Letters to the Editor

Readers write: Letters to the editor, May 21, 2017

Hold on! Ptarmigan deserves state bird title, not raven

Right now, some people want to replace the ptarmigan with the raven as the state bird. They argue that ravens represent Alaska values as in "Move over, willow ptarmigan" (ADN, April 14). Hold on!

Although it is true ravens are smart, resourceful and adaptable, the reality is the willow ptarmigan represents all the primary qualities of Alaska in a more complete way than the raven.
For example, while ravens are found in most of the United States, willow ptarmigan are unique to Alaska and the north, which makes them more special to Alaska.

That's probably why the pioneers made the ptarmigan our state bird, and it would be rather sad to see it replaced by the raven. Besides, ravens can be very troublesome to Alaska hunters, while ptarmigan are a wonderful game bird. Also, ptarmigan are very beautifully made creatures, which represent Alaska beauty.

Since they blend in with their environment, spotting them is remarkable, but the raven can be seen on any local dumpster throughout most of the Lower 48, and even around the world. Visitors to Alaska like to see creatures they have never seen before, so replacing it would eliminate a symbol that attracts tourists.

As young Alaskans we would prefer the willow ptarmigan to remain as Alaska's state bird. The pioneers worked hard to go all the way through Alaska. They named the state bird and most likely they know best. Even if the raven were better, we hope Alaska will stay with tradition.

— Ionut Bratulescu, 11; Theresa Cooley, 13; Lucy Dammeyer, 13: Gloria Jemmings, 11; Jonas Knox, 13; Evelyn Cooley, 11; Alexander Dammeyer; Nicole Myra Dammeyer; Joey Jemmings, 13; John Paul Deering, 11
Holy Family Cathedral School, home-school writing group


Community responds to ADN story on Access Alaska program

Thanks to the Alaska Dispatch News for doing such a flattering article (ADN, April 17) on Access Alaska's durable medical equipment reuse program. We have seen an uptick in donations and loans of equipment since that article was published, so we are assisting even more people than we were before. I wanted to share a little day-in-the-life moment of how these services benefit the giver and the receiver; we received a large donation of assorted ostomy supplies, which aligned with a supplies request by an 80-year-old female hospice patient suffering cancer. She recounted her unpleasant interactions with a local medical provider, which had charged her $139 for a small package, requiring payment even though she had insurance. She went on to tell us of having to tape Ziploc bags to her stoma because she was out. She said the system was so difficult to navigate. I was able to watch with pride as my crew, with skill and empathy, offered condolences to the donor of the supplies, whose loved one had passed. Then they gently and respectfully delivered more than six months of supplies to the lady's car.

Did I mention that I love my job?

— T. Frank Box
DME Manager, Access Alaska

Murkowski appeal was telling

The opinion piece (ADN, May 18) by Kate Troll and 13 other distinguished Alaskans, and their common sense appeal to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, was much needed but also very telling. The simple fact they chose to appeal solely to Murkowski and ignore our other two key statesmen speaks volumes. You decide what to make of this, but the simple fact remains. They didn't bother appealing to Sullivan or Young because they know these two are "of the party, by the party, for the party." That is a political, unwavering dead-end. There are, of course, many other reasons Troll chose Murkowski over Young or Sullivan but still, one has to wonder why she chose only Murkowski.

— Wayne Jones

Sessions hawks archaic plan

I ask that you do not support Attorney General Jeff Sessions' archaic, backwards thinking, unnecessarily punishing and costly hard-line stance on crime. It is wrong and a huge mistake.

Please back the bipartisan effort being put forth by Sens. Rand Paul and Patrick Leahy which calls for intelligent sentencing reform that works, and is less costly for taxpayers.

The assumption that stiff penalties make crime stop, has been proven time and again to be false and extraordinarily expensive.

Drug addiction is a health-care crisis, not an incarceration problem.

Instead, spend more money on education and rehabilitation and stop Sessions' terrible attempt at criminal justice reform.

— Max McGrath

'Patriot' Flynn gets outed

In the year before the election, Donald Trump toured the country portraying many characters — champion of the poor, creator of jobs, etc. These performances won him the presidency. He was, "In like Flynn."

That phrase first referred to another infamous womanizer, Errol Flynn the Hollywood actor of the 1930s who coincidentally played Robin Hood.


A new phrase is now sweeping the nation. "Out like Flynn" refers to former Gen. Michael Flynn who acted as a great patriot to land a brief, brief role as our national security adviser.

No surprise here, as Shakespeare reminds us, "All the world's a stage. All the men and women merely players." But, the curtain may soon be coming down on this poor, shameful performance.

— Mary Navitsky

Phoenix is hero who helps others

Drew Phoenix is exactly the right person to serve on the Alaska State Commission on Human Rights. He knows personally what discrimination is, how it works, and how it feels. But such discrimination is not only personal, but very social. Drew has many friends across the whole range of genders, and when one person suffers discrimination we all know about it, talk about it, and suffer from it. Such discrimination is toxic for our society as a whole.

Most of us want to be authentic, representing ourselves as who we really are and what we stand for. That takes considerable courage and self-discipline, but I've known folks who have grown into lives that are true to their inmost selves. Others don a daily mask. They can hide behind that mask for some time, but inevitably find they are not really living their own lives, but living as others expect they should. They wonder who they really are. Some go so far as to put on a false front so apparent they clearly have opted for hypocrisy rather than authenticity.

Drew Phoenix, like other transgender folks I know, is a wonderful example of both personal and social heroism, building an authentic life that requires more courage and integrity than many of us can match. It is that experience and integrity that would have best informed decisions Drew would make as a member of the Alaska State Commission on Human Rights, decisions informed not only by integrity, intelligence, and experience, but compassion as well.

— Gary Holthaus

US arms to UAE kill Yemen kids

The Trump administration wants to sell another $2 billion worth of weapons to the United Arab Emirates. They'll likely use these weapons to attack the port of Hodeida in Yemen. Children are already starving to death in northern Yemen. All independent observers have warned that attacking this crucial port will probably cause a huge famine, and it's difficult to believe that isn't part of the prospective attacker's purpose. The U.S. has no direct strategic interest in Yemen and our participation in the war there is mostly a matter of placating our grotesque allies Saudi Arabia and UAE.

Congress could block this arms sale. Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan could help block it. What if they don't? Events could easily unfold like this:

1. The arms sale goes through, with Murkowski and Sullivan doing nothing meaningful to oppose it.

2. The attack on Hodeida takes place, destroying the port.

3. The predicted famine occurs in Yemen; 1 million civilians die, children first.

How culpable would Murkowski and Sullivan be for those deaths?

— Britton Kerin

Clinton deserves same treatment

I am impressed by the spontaneous and altruistic motives of the 14 letter writers calling for Sen. Lisa Murkowski to get on the "Bash Trump" bandwagon (ADN, May 18). I am convinced if the writers were asked about it, they would be equally as zealous to get to the bottom of Hillary Clinton's reckless handling of classified information; total disregard of security protocols and her husband's outrageous involvement in the sale of 25 percent of the strategic metal uranium to the Russians. Her subsequent lying to Congress, the FBI and the American people about her involvement in these matters I'm sure you would consider unconscionable.

I look forward to your petition to the senator to reopen these matters as well. Russia, Russia, all of it, right? After all it's for the republic and by any standard there could not be any party proclivity involved here.

— Will Gay


Cowards voted against Phoenix

Gov. Bill Walker nominated Drew Phoenix to the state Commission on Human Rights because he was the most qualified person for the position. Shamefully, the vote failed in the joint Senate-House, 35-24, mostly along party lines. The Democrats and Republicans who voted against Phoenix' confirmation are not leaders, basically they are cowards. Several legislators made an issue of Phoenix' work with the American Civil Liberties Union in Alaska. Seriously, folks, that is exactly the experience one should look for in a candidate to be effective with the human rights commission. This was not a question of qualifications, this was blatant discrimination. The vote deprives the people of Alaska of the voice of justice, experience, hope and freedom on the commission.

Most likely the legislators who voted against Phoenix' confirmation, for the most part, consider themselves to be good Christians or profess some fundamentalist ideology. Well here is a thought: is this what Jesus would have done?

"An injustice against one is an injustice against all."

— Ann Sugrue

The end of Trump? Make it so


What's a poor conservative to do these days? Since most of the reliable Trump apologists have abandoned ship there's hardly anyone left to fly the Trump flag, save for the Fox News minions. Just a few weeks ago columnist Charles Krauthammer compared Trump to the "'Wizard of Oz''… Loud and bombastic. A Charlatan. Krauthammer's recommendation is to "Ignore what's behind the screen."

A few days later another columnist George Will weighed in about "A president who does not know what it is to know." Will fears we have placed vast military power in the hands of a man" … whose combination of impulsivity and credulity render him unfit to take a nation into military conflict."

And just last Sunday New York Times columnist Ross Douthat opined the Comey firing was "a window into an essentially sub-rational and self-sabotaging mind, … whose grievances constantly override the public interest. " Douthat concluded Trump is "unfit for office, and unlikely to be removed from it" until the 2020 election.

Finally, if anyone has been listening to the late-night talk shows they've been hearing a level of discourse about Trump that is insulting, demeaning, and beneath how this nation should be treating our POTUS. Yet, each night we tune in and laugh with the hosts, all the while wondering how much longer this can go on. With an approval rating of 38 percent, and falling, and the "impeachment" word bandied about the radio today, maybe the nightmare is nearly over. Oh, were it so.

— Mike Jens

Kelly's stories on city's homeless energizes greenbelt cleanup

ADN reporter Devin Kelly has done a fine job reporting on homelessness and vagrancy in greenbelt parks like Chester Creek. The camps seemed like an intractable problem until Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and the Anchorage Assembly rolled out an aggressive, comprehensive and human strategy to clean up our parks. Those of us who live near greenbelts have seen firsthand what the camps bring: property crime, assaults and drug dealing. With a much-expanded park cleanup crew, new police bike patrols, expanded housing, and greater coordination between law enforcement and social services, we're finally seeing progress. If the municipality remains aggressive in its approach to this problem, our parks will be safer and cleaner than they have been in years.

— Zack Fields

ADN could use a few tweaks

Myra Barnes' letter to editor "Print newspaper still worth it" (ADN, May 17) has to be read very attentively. Here is a quote: "The curly paper is fine, the additional color is fine, the comics and games are good, and national news is OK." What is missing from this list is the references to the articles written by the local writers and rightly so.

The pieces written by the local writers, particularly the Commentary section could be, as a rule, of higher quality.

Now I'll like to mention commentary written by Elise Patkotak "Men still write women out of script" (ADN, May 16). I hope it is not the case that it is OK to often print letters critical of Paul Jenkins and never to criticize Patkotak. I don't go further than that for the fear of not being politically correct. I would just recommend Patkotak read the piece "The gender pay gap is largely because of motherhood" printed in the same issue of ADN.

I do not think it's reasonable to expect chess world championship to ever be played for men and women together, or king-size beds and queen-size beds would be the same dimensions as some ultrafeminists probably want.

I will be more than happy to learn if other newspapers reprint ADN's original pieces as ADN often does with others.

— Rudy J. Budesky

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.