Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Watching Republicans try to support Trump while disavowing everything he says and does. I didn’t think that even politicians could twist themselves up so much. More in my column on Thursday.

Elise Patkotak • 03:20 AM •
Monday, June 06, 2016

I woke up to the sound of rain, a pleasant change from the constant sunshine we’ve been having. My lawn and lilac bushes look very happy about it. My dogs, not so much. They went out very reluctantly and came back as quick as they could empty those little bladders. They are taking the pouring rain VERY personally.

Elise Patkotak • 10:55 AM •
Sunday, June 05, 2016

I actually have a contractor building my front porch who shows up every day early in the morning, works until five and is here every day.
I didn’t think this type of contractor actually existed. I’m used to the ones who show up for two hours a few times a week and tell you they’ll be right back. But they never are.
Anyhow, don’t even ask me his name. It’s a secret until all my projects are completed.

Elise Patkotak • 03:50 AM •
Saturday, June 04, 2016

Come on out to Potter’s Marsh Day today at… where else… Potter’s Marsh. I’ll be there in the afternoon with Kodi, our Cache Crow. Bring your dollar bills. Kodi loves to cache them!

Elise Patkotak • 03:48 AM •
Friday, June 03, 2016

I just wish I could go to sleep and not wake up until Hillary’s inauguration. Then I could miss all the stupidity in-between. To say nothing of the fact that it would be the best nap I’ve had since childhood.

Elise Patkotak • 03:46 AM •
Thursday, June 02, 2016

Given the shenanigans of our current Legislature, it’s sometimes hard to decide which of their actions makes the average Alaskan most crazy. For instance, they are now into the second week of their special session and the utter silence emanating from Juneau is deafening. Yet they are getting paid better for that silence than you will ever be for working your butt off.

Maybe Alaskans have become so accustomed to corrupt officials that it doesn’t even faze us anymore when a legislator does something sleazy. In fact, this one particular sleazy issue goes a long way towards getting Alaska ranked as one of the most corrupt states in the union.
I’m referring to a procedure in the Alaska Senate. If you state a potential conflict of interest in a vote about to be taken, the Senate can simply voice vote that you shouldn’t worry. You can vote on the topic because your fellow senators trust you and know you would never let that conflict interfere with your vote for what was best for all Alaskans.
So right now we have a senate president, Kevin Meyer, who also works for Conoco-Phillips as an investment recovery coordinator. (If you check his senate page online, he lists his occupation but neglects to mention his employer’s name.) He works for the oil industry while crafting and voting on laws that affect his employer’s bottom line. And all he has to do is tell his fellow senators that he has a conflict at which point they all smile and tell him to go right ahead and vote because they don’t see the conflict as influencing his vote. To which I can only say, really?
Another senator, Peter Micciche, lists his employment as commercial salmon fisherman and, oh yeah, Superintendent, Energy Sector. Could he also possibly be employed by Conoco-Phillips and, like Meyer, just doesn’t want to actually list that on his state senate page? Is there some reason these senators don’t want to let the public know who pays them when they aren’t in session?
So given this information, is anyone truly surprised that the oil tax structure is at the center of the gridlock that seems to be gripping Juneau? You can’t really expect Micciche and Meyer to vote against their employer can you? Voting to eliminate some of the benefits we are currently giving to the oil industry would go directly against their own vested interests. These men would rather take money from schools in Alaska than from their bosses in the energy industry.
All of this should not really be that surprising except for one thing. Why have we Alaskans so given up the fight, so succumbed to sleaze overload, so dropped in sheer fatigue from the onslaught of caca coming out of Juneau, that we don’t even blink at this blatant abuse of power? Why do we not care that we have legislators voting on issues that directly affect their own employment, often to the detriment of the Alaskans they purport to represent? Have we truly just given up? Do we figure that the level of corruption in Juneau stinks so badly that we can’t imagine ever truly eliminating it?
A conflict of interest is a serious matter when it comes to legislation that affects all Alaskans. A conflict of interest that involves monetary matters raises concerns over conflicts to a whole new level. This is not the Alaska Senate waiving a conflict of interest issue because someone who works for the industry wants to vote on giving them a good citizenship medal. This is the kind of conflict of interest vote that leads to Alaskans getting the short end of the stick while the oil companies continue to get paid by us to take our oil. And that’s something that should make us all pretty mad, even if we figure ethical politicians are merely a figment of our collective imaginations.
So when you are voting this fall, make sure you know if you are voting for someone who will represent you versus representing his or her employer. Republican, Democrat or Independent, if your vote affects your employer’s bottom line, you should not vote on that issue. And the Senate should certainly not have the power to (wink, wink) waive that conflict. Not even in Alaska should that be tolerated. And we tolerate a whole heckuva lot!

Elise Patkotak • 03:36 AM •
Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Are we really sure that Donald Trump isn’t a plant by the Dems to destroy the Reps?

Elise Patkotak • 03:07 AM •
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

So the greatest demand for pot, and the fastest growing demographic for its use, is seniors. To which I say, welcome back fellow hippies. Now that the kids are gone, isn’t it delightful to munch a brownie, watch reruns of NCIS and not give a crap where your kids are since they are busy worrying where their kids are? We were right in the sixties and we are right now. Ban alcohol. Legalize pot.

Elise Patkotak • 01:04 PM •
Monday, May 30, 2016

Quick, without using google, tell me what we are memorializing.
I didn’t think so.
Enjoy the picnics.

Elise Patkotak • 03:39 AM •
Sunday, May 29, 2016

I hear the Alaska legislature is in special session trying to do what it couldn’t do in the regular session or the extended session. But it’s so quiet down in Juneau I have to wonder if they’re really there or just faking us out. Someone should knock on the chamber door and see if anyone is home.
On second thought, isn’t this the definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. They couldn’t differentiate their asses from a hole in the ground for the first four months. Why do we think a fifth month will be any better?

Elise Patkotak • 03:23 AM •
Saturday, May 28, 2016

Got my hair done at the hairdresser. Dyed. Cut. Styled. Then came home, put on a t-shirt and spent the night hugging dogs and birds while watching TBBT reruns.
But I looked damn fine sitting on that couch.
In my youth, the whole hair thing would have been an excuse to go out. In my old age, it’s just what I have to do once a month to continue to look civilized enough to be in polite company.
All things considered, I’d rather be with my animals. And they don’t give a crap what my hair looks like.

Elise Patkotak • 03:53 AM •
Friday, May 27, 2016

I have been so sick for the past two weeks that I was ready to throw in the towel and see what the next world held. Then I heard an interview with Donald Trump. I can’t move very fast so it took a few seconds before I could change the channel. And in those few seconds, I realized that the reality of Donald Trump as a candidate for president of this country is so disturbing to me that I want to go back to that edge and see if what’s on the other side isn’t better. Can’t imagine how it could be worse.

Elise Patkotak • 03:50 AM •
Thursday, May 26, 2016

Here’s the lines in Senator Kevin Meyer’s Sunday opinion piece that actually made me spit up a bit. “After hearing a ‘budget first’ mantra all year, the governor chose to include issues on the special session ranging from insurance to foster care guidelines. These issues are important but are they urgent compared to addressing the $4.1 billion deficit and impending flurry of pink slips?” He goes on to moan and whine about how it’s all the fault of the governor and the Democrats despite the fact that his party controls both Alaska Houses.

So let’s take a look at some reality here. If in fact Mr. Meyer has been hearing a budget first mantra all year, why don’t we have a budget? Lest there be any doubt, all of us here in the hinterlands heard that mantra. We simply couldn’t figure out how supposedly intelligent legislators managed to work for four months and still come up looking surprised that they accomplished absolutely nothing.
But let’s move on to another issue raised by Meyer, the issue of the foster care bill placed on the special session agenda. Now why do you suppose that was necessary? Could this be another piece of their job that our legislators were simply unable to do?
Turns out, both the House and Senate are solidly behind House Bill 27. It already passed the House and had all the votes needed to pass the Senate. Just one little glitch – it went to Charlie Huggins, Senate Rules Chairperson, and never was seen again. Given that between them Meyer and Huggins determine what actually gets to the Senate floor for a vote, this was a death knell for the bill.
So clearly the question we need to ask is why. Why would they hold up a bill in committee with zero budgetary impact that would set up guidelines for kids in foster care to move them through the system more rapidly and get them into a permanent situation more quickly? Because that’s what this bill does. It doesn’t ask for funds to implement its requirements, it doesn’t ask for more staff, more equipment or even for trash cans that salute social workers as they pass. It’s a bill to make life a little better for some of the most vulnerable in our society.
As best anyone can tell, the only reason Huggins and Meyer held this bill up, despite knowing it had overwhelming support and would take all of ten minutes of the Senate’s time to pass, is that they made some pact with the devil to see that no bill introduced by a Democrat was ever going to see the light of day. Which leads me to then wonder what sort of people are these men who would screw foster kids to make a point that they don’t like the party sponsoring the bill. Seriously, what human being does that and then sleeps with a clear conscience at night?
Foster kids obviously are not a huge voting block and, perhaps more to the point, they don’t have much money to dump into the campaign coffers of these politicians. So screwing them over holds little consequence for Meyer or Huggins. But it holds great consequences for these children. For kids waiting to find a home, a family, someone who will care if they are out late, this bill is critical. It could make a difference in the rest of their lives. It mandates that courts and social workers must make every effort at permanent placement for these kids so they don’t wander lost in the system until one day they’re told they’ve aged out so don’t let the door hit you in the butt as you leave.
But this is something that Huggins and Meyer don’t get. They can’t see past their own need to be vengeful bullies who will make every Democrat in Juneau pay for not bowing to their will. They chose partisanship over statesmanship, being bullies over being legislators. They should be ashamed of themselves. The vote on this bill would take precious little time, time the Legislature seems to feel it has in abundance given how little else it’s been doing.
I can’t believe this needs to be said but for god’s sake, pass this bill. Do at least one decent thing in a legislative session that has seen little else in the way of honorable behavior.

Elise Patkotak • 03:53 AM •
Thursday, May 19, 2016

The sun is shinning, the trees are blooming, the flowers are blossoming, so it must be baby bird season.

Baby birds are not terribly cute except in a “so ugly they’re cute” fashion. The first thing you think when you see a featherless baby bird is dinosaur. Because this is exactly what a naked little baby bird looks like.  Birds are descendants of the dinosaurs that once roamed this earth.
But given that they are so ugly they’re cute, people who find baby birds usually have the desire to pick them up and take care of them. While this is an amazingly loving and compassionate gesture, it doesn’t always work out well for the bird for a few reasons. To begin with, wild birds, even those hand raised by humans, do not make good pets. Their genes are wild and their wild genes say you are the enemy no matter how well you treat them. And if the bird imprints on a human, the outcome is rarely good.
Over at Bird TLC, baby bird season is a busy time. People cut trees down while fixing up their yard only to discover a nest has fallen with the tree. A predator might grab a baby and drop it to the ground. Cars hit mama ducks, geese and gulls with mind numbing regularity. Sometimes mom has kicked out a bird from the nest that her instincts tell her doesn’t stand a good chance at survival.
Most of these babies end up at Bird TLC. Or, at least they should. The volunteers there are trained to not interact with the babies so they don’t become imprinted on humans. This is especially important when you are talking about gulls, ducks and geese. There is no surer death sentence for a wild bird than to have it imprint on humans who then try to set it free. It doesn’t know how to be free because humans can’t teach it what its mama and poppa should have been teaching it. These poor birds will constantly go back to humans for food until some human is not amused and shoots them.
Our little songbirds are a bit easier to handle in that they don’t imprint on humans the way the gulls, geese and ducks do. This is why Bird TLC sponsors a Baby Bird Seminar every year for anyone who qualifies. The seminar teaches volunteers the ins and outs of caring for what looks like nothing more than a little dinosaur with fluff.  And as I’ve said before and I will repeat again, if you are the parents of a teenager, there is no better birth control lesson than sending your teen home with little balls of fluff that will cry out to be fed every few hours and can’t be ignored.
Of course, we don’t just let anyone take home these little ones. We need to be sure that both the parents and the kids involved are ready for this responsibility and will care for these tiny critters until they can fly free.
When it comes to waterfowl like ducks, geese and gulls, we keep them at the clinic to ensure they are raised in such a fashion as to not imprint on the humans caring for them. As soon as they are able, we bring them to water where others of their species can be found. If this is done properly, they leave us for their natural home with no unhealthy connection to humans.
As summer arrives bathing us in sunshine and warmth, be a little extra careful on the roads. Be aware of the little families that may be crossing from one side to the other. As rushed as you might feel you life is, take a deep breath and give them a moment to complete their journey to the other side of the road. If you are cutting a tree down, take the extra time to look for a nest so you know what you’re dealing with. And if you have a desire to watch a dinosaur turn into a beautiful creature that can slip the bonds of this earth in a way we can only dream about, check out Bird TLC’s seminar on baby bird care on May 21 from 11 to 1.
It could end up giving you an experience you’ll cherish for a lifetime to come.

Elise Patkotak • 03:47 AM •
Monday, May 16, 2016

Been sick for four days now. Sick as in unable to walk from bed to couch without being exhausted. I was going to complain until I heard last night that a wonderful lady who once worked for me, Sarah Jacoby, died on Sunday. Suddenly I found myself very grateful that I could still bitch and moan about my illness… something Sarah can no longer do. And knowing Sarah, something she never did.

Elise Patkotak • 10:48 AM •

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