Posted by: shannynmoore | November 8, 2014

Alaska – Just a Disconnect

imageOh, my darling Alaskans. The wringing of hands and hearts seems a bit over the top in reaction to this week’s election. Despite the bipolar quality of the results so far, I’m hopeful for the future of our state. If I couldn’t find a few silver linings, I’d have to insist that we stop having elections and just put our political offices on eBay.

My poll watching this week has been somewhat obscured by a boat and bait, so I was a bit surprised that Dan Sullivan doesn’t want to wait for my vote to be counted. I’m sure it’s not because he knows there’s no way on God’s green earth I’d blacken an oval next to his name, so it must be something else.

See, Alaska is a little different, Mr Sullivan. If you’d spent much time here, you’d know we’ve raised cliff-hanger elections to an art form. I once attended a coin toss that decided a state House seat. Right now we have one House seat with a 15-vote margin, and another with a 35. So, Dan, just cool your jets until all the votes are counted.

Progress arrives in Alaska more slowly than our glaciers melt, but it’s happening. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry. just like everyone else. So far no reports of hetereosexual marriages imploding as a result. I’m hoping that someone will explain to the morality police that gay marriage — or what I like to call “marriage” — isn’t mandatory, and the only one you need to worry about is your own.

The good folks of Anchorage voted to reject Mayor Dan Sullivan’s hit on public unions. I guess the idea of firemen, police officers and other public employees being able to bargain collectively didn’t strike fear into the hearts of the voting public. Not even close.

Alaskans had the good sense to stop making criminals of those who use marijuana. The anti- campaign included quite a list of horribles but, no, pot cookies won’t be added to school lunches anytime soon. But a substance people will keep using — whether or not you and I approve — can now be regulated and taxed. You know, commerce. You saw that pot got more votes than anyone running for office, didn’t you?

In another landslide, Alaskans voted to raise the minimum wage. Why? Because the current wage is way, way out of date, and our lowest wage earners shouldn’t have to work two and three jobs just to starve more slowly. People understand: if you give someone at the bottom of our economy another dollar or two an hour, THEY WILL SPEND IT, maybe with you.

How did people who care about Alaska’s environment do? Well, Alaskans told those who would sell our Bristol Bay heritage for pocket change to forget about it. Of course that should have been a no-brainer for everyone — with the exception of the guy I hope will soon be our former governor and a few folks still digging paychecks out of the Pebble Partnership. More Alaskans voted to protect Bristol Bay than for anything else on the ballot.

If Bill Walker becomes governor — and he’s ahead right now — we can look forward to health insurance for 40,000 lower-income Alaskans, reversing the myopically inhumane and petty partisan action of his predecessor.

The vote tally by the Division of Elections isn’t complete yet, and won’t be for a few weeks, but there are hopeful trends. With almost 50,000 votes still to count, I see more Alaskans voting Democratic than there are registered Democrats, by 30,000. Fewer Alaskans voted Republican than there are registered Republicans, by 26,000. I find that encouraging.

When Alaskans are asked to vote their values, and they’re given a clean, non-partisan choice, they seem to prefer the more progressive path: higher minimum wage, environmental protection, fair treatment of public employees, a rational position on drugs.

It’s when they’re asked to choose between politicians, some with an R by their names, some with a D, that they fall back on cartoonish stereotypes to fill out their ballots. (Congratulations on your 22nd term, Rep. Young.) Maybe one of these days we’ll be able to ask Joe and Jane Alaskan if billionaires should be taxed at lower rates than their secretaries. How do you think that would turn out?

So Alaskans supported higher wages for our poorest workers, de-criminalization of pot, environmental standards to protect salmon and collective bargaining . . . AND at the same time for a legislature that would do away with every single one of those things if given half a chance. What a disconnect.

I think the lesson in this election is that most Alaskans want a less partisan, less ideological approach to our politics. One that solves real problems. We’re taking baby steps. You gotta start somewhere.

Posted by: shannynmoore | June 2, 2014

Repeal SB 21 and stand up for Alaska

Shannyn Moore for the Anchorage Daily News

I read an op-ed in this paper by a gentleman named Jack Gerard with the American Petroleum Institute. He’s here from Washington, D.C., making speeches and honking his hooter. His message? Alaska needs to stand up to the federal government by endorsing tax cuts for oil companies in Alaska. We need to vote against our own interests in the August referendum.

It’s the economic equivalent of the Vietnam War strategy of destroying the village to save it.

Dear Mr. Gerard, if I wanted the opinion of an outsider from Washington, I’d call U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan, thank you very much.

Jack’s job seems to be going from state to state telling folks if they don’t buy the flowers, wine and dinner then the oil companies won’t date them anymore. (It’s actually more than dating.)

Right. They’re going to break up with Alaska, pay to dismantle the pipeline and move to North Dakota. Well, my friends, here’s the reality: If they lose their massive tax cut, the oil companies aren’t even going to unfriend us on Facebook.

There’s money to be made here and they’ll stay as long as that’s the case. (And they’ll be gone five minutes after it’s not.) And as long as they’re here, they’re going to whine about taxes and threaten to leave. Their job is to make every nickel they can. And they make a lot of nickels by punching holes in the tundra, but they make a bunch more by duping or buying legislators and governors. They can’t help it. That’s just their mandate.

As Alaskans, citizens of the Owner State, we have greater obligations than just getting some money for our oil. We have the duty to protect, educate, build infrastructure and ensure that future generations aren’t crippled by our choices, and that means standing up for ourselves now.

Kind of a daunting task when you think about it.

Maybe that’s why Bob Bartlett titled his keynote address at the Constitutional Convention on Nov. 8, 1955, “Meeting the Challenge.” He said, “Many states have included in their constitutions statements that the natural resources of the state should be ‘developed for the benefit of the people’ of the state. Such pious generalities, without further concrete policy statements, have proved wholly inadequate as effective barriers against dissipation of resources, fraud and corruption. Alaskans will not want, and above all else do not need, a resources policy which will prevent orderly development of the great treasures which will be theirs. But they will want, and demand, effective safeguards against the exploitation of the heritage by persons and corporations whose only aim is to skim the gravy and get out, leaving nothing that is permanent to the new state except, perhaps, a few scars in the earth which can never be healed.”

Barlett’s speech reminds me of President Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell warning, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.”

Sadly the warnings against the military industrial complex went unheeded. And we’re about to do the same for the resource extraction complex.

Alaskans, under Article 8 of the constitution, are charged with using our natural resources for the “maximum benefit” of our people. This makes the state similar to a corporation, beholden to its shareholders, which would be you and me. The recent decision of the Legislature and governor to give away billions in revenue in exchange for an unenforceable promise of oil industry good intentions is a dereliction of their fiduciary duties. Remember, the standard is “maximum benefit” not “some benefit.”

I’m still waiting to hear from someone how giving away roughly $1 billion a year — according to the Parnell Administration’s own fiscal analysis — for nothing in return is securing the “maximum benefit” for Alaskans. In fact, according to the administration’s own projections, oil production is going to plunge 45 percent under Senate Bill 21, the governor’s oil tax giveaway law. That’s a greater decline than was projected under the previous law, called ACES.

By not collecting necessary taxes, the Legislature is not only making it harder to fund operating budgets, but it is institutionalizing deficit spending. This is exactly what the U.S. Congress did to institutionalize huge federal budget deficits.

Do we really want to guarantee that the state will have to search for other sources of revenue to fund itself in the future? That puts a bulls-eye on the back of the Alaska Permanent Fund, but then what? Why would we shortchange our children tomorrow so Exxon, Conoco and BP stockholders can have bigger dividends today? Really?

Shannyn Moore is a radio broadcaster. You can hear her show, “The Last Word,” Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on KOAN 95.5 FM and 1080 AM and 1480 We Act Radio in Washington, D.C., and on Netroots Radio.

 

Posted by: shannynmoore | May 10, 2014

Women who reported assaults got no response from the govern

Read last weeks breaking story on Governor Waits Years to Act on Sexual Assault Cases

Shannyn Moore for the Anchorage Daily News

Oct. 27, 2013, was a very important date to several people.

One of them was Melissa Jones. Her name had been in the newspaper that morning. She had been identified as a victim of sexual assault while serving in the Alaska National Guard. Melissa thought surely someone in authority would call her to talk about what had happened to her.

Read More…

Posted by: shannynmoore | May 3, 2014

Gov. Parnell waits 4 years to Act on Sex Crime Cases

parnellOn Feb. 28, 2014, our governor, Sean Parnell, wrote a letter asking the Department of Defense to investigate “reports of sexual assaults and other behavior creating a hostile environment and culture within portions of the Alaska National Guard.”

He explained that he was compelled to request the investigation by “information I recently learned.”

That was not true. In fact, it was very far from the truth.

Military officers had risked their careers to tell the governor personally that female soldiers had been sexually assaulted by other Guard members and that those assaults were not only not investigated, they were covered up by senior officers.

And when did the governor really learn about this misconduct?

In 2010, four years before he finally decided somebody needed to do something about the pirate ship that was his National Guard.

Here’s some of what happened, taken from the accounts of people directly involved:

In 2010, several of the victims of sexual assault and misconduct were distraught and frustrated by the Guard leadership’s unwillingness to investigate their complaints and protect them from retribution by victimizers. Eventually, in desperation, they took their stories to their military chaplains. Three chaplains, convinced that they could not trust senior officers of the Guard to respond appropriately, selflessly decided to take their concerns over the heads of those officers directly to the governor.

The chaplains were able to connect with the governor because, in addition to his military duties, one of them had also worked in administration for the Grace Christian Church school, which Parnell’s daughters had attended. Using that connection, he was able to arrange a phone appointment with Parnell.

On Nov. 18, 2010, the chaplains — a major and two lieutenant colonels — gathered in a church office for their telephone conference with the governor. The chaplains, all feeling personally uncomfortable and professionally at risk for going outside the chain of command, told Parnell, their commander in chief, what they thought he needed to know about the widespread lack of trust in senior Guard leadership, the mishandling of sexual assault complaints and the misuse of Guard funds and resources. The call lasted 20 minutes.

Parnell thanked them for their courage.

Less than two weeks later, on Nov. 30, 2010, several Air National Guardsmen sent a complaint to the governor asking him to “accept the resignation of Major Gen. Thomas Katkus because of ‘multiple acts of moral turpitude’ he had allowed to run rampant, including drug trafficking, sexual assaults/rape, illegal use of aircraft.”

Katkus, who has since been promoted by Parnell to adjutant general of the Alaska Guard, is a member of the governor’s Cabinet.

Col. Robert Doehl, a former vice commander of the Alaska Air National Guard’s 176th wing, now works for Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, as a special assistant for military and veterans’ affairs.

On Dec. 3, 2010, Doehl wrote a seven-page letter to the governor. He thanked Parnell for a meeting they’d had that same day.

Doehl went on to repeat and document allegations about the Guard that he had shared with Parnell in their meeting. The allegations included abuse of authority, safety shortcuts that had resulted in loss of life and aircraft, cover-ups, cronyism and retaliation against whistleblowers. He named names, specifically accusing Lt. Gen. Craig Campbell (he became lieutenant governor in August 2009) and then-Maj. Gen. Katkus of failing to stop the misconduct.

That meeting also included the chaplains, the major and the lieutenant colonels, along with several other officers. By that time, several female soldier rape victims had submitted written statements to the Governor’s Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, Katie Tepas, according to one of the chaplains. Your office already has those statements, the officers told Parnell. Tepas had also met with some of the victims, who told her their stories in person, according to two officers who heard it from the victims directly.

Karl Hansen, a former special agent with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division and a former member of security details for Defense Secretaries Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates, is now the medical ombudsman at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. In that role, he has dealt extensively with the Guard sexual assault victims. Hansen said one of the victims told him that Tepas had asked why she, the victim, didn’t like Katkus and what she thought of the governor. The meeting led nowhere. There was no investigation.

During my conversation with him, I asked Hansen what he thought of Parnell’s “Choose Respect” campaign against sexual and domestic violence. He said, “The victims I’ve talked to feel it’s just lip service. I’m dealing with women who are suicidal because of what has happened to them — some attempting multiple times.”

On Dec. 29, 2011, the lieutenant colonels spoke by phone with Parnell’s chief of staff, Mike Nizich. Nizich had been present for other discussions and was the designated contact person for the chaplains. Nizich said he would convey their concerns to the governor. The chaplains stayed in touch with Nizich — through Nizich’s personal email, not his state email — over the following months.

By early fall of 2013, state Sen. Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River, had been briefed on the allegations about the Guard. He knew one of the chaplains through their service together on a community board. Dyson said he went to the governor with information about the pervasive climate of “boys will be boys” and the “circling of the wagons” around alleged perpetrators in the Guard.

“It appeared to me that the governor was not giving enough credibility to the information the chaplains were giving him,” Dyson told me.

In October 2013, reporter Sean Cockerham wrote a story about the sexual assault allegations for the Daily News. Cockerham reported that Lt. Col. Jane Wawersik, a member of the Guard and a former Anchorage police officer, had been appointed to investigate the charges of sexual misconduct. (I’m told she was appointed by Brig. Gen. Catherine Jorgensen.)

The chaplains were asking why it had taken so long. It had been three years since they first told the governor what had happened to some women in the Guard.

After the Cockerham story appeared, Dyson went to the governor a second time, encouraging him to take an active role in addressing the chaplains’ concerns. “The question of the propriety of the chaplains in speaking to the media came up,” Dyson said. He meant the governor didn’t like the fact they had talked to a reporter.

On Dec. 6, 2013, Parnell’s deputy commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, McHugh Pierre, summoned Lt. Col. Wawersik, the sexual assault investigator, to his office on JBER. He wanted to know if she had been giving information to Dyson. Wawersik told him she had not.

On Dec. 9, Pierre called two of the chaplains to his office. After asking which lawmakers they had talked to, Pierre asked them to sign a letter stating that they would not talk to legislators. Both declined, saying they would first have to consult an attorney. They were not allowed to take a copy of Pierre’s letter with them.

The next day, their attorney, Wayne Anthony Ross of Anchorage, wrote to Pierre asking for a copy of the document. He also asked Pierre to explain the “established guidelines” he had referenced in his discussion with the two chaplains.

As of Friday, almost five months after he wrote Pierre, Ross had not received a reply, he told me.

In February 2014, Dyson contacted the governor a third time and again strongly encouraged him to act. Two weeks later the governor requested a federal investigation.

When I asked Dyson why he thought it had taken so long for the governor to do something, he said, “He was too loyal to his people” and he “lacked a healthy skepticism.”

I think that’s a charitable analysis. I’ll just say it doesn’t suggest the governor had an excess of concern for sexual assault victims, or the need for a functional National Guard.

Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, has been asking some of the same questions I have about these events. This past Friday, when I emailed the governor’s office asking to talk to Parnell about the Guard, his spokeswoman sent me a copy of a letter the governor had just sent to French.

In the letter, Parnell suggested it wasn’t possible for him to have followed up on the chaplains’ sexual assault information. He posed this question to French:

“Did the chaplains also tell you they were unable to state case-specific detail with our office to substantiate their concerns because of their duty of confidentiality to the individuals they counseled?”

The governor conveniently overlooks the fact that the sexual assaults had been reported earlier within the chain of command. Presumably all Parnell would have had to do was ask the nearest general to get him the names and allegations of all the Guard soldiers who had reported being raped in the last few years. And if that didn’t work, his office already had the victims’ statements, and someone there had talked to victims.

Parnell’s letter continued: “Even without detail specific enough to pinpoint a victim willing to report, nor a perpetrator, we made sure through the Adjutant General that Guard members had a safe route to report sexual misconduct, and that their allegations would be taken seriously and investigated to conclusion, including any appropriate penalties. Where criminal conduct was alleged, we directed referral to the appropriate law enforcement agency.”

And who was the Adjutant General who would ensure the safety and proper treatment of victims and the prosecution of perpetrators?

Thomas Katkus, of course.

Both of Alaska’s U.S. senators, Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski, responded relatively quickly to the public allegations. Sean Parnell, the commander in chief of the Alaska Guard, waited nearly four years.

In the meantime, the victims suffered and the pirate ship sailed on.

Shannyn Moore is a radio host on 1480 AM in Washington, D.C., and on Netroots Radio.

 

Posted by: shannynmoore | April 20, 2014

Reaction to Easter may be genetic

Shannyn Moore for the Anchorage Daily News

I could write about last week’s Juneau dysfunction but at this point it would be like publishing a headline saying, “BREAKING NEWS! Gravity is sucking us onto the surface of the Earth and there’s no sign of it stopping.”

This is a holy week to many. Recent events have made places sacred and reminded me that friends are the family we choose.

Happy Easter.

I grew up with Easters. The full-meal deals. Flowered hats and new dresses; I remember a particular gray gingham with lace. It was a bit “Little House on the Prairie” but I kind of liked that. The Little House on the Muskeg was where I lived. Easter basket grass is useless in any other capacity than as fluff around chocolate eggs and the marshmallow chicks covered in colored sugar. (BTW, those make for interesting s’mores.)

I don’t remember the first time I heard the story of Easter. Truly. I just seemed to always know the violent details too well after having the story explained in such great detail. I wasn’t raised with a television and the graphic nature of the crucifixion was always shocking. To be fair to myself, I think it is a good thing I was horrified to the bone by the story. Apparently, it is genetic.

My daughter was 3, almost 4, when we were visiting my folks in Homer. I didn’t think much about going to Easter Sunday service with Mom and Pop. I’d grown up with sunrise service and breakfast in the church basement with the congregation. There were pots of lilies in the sanctuary and people with allergies noticed them first.

During the service I sat with my folks and sang the hymns and knew the steps of the service. Years of ritual are so easy to call back. It felt like home.

Javin was in Sunday school downstairs. We’d bought the appropriate sherbet-colored dress and hat; she’d had an Easter basket when she woke up — brought by the Easter Santa, a giant bunny.

As the pastor spoke, my thoughts wandered. I wondered why what was so regimented and habituated from my childhood seemed less important now. The meaning had changed for me. You know that sort of stream of thought where it would take crashing cymbals or your own child screaming to break in? It was like that.

I heard something.

“Mommmm!” Was it her? I turned my head toward the double doors closed at the back to the auditorium.

Seconds later the doors were parted like the Red Sea when my daughter threw herself through them. She was sobbing — that kind of shaking crying, deep gasps between words.

Wild-eyed, she was looking for me in the Easter Sunday crowded church.

I stood up.

She came up the aisle as the pastor went silent.

Arms in the air, the wettest tears falling, she said, “Mom, they killed Jesus!”

I’d taught her the song “Jesus Loves Me” and I’d just never got around to the horrific story of sacrifice. You know, because she was a child. It was a surprise to her.

“They killed him! Mom, they killed him!” As far as she knew, I didn’t know.

I made my way down the pew row and to the aisle.

She ran to me and I picked her sobbing body up in my arms.

As I walked out of the church I heard the pastor say,

“Isn’t that how we all should feel?”

 


 

Shannyn Moore is a radio host on 1480 AM in Washington, D.C., and on Netroots Radio.

 

Posted by: shannynmoore | April 12, 2014

Republicans’ budget shows their values

Shannyn Moore for the Anchorage Daily News 

Show me a political flyer in Alaska and I’ll show you a candidate whose only reason for living is supporting the Permanent Fund and education, and fighting “government waste.”

There’s an old saying, “Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” This week we got to see what the Republican majority in the Alaska Senate values. Rest assured, their budget, written by Sen. Pete Kelly, does not value birth control for irresponsible women.

In fact, amendments to accept millions in federal funds for family planning — to actually reduce abortions — were voted down by our “pro-family” Republicans. As far as they’re concerned, as soon as you have that kid, you’re on your own.

Amendments to invest in our children’s futures through pre-kindergarten education? No way. Kids, schmids. (Note to Republicans: those fetuses for which you can’t do enough eventually turn into actual children, for whom you can’t do too little. Remember that whole sanctity-of-life thingy? It should include education.)

Money to stem the tide of teacher layoffs? Try us next year.

Additional money for substance abuse for the state with the worst substance-abuse problems in America? Bor-ing.

Millions for new tennis courts in West Anchorage? We’re all over that, preserving the people’s right to wield rackets.

The budget is huge. In spite of all the for-the-cameras hand-wringing about “fiscal responsibility,” the Republican-controlled Legislature is about to pass one of the biggest budgets in state history, accompanied by a $2 billion deficit. But that’s not a problem for our legislators because they made sure the CEOs of Exxon, BP and ConocoPhillips get their full MBOs this year.

But I digress.

The Republicans rejected attempts to put $1 billion into the Permanent Fund to offset some of the revenues kissed off by Gov. Giveaway. Get used to budget deficits, my fellow Alaskans. Watch as legislators slowly drain the Permanent Fund: this year they took $1.3 million from it — instead of collecting oil taxes — to pay for more government services.

With the state headed toward bankruptcy, driven by multibillion-dollar annual deficits, retirees are calling for a cash infusion to protect their retirement accounts. The Legislature’s answer: Let ‘em eat cat food.

Legislators need that money for the “Taj MaHawker,” the better-than-new Legislative Office Building, with its glass elevators, maple walls and heated parking ramp.

You know, the deal Diamond Mike Hawker shrewdly negotiated with a well-connected GOP campaign contributor. Diamond Mike was able to arm-twist the owners into settling for not a penny more than quintuple the Legislature’s current rent. It will cost all of us an extra $50 million over the next 10 years.

Imagine this: The deal is so glaringly stupid that even the Senate majority was too embarrassed to defend it in public. That didn’t, however, stop the majority from blocking attempts to scuttle the deal.

And then there was the little matter of a $100,000 contract to another big GOP campaign contributor to pick out furniture for the Taj MaHawker. A sensible proposal to let staff choose the legislative love seats at no additional cost was rejected without debate.

Tell you what, I’ll equip the lounge lizards myself. Shopping for old white men will be my public service.

This legislative session has been so ugly — and the worst is yet to come — it makes me want to go into the wild to contemplate the idea of an Alaska without legislators. But I better hurry. Rep. Mia Costello has had the brilliant idea that we increase state park fees. How about $1 million a day per vehicle, Mia? We could use the money to cut oil taxes, to put more oil in the pipeline — yeah, that’s the ticket!

So, money for kids and retirees — bad. More money in the Permanent Fund — really bad. Raiding the Permanent Fund instead of collecting oil taxes to pay for more government — good. Public money for legislators’ campaign contributors — really good.

Will Alaskans remember all the Mike Hawkers come November and give them their walking papers? Not bloody likely.

And why is that? I’ll be damned if I can figure it out.

Shannyn Moore is a radio host on 1480 AM in Washington, D.C., and on Netroots Radio.

Posted by: shannynmoore | April 6, 2014

Court hands keys to corporations, democracy be damned

800px-American_Corporate_Flag.svgShannyn Moore for the Anchorage Daily News

Please support Shannyn’s work, by donating here.

This week I listened to one of the right-wing sock puppets yammer on about what a victory for freedom the most recent campaign finance court decision was. Honestly. The guy was more about “free and dumb” than freedom.

The court, in yet another 5-4 decision, basically created eBay for elections. What we didn’t need was more stinking money in our election process but the five say otherwise. Freedom of speech is now equated with how much money you have and are willing to spend. Of course, the reverse doesn’t work. You can’t walk into a store and purchase items with your words. It’s insane. If money is speech, most of us are mute.

Justice Stephen Breyer, in his dissent said, “If the court in Citizens United opened a door, today’s decision may well open a floodgate.”

Oh, great.

My dear Alaskans, it’s going to get much worse. Read More…

Posted by: shannynmoore | April 3, 2014

Send me to Juneau!

I’m heading to Juneau to report for the ADN, TheMudflats and of course The Shannyn Moore Show.
If you could kick in the price of a cup of coffee, I’d be grateful. If you can afford more – it won’t be wasted.
You can paypal me at shannynmoore@gmail.com or click the donate button above and enter your info there.
Please share. Together we can expose the big money that owns Juneau.
love you, mean it!
-Shannyn

coffee-donation

Posted by: shannynmoore | March 30, 2014

Don’t miss the change to vote Tuesday

Shannyn Moore for the Anchorage Daily News

 

Potholes and school repairs aren’t nearly as sexy as presidential elections. I mean, really, there are no catchy campaign tunes (except for that Mike Gutierrez song that stuck in my head for two years). Too many of us ignore the elections that affect our day-to-day lives the most.

People fought, went to prison, starved themselves and died so you can ignore your right to vote. That seems a bit ungrateful, to put it mildly. Democracy freeloaders. I’m betting more folks in Anchorage filled out a Sweet 16 bracket than will vote in the April 1 election. (One, sorry if you picked Duke; secondly, yes, our election is on April Fools’ Day; this is not a joke.)

I’d stop with that and call this the shortest column ever, but I know what some of you are saying over your good morning paper: “Sounds great. More coffee.” Admit it, at least one of you just said that. More of you probably thought, “I’d vote if there were someone worth voting for.”

From your lips to God’s ears.

I wonder what would happen if an oath to truth was sworn by candidates — like they had to tell the truth.

Case in point, the East Anchorage Assembly race. Incumbent Adam Trombley is being challenged by former state Rep. Pete Petersen.

This race has a lot of money being bet on both sides. Trombley, a consistent rubber stamp for the mayor until five minutes ago, has worked remarkably hard for a few builders in the city. Revised rules allow “independent engineers” — instead of municipal employees — to approve new construction. What could go wrong? It’ll take weeks off the process. Nothing like a cut corner to make a few more bucks. And the only risk is to the health and safety of our friends and neighbors.

It was funny when Chuck Spinelli, head of a building company, told the paper, “We didn’t go to Adam Trombley and ask him to do anything for home builders, but he started doing things that home builders really appreciated.”

Really? You never asked him? He just figured out what you’d been wanting for years and made it his mission on the Assembly? In an invitation to Chuck Spinelli’s fundraiser for Trombley, there was no mention of the assemblyman’s psychic ability to help builders. Nope, instead it said Adam had “done more for the local home builders in the last two years than any elected official in the last two decades, maybe EVER.”

It went on to explain how Trombley revolutionized the process: “For the first time in 40 years builders can bypass city plan review!” Now you have a choice of “your own engineer for plan review.” It may as well have said, “Your own brother-in-law can check your work! Wahoo! Free at last!”

So even if Trombley doesn’t know who he’s working hardest for, the check-wielding home builders do.

So I complain about the lack of “truthiness” in campaigns, and then one day there it is …

A candidate starts telling the truth. He tosses the “socially acceptable” filter between his thoughts and his mouth and says what he thinks out loud. Oh, I’m not talking about “gotcha” phone-video recordings, I’m talking about public television, where the candidate knows the cameras are on and capturing every word.

Don Smith, I appreciate your honesty this week in regard to your bid for school board. It’s good that you explained and re-explained your racist views in a clear and concise manner. Not voting for you is my choice because I don’t believe the good old days were when Anchorage schools were “98 percent white” and teachers didn’t have to deal with “immigrants” or “special needs students.”

I couldn’t make this guy up. “Today we’re 48 percent white and 52 percent other and that clearly is causing problems,” he said. The presence of nonwhites is causing our school funding problems? This us-vs.-them racist crap should be, if not extinct, at least closeted by now.

So here we are, batters up to the ballots. Sometimes you have to vote against crazy. A few times I’ve been able to vote for someone I believed would represent us fairly. (A rare and beautiful thing.) But I never miss a chance to vote. Do it while you still can.

Shannyn Moore is a radio host on 1480 AM in Washington, D.C., and on Netroots Radio.

 

Posted by: shannynmoore | March 26, 2014

On the Thom Hartmann Show – 25 Years of Tears

Thom Hartmann had me on his show to discuss the 25 year anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill and my article, 25 years of Tears. I’m on the final segment, about 2 hours and 22 mins in.

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