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FAIRBANKS -- Late last Saturday, 24-and-a-half hours before the Alaska Legislature was supposed to adjourn, the House Finance Committee released its version of the capital budget, leaving no time for public review.

The practice of waiting until the last moment to release a bill that deals with a couple of billion dollars guarantees that there will be surprises in the document -- tennis courts come to mind -- items that Alaskans have not had the chance to digest.

Shortly before midnight, one reader happened to spot a surprising passage on page 102 of the 133-page bill and sent a note to Juneau reporters...

Dermot Cole

Our Alaska Medicaid payment system is broken. The executive director of a Wasilla retirement community told Alaska lawmakers this spring that the state Medicaid office at one point owed more than $300,000. When the state finally started paying its bills, some checks arrived without any statements attached. “We don’t even know what the checks are for,” she told a House Committee.

At the other extreme of government paperwork, another service provider told of receiving 160 pages of codes, data and information to go along with a $150,000 payment...

Byron Mallott

Editor's note: The following poem was written the morning that the Alaska Legislature declared Alaska's indigenous languages as official state languages in addition to English.


Don Rearden

Legislators on both sides of the aisle have worked for years to improve the grievance rights for Alaska’s psychiatric patients. House Bill 214 was the latest example. Sponsored by Rep. Pete Higgins and co-sponsored by Reps. Geran Tarr, Lynn Gattis and Cathy Munoz, it is clear now that HB 214 will have to be re-introduced next year.

The Alaska government spent the best part of 60 years delegating its responsibility of protecting and caring for psychiatric patients to private hospitals. For a young Alaska government, the delegation of authority went on long enough to create a genetic memory and a way to do business...

Dorrance Collins,Faith Myers

Dear Editor,

This letter is in response to an op-ed piece containing a number of false allegations by Carol Carman.

First of all, let’s look at the facts. Two weeks ago Mrs. Carman posted a threatening message on my campaign Facebook site. On behalf of an opponent she posted the following:

“I’ll tell you one more time. DROP OUT OF THE RACE. YOU WILL NOT WIN AND I WILL DISCREDIT YOU EVERY CHANCE I GET. I just sent an opinion piece to every newspaper and magazine in this state. I signed it ‘Fed Up Voter!’ and it reads:…….. He visits churches in our district and feeds lies to the flock.”...

Jim Colver

JUNEAU -- The Legislature and the Parnell administration say they won’t play favorites in bestowing subsidies on two in-state Alaska refining companies. The problem with this thinking is that the two companies in line for financial aid -- Petro Star and Tesoro -- are hardly in the same circumstances.

A bill up for a final legislative action this weekend would provide tax credits or cash payments of up to $10 million a year in exchange for an investment of $25 million a year at each refinery.

The subsidy is structured on a per-refinery basis, not a per-company basis, so Petro Star could quality for up to $20 million if it spent $50 million on its two facilities in a year...

Dermot Cole

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These simple words, found in the Declaration of Independence, helped forge the ideals embedded in the United States Constitution -- a constitution that is the envy of the free world. Why? Because it stands as the finest example of humanity's commitment to freedom and equality.

To be truly free and equal we must, as our founders described, be free to pursue our own vision of happiness. In the spirit of these ideals, this session I introduced Senate Joint Resolution 30. SJR 30 seeks to remove a provision of the Alaska Constitution that prevents a large number of Alaskans from pursuing their own happiness. After all, what is more central to happiness than love and family?...

Hollis French

Alaska is in a financial crisis and we are burning through our cash reserves at the rate of $7 million per day. That's over $2 billion a year.

We face a multibillion deficit, yet state spending is out of control. Resources are being wasted while funding for education, infrastructure and critical services is threatened.

Legislation is being steamrolled. Education bills are bypassing the Education Committee. A bill to change state law to allow out-of-state residents to be appointed to the gas line board was initially appended to a domestic violence/sexual assault bill to assure passage. The appointment of a Houston-based former ExxonMobil executive has since been confirmed by the Legislature...

Bill Walker

Gov. Sean Parnell’s 2014 budget puts the Community Revenue Sharing program on the block for a $10 million cut; not quite as the bad old days of the Murkowski era, but too close for comfort.

Obviously Gov. Parnell, like Gov. Murkowski, does not grasp the importance of this program for rural communities...

Tara Jollie

The most amazing thing about this week’s first episode of “Amazing America with Sarah Palin”? Sarah Palin’s amazing hair. Our Sarah’s hair has been sort of hit-or-miss over the years, but this bouffant is a home run. If anyone knows about a YouTube tutorial for this hairstyle, hit me up with a link. You know what they say: The higher the hair, the closer to God.

Onward, then, to the first outing of the week, and to Brewster, Mass., where we meet a new field host, Benny Spies, and a new guest, Barry Clifford, whom Sarah describes as “an ocean explorer who uses his American spirit to take on the hard work of unearthing and preserving actual pirates’ treasure.” Which gives her a chance to make this amazing pirate joke:

“Arrr ya ready for adventure?”


Maia Nolan-Partnow