Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Monday, March 14, 2016

The push polls have started. Stay away from your phone. You will only end up wanting to throw them against the wall while screaming in frustration.

Elise Patkotak • 02:20 PM •
Thursday, March 10, 2016

If the noises emanating from Juneau are real, then we can only conclude that our legislators have it in for anyone with the audacity to be poor, needy, old or very young in Alaska. You are apparently only welcome if you meet their criteria for residency in this state. You need to be moderately young, healthy, educated, employed and in no need of any government assistance. And it probably wouldn’t hurt to be a Caucasian male or an oil company.

I’m one of those seniors who struggle each month to make ends meet so I can stay in this state. And I’m here to tell our legislators that I am not only not going to leave Alaska, I am going to stay here and vote in every election I can until I rid state government of most of them. Because this is my state as much, if not more than, it is yours. I came here well over forty years ago. I’ve been here so long, I remember paying state income taxes. You are just going to have to figure out how to work with my fellow seniors and me because you need us whether you realize it or not.
We may not be in the paid workforce anymore, but most of the nonprofits in this state that rely on volunteers would be decimated without us. We are their backbone. We have the time to devote to them and, in doing so, make this state a nicer place to live at no cost to taxpayers. From Bird TLC to Bean’s Cafe, volunteers keep the doors open and costs in check.
Seniors help their families by caring for grandchildren, helping out at school events, contributing to the family finances. Seniors possess the best historical view of this state and, as we have heard our whole lives, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Without the historical perspective we provide, this state might just end up in another financial boom and bust cycle. OK, even I admit it’s highly unlikely that anyone will talk our legislators out of that cycle, but trust me, we’ll be here to say we told you so.
When I hear that the Legislature is considering a continuance of its lawsuit against the expansion of Medicaid, it makes my blood boil. Not because of the mean spirited, Trump-like evilness that would deny sick people a chance to see a doctor. No, it makes my blood boil because to continue the lawsuit will cost money that these same legislators claim we don’t have to care for our elders. I’ve heard the argument that it’s only about $250,000 more to continue to pursue the lawsuit and saving that amount will hardly make a dent in the billion dollar budget gap. That argument is totally correct – up to a point. And that point is where that money could be used to supplement the income of many elderly Alaskans who depend on it. So if it’s just sitting they’re unused and the Legislature wants to find a purpose for it, give it to seniors and not to lawyers. Because, in case you haven’t noticed, you have lost this case every time you brought it in front of a judge.
And that’s another bone of contention some of us seniors have with the Legislature. They seem to think we’re dumb. They think we can’t see through their thinly veiled claims that they are pursuing this lawsuit out of some altruistic belief in the separation of government powers. The governor, as a judge already confirmed, has the right to do what he did. Legislators simply haven’t forgiven him for winning the election as an Independent and taking some of the power away from them and those who fund them. So please don’t take us for fools. We didn’t survive all these years in this state without insight and intelligence… or the ability to smell BS when it’s that steaming pile at our feet.
Let me again assure our legislators that most seniors never planned to leave Alaska. We still don’t.  It’s our home. But since some of you seem so intent on waving goodbye to us, I promise that while you’re waving goodbye, we’ll be waving back. We just may not be using all our fingers in our wave.

Elise Patkotak • 03:15 AM •
Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Every once in a while it occurs to me that in my lifetime I’ve seen homosexuality come out of the closet and take its rightful place in the world, gay marriage legalized, pot legalized in many places, an African-American elected president and, quite possibly, a woman elected president. My generation may have gotten a lot of things wrong, but we clearly got some of them very right.

Elise Patkotak • 03:26 AM •
Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Doesn’t March remind you of that friend you have who can never really make up his or her mind about anything. Does March want to be winter or summer? Shall it rain or snow? Should it be warmish or coldish or just friggin’ freezing? Given my wardrobe possibilities, I really do need March to make a decision here.

Elise Patkotak • 03:23 AM •
Monday, March 07, 2016

Is it just me or does it seem like there are so many refugees pushing on Europe’s borders that it seems as though there can be no one left living in the mid-East or north Africa?

Elise Patkotak • 11:30 AM •
Thursday, March 03, 2016

Wow. It’s as though the legislators read my columns and decided to test my resolve to not write any advocacy pieces for programs I don’t think should have further financial cuts. I made a promise to myself that, given our current fiscal situation, everything had to be on the table in order to resolve our budget crisis. Then some committee recommended cutting all of public broadcasting funding. And further cuts were discussed for programs that help the most vulnerable in our society.

Public broadcasting has had an uphill funding battle at the state level ever since we lost the oil companies’ platinum taxation plan. Each year some legislator decides to eliminate all its funding. But abused women and neglected children? C’mon guys. Surely you can find places to cut before you go for them.
It seems to me we’ve reached a point where Alaskans have to ask themselves what quality of life they find acceptable in their state, not only for the middle class but for those on the edges of society who need help. Are they willing to pay taxes to keep shelters open, to keep counselors available to the mentally ill, to keep children fed so they can learn? And how will the private institutions in this state pick up the slack if state services are cut?
There are people who believe that government should not be providing programs like women’s shelters and safe homes. They believe that is the job of private, non-profit and religious organizations. According to this philosophy, needy people should not be coddled by the state so that they become lazy free loaders who live off our largesse. You see these people all the time in town. They’re the ones living in their cars because the only jobs they can get pay less than a living wage. They are the parents working three jobs just to pay the rent but need those food stamps for all the little extras, like food.  Are there lazy people in our society who would prefer to have everything handed to them? Of course there are. But after a few days of living off the free handouts you get from the government, you quickly realize those handouts make life barely tolerable.
What it comes down to is what Alaskans are willing to support with government money and whether we are willing to pay anything for the services we receive. Because every one of us uses government services on a regular basis, whether it’s the paved road we’re driving on, the clean water (if you don’t live in Flint) we get from our taps or the fact that we go to most restaurants unafraid of being poisoned because we know the government inspects the premises to keep us safe. As for the churches and other non-profits that work to make life a little better for those who are in need, how much more can we ask them to do? If we continue to cut government services to the poorest and most vulnerable in our society, what will our society become?
I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer not to live in a Dickensian world in which the poor die in the streets or are locked away in poor houses. I’d prefer we not revisit a world in which men beat women and children with impunity because there is no one to speak for them or protect them. I’d prefer to live in a world where the good fortune I’ve been privileged to enjoy in this life doesn’t turn into a sour taste in my mouth every time I see a homeless person, a hungry child or a beaten woman and think that maybe I should have been able to somehow contribute to helping them.
I do not envy our legislators their work this year. But I hope they find the moral courage to understand that in the end, we are all in this together. And sometimes we have to pay for living in this wonderful state. So maybe the message should be that if you only want to live here so long as oil taxes pay the bills, it’s time to leave because those days are over. If we want to continue to live in a great state, we’re simply going to have to start paying our own bills.

Elise Patkotak • 03:16 AM •
Wednesday, March 02, 2016

I was watching tv and absentmindedly petting the dog sitting on my chest. I glanced down at my hand and realized it was no longer my hand. It was my father’s hand… big knuckles and all. When did this happen? And why wasn’t I given a vote?

Elise Patkotak • 03:23 AM •
Tuesday, March 01, 2016

The more time goes by, the more Trump wins, the more convinced I am that the Dems are secretly paying him to take down the Republican Party. And they are succeeding.

Elise Patkotak • 03:18 AM •
Monday, February 29, 2016

Chris Rock was great. The show was more entertaining than usual. And mostly, the bit with Chris Rock interviewing movie goers in Compton blew my mind. There still really are two different worlds in America. We need to bring them together to survive.

Elise Patkotak • 11:01 AM •
Sunday, February 28, 2016

Saw an ad for a completely online RN-BSN program. I would not want to be one of their graduates’ first patients.

Elise Patkotak • 06:24 PM •
Saturday, February 27, 2016
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Elise Patkotak • 01:19 PM •
Thursday, February 25, 2016

According to the U. S. Department of Transportation, consumer complaints about airlines continue to flow in at astounding rates. The number of complaints about fares alone doubled in the past year. A spokeswoman for the airline industry group Airlines for American said, “despite the increase in complaints, the total number of complaints remains low relative to the number of air passengers.” (ADN 2/20/16)

This poor, delusional woman seems to think that the number of complaints in some way relates to general consumer satisfaction with air travel. Let me assure her that it doesn’t. Go to any airport in this country and look at the people waiting at the gate for their flight. Do any of them look particularly happy or thrilled to be flying? Or do you more get the feeling of a sullen mass of people resigned to discomfort and unease for the next few hours as the airlines redefine acceptable personal space for both bodies and baggage? I would venture to guess that the reason you don’t see as many complaints is because people have simply given up. The airlines beat us down into such sheep-like submission that all we can do is thank them for giving us at least three-quarters of a seat for our trip.
Airlines are making record profits thanks to the drop in oil prices. But you haven’t seen that drop in ticket prices. Nor have you seen it in any loosening of fees for everything from checking a bag to charging for your carry-on.  You walk down a plane aisle so narrow that you have to turn sideways and crab walk to get to your seat. Once there, you are lucky to find overhead space for the carryon they charged you to bring. You sit in a chair meant for the very small people Americans no longer are, only to have the person in front of you recline his headrest just the slightest, which puts it squarely in your lap.
God help you if you have the middle seat. You are squeezed between two people who can barely fit in their seats. You will not know a moment of comfort again until you deplane. Everything you do, from reaching for your book to pulling down the tray, is accompanied by profuse apologies to the people on either side as you elbow them unmercifully. Need a bathroom break? The bathrooms are so small you have to leave your purse outside the door. Want something to eat or drink? Pay as much for a cheese plate or frozen hot sandwich as you would for a steak anywhere else.
So despite the fact that airlines view this survey as a glass half full, those of us actually forced to endure a plane trip know that the glass is actually half empty and draining rapidly. All that money the airlines are making charging you for everything but the air you breathe is going to executive bonuses and salaries.  So you can see where that half full feeling comes from.
When I first flew, you could get to your gate without being body searched. You dressed up for the occasion because, in fact, it was an occasion. You were served hot meals at no charge. You checked bags at no charge. Seats were big enough for your entire body. Aisles were wide enough to stroll down face first. Those days are gone now. Flying is the new bus travel. You dress down because god knows what you’ll be sitting on. You bring your own snacks. You enter the restrooms with trepidation, hoping to be able to fit. Mostly, you pray for the whole thing to end as soon as possible.
As always, Alaska Airlines is way down on the list of complaints from passengers. And I still would rather fly with them than any other carrier. But that doesn’t make their aisles wider, their lines shorter or their overhead space more accommodating.  I’m not sure the graciousness and comfort I remember from the glory days of plane travel will ever return. I guess we have to wait for space travel to start to get that kind of service again.
Those quiet people lining up to hear their row called for boarding, they aren’t complaining because they have simply given up. If you could hear the complaints going through their minds, you’d be frightened.

Elise Patkotak • 03:03 AM •
Wednesday, February 24, 2016

We could have the first Jewish president.
Or we could have the first female president.
Or we could have the first biggest jerk in America who caters to our basest instincts as president.
Doesn’t seem like all that hard of a choice. 

Elise Patkotak • 03:14 AM •
Tuesday, February 23, 2016

It’s that I can’t stay up until midnight if I’m actually up. In bed with my iPad, I’m good until two in the morning. Just don’t ask me to get up or be sociable. That door closes around 9.

Elise Patkotak • 03:04 AM •
Monday, February 22, 2016

For one brief moment yesterday it was snowing here and actually starting to look like an Anchorage winter. Then everything melted before I could even enjoy the wetness. And now we’re back to brown, ugly and icy. Let this winter end since it clearly has no idea how to be a winter.

Elise Patkotak • 12:29 PM •

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