Go on vacation, in your backyard

With Homer smelling a little sweeter now than it did just a few weeks ago, it’s a sure sign that summer is just around the corner – despite the cold weather, snow flurries, hail and rain.
I think of summer here as if I was on vacation. After all, it lasts about the same length of time – maybe 2-3 weeks. And, while it’s certainly easy to take all Homer has to offer for granted, what if you decided to wake up everyday and think, “I’m on vacation.” You might just find yourself enjoying the Cosmic Hamlet summer to its fullest.

Shorebirds, motherhood: What don’t they have in common?

The annual Kachemak Bay Shore Bird Festival arrives along with Mother’s Day, a coincidental pairing of events that somehow ought to go together. Just as winter is walking away – not fast enough this particular spring – in comes a season of the migrations. Our visitors have endured lengthy flights from thousands of miles. Their […]

Murkowski veteran series worth a look

Sen. Lisa Murkowski features veterans each month as part of a veteran’s history project. This month she featured Homer resident Jim VanOss who hitchhiked to Alaska, helped build the pipeline and raised bison. It’s an interesting project to focus on individuals from across the eras and different wars. Today’s veterans are coming home to an uncertain future, wounded in ways that aren’t soon to heal. By sharing stories across the generations, we can all benefit from new insights and hopefully, find new ways to be supportive of returning veterans.

A lonely profession made social

Each year with spring comes the annual Alaska Press Club Conference, a three-day affair for attending workshops and meeting with other news people from around the state. Along with refresher courses on enterprising journalism, there’s new material to absorb. It brings a chance to make new friends and share talks with older editions of reporters who once worked with me on other newspapers around Alaska.

Time to assess legislative damage

It’s a rare year when the Alaska Legislature finishes on time in 90 days, without plans for a special session. The two previous years saw legislators slip into overtime when Gov. Parnell called them back to look at his unpopular oil tax credit bill. This time, should it be a surprise that a (mostly) obedient Legislature gets to go home on time?
The dust needs to settle from what got kicked up on the Senate and House floors. It will take us a few days, maybe months, to fully understand what’s up and what’s down in terms of the 73 bills passed. But from the position of post-session relief, here’s a short list:

Who are the “friends” of SB 21?

After the thousands of Alaskans who turned out at the Backbone Rallies around the state Thursday, it’s especially hard to understand how Senate Bill 21 meets the regard of so many friends in the Alaska Legislature. This rings true so far not only in its actual provisions but the many amendments Velcroed to it.

Sales tax on ecommerce worth debate

How to make web-based commerce equal to other transactions is a conundrum that evades solution in many industries. Book stores – paying property taxes and what-not – go out of business while Internet giants like Amazon.com prosper. Online publications aren’t the only businesses who have yet to crack the code for making the service equal […]

Taxes and oil companies

For some Homer residents, seeing the back side of the jack-up rig Endeavour will be a welcome sight. For others, it will be regretfully stopped revenue that added to the local economy. Either way, it has spent a long visit at our dock, longer than anyone thought when it arrived. We’ve fielded an inordinate amount […]

Animal bounties belong in Alaska’s dark ages

“The eagle is a curse to the rest of the animal kingdom and the sooner it is exterminated, the better off the game will be,” an assertion in the Valdez Miner read on April 17, 1920.
At the Baranov Museum in Kodiak for many years a full eagle’s feathered wing stood in a corner of a kitchen pantry, frozen in place for the many historical stories it told. During tours of the museum, school children and tourists learned that eagle wings were popular as brooms and a must-have in many homes on Kodiak Island. A bounty on eagles by the U.S. Territorial government that lasted many years rewarded young and old shooters alike with 50 cents per eagle kill. From 1917 to 1953, about 120,195 eagles were killed this way, according to numbers kept by the Territorial Treasury.
The justification for killing bald eagles were many at the time: they killed fox farm pups, sheep, calves, moose, caribou and hauled off more than their share of salmon, according to lore.

Partisan legislature won’t get to decide on school voucher

The education quality debate in America and in Alaska necessarily renews itself in regular cycles. Good idea for educators, parents, politicians and businesses to weigh in their demands. According to consistent studies comparing U.S. academic outcomes with other countries, Americans have fallen woefully behind. This year, the discussion spark is the proposed education voucher system […]

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