No hope Alaska politicians will use time wisely

My cousin Therese recently adopted a pound puppy she named Stella after losing her first pound puppy Jerusalem at the ripe old age of 16. Well, we think Jerusalem was real.  No one could be sure.  Whatever had happened to him in his previous life had apparently left him very nervous about people – all people, all the time.

So most of us never saw much more of Jerusalem than two eyes staring at us from under whatever piece of furniture Therese was either standing by or sitting on at the time. 

This meant that Jerusalem needed little more than peace, quiet and nobody other than Therese around to make his day full and complete.

Stella is different. For whatever reason she became a pound puppy, she either was never mistreated or learned to get over it pretty quickly. That, compounded by the fact that Labrador Retriever probably is a large part of her genetic make-up, created a dog longing for a little more excitement than Jerusalem ever wanted.  So Therese, ever the maternal caregiver, enrolled Stella in doggy day care.

Considering we came from a group of Italians who barely believed in sending children to summer camp, doggy day care was quite a concept for the family to get their heads around.  This was especially true when Stella showed up at home after her first week of day care with a report card.  The report card said that, among other things, Stella used her time well.

As my cousin Therese said in the e-mail she sent to everyone to let them know how well Stella was doing. “Thank god she uses her time well. I don’t know what I’d have done with a dog that didn’t know how to do that.”

Well, Stella apparently is one up on our current Alaska legislature. Somehow she has learned to use her time wisely while they use their time in ways mysterious to most of us.

You see, in the real world, where you actually have to work for a living, if you’re given a deadline and you blow it time and time again, your company loses money and you stand to lose your job. But here in Alaska, even though the vast majority of our legislatures have been called into special session to finish their work, we still keep sending mostly the same faces back to Juneau in the misbegotten hope that this time they’ll get it right.  How dumb are we?

The legislature gets 120 days to finish its business. If you’re like me and follow what they do during those 120 days – and I admit upfront that I have no life so this is what passes for amusement during my day – you might have noticed that precious little gets done for most of those 120 days.  Then, we are suddenly faced with the looming deadline of adjournment and everyone is scurrying around doing whatever it takes to get out of Juneau so they don’t miss fishing season back home. 

Remember when you were young and used to wait till the last minute to do school assignments like science projects, book reports, etc.  Think back about the quality of that final product created in a last minute rush.  Not very good, was it?

Well, your legislature is doing basically the same thing.  The deadline hits and they are suddenly voting on bills they haven’t really read or fully understand or wouldn’t pass earlier.  Better yet, they use up $30,000 a day in special session to continue to stare at each other across some unbridgeable divide and still get nothing done.

Maybe I don’t understand how the legislative world operates.  But from my humble perspective, we send these people to Juneau every year to pass a budget and enact other laws as needed for our benefit. I think it is not unreasonable to expect that they will actually work on those issues the entire time they are getting paid to be there. And I think it is not unreasonable to expect them to finish their work on time and in good order just like our employers in the real world expect us to do.

I mean, really, shouldn’t our legislature know how to use their time at least as well as Stella?