Alaska honey bee

Alaska honey bee

This is from the Seward Phoenix Log via the Nome Nuggett.

Don’t pull the wings off the honeybees

The Nome Nugget is Alaska’s oldest newspaper and for over a century the Nugget has opined on all things of interest to the people of the Northwest. The paper was once a daily, then a tri-weekly, and now a weekly but it still remains an important voice of the Northwest. In the early 1900s the direct link between the two towns of Seward and Nome was a trail now known as the Iditarod. Simply stated, the residents of both communities shared a common interest of building local economies that benefitted local people. That interest was clearly reflected in editorials and objective reporting that decried corrupt public practices and special interests. We take heart in last week’s editorial in the Nugget, which reflects some of our own thinking. We quote the editorial below verbatim.

“The Alaska State legislature has been designing ways to make easier for people to get permits by drilling, dredging, mining and offshore development. General permits and shorter times for public responses are part of the deal. If they take away all those pesky little requirements it will make development happen before we can blink an eye. Now we have legislative shenanigans that send bills to committees that have no logical connection to the proposal – if the shoe doesn’t fit, wear it on your hand. Bills need to be referred to their proper committees. We need to develop public confidence in our legislature, not erode it.

“There is also a proposal to take the public education funding and disperse it to private religious schools. The pie is the same size but cut into smaller slices so that our public schools do not get a sustainable portion. This bill was not sent to the Education Committee. Legal standards changes were not sent to the Judiciary Committee. Medical bills were not sent to Health and Services, hydroelectric site development was not sent to Senate Resources. This committee nutshell game is an abuse of power, is against the Alaska Constitution and strips us of protection of our resources, civil rights, right to live in a clean, pollution-free environment. This Mad Hatter’s tea party gives the public every right to distrust state government. This is as if some bureaucratic genius looked at a honeybee and figured it would streamline and make it easier to move if it didn’t have such cumbersome wings. So they pull off the wings and step on it as that wingless critter crawls along the ground.

“Politicians call it streamlining. Others call it pulling the teeth out of the law. Laws and regulations are designed to protect the public. They are meant to safeguard our environment. Regulations that affect our health and education should not be subject to backroom political maneuvering. Send the bills to their appropriate committees. We should not streamline the honeybees.”

The Alaska Legislature is behaving as if they have a mandate from the people of the state and that their actions reflect the interests and opinions of the citizens of their districts. While this may be true to some extent, it is not entirely clear in light of the recent decision by the Supreme Court that struck down the redistricting plan and ordered that the legislative districts be redrawn to conform with the state’s constitution.

The legislature’s behavior is almost as if it has to be done now because they may not get the chance to make the kind of changes the special interest groups want when the 2014 election cycle begins with new districts and new candidates and, perhaps, new faces in the legislature and a new governor.

The legislature and the governor should go slow and all debate must be in full view of the general public. Transparency is what is needed now, not bullying and steamrolling the minority. As the Nugget said, we need to build public confidence in our legislature, not erode it.