Dear friends and advocates for local youth

On behalf of Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic and the R.E.C. Room, I’m thrilled to announce our continuation and expansion of local Alaska Promoting Health Among Teens (AK-PHAT), a comprehensive peer education program that fosters community and individual resiliency.
The PHAT program is an evidence-based, nationally accredited health education curriculum that provides teens with skills to make healthy choices and form positive, safe, and healthy relationships. Its introduction and application in Alaska was made possible through federal funding that supported four PHAT implementation sites across our state from 2011-2015.
Now, thanks to a new three-year grant provided through the State of Alaska Department of Adolescent Health, our Homer-based PHAT team will continue the peer-led program and enhance it by introducing the curriculum in new settings, including schools across the Kenai Peninsula.

Alaskans have nothing against oil; it’s the spill and spin we can’t stand

It’s not often that I read letters to the editor about my columns, but this week was just too good. The president of a oil industry support group – read cheerleader and chief for the rah rah petro club – called my column from a few weeks ago “nonsensical gibberish.”
Sorry, that just made me laugh again. If my writing is so nonsensical, then why do they have to send out a hired gun to say so. I mean, really dear reader, you’d know gibberish if you read it. Right?

Taking a step toward talking about abuse in Alaska

I had a conversation with my 7-year-old daughter the other night on one of those long drives that Alaska life is filled with. I decided it was time to talk about what is OK and what isn’t when it comes to other people and your body. It’s not a topic any parent wants to bring up, really. We’d like to think our little boys and girls will live in a bubble, and will never face any type of aggressive behavior, let alone someone trying to abuse them. But that’s not what the statistics show. So, I took a deep breath.
“So, do you know there are places other people shouldn’t touch you?”

New trade pact will give corporations power to define our laws

An obscure and controversial trade bill negotiated by the Obama Administration and pending in Congress poses a direct threat to our democracy and to Alaska’s sovereignty. Unfortunately, our two Senators – Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan – recently voted to “fast track” the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) before anyone knows what’s in it.

What does it take?

We have waited to write this letter until we heard from the State Medical Examiner and knew the cause of Devin’s death. There have been numerous rumors floating around which is unfair, but human in nature. Devin died of “Cardiac Dysrhythmia of unclear etiology.” The toxicology report only showed signs of the presence of caffeine.

Our new reality: Doing more with less

July marks the beginning of fiscal year 2016; a chance for a new beginning and a fresh start for addressing Alaska’s economic future.
On June 29, I signed into law the budget bills passed by the legislature. For fiscal year 2016, we will spend $1 billion less than we spent last year. This is a 19 percent overall reduction with an average 13.5 percent cut to executive branch agencies, and cuts of more than 30 percent in the Department of Commerce and the Governor’s Office. Even with these reductions, we still have to draw $2.7 billion from savings to make up for state revenue losses caused by low oil prices.

Do it for the money, do it for the jobs

According to a recent study, Alaska is either in a recession or on the brink of one. It’s time for non-partisan solutions, not time to play Russian roulette with the economy. Alaska will lose 4,000 jobs across the economy by September.
Blocking a vote on a Medicaid Expansion bill that’s passed in Democratic and Republican states — that would create 4,000 Alaska jobs — isn’t smart politics. The public supports it across party lines. But Republican legislative leaders decided to block this bill from House and Senate floor votes during 140 days of legislative session and special sessions.

Homer folks get second chance to ‘e-cycle’ electronics

If you live in the Homer-area, pull out any old electronics you forgot to recycle back in April!
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Solid Waste Department is teaming up with Total Reclaim, with support from Cook Inletkeeper, to collect electronics this Saturday, July 11 at the Homer Transfer Station from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. This is a pilot effort, held in conjunction with their quarterly hazardous waste day.

Alaska’s resource management is failing in Cook Inlet

Alaska has the best resource management system in the world.” If you’ve been here a while, you’ve heard that statement in some form or another. But in Cook Inlet, it’s increasingly hard to believe we’re managing our resources in a sustainable fashion. In the 1970s, Kachemak Bay was thick with shrimp, and king and tanner crab, but those populations crashed and have never come back.
While oceanic regime shifts – specifically, temperature – probably played a leading role moving Kachemak Bay from a habitat more conducive for fin fish, like halibut, pollock, and cod, than shellfish, the harvest pressure just before the shrimp and crab populations crashed was significant.

Would a mountain by any other name be appropriate?

We know it’s not McKinley, but is Denali the right name for our mountain?
Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan have created a bill to change Mount McKinley to Mount Denali. It has been Mount McKinley since 1896, when a miner successfully pushed for the mountain to be named after then President William McKinley of Ohio.
Renaming geographic features from their original indigenous names is an act of colonialism: it’s a topographic way of saying “we own you.”

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