My work for the Alaska Legislature ended in mid-April after 100 days. Reflections upon what I had witnessed in Juneau over this time began while aboard the Alaska Marine Highway vessel M/V Columbia as we pled the waters toward Haines. As a certified Alaska teacher I have long been amazed at how Public Education funding is handled as a political hot potato.
Easter was on April Fool’s Day this year, and Good Friday was chosen as a great time to feature the Annual Legislative Skits that began decades ago as a fundraiser for the Democratic Party. The show, which features staff making fun of their bosses, is now unaffiliated to any political organization but gives money to worthy causes in Juneau. Being a people watcher myself, familiar with this Juneau tradition, I went to observe what I knew would be The Beautiful People in all their glory. I don’t begrudge a once funny Saturday Night Live television show--which over the years has become less funny.
Recently I have been seeing FaceBook posts from “East High Class of 1969” friends anticipating our 50th class reunion. I look back with mixed emotions on where I was then, where Alaska was at in context with the rest of the country, and where we have come as a state having tremendous oil wealth.
The notion of “ family ” was foreign to me as a child. Not until I took an Anchorage Community College class in Sociology did I understand that family is the “building block of society.” I remember being struck by that notion when I first heard it. The circumstance of my childhood determined my understanding of family as: “Some people got it and some people don’t.”
Few Alaskans bother to visit our state capital city where elected officials pass laws and conduct state business. Being a product of Southcentral Alaska myself, as a young man I wondered about what Juneau was like, and on two previous occasions I had traveled to Juneau by plane and ferried a senator’s car, before my first drive there alone--777 miles through White Pass from Costco Gas to Haines. At Haines, I took the ferry ride to the Juneau/Auke Bay Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) terminal.
There comes a time in every person’s life when one must decide if where they are going is leading to where they want to be. Perhaps you have sought opportunities that are not now fulfilling. Can you dare to change direction? For me the question arose while I was in Juneau. I had already enjoyed a couple of interesting career moves from my original home in Anchorage.
The revelation of a settlement agreement between the Municipality of Anchorage and Eklutna, Inc.--signed by the parties back in January of this year—which requires the MOA to help promote Eklutna’s Powder Acres and Powder Hills developments, is now causing members of the Birchwood Community Council to seek a delay in action by the Anchorage Assembly so their concerns can be worked out. This will be the first item of business on the December 19 Assembly meeting agenda at 6 p.m., and they are asking all residents to show up to support their request.
This story began with that phone call nobody who lives in a coastal Alaska community ever wants to receive late at night. It was from my supervisor’s wife who was asking if her husband, with the prescient first name of “Fate,” had told me he was taking my boat out to go fishing. He hadn’t, but it was alright if he did take it out. It happened occasionally and that’s just the kind of friend I was. Fate’s wife had already called the Coast Guard because he was missing and Fate’s vehicle with my boat trailer connected to it was parked at the North Douglas launch ramp. It was dark, nobody had heard from him, and she was worried.
“We all know crime has risen,” Cook continued. “I looked at the stats and crime has risen this year over last year in all community council areas. In Eagle River-Chugiak, “over the last few weeks there was an armed robbery down on Business Boulevard at the pizza place, and the scary thing is the individual with a gun actually shot when he left—so where did that bullet go? Starbucks was robbed and the thief was so desperate he couldn’t get money out of the cash register and ended up taking the tip jar. Finally, it was confirmed that an armed robbery happened at Microtel within days of Starbucks’…” Later in the presentation he stated flatly: “Our intent is deterrence.”