Monday, April 20, 2009

At least we'll always have Marmot Day...

Let it not be said by the nattering nabobs of negativism that our Lege accomplished nothing in this recently concluded session. Why, I can think of several accomplishments:
  • On April 18th, state reps voted 38-0 to establish February 2nd as Marmot Day.
  • On April 6th, state reps voted 31-6 to designate the Alaska Malamute as the official state dog.
  • In keeping with the animals theme, the House passed HB 6, which expands the definition of animal cruelty laws to include bestiality.
  • Someone actually noticed that the Board of Fish was leaning even more heavily towards commercial interests. Palin's nominee, Brent Johnson, was rejected 42-16 in a joint session.
  • In a move vaguely reminiscent of the evolution of Alaskan marijuana laws, the Senate passed a bill outlawing the installation of tinted windows in cars and trucks. Note: it was already illegal to drive with them.
  • Minimum wage in Alaska will rise, eventually, to $7.75 an hour and remain at least 50 cents above the federal minimum.
  • It's been a long, difficult road for those who wish to end the scourge of Daylight Savings Time. As FBH readers themselves may know from personal experience, that one hour change twice a year is just hell. When it's been below minus 40 for over a week, and dark, and I truly dread going outside for more firewood, sometimes I remind myself, "Hey, at least tomorrow we don't have to spring ahead an hour." That does offer me some comfort. This legislative effort has stalled numerous times since 1999, but made it through the House as HB19 in 2009. As a public service, we have reprinted the following statement made by one legislator who introduced such a bill in 2002, offered by the bill's author, from a Juneau Empire story:
"It's just another one of those little hassles in life that you don't need," said Rep. Ken Lancaster, a Soldotna Republican and author of House Bill 409 to end daylight-saving time in Alaska. "Twice a year everybody is late for work or forgets to set their clocks," he said. "This year it's on a Sunday, so everybody is going to be late for church."

Actually, daylight-saving time always begins on the first Sunday in April and continues until the last Sunday in October, when clocks are set back to standard time. But the adjustment can be confusing to anyone.

The list could go on and on.

Clearly, the 90 day session is working out for everyone involved. Sarah Palin has 30 less days she needs to spend working on state business, freeing her up to lend herself to various causes near and dear to Alaskans: the outcome of the Texas gubernatorial race, the outcome of the gubernatorial race in Georgia and uh.... a Right to Life event in Indiana. She still had plenty of time to make some thoughtful, considered appointments to state positions: Wayne Anthony Ross, Brent Johnson, Tim Grussendorf, Joe Nelson, Alan Wilson. And hey, let's not forget -- she had time to visit Emmonak Russian Mission.

Never one to get out of a session without getting at least one stupid, ill-informed, offensive remark into the press, Mike Kelly, Mr. Representing My Neck of the Woods Thanks to 5 Stupid Voters, did not disappoint, even though he had 30 less days in which to speak in public on our behalf. Mr. Kelly had what I will from now on refer to his 'Let them cut wood" moment. Blue Oasis picked up on this one from the ADN, and it is just too awesome not to quote:
Saturday began with a confrontation in the House Finance Committee about what to do in regard to high energy costs in rural Alaska. The Legislature is poised to appropriate $9 million statewide for low-income heating assistance programs to assist. But Fairbanks Rep. Kelly said he thought it was supposed to be a one-time appropriation last year, and state revenues have dropped.

He said there are other programs for people who are needy and "not for any layabouts."

"I'd rather tell the guy, go out there and cut your own wood or do something for yourself. ... I don't know how many of the 200-plus villages have a wood supply within a rock toss, but there's a lot of them because I've been to a lot of them," he said.

Rep. Woodie Salmon, a Democrat from the village of Chalkyitsik, angrily responded that there have been millions of dollars in state subsidies for urban energy needs.

"They spent millions and millions of dollars on a coal plant, transmission lines, then they retire off the system, and then they don't help the rural areas," he said.

Kelly is the retired president of Golden Valley Electric Association in Fairbanks.


KC said...

Kelly's still here because 5 people who won't live here in a year voted for him.

I really hate DST, but I'd give that up for something in the vague direction of energy reform. Which I think is saying something, given my burning hatred for DST. My deep, burning hatred.

Sarah's got to be excused on her visit to Russian Mission instead of Emo. Geography's never been her strongest suit. O:}

CabinDweller said...

I'm with you on energy reform, KC. Big freaking dead elephant in room. Dealing with rural energy issues goes beyond finding a way for people to lose less stove oil, to pay less for it -- to maybe even get off it.

What about the cost of generating electricity? I can't remember which community this winter was paying 42 cents per kwh - damn all that beer anyway. AVEC was tacking on fuel surcharges to deal with its own high cost of providing electricity; some folks I know reported getting $700 electric bills for one month.

FlictheBic said...

Mike Kelly - who hunts by using his private plane to get to remote places - thereby not only hunting the very same animals that the people he so despises and disparages depend on for food - but using a whole lot of E in the process.

Not to mention all the little private plane junkets he takes his family on too...what a piece of work.

Ishmael said...

Just so you know, Cook Inlet hasn't had a commercial fisherman on the Board of Fish in over 30 years. And in that time sports fishing interests, as represented by real estate magnate Bob Penny and facilitated by Gov. Tony Knowles, have destroyed commercial fishing in Cook Inlet. Do you know why there is no pink salmon commercial fishery in Cook Inlet, as one example? Because they run at the same time as the sport-valued silver salmon. As a result, hundreds of thousands of pinks run, spawn, die and wash up on the shore of the Kenai River every other year.

Just my way of pointing out that Brent Johnson is a good man and would have been a nice balance to the rabid, and well-healed, elitist sportsfishing interests in Southcentral.

CabinDweller said...

Ish, you make several good points.

In my defense, I did not jump on Johnson himself. From what I've read in the press, he sounded alright.

The choice was ill-considered, I think, because given the generally tone deaf manner of the Palin Administration, there was no way it was going to fly. Which is me backpedalling a bit.

If I had my druthers, we'd have another person representing subsistence users on the Board.

Donald Brent Lindsey Jr. said...

We Michiganders and Alaskans must get on the same page with Marmot Day, which is actually a real holiday here (July 27) in the Great Lakes State. Read these blog posts to learn more: day

Perhaps the good folks of Alaska can persuade the legislature to follow the Michigan Marmot Day celebration and rituals, and we can celebrate together. Read more about it here:

Donald Brent Lindsey Jr. said...

We Michiganders and Alaskans must get on the same page with Marmot Day, which is actually a real holiday here (July 27) in the Great Lakes State. Read these blog posts to learn more: day

Perhaps the good folks of Alaska can persuade the legislature to follow the Michigan Marmot Day celebration and rituals, and we can celebrate together. Read more about it here:

Donald Brent Lindsey Jr. said...

Alas, some Alaskans are preparing to exhibit folly and futility over their ignorance of the genuine Marmot Day. In Michigan we’re crying FOUL! DESECRATION! Do your homework: the original Marmot Day falls on July 27 this year. Any kindergartner can go to Wikipedia and run a search on Marmot Day!
Marmot Day is a community celebration in Owosso, Michigan, occurring on July 25th (or on the following Monday if the 25th falls on a weekend). It is a celebration of all marmots, which include groundhogs, woodchucks, and ground squirrels.
Marmot Day was begun in 2002 in Owosso, Michigan, as a day of celebration for this animal which is usually considered a pest. A luncheon is traditional as part of the celebration and the marmot jokes are also shared, among other festivities typical of any party or celebration. At 12:45 P.M., a marmot is positioned outside its hole, and if it goes into its hole, legend has it that summer is over; if it does not go into its hole, there will be one more month of summer. (Retrieved from; Hidden categories: Orphaned articles from February 2009 | All orphaned articles.)
This really should matter to Alaskans, who, I dare say, might struggle to see the Marmot’s shadow! Does the sun really shine on February 2 in Alaska?
Nonetheless, the folks at Covenant Eyes invite all Alaskans who are inebriated (or angered) over their legislature’s narrow mindedness to come on down and witness a REAL Marmot Day party (what the heck, we invite everybody in the whole dog-on state to come on down).
Plans are tentative at this point, but we’re praying that the following events will fall into place on July 27th, 2009: Noon lunch (pig roast with all the trimmings); CE Marmot is shuttled by train and dropped off at the doorstep of Covenant Eyes (greeted by a brass band); a comedy show the night before (possibly Thor Ramsy, who will also MC the Marmot Day’s events); a car show on the CE premises; bowling for marmots at the downtown bowling alley; a one-thousand dollar prize for the best marmot video; and prizes for the best marmot jokes.
We will soon create a special category for Marmot Day festivities on the Covenant Eyes Breaking Free Blog: Stay tuned…We’d love to show you all from the Great Frontier some Great Lakes hospitality. Who knows, if your legislature were able to “get it right,” we might be on to something: a friendly competition for the best Marmot Day celebration?
Marmot Day falls the day after “America’s Largest Celebration of Railroading in 2009.” The train festival comes to town July 23–26, 2009 in Owosso, MI. To learn more about the train festival, follow