Columns 2006

The legislature should not be meeting in July

I first noticed the odor a few weeks ago. But I was busy getting ready to leave town and figured it would wait for resolution until I returned. The smell was even more obvious upon my return and was clearly emanating from the corner of my bedroom where Mr. T takes his regular 20-hour naps.

At first I thought it was just him smelling like the little old man that he is. So I tried bathing him in banana scented dog shampoo.  He was not amused and ultimately it didn’t do much for the odor. So I decided it was time for his dog bed and quilt to be washed since they seemed to be at least fifty percent of the problem and, unlike Mr. T, I could throw them in the washer with strong detergent and hot water.

Mr. T will probably remember the day I took his bedding up for cleaning as one of the most traumatic of his life.  After his morning serving of chicken strips, he went as usual back to his bed to recuperate from breakfast.  And bed wasn’t there.  He stood staring in the corner for longer than I care to admit. Maybe he thought if he stared long enough, it would return from whatever hell had grabbed it.

Eventually it dawned on him that his bedding was simply not returning in the near future and he was going to have to go with an alternative plan if he was to get his usual amount of sleep for the day.  He heaved his body around the bedroom and living room, testing every possible surface from floor to carpet and back again.  Like Goldilocks, he could find none that was just right.  Apparently the thought of going downstairs to his bed in my office never occurred to him because that bed was for afternoon naps. Eventually he came and sat by my chair glaring at me in a way that made me very grateful he didn’t have enough teeth left in his head to carry out any attacks he might plan.

In fact, I was somewhat sympathetic to his predicament to the extent that I think we all have certain routines and expectations of the way things are. When those expectations are dashed or routines disrupted, we feel off balance as if all is not quite right in the world.

I think that pretty much explains how I feel about the legislature meeting in July. It’s not that I don’t think they need to meet and finish their business; it’s just that they are supposed to meet in the winter, not the summer.

Summer is for fishing and long lost friends and relatives from the lower ‘48.  Summer is for mosquitoes and stunted trees struggling to survive the onslaught of moose lips.  Fall is snow tires and darkness, ice and quiet. Visitors leave and the holiday season begins. Winter is when the legislature goes to Juneau and all sane Alaskans go to Hawaii. It’s when snow starts out as fun and ends up making us want to scream – not unlike our feelings for the legislature. Spring is when more snow melts than falls in any given month and the sun stays up long enough to matter. Spring is when politicians pass a flurry of bills they’ve been mucking with all session and then leave Juneau so the rooms can be cleaned before the tourists arrive. 

So having legislators meeting in Juneau in July just throws our whole calendar off. Especially when some of us resent paying them to meet to resolve issues that should have been dealt with during the regular session. It’s as though adjournment sneaks up on them each year and they are surprised it’s happening again.

Completing tasks on time is something we are taught in elementary school.  It just seems to me that we should be able to hold our legislators to the same standard we hold a first grader.

All of us who work in the real world face deadlines daily. While we may be excused for occasionally blowing those deadlines if we have some clearly extenuating circumstances, there are few bosses who would put up with it on a regular basis.  Blow enough deadlines and you will soon find yourself looking for another job.

Which is maybe the standard to which those people in Juneau should be held.  Either get the work done on time for which you were sent to Juneau or we will send you packing and find someone who will.  Because right now you are just messing with my mind by meeting in July.  And I’m not sure Alaskans should be all that eager to have outsiders meet their legislators en masse.  What with the average age of our tourists, that could be a recipe for disaster.