On Oct. 5 I will be holding town hall meetings in Ninilchik (Senior Center noon to 2 p.m.) and Homer (Islands and Ocean Center 7-9 p.m.) to meet with you, and to gather constituent input on the state budget. Director Pat Pitney of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget will be joining me at both meetings to answer questions and listen to your comments. The budget has been the primary focus of the Legislature this past session as we no longer have sufficient Constitutional Budget Reserve savings to get us past the next fiscal year. We are out of time. Policy decisions need to be agreed upon now so the administration has time to implement new revenue structures prior to our savings running out.
Point of View
On Oct. 3, 2017, the residents that live outside of city limits on the Kenai Peninsula Borough will be voting to decide whether or not they wish to halt the cannabis industry operating in the borough.
The Oct. 3 borough-wide ballot proposition on the sales tax cap is not about growing government. It is about continuing to provide a quality education for Kenai Peninsula students and balancing annual revenues with annual spending decisions, while maintaining a responsible fund balance for the borough.
Tutka Hatchery Pink salmon suppresses our wild fisheries
In November of 2014, after years of serious study and contentious debate, the people of Alaska voted to legalize marijuana. Alaskans have always been true to their libertarian leanings and this was another example. Good people are now able to proceed with their productive lives without an anachronistic law hanging over their heads.
Libraries have always held a special place for me in communities large and small all over the world—attending language school in Chile, teaching in Indonesia, on many college campuses (all of my own and where my husband attended school). The Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is where I scheduled meetings with my PhD advisor countless times and probably will again in the final phases of dissertation completion. The phrase, “Let’s meet on floor 2, outside the Oral History room,” is one of the most memorable from the entire process. Financially, libraries have been essential because of the thousands of books cited for my thesis and dissertation, dozens more for academic papers and journal articles and hundreds more just for personal entertainment for family and myself. If purchased, all of those would have added substantially to the cost of my education and I would need another room in my house! The books already take up the most space.
Tax reform is a priority agenda item in the 115th Congressional session. In the coming months, we will hear significant proposed changes to the extremely complex income tax laws. One of the hotly debated provisions will be what to do with the corporate tax rate. The current rate of 35% is the highest in the industrialized world. When you add the corporate amount charged by most states the total in near 40%. The average rate levied by other industrialized countries is about 23%. This is a huge disadvantage for American businesses in the global economy. It is driving American corporations and their profits offshore to avoid such a heavy tax burden.
The Homer tribal wars of 2017 that began with the political ineptness of a city council and then became fully inflamed by the baser instincts of people who are quicker to judge than to forgive was an appropriate time for examining the real meaning and implications of diversity.
On my way to the late Homer Farmers Market today, I met a couple of first-time visitors to Homer. Now we all agree that where we live is an amazingly beautiful place. On a sunny day we all love sharing that spectacular view of Kachemak Bay from the top of Baycrest Hill. We all love returning from the drive to Anchorage to that same view. Undeniably knock-your-socks-off gorgeous! But these two particular visitors were blind. They weren’t impressed with the view.
A few days ago, neo-Nazis and other white nationalists descended on Charlottesville, Va., to rally for hate. They came carrying torches and assault rifles. One of them used an automobile as a weapon, and now 34 peaceful protestors have been injured and one woman is dead. Amidst the confusion of that day, a helicopter crash also claimed the lives of two police officers.
Hydropower has been gaining popularity in the United States and around the world recently because it is considered a relatively clean, renewable and low carbon producing energy source. And, according to the Alaska Energy Authority, it can even, benefit fish. According to AEA, its proposal to divert water from the West Fork Upper Battle Creek drainage in order to supplement the power generating capacity for the Bradley Lake Hydroelectric Project near the Fox River Flats estuary on the east end of Kachemak Bay would actually be good for fish. (Homer News, July 20, 2017). This claim is, apparently, based on the presumption that “too much” water during the summer months limits salmon fry and juvenile productivity and creates faster currents that can flush younger fish downstream where they may be vulnerable to predation or higher salinity conditions. Such conclusions, however, beg the obvious question that, if the fish in Battle Creek are in such bad shape from the natural condition which have existed for thousands of years, how have they survived there for that same amount of time?
Taking care of our youth with after school activities
I was raised in a home in the distant suburbs of Philadelphia, Pa., where the summer harvest of our modest garden plot and neighboring fruit trees kept the canner on the stove from July through September. The floor to ceiling shelves in our dirt floor basement bloomed with the color of the canned harvest that would see us through a chilly Pennsylvania winter. My favorite jar was the one filled with grape juice made from the vines that clung to the arbor just outside the garage. But the tomato juice, stewed tomatoes, green beans, peas, carrots, beets, corn and sauerkraut were just as welcome to the palate. Though we had no fruit trees of our own, the neighbors were very generous with sharing. Added to the mix of jars of color in the basement were the peaches, pears, and cherries, as well as the rich, chocolate color of the apple butter.
Assessments are a key tool in most fields. In some industries they are provided through do-well/do-better meetings, in others through critical feedback loops, and, in mine, through teacher evaluations and student report cards. In order to be effective assessments use rubrics to assess key data points, frequently against objective standards, on behavior, knowledge, and performance. Six months into his presidency Donald Trump has come up short on all counts.
Look at those mountains! Looks at that sunset! Looks at all those boats! Look at that sea otter! Overheard cries of joy, while I walk and work on the Homer Spit this summer. Perhaps only we visitors and newcomers can truly enjoy a magical mystical place like Homer, oblivious to the recent political infighting.
A compromise to end cash payments to oil companies is on thin ice because of the propaganda perpetuated by Anchorage Rep. Les Gara and the politics of the House Democrats. The oil and gas industry has always been Gara’s favorite target, and he’s launched a fresh campaign to hold hostage a compromise on cashable credits that will save Alaska a million dollars per day.
Let’s talk about the political elephant in the room: