Columns 2016

Sometimes it’s better with the devll you don’t know

I respect Governor Walker because he seems a man of principle willing to take the heat in order to do what’s right. Let’s compare that to the current Alaska Legislature, which has finally gaveled its way into shameful retreat from its major responsibilities. Not only did they not have the guts to do what was needed to get our fiscal house in order, they didn’t even have the guts to gavel into session and take up the Governor’s cuts to their budget. No, they just tucked their tails between their legs and slunk home, letting the Governor take full responsibility for doing what needed to be done.

Seems to me if these politicos really objected to the cuts that Walker made, they would have stood up and been counted by voting to overcome his vetoes. Given their inaction, I can only assume that they knew the cuts had to be made and were happy to have Walker do it so they wouldn’t have to face any real questions during their re-election bids.

How did we ever elect such spineless wonders to our Legislature? If we’d been drinking or smoking collectively as an electorate and this Legislature was the result, it would make some sense. But electing these people while sober calls into great question our good taste and common sense.

I am hoping that by this point Alaskans have figured out that the only adult in the room this year in Juneau was the governor. Everyone else was a two year old having a temper tantrum because the price of oil refused to go up far enough to relieve them of any adult responsibilities or decisions.

So here’s what we can expect over the next few months of campaigning. Your elected officials will send you mailings, create TV ads and hang things on your doorknob that explain how, if sent back to Juneau, they will restore everything the governor cut AND still balance the budget. These legislators will tell you that Walker is to blame for everything and that when they go back to Juneau, they will stand up to him and his insane need for a somewhat balanced budget. But that begs the question of why they didn’t override his vetoes when they had the chance during the special session.

It may feel odd to be discussing local politics when national politics seem to have taken a turn down the rabbit hole. But while presidential politics may grab the biggest headlines, local politics are really where things happen. So while we should definitely pay attention to what is happening nationally, if only for the humor of watching the Republicans twist themselves into pretzels in explaining their support for their candidate, we should probably be paying even more attention to local elections. And given Alaska’s fiscal position right now, we should be totally focused on who goes back to Juneau next year because, short of a miracle, things are going to get worse before they get better.

If you are worried about your dividend or the possibility that we might end up asking the last person leaving the state to turn off the lights, then who gets elected to our state legislature is as important, if not more so, as any president. And right now, the clear impression being given off by the politicians who recently returned from Juneau is that they are way more interested in keeping their jobs and amazingly generous per diems than they are being the adult in the room when it comes to making hard decisions.

There’s an old saying that it’s better to deal with the devil you know than the devil you don’t. That simply is not true in our current choice of elected representatives. It is very clear that the devil we know is incompetent and unable to figure out a fiscal plan that will pull us back from the precipice. Yet these officials are still so full of themselves that they think we should send them back to Juneau for another go round. The devil we know is sinking this great state into a morass of debt and uncertainty. Short of another oil boom, the current crop of legislators clearly have no clue what to do.

Time to clean house and at least dance one dance with the devil we don’t know. It couldn’t possibly be any worse than the devil we’re dancing with now.