Also today, the EPA's top environmental justice official resigned because of severe budget cuts planned for the agency's environmental justice program. In his resignation letter he spoke to the choices this administration is making about the environment and public health. "Those choices will be magnified ten-fold in our most vulnerable communities," he wrote, "and will highlight the value we place on the lives in those communities who are too often overlooked and forgotten." How true, especially in Alaska, where our rural communities are among the most vulnerable to climate change impacts.

Every day it seems, we get more such news about how regressive, shortsighted, science-subverting, and pro "alternative facts" this administration is. Don't like where this is leading us? Then speak out. One small way is to join the March for Science this coming Earth Day, April 22. By your presence, show that you support truth, justice, a sustainable environment for all, and the science they rely on.

— Roger Kaye


We will all pay more while state declines, oil companies get rich

Faced with a multibillion dollar state budget deficit, we still owe oil companies more money in tax credits than they owe us in production taxes. You would think that eliminating these tax credits would be a no-brainer, especially considering how profitable these companies are in Alaska. That's why the Legislature ended tax credits for the film industry so quickly when the state started running deficits. So, why don't we treat tax credits for oil companies in the same way that we did for the film industry?

Republican state senators are picking winners and losers with their budget proposal, and you can bet that oil companies will be the winners as long as they continue to be employed by oil companies. These politicians are damaging our economy, ruining our universities, and cutting vital public services such as public safety, road maintenance, the marine highway and public education. We will all pay more while the state declines and oil companies continue to get rich.
This is madness to everyone, except the oil companies and the politicians that they support. I don't have anything against the oil companies. I just think that they should be treated equally to other industries.

— Francis McLaughlin

Revised Uniform Fiduciary
Access to Digital Assets Act

Two identical bills in the Alaska Legislature (House Bill 108, Senate Bill 16) address a problem that deserves some public awareness. The bills have a long name (the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA) but the purpose should be pretty clear.

Most of us are accustomed to having many online accounts. We bank, purchase products, email, and communicate via social media online. Each account requires a user name, password, and we must agree to the terms of service, including privacy. But what happens when the user becomes incapacitated or dies? What happens to these "digital assets?" Currently, no person, not even the executor of an estate, has the authority to access and close the accounts without a court order. Not only can the estate not be entirely settled, but the accounts are live and subject to the possibilities of recurring charges, hacking, or even identity theft and exploitation.

HB 108 and SB 16 specify that an individual can name a person they trust to act as their fiduciary representative (executor, court-appointed conservator or guardian, an agent appointed under powers of attorney, or a trustee) with authority after the person's death or incapacity to access an account in order to make inventory of essential information, like email or bank accounts, as well as to close the account in a timely manner. The bill has the support of online providers including Facebook and Google.

The bill's provisions would give Alaskans the right to treat their digital assets in the same manner they treat their tangible assets. AARP views this as another way that individuals are able to do effective advance life planning, and to give trusted family members the ability to settle the loved one's financial and personal affairs. This legislation addresses the fact digital assets have monetary and sentimental value. We support the passage of RUFADAA and we ask that you contact your legislator and express your support for HB 108 and SB 16.
For more information on the issue, read "Challenges and Opportunities in Managing Digital Estates" published by AARP's Public Policy Institute at http://bit.ly/2mehBHk.

— Terry Snyder
AARP Alaska state president

Trump severely undermining
our global relationships

Since World War II the U.S. has been the leader of the free world, as we proudly proclaim. But as an individual country — and given it's huge population — China (a decidedly unfree country) is on the way to surpassing us economically and, after that, militarily.

Our strength is in our alliances and trading relationships and the values we share with our partners.

If we want to continue as leader of the world, we need to strengthen those relationships and those values.

Instead — under the guise of "Making America Great Again" — The Donald is severely undermining them.

— Rick Wicks

Representatives must protect Medicaid from threats

As a child, my older brother suffered an incidental illness that resulted in an acquired brain injury. Our family relies on home- and community-based services for him paid for by Medicaid. These services have allowed him to remain in Chugiak, where we grew up, providing him with social opportunities and fostering the development of both job and life skills.

It is unacceptable and irresponsible for elected officials to threaten Medicaid funding with proposals to block grant or place per capita caps on spending. The Congressional Budget Office posits that states would lose Medicaid funding under the health care legislation introduced last week by House Republicans. In response, states would need to increase state funding or, more likely, cut eligibility and/or services. This is a direct threat to the services that my brother and more than 173,000 other Alaskans rely on for care.

As a sibling of an individual with disabilities, I recognize firsthand that a robust Medicaid program is vital to ensuring that Alaskans, and all Americans, are able to realize their full potential regardless of the presence of disability. Our representatives must prevent this bill, or any other that would cut Medicaid, from being enacted into law.


— Susan Fleurant

No on Senate Joint Resolution 18

I was disappointed to see that our own Rep. Don Young sponsored a measure in Congress that would allow for unsporting and environmentally harmful hunting practices on our national wildlife refuges. Worse yet, that resolution passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is now before the U.S. Senate as Senate Joint Resolution 18. The current U.S. Fish and Wildlife ban on such unsporting practices does not stop anyone from defending their property or subsistence hunting, which many of us enjoy.

The hunting tactics that would be allowed by SJR18 include private hunters using aircraft to scout grizzly bears, hunting wolves and bears during their denning seasons, and using steel-jawed leghold traps and neck snares on grizzly bears and black bears on national wildlife refuges. These tactics go against all rules of "fair chase" and do nothing to help our wild lands, even allowing killing the animals in their dens. Here in Alaska, wildlife watchers number 640,000 and contribute
$2 billion to Alaska's economy. Short-term trophy hunting revenue will never outweigh the long-term benefits of reasonable wildlife management — which preserves environmental and economic health. I urge my fellow Alaskans to join me in contacting Sens. Murkowski and Sullivan today and ask them to vote NO on SJR 18.

— Heidi Uselmann

Faith in humanity renewed


Honesty! We hear so much about lies and alternative facts, that I sometimes question whether there are any honest people left in the world. I just want to report that there are and my faith was renewed last Wednesday. I was shopping at Midtown Fred Meyer and carelessly drove away, leaving my purse in the shopping cart. I was all the way home before I realized the mistake and hurried back with my heart pounding. All of us know that feeling.

My knees were shaking as I asked the customer service clerk if anyone had turned in a purse. "Please describe it," he said and I did. Imagine my relief when he pulled it from under the counter. I thanked him and hurried back to my car. There I began to examine the contents to see what was missing. Nothing! Even the cash was still there.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to whomever that kind and honest customer was. I am so gratified and feel so much better toward my fellow human beings because of your fine character.

— Mary Garrett


Moriarty clearly states case

This is just a short note to say "thank you" to Kara Moriarty for her excellent article "Reaction to Hilcorp gas leak ignores history" (March 14). Well-written, and very clearly states the case for unrestrained continued production of oil and gas in and off the coasts of Alaska.

Again thank you so much for the commentary.

— John J. Kiernan

The views expressed here are the writers' own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a letter under 200 words for consideration, email letters@alaskadispatch.com, or click here to submit via any web browser. Submitting a letter to the editor constitutes granting permission for it to be edited for clarity, accuracy and brevity. Send longer works of opinion to commentary@alaskadispatch.com.