Point of View

Supreme Court should protect contraceptive coverage for all

Two years after the Supreme Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that closely held for-profit companies do not have to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement if the company’s owners have moral or religious objections, this important health benefit is going back to the High Court. 

Helicopter landings in K-Bay state park should be restricted

Norse Flight Inc., an Anchorage-based company, has applied for a permit for an unspecified (unlimited) number of landings at 11 different sites in Kachemak Bay State Park and Kachemak Bay State Wilderness Park from May through September. 

Allowing more permits for commercial helicopter landings in the Kachemak Bay State Park and Kachemak Bay State Wilderness Park (The Park) is a bad idea. Period.  The Park is a unique and magnificent place. The Alaska Division of Natural Resources website describes the Park as follows:

Can we make it so ‘all’ have loving, supportive network?

Editor’s Note: MAPP,  Mobilizing for Action through Planning & Partnerships, is a local coalition that aims to use and build upon our strengths to improve our individual, family and community health. Health is defined broadly to include cultural, economic, educational, environmental, mental, physical and spiritual health.  

 

I usually don’t like using strong words like “always” and “never” and “everything” or “nothing,” but sometimes I just can’t help it.  Like right now.

Cannabis: Cutting edge of civil liberties

We Alaskans have statutory and constitutional language available to determine whether cannabis social clubs are lawful. The “Act to tax and regulate the production, sale and use of marijuana” begins:  “In the interest of allowing law enforcement to focus on violent and property crimes, and to enhance individual freedom, the people of the state of Alaska find and declare that the use of marijuana should be legal for persons 21 years of age or older.”  

During the month of love, let’s consider giving family, friends gift of a good death

February, the shortest month of the year, follows January, and has 95 holidays, some bizarre and others we hold dear. Groundhog Day (in Alaska marmots are the substitute), President’s Day, Valentine’s Day when love gets honored with everything from flowers to far away trips. Super Bowl Sunday happened Feb. 7, Mardi Gras/ Fat was Tuesday, Feb. 9. Ash Wednesday and Chinese New Year dates vary. These are the more common holidays. 

Education associations offer compromise; district should get out of insurance business

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and the two education associations have been bargaining for over a year. The associations have made numerous attempts to compromise and meet the district’s demands and we look forward to the district meeting us in the middle, where we have already moved in good faith. 

Homer’s food pantry sees 18 percent increase in need for its services

Over the past 25 years the Homer Community Food Pantry has provided food to those in need. Only with Homer’s generous donations of food, money and volunteer hours can we help those seeking our services. Together, we are a bridge, sharing resources to address hunger and basic needs as we form a  local helping network. Meeting these needs can be consuming in time and personnel but our efforts are very practical and concrete.

Cannabis conflict: Can we find truth?

Shall Homer City Council ban commercial cannabis cultivation, testing, processing, and sales from Homer? 

City council members Heath Smith, Bryan Zak, Donna Aderhold and Gus Van Dyke voted to introduce Ordinance 16-06 to ban commercial cannabis. As a director of the Kachemak Cannabis Coalition, I interviewed these councilors, looking for common ground. We did find common ground:  We agree (1) that Homer is fundamentally divided about cannabis and (2) that the two sides are working from two different sets of facts. 

What's next for Supreme Court

Someone once noted “a man is like a novel: until the very last page, you don’t know how it will end. Otherwise it wouldn’t be worth reading.”

Speaking of which, President Obama will go a long way in redeeming his performance as resident if he picks former Harvard law professor Sen. Elizabeth Warren as his nominee for the Supreme Court. She’s from the hard scrabble side of the tracks.

Some always oppose positive change

The Homer Playground Project got started when a group of people — mostly mothers (some with children in tow), a couple of city staff people, and a few folks dedicated to recreation in the Homer community — met at the playground in Karen Hornaday Park in late spring 2011. At the time, yellow CAUTION tape surrounded a number of pieces of play equipment. The tire swing — made out of a steel-belted radial — was so worn it could draw blood. 

And other parts of the playground looked like a mess. 

Alaskans need to know the facts about the state’s financial crisis

Not a day goes by without Alaska’s fiscal problems making the news. Whether cuts to public services, talk of new revenues, or a downgrade of the state’s creditworthiness, it’s hard to escape the numbers. 

With 737,000 people spread over 663,000 square miles, sub-$30 oil, and a pipeline that is 75 percent empty, the numbers just don’t add up like they used to do.

Efforts to prevent sexual assault, domestic violence make a difference

The Council on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault supports the work of Alaska’s domestic violence and sexual assault shelters and violence prevention efforts statewide. To do that, the council has engaged a wide range of programs to make a difference, from sponsoring the Green Dot Alaska program to teaching effective violence intervention techniques, to supporting Coaching Boys Into Men and our Girls on the Run programs, to sponsorship of The Fourth R curriculum in schools, and more. 

Healthy you key to healthy community

Editor’s Note: MAPP,  Mobilizing for Action through Planning & Partnerships, is a local coalition that aims to use and build upon our strengths to improve our individual, family and community health. Health is defined broadly to include cultural, economic, educational, environmental, mental, physical and spiritual health.  

Challenges ahead will make university stronger

As I reflect on my first 120 days serving as president of the University of Alaska, and look toward the days and years ahead, I see three important realities:

• The university — like our state — faces very serious organizational and budget challenges that we must confront head on;

• Our vision and the tough choices we make for moving the university forward must be clear and focus on meeting the state’s short- and-long term needs; and,

Time to put our wealth to work

By now, most of you know we have a budget challenge: Over the past two years, Alaska’s oil revenue has plummeted by 88 percent, mainly due to a sharp drop in oil prices.

We’ve cut the budget from $8 billion in 2012 to $4.8 billion. Despite these reductions, our deficit amounts to more than half our annual budget.

Time to thank all who lend a hand to feed the hungry

It is amazing how quickly fall slides into the end of the year. And what a year we’ve had. We want to mention as many contributors as possible. 

In September, the Alaska USA Federal Credit Union members and staff teamed up with the Alaska USA Foundation to conduct the “Cash for Cans” fundraiser. The Alaska USA Foundation supports local Community Food Pantry’s and we were blessed with their generous $2,000 contribution. 

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