Columns 2007

The common good

As the question of taxes is being raised across the state on many October ballots, it might be interesting to take a look at the term commonwealth. It’s a word used by Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia in their official titles. So what does it mean?

Here’s the formal definition: “Commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. Historically it has sometimes been synonymous with ‘republic’. The noun ‘commonwealth’, meaning “public welfare general good or advantage” dates from the 15th century.”

So the founders of some of our most original states believed that Continue reading → “The common good”

Columns 2007

Twenty years later

A friend visiting from New Jersey was here for the latest headlines in our ongoing “Catch-a-Thieving Politician” game.  I turned to her at one point and jokingly noted that New Jersey was soon going to be forced to concede its “Most Corrupt State in the Union” title to Alaska. She suggested the title transfer already happened.

She pointed out that every day she was here, there was another headline about corrupt politicians and their cronies being investigated, being charged, being tried, being sentenced, appealing sentences, etc. etc. To update that old saying that if you cut Alaska in half, Texas

Continue reading → “Twenty years later”
Columns 2007

Hall of Infamy 2007 Winner

Has the year really gone by this quickly? Can it already be time for my 2007 Hall of Infamy induction ceremony? For those of you new to this, my Hall of Infamy enshrines all those people, places and things that so annoy me each year that they alone are responsible for most of my wrinkles and gray hair. Since 2008 is an election year, I’m sure there will be many, many nominations for next year’s honor so it’s time to wipe the slate clean and make some executive decisions on who or what has truly earned the top honor for

Continue reading → “Hall of Infamy 2007 Winner”
Columns 2007

Whatever happened to our privacy?

Is it just me or does it seem to you that the only entity left with any privacy in this country is the government? For all the blathering about activist judges interpreting into the constitution rights that don’t exist, why is no one yelling about the rights to secrecy being claimed by our current administration that also don’t seem to appear in the Constitution?

The administration in Washington has once again slammed the door on an inquiry by Congress, this time into the destruction of interrogation tapes by the CIA. They say the Justice Department is investigating and handing over

Continue reading → “Whatever happened to our privacy?”
Columns 2007

Anchorage Project Access

I’m not exactly the Christmas type. In fact, there are some who say I should not be allowed in polite company during this festive period. Personally, I find so many people running around with silly grins on their faces wishing everyone a happy holiday somewhat creepy. It’s like they’ve all been brainwashed and then suddenly, on January 2, the posthypnotic suggestion wears off and everyone goes back to avoiding eye contact with their fellow human beings when not actively scowling at them for some imagined slight.

So I am amazed that this column is going to cover a topic that

Continue reading → “Anchorage Project Access”
Columns 2007

Health care provided in prison

In the spirit of the holiday season, let me tell you what I resent. I resent that my tax dollars are going to pay for Papa Pilgrim to get medical care while he’s in prison.  I resent the heck out of it.  Because, and I’m just guessing here but I’m willing to bet I’m guessing right, there is no similar, publicly funded program in place for his children to receive long term counseling to overcome the damage his version of religion has done to them. He gets a free ride and they get to spend the rest of their lives

Continue reading → “Health care provided in prison”
Columns 2007

The Jesuits pay for their priests’ sins

A few weeks ago, Cyrano’s offered a reading based on A. J. McClanahan’s book, Growing up Native in Alaska. With just a few lines and a few sketches, the readers offered a fascinating view into what it was like to grow up a minority in your own land.  A few days later, headlines blared out the news that the Jesuits would pay $50 million to Alaska Native victims of clergy abuse. And it occurred to me that growing up Native in some places in this state had challenges I could not even imagine, challenges not mentioned in A.J.’s book.


Continue reading → “The Jesuits pay for their priests’ sins”
Columns 2007

Memories of a good man

This is one of those columns I never imagined I would be writing. I always just assumed Ken would outlive me.  But a sleepy driver on a dark road in Minnesota ended his life much too early, if mercifully quickly.

I’d known Ken Petersen and his partner Rob for over 30 years.  We spent much of that time exchanging tacky Christmas presents. I always felt at a disadvantage in the competition. Rob and Ken were invariably able to overcome their inherent good taste with an even better sense of the absurd. My “Jesus on a Half Shell” is all the

Continue reading → “Memories of a good man”
Columns 2007

Public Broadcasting in Alaska

Before I start talking about public broadcasting in Alaska, in the interests of full disclosure I should let everyone know that not only was I once a member and co-chair of the Alaska Public Broadcasting Commission, but I was also, much more notoriously, a volunteer DJ at KBRW in Barrow. My show was called Discount Radio. Its motto was, “You get what you pay for and I’m a volunteer.” I think that pretty much completely describes the program. It was two hours of whatever came into my head on a Saturday morning and I viewed it as comic relief from

Continue reading → “Public Broadcasting in Alaska”
Columns 2007

AFN Survey

For most of us who have spent any time living in Native villages in Alaska, the survey done by the First Alaskans Institute and recently discussed at AFN offered few surprises. 

Most Alaska Natives feel they are doing better than their parents.  That’s probably to be expected considering that the new generation is able to take for granted what their parents had to fight so hard to achieve – self determination, local education, corporations that puts dividends into their pockets.

What was more impressive was the voicing of feelings that were, until very recently, not said out loud.  For instance,

Continue reading → “AFN Survey”