29 July 2007

Moving On

It is no secret to anyone in Nome but I realize I have not mentioned to this audience some important news: I am moving to South Africa and will be leaving Nome this Wednesday.

There's so much I will miss about Alaska and Nome in particular. But I'll also miss the give-and-take that has occurred on this blog and the connections I've made with people beyond Nome through it. The internet is a powerful medium and I feel I have been able to take advantage of it in some small way through my postings here.

There are a number of great Alaskan bloggers on the web and I don't think I'll be missed much. My only parting advice is this: a) don't be afraid to write what you think - it's more interesting and b) post regularly - that is what makes people keep coming back.

If you're interested in what I'm up to in South Africa, check out my new blog, http://mthathamission.blogspot.com.

27 July 2007

A Hollow Answer

Lisa Murkowski's comments on the Kenai land deal continue to strike me as hollow:

Murkowski voiced irritation with the Alaska media on how the story has been portrayed. In an interview this afternoon, she claimed to have been friends with Penney since she was five years old and it was simply a deal between longtime friends.

The senator also emphasized that she paid a fair price at the Kenai Borough's assessed value.

I believe Penney is 25 years older than her. So if she's "been friends" with him since she was 5, either it's an odd relationship (a 30 year-old and a 5 year-old?) or Penney was pals with Frank and thus knew Lisa as the daughter of his friend. If the latter is the case, then it seems that Penney is trying to use to his advantage an old relationship now that Lisa is a position of power, which would confirm everything that seems bad about this whole situation.

But I have friends who are 25 years older than me (I just went fishing with one last night, as a matter of fact) so I can believe the former. If it's the former, the problem is that Lisa is no longer just a long-time friend. She's a senator and therefore barred from taking gifts over a certain amount of money.

And even though she says she paid a fair value, which is objectively true (if any of us can actually define "fair"), she should have paid the market value, which is almost never fair.

I like Lisa a lot and I don't think there was any malicious intent here. In fact, I hope now that she's looking for property again, she checks out some of the great places available on the Seward Peninsula. I'd love to have her as my neighbor.

26 July 2007

Who wants it?

I asked yesterday how many people would be considering a shot at Alaska's House of Representatives seat, given Don Young's recent performance. But the more I think about it, I wonder who really wants the job.

Here's why: in order to win the seat, you have to run a statewide campaign and all you get in return is the chance to be one of 435 people in Washington in the same job. The only time you get any national attention is if you screw up and the only way you can do anything for your state is if you have a ton of seniority.

But if you run for Senate, you still need to run a statewide campaign but you only have 99 peers, whose words are treated much more seriously. You can get national attention much easier and it is far easier to give the perception that you are doing something by frequent, weighty pronouncements.

I can't see why Mark Begich or Ethan Berkowitz would want to condemn themselves to years of back-bench drudgery in the hopes they can hold the seat in a Republican-leaning state and have Democrats be in the majority when their turn for a chairmanship finally rolls around.

25 July 2007

Gimme a brake

Someone in Ted Stevens' office is looking forward to the August Congressional recess:

The CPSC’s warning centered around several specific safety features that are missing from the imported Chinese ATVs, including front breaks, parking breaks, and an ability to start the vehicle in gear.
Would that be the August break or brake?

(Yes, I am not exactly perfect in this regard on this blog but I don't get paid for this.)

Does this surprise anyone?

Does the news that Don Young is under federal investigation come as a surprise to anyone at all? It seems to me that he long ago stopped caring about what Alaskans wanted and opted to use his position as he saw fit.

A couple of questions:

  • Why is the Wall Street Journal, and not say, KTUU or the ADN or Alaska AP, breaking this story?
  • How does this tilt the mental scales that people like Ethan Berkowitz, Mark Begich, and others are considering as they weigh a run against Young?
  • Is there any Republican free of the taint of scandal who might consider challenging Young in the primary?
  • Will Young ever answer any questions from the media to address any of the issues raised by the investigation or will he continue to give Alaskans the middle finger, both figuratively and literally? The fact that his office cannot even be bothered to release a statement is a testimony to his tremendous disrespect for his constituents.

24 July 2007


I was quizzed in the comments recently as to why I said the recent mine fatalities at Rock Creek would add fuel to the fire of controversy about the mine.

I don't think I was journalistically "salting the story" (though that may just be an unconscious reflex by this point) and yes, it is true, the controversy is primarily about procedural and environmental concerns.

But here's at least one connection: one concern about cyanide mining is that the mine operators could make a mistake and the cyanide could get free, no matter how well-designed the tailings facility is. Attention to detail and safety are crucial parts of this argument and, while the investigation into the accident is still on-going, I don't think it's a huge stretch to think that the accident will reveal something about the level of attention to detail and safety at the mine.

More than that, anything about the mine will gradually get worked into the conversation and change the argument and controversy over time. As I remember it, this controversy started over distaste about cyanide mining, which rapidly led to concern about wetlands-destruction and the permitting process. Who's to say the controversy won't take another tack?

As for the accident itself, there is little knew to report (I haven't exactly been in town keeping my ear glued to the ground, however) but rumour and innuendo. One question I'd like to see answered is what the criminal liability is for the mine operators and contractors. What does the law say?

Who cares what we think?

Every morning when I check out KTUU's web site, my stomach sort of twists when I see KTUU's latest survey of its viewers on the pressing issue of the day. Normally, the question is some sort of innocuous, leading question of the viewers and I pay it little attention. But I found this one particularly fantastic:

Do you think there will be another major oil discovery on the North Slope?

Definitely 35 percent
Probably 44 percent
Doubtful 21 percent

Well, you can rest assured, Alaska's fiscal future is safe. All those worry-wart legislators in Juneau clearly don't have their fingers on the pulse of their constituents. All those geologists and wildcat explorers in the general public used their collective wisdom and came up with a solid answer to this question.

This, I believe, is what we call the wish being the father of the thought.

My general problem is that even though there is always the "this is an unscientific poll caveat," they are never treated as such. They are reported on and read about and have a similar effect, I imagine, as any other poll. And we are never told how many people bothered to respond to the poll so we can't even get a sense of who is bothering to respond.

How come there's never a "this is a stupid question" choice to these polls?

20 July 2007


I'll be out of town and away from Internet access (yes, such places still exist) until Tuesday so don't bother checking back until then. There's too much beautiful country around here not to take advantage of it.

While I'm gone, see how the state media covers (if at all), the deaths last night of two workers at the Rock Creek mine north of Nome. Troopers should have the report soon.

Given how controversial this mine has been locally, I imagine this will only add fuel to this fire.

19 July 2007

Lost his way

Poor Don Young. He's forgotten what he was sent to Washington to do and his career is collapsing around him.

The people of the Great Land want him to represent their interests in Congress. But Don keeps forgetting that.

  • When he's asked perfectly legitimate questions last month about his connection to an earmark in Florida, he responds with a middle finger. The message I get from that is one of complete and utter impunity, i.e. don't ask me any questions because I am going to do whatever I want regardless of what you say.
  • As his former aides get indicted, he spends more money than any other representative on legal fees and yet can't apparently bring himself to tell his constituents why that might be necessary.
  • He acknowledges taking illegal donations but won't return all the money because the statute of limitations has expired. So what that tells me is that he has no problem taking money illegally, he just wishes he hadn't been caught.
  • When he finally decides to act on behalf of Alaskans, it is to preserve funding Democrats would have preserved anyway... and he does it in such a patronizing and embarrassing manner, I wish he weren't speaking for me. Young, of course, missed the Iraq debate and his job in Washington because he was cavorting in Zambia of all places with lobbyists.
In the midst of this impunity and complete disregard for the opinions of his constituents, Young is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for a re-election campaign that will no doubt airbrush his record and his service and make him once again palatable to Alaskans.

Aside from the small matter of money, the opening does seem to be particularly ripe for a challenger, either Republican or Democrat.

Dillon notes the Alaskan press contingent is back up to three, the same size as the Congressional delegation. But he worries he may not be a full Alaskan reporter. Hmmm... at the rate Don is representing everybody but Alaska, the Congressional delegation can hardly be considered to be at full strength.

18 July 2007

Sun Cancellation

It's too beautiful outside to blog.

17 July 2007

Cosmetic Changes

I hadn't taken a close look at the web site of friendly neighborhood mining company NovaGold lately but I noticed some modest changes when I surfed over there this afternoon.

Nova is building the Rock Creek mine just north of Nome and the permitting process and the mine itself have been criticized by a vocal group (majority? minority?) in Nome for its putative lack of attention to environmental considerations. Some people in town have just said Nova wants to make a quick buck and get on out.

I was intrigued then at the new section of the web site, which explains what Nova means when they say their goal is to generate wealth. They're responsible miners don't you see and that means they want to build healthy communities as well as take the gold out of the ground.
More significantly, Nova has just hired a VP of Environment and Sustainability. She looks like she has a lot of experience but it's not clear from any information I've seen just what her job entails.

16 July 2007

In love?

The local Republican bigwig in town (so he fancies himself) owns a store near downtown that is festooned with campaign posters of yesteryear - Young, Murkowski (Frank and Lisa), Stevens are all over the place.

Last fall, there was a new name up here - Halcro. Our local bigwig turned away from our future governor and actively supported Andrew Halcro.

Well, today as I strolled down to the post office, I noticed a pile of trash outside our local bigwig's store and in it was a Halcro campaign sign. A cursory look of the side of the building revealed that where Halcro's blue and white had once festooned the walls, there was but fading yellow paint.

You might think this has something to do with a desire on the part of local bigwig to clean up. After all, it makes sense to throw things out after a while. But I quickly rejected this thought when I remembered that our local bigwig has a Don Young '74 campaign sign, a Frank Murkowski for Senate sign, and still sells 8-tracks ("sells" might be too strong a word; perhaps "stocks" is better).

Could it be that our lovely new governor is winning over the Republican establishment she claims not to need? Is her style of governing turning out to be so appealing that those Republicans who fled to Halcro are now joining the Palin gang?

On that note, the Palin media love affair has spread to Pittsburgh. I particularly like this author's interpretation of the governor's references to the Constitution. "Gratuitous" is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose.

This is news?

This statement from American Dental Association president Kathy Roth about the settlement in the dental health aide lawsuit was moderately mind-boggling:

It brought everyone and a very public face to a serious problem. And if anything good has come out of the litigation, it's the fact that the public and legislators and many professions understand there's a serious problem, a serious need to get care in remote Alaska.
Well, speak for yourself, Dr. Roth. If it took a lawsuit to bring the sorry state of rural dental health to your attention then you haven't been paying attention to Alaska. It's not like tooth decay in rural Alaska is a new problem.


I thought the story that led off this Globe and Mail story about native suicide rates was telling:

Rebekah Williams was a young Inuit girl growing up high above the Arctic Circle when word spread across the tundra that a man in another community had killed himself.

"We still talk about this," said the 57-year-old former social worker and Nunavut MLA who now lives in Iqaluit, the territory's capital city. "Things like that just didn't happen. Our people didn't do this."

Less than 50 years later, Nunavut has, by far, the highest suicide rate in the country, sometimes reaching nine times the national average.

Since the territory, which has a mainly Inuit population of 30,000, was created in 1999, 40 per cent of deaths investigated by the coroner's office were suicides. Many of the 222 suicide victims were young, Inuit and male.

Check 'er out.

13 July 2007

Cause and Effect

It's a well known fact that cause and effect are closely linked. Why, then, do Alaska's politicians refuse to talk about the causes of global warming and instead focus almost exclusively on the effects?

To wit:

  • The Alaska Climate Impact Assessment Commission, which is charged by the legislature with figuring out how the state should respond to global warming and what impacts global warming has, but it expressly is not to talk about the causes of global warming;
  • Governor Sarah Palin, who forms a climate change sub-cabinet to look at how the state can respond to global warming and refuses to say (when I have asked her) if she thinks global warming is caused by greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Lisa Murkowski and Ted Stevens, who have finally signed on to the need for mandatory greenhouse gas emissions but primarily (I surmise) because the bill contains billions of dollars for Alaskans suffering from global warming. Stevens says the bill is important "regardless of whether these changes are caused by human activity."
When you have a problem, it makes sense to figure out what's causing it rather than just dealing with the effects. When you're sick, you don't want to just treat the symptoms, you want (if you can) to treat the underlying cause. Looking at causes helps establish a long-term solution.

Perhaps no one wants to talk about global warming causes because when we do the finger gets pointed right at ourselves.

More on Anonymity

This has absolutely nothing to do with Alaska but I enjoyed this article that is more than tangentially relevant to my recent post on anonymity:

John P. Mackey, the co-founder of Whole Foods Market, has never lacked for personality.

Using the pseudonym Rahodeb — a variation of Deborah, his wife’s name — Mr. Mackey typed out more than 1,100 entries on Yahoo Finance’s bulletin board over a seven-year period, championing his company’s stock and occasionally blasting a rival, Wild Oats Markets. The story was first disclosed on The Wall Street Journal’s Web site last night.

Check 'er out.

12 July 2007


One of the great parts about living in small-town Alaska is seeing all the different hats people wear on a daily basis. So many people are involved in so many different activities and occupations because there are so few people to go around.

During the winter, we had a bit of a tussle in Nome over trapping in city limits. One or two trappers had (accidentally?) caught some dogs in their traps and dog-owners wanted trapping banned in city limits. Mike Quinn was a prime spokesman for the trappers and he said the dogs should have been under better control and they were keeping down the fox population and the rabies that went with it.

So I was amused to read through the responses to the city's request for an animal control officer. There was the usual proposal from the existing animal control officer who met all the requirements of the city's description. Then there was one from Nome Animal Control Services, LLC, which said it would only take loose animals after work hours, not on weekends, and wouldn't operate the pound. The operator of Nome Animal Control? None other than Mike Quinn.

I wonder how he would get those loose animals?


I was particularly intrigued by this National Guard-produced story on the Alaska Guardsmen serving in Kuwait. I liked the tag:

KYUK 640 AM/TV of Bethel, Alaska, and Wikipedia contributed to this report.
Hmmmm, if Wikipedia contributed to the report, how did they end up with this sentence?
Nunooruk, an Inupiaq from Nome, Alaska's northernmost town, said many Eskimos choose the National Guard for the educational opportunities, training and discipline.
"Alaska's northernmost town"? I don't see that in Nome's Wikipedia entry.

And have we really reached the point where Wikipedia is a legitimate source of news?

But the overall story is nice to read and get a reminder of all the people missing from Western Alaska right now.

11 July 2007

On Anonymity

The ADN's politics blog has an interesting post on anonymous comments and whether they should be allowed. I've been thinking about this a bit lately because I seem to be a in a minority among Alaskan bloggers in that I post under my real name.

(This particular line of thinking was prompted by this post in the KodiakKonfidential blog where I am - ahem - said to provide "some of the most insightful political analysis around." I realized I was about the only one with a real name attached to it.)

My reasons for doing so are fairly straightforward - I think that if you believe in a position strongly enough to share it you should also be willing to put your name on it. I understand in some societies this is not the case but I am sufficiently confident of my free-speech rights (for now, at least) to write under my own name.

I've been a bit burned by this before. When I was in college, the faculty went on strike. I frequented a university message board and posted under my own name my beliefs as to why they had been wrong to strike. I was about the only person to post under my own name (though not the only one to criticize the faculty) and when the faculty returned, I was a target of a lot of their frustration and anger and kind of got blackballed (fortunately it was spring semester of my senior year). But that was more a function of their inability to handle criticism than anything else.

I think that not being anonymous has brought me several benefits. It has definitely raised my profile, made (some) people return my calls when they might otherwise have not, and led to many interesting meetings with people who recognized me from this blog. The internet is a powerful tool as I have found out in numerous other situations and I want to use that to my advantage as best as I can. Yes, I know it is easier to find out information about me than it is about the average person out there and if anyone's stalking me they've got a plenty of information to work with but I'm willing to take that chance.

Of course, I understand that not everyone shares my views and that's perfectly understandable. I have no problem with anonymous comments or comments posted under a pseudonym. Anonymity can be abused, of course, but no one has done that yet.

Would you think differently of this blog if you didn't know who I was?

10 July 2007

Timing is Everything

The governor - displaying an impeccable sense of timing - signs the ethics legislation on the same day Tom Anderson is convicted.

John Bitney resigns just before the ethics legislation becomes law. Under its conditions, he would have had to take two years off before getting a private-sector lobbying job. Now, I presume, he is not bound by that. The revolving door takes one last swing.

(How come only APRN reported the Bitney bit?)

UPDATE: The AP picked up the story on Bitney's resignation but, of course, did not mention the timing issue. Nor, I think, did the two-year rule merit a mention in AP's coverage of the ethics bill signing. I have no problem giving people the benefit of the doubt, which I will gladly do for Bitney, but I think the media has an obligation in this situation to point out the context of the resignation.

Looking for work?

City manager jobs are popping up all over this state. Palmer's is open, Kotzebue's is open, and - after last night's Council meeting - Nome's will be open in December.

Being a city manager strikes me as one of the most thankless jobs in all of public service. All politics is local and the city manager bears the brunt of complaints about whatever happens to be making folks upset. And the city manager has to be subservient to a city council that may not always know as much about the issues as the manager but has ultimate control. I imagine a good city manager has to have an internal compass that keeps him or her in line with serving the public and does not allow criticism to detract from that goal.

Fortunately, Nome has been blessed with a fine city manager who will soon be missed. Wonder how many people want the job? Public service is less and less appealing to folks of my generation.

09 July 2007

Development / Anti-Development

I'm surprised this offering from Tom Irwin hasn't received more media attention:

Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Irwin today spoke out against the growing trend of anti-resource development initiatives in Alaska, and defended the state's resource permitting and regulatory system as effective, fair and responsible.

"Anyone willing to connect the dots can see that our resource industry is being targeted by multiple efforts to deprive developers of the tools they need to operate in Alaska," Irwin said. "Our Constitution mandates responsible resource development for the benefit of the people of Alaska, and I take significant exception to efforts to interfere with that mandate or the corresponding public process."
Maybe it's not "news" that the DNR Commissioner supports resource development but it does strike me as odd that the commissioner would make this an issue at this particular point. Where he sees roadblocks to development, I really only see hiccups. His list of anti-development initiatives is also surprisingly comprehensive, including our very own Rock Creek mine and the cyanide ban ordinance in Bethel.

Irwin trumpets the state's permitting process, saying it will guarantee the proper result. That, I think, gets to the core of the issue, as, at least in the Rock Creek case, people are not objecting to the mine per se but to the process which allowed the mine to go forward. Process, as I have written before, can be more important than product.

On a similar note, I'm about a week late getting to this, but there was a good Compass piece on the effect of the Habitat Division re-organization during the Murkowski administration:

Recently, Ginger Johnson, board member of Truth About Pebble, the organization devoted to seeing the giant Pebble Mine Project come to fruition, said in the Daily News: "There are strict laws that must be followed for any mine to be built. Pebble will require 67 different permits. There are processes in place to ensure that developments like Pebble mine are safe."

What she and Truth About Pebble neglect to tell us is that those "strict laws" that are supposed to "ensure that developments like Pebble mine are safe" were watered down considerably by the Murkowski administration in order to grease the skids for more resource development like the Pebble Project.

I asked Irwin about the Habitat move this morning (he was commissioner when it was moved after all) and he seemed to indicate the move has worked out fine. He said when he first met with the Habitat folks, he told them to make sure their own concerns were answered but instead of saying no, "figure out how you can say yes" to a project to let them go forward.

06 July 2007

"So many people have been through it"

I was struck by this comment from Ted Stevens on APRN last night:

It's sort of a family. The Senate family comes around when someone's got a problem. They've all encouraged me just don't get excited about this because so many people have been through it in their own states and it's not an easy thing.
Stevens, of course, is referring to the federal investigation that is apparently looking into his connection with VECO.

What does it say about our polity that "so many" senators have been through a federal investigation? Are senators particularly enticing targets for over-zealous prosecutors? Do Americans just naturally elect people with a predilection towards corruption? Is money such an important part of our political system that it skews the priorities of our elected representatives away from serving the people and towards gathering ever more money, even by potentially illegal methods?

05 July 2007

The casualties of global warming

I was in Kotzebue last week for the meeting of the Alaska Climate Impact Assessment Commission. One thing that is great about big meetings like this one is that it generally brings together a lot of important players on a particular topic which gives me an opportunity to speak to them in person (rather than over the phone).

I was really impressed by the people who are community leaders in villages facing coastal erosion, like Kivalina and Newtok. (The folks from Shishmaref didn't show.) You can just hear the frustration in their voice at the red-tape that is tying them up and see the weariness on their faces at having worked for so long on a problem they really have no control over.

I interviewed Stanley Tom, the tribal administrator in Newtok, and was just overwhelmed at what that community is going through. If you want to hear my whole interview with him, you'll just have to move to KNOM country but here's a couple of highlights.

He told me the barge landing there has been eroded so fuel has to be flown in. I asked what fuel costs now:

Our unleaded gas is at $11.87 a gallon. That's way - three times, four times - much more than what the United States is crying over $3.59 a gallon. And now we're paying $11.87 a gallon. These families cannot afford to pay $11.87 a gallon.
He's been on the job for at least a decade and I asked about the personal toll:
I'm tired of fighting this erosion problem. It's really stressful work. It's like every day, five days a week, I have to do lots of e-mailing with federal and state agencies. There's competition, you know, with other villages. We need to move and we're completing the deadlines and that's a very stressful part.
We talked about global warming and he said he thought increased emissions were causing their problems. He acknowledged Newtok was a tiny fraction of overall emissions but said the community is doing its part anyway:
We all did quit using trash bags already in the stores. We're using shopping bags. And we're trying to help the problem that they are telling us, you know, and I don't think we're the big impact. We're just a small amount and we're trying to help the problem right now.
Maybe calling Tom a "casualty of global warming" is going a little too far but at the very least his life has been completely and utterly changed by what we are doing to the world. How come that never figures into the debate about global warming?

04 July 2007

Timing is Everything

I was intrigued by the timing of DNR's decision to allow cyanide heap-leaching at Fort Knox: late in the afternoon before a holiday. Hmmm... want to shuffle things off the radar screen now, do we?

(Speaking of timing, why is the governor releasing the RFP for a gas pipeline right before a holiday?)

The News-Miner article is - as you would expect - solid and even takes pains to mention how the use of cyanide has become an issue in both Bethel and Nome, which I appreciate.

The Fort Knox application shows one important part of mining: you should never assume the first permit application is the final one. At Rock Creek in Nome, we've been hearing that cyanide vat-leaching is a lot safer than heap-leaching and that's why they picked the former. What happens when Rock Creek ends up with a big pile of low-grade ore? Back to DNR they go, asking for a heap-leaching permit is my guess.

03 July 2007

Public comment

Commerce Commissioner Emil Notti was in Nome the other day and, when I asked him what his goals for the department were, responded, in part, with this:

When you start talking about alternative energy, the costs are prohibitive and the hundreds of millions of dollars to put that in place around rural Alaska just take too long to do it if we had the money even. So the other way to approach that is to enable the people out here to earn enough money to pay the cost of fuel and living out here and that means jobs.
He had many comments about life in rural Alaska (he is a bit of an expert after all) and many were intelligent and insightful. But this particular cut provoked the longest e-mail I've ever seen in response to one sound bite:
I heard on KNOM, Commissioner Notti's comments on the high cost of renewable energy in rural alaska; that we as a state couldn't afford the investment in renewable energy infrastructure; that economic development and jobs was the answer in rural alaska to the ever increasing cost of heating oil and gasoline.

Well, that was a stupid... dumb... and an unreal comment from a commissioner of what... Economic development... community sustainability... where has he been living...urban Alaska! What sandbox has he been playing in?

Does he expect rural alaskans to work on a natural gas pipeline to sustain an urban Alaska...
with an ever increasing world market price for natural gas? Tell me, which Alaskans,
urban or rural... can afford to pay for natural gas to heat homes and power utilities with electricity... how high will the fuel surcharge be... in 5... 10... 20 years...

Doesn't he understand "peak oil depletion"? Tell me again... Commissioner of WHAT?

Doesn't he know that the ever increasing cost of fossil fuels is unsustainable for subsistence
economies in rural Alaska.... and when does urban Alaska become unsustainable...

As customers paying heating and utility bills...What will AVEC and NJU charge this year and every year after.... as fuel increases in price? Is the Commissioner expecting oil and gas to decrease in price over the next 20 years for rural Alaska?

Or will rural Alaskans work in urban Alaska in 9 to 5 jobs and fly home on weekends
to pay the AVEC and heating bills, oh, I forgot the babysitter...

Rural Alaska without renewable energy is the end of sustainability... unless we use past oil profits to build a renewable energy future, we'll be unable to sustain ourselves or have any rural jobs, or continue with subsistence.

We will never control the price of oil and gas. We will control the cost of renewable energy.
It will always be affordable...our way of life is affordable once we adopt renewable technologies. How long has the wind and sun been in rural Alaska?

This is the path we must follow... every windy...sunny day in rural Alaska is another 1000 years of sustainability... we will endure forever with renewables in every village, every home, and with every mode of transportation...

Rural Alaskans own the same resources that urban Alaskans own... the oil and gas on the Northslope... we as Alaskans have an endownment of past oil profits... what's the name of that fund?

What other path is there; sustainability from our past oil profits for wind, solar, geothermal
hydro, and tidal energy projects is the beginning of a 1000 years of sustainability.

BP can only offer us 50 years of what... higher profits for oil company shareholders!

What shares do we own? What's the name of that fund... that we as Alaskans own!


Is it nearing 40 billion dollars? Do we as rural Alaskans need to hire VECO to get the votes we need to follow the path of RENEWABLE ENERGY IN ALASKA from the Alaska Legislature?

Where is our path to sustainability in Alaska!

Is milk production in Alaska sustainable... with or without renewable energy?

Dear Gov. Palin:

Our wellbeing... our opportunities to sustain ourselves... to work... depends upon our ability to invest in renewable energy in Alaska... our schools, our public infrastructure are sustainable with renewables as the initial investment in WHAT, IN WHO... OURSELVES.

Texas is the #1 wind producing state in the US. What year did TEXAS deplete it's oil and gas as a sustainable source of energy, of revenue...!

Iceland has made a 50 year commitment to hydrogen production as the sole source for transportation fuel... for buses, private vehicles, and their fishing fleet. SAY IT AGAIN, FISHING FLEET...

The Gov. of Iowa has set up a 100 million dollar fund for making IOWA a renewable energy state. Am I worried about ALASKA... YOU BET I AM...

GM is planning on shipping the first hydrogen/electric vehicles to CHINA called the VOLT by 2010. The car will have a 300 mile range. HOW MANY MILES ON THE NOME ROAD SYSTEM!

Gov. Palin... the commissioners that will lead Alaska on the path of renewable energy...who are they... where are they... are they... OUR CHILDREN.

All Alaskans will benefit from renewable energy infrastructure, make the commitment to us today... DEAR GOVERNOR...future generations will know we wasted no more time on pipe dreams...

PS. Commissioner Notti needs a good press secretary to review his comments! DON"T LET HIM MAKE ANYMORE STUPID COMMENTS about renewable energy!

Dear KNOM:

Needless to say, I'm passionate about renewable energy... you have my permission to air it, talk of Alaska it, as much as you like, AP-it to the rest of Alaska...

We have to wake up the State...winter is coming.

Jim Stimpfle
I particularly like the line about hiring VECO to lobby for our interests.

Check 'er out

Seen APRN-dot-org recently? It's changing quickly - and for the better. Not quite as staid anymore. Nice work.

With apologies to Mastercard

Standing strong on "public safety, transportation, and education" in the capital budget: $237 billion, give or take;

Cost to governor's popularity: a few points, maybe

Keeping Matanuska Maid open for a handful of Valley dairy farmers: $600,000

Amount of teen centers in Savoonga the Mat Maid money could buy: 8

Being "biased toward the Valley": priceless.

(Thanks to a reader for pointing this out.)

(Yes, I admit consistency is false goal. I just wish politicians would be a little more upfront about it and not try to insist that their decisions are perfectly defensible.)

02 July 2007

Every day

I'm a bit of a Luddite, I'll admit, despite my perch on the cutting edges of social media revolution (that lofty perch high in the Alaska blogosphere - oh dear, this is all going to my head).

So it is was with surprise that I learned about RSS feeds from a comment on a recent post of mine. I was trying to minimize my importance by pointing to my tinsy-wheensy number of hits. But then I learned you can actually read this blog without activating the hit counter.

I'm curious, then, just how many people read this blog off an RSS feed. If you do, wouldn't you please be so kind as to click over here and leave me a comment? A simple anonymous "hello" would do. It's in the interests of science, don't you see?

Principled Stand?

The more I think about the governor's capital budget vetoes, the less I think the ADN's editorial page is right:

BOTTOM LINE: Some of Gov. Palin's cuts are pretty painful, but they reflect solid principles.
My initial inclination was to agree with that but now I'm beginning to wonder. How, for instance, do you say your three goals are "education, transportation, and public safety" and then go and cut $4-million for a public safety building in Nome. Your goal is in the title of the project!

(Yes, I am being parochial. So is everyone else when it comes to the capital budget.)

Rather, I think what happened is that the governor wanted to show off her fiscal conservatism and started cutting projects, not at random but neither with the impartial, even-handed due process that seems to be attributed to her.

(Andrew Halcro is persistently critical but worth reading on this.)

Of course, perfect consistency is an impossible goal. If 60 lawmakers in 121 days can't produce a near-perfect capital budget (or even a moderately decent one), we shouldn't expect one governor to do so with only the power to subtract.

And yet I imagine the sniping will continue for some time. To the point of any veto overrides?

How did it happen?

Very good article in the Juneau Empire asking just how the feds managed to pick up on corruption in Alaska before any state agency did.

Two of my favorite parts:

Berkowitz has another entity to blame for corruption problems in the state. He thinks the media bears a share of the responsibility as well.

"The media failed to engage for too long," Berkowitz said.

Alaska's media didn't do enough to tell the public about what was happening in the state's government, he said. It is like when drivers slow down when they see a state trooper. Legislators would not have attempted some things they did if they knew the public was going to find out about them.

"The media was not peering into the workings of government," he said.

Readers of this blog will not be surprised to hear me say a big "Amen!" to that. (How come the ADN didn't write this article?)

Equal numbers of Democratic and Republican legislators on the committee ensure balance. The Republican members last year included Stevens, who is under investigation, and former Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, R-Juneau, who has been indicted on corruption charges and is awaiting trial.
Sounds like a classic case of foxes guarding the hen house.

Anyone in Juneau willing to push for the necessary institutional change? I thought not.