Nicholas Tucker is in Bethel Waiting to Talk to Rural Tour About Bycatch



Aug 12, 2009

Waiting game: AVCP Regional Housing President Ron Hoffman tells a dissapointed crowd that the Obama team hasn’t left Anchorage — as of about 10 a.m. I’m told the meeting won’t begin until about noon, meaning the Bethel visit is going to be razor thin. — Kyle Hopkins

Kyle Hopkins of the Anchorage Daily news is in Bethel waiting for Senator Mark Begich and members of President Obama’s Rural Tour to make a stop there.

Foggy weather and a mechanical problem has delayed their arrival but the plane has now been fixed and they are on their way – officials in a smaller plane, staff in the repaired one.

Kyle sent this disappointing tweet:

ADN Village The Obama cabinet members probably won’t hit the stage here in Bethel until noon. Lot of disappointment. they’ll have to leave right away.

He’s written more about the atmosphere in Bethel on ADN’s Rural Blog including this important piece of information:

Nick Tucker, the Emmonak man who became a regional spokesman last winter during a food and fuel crisis, wants to talk to the secretaries about the lack king salmon fishing on the Yukon River.

You can follow tweets from the Rural Tour here and The Village Rural Blog here.

Kyle Hopkins is also posting updates on The Village.


30 Responses to “Nicholas Tucker is in Bethel Waiting to Talk to Rural Tour About Bycatch”

  1. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    Ahem…. who booked this tour without allowing time for normal Alaska air trip delays? We who live here are used to it and allow for it whenever possible! The smaller planes going to less traveled destinations in remote areas of our state are seemingly always delayed for some reason or other. It’s not like we have a road to Bethel for back up! I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that this is a bureaucratic error and needs to be remedied.

    It’s flat time for our President to get his butt up here to Alaska – we are the only state he has not been to and we need him, and his administration to forget Sarah Palin and all her lies about our beautiful state, and get up here to get to know us and our truly unique in the country challenges.

  2. anonymousbloggers Says:

    I agree Martha.

    If there’s one place that needs more than a whistle stop, it’s rural Alaska! The original hour and a half seemed pretty skimpy.

    Let’s hope this isn’t a brief stopover on the way to Hooper Bay.

  3. Say NO to Palin in Politics Says:

    Oh I do hope this works out.

    Just out of curiosity, does anyone know who would have handled the scheduling for the feds flights, etc?

  4. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    We need to write letters. We need to gather information on how much financial outlay and traveling time away from fishing or late summer subsistence activities some of these rural residents spent to be in Bethel. I hope I’m wrong, I hope a lot of folks won’t find this a huge disappointment…

  5. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    Here I go again on the subject of our Rural Advisor John Moller – but this reminds me of when he tried twice to get to Nunam Iqua but was delayed by bad weather – understandable, but predictable in late winter. He promised he would return, and Nunam Iqua never heard from him again. John who?

  6. alaskapi Says:

    From Kyle Hopkins

    Live in Bethel: Finally!
    Posted by thevillage

    Posted: August 12, 2009 – 9:48 am

    Comments (20) | Recommended (14)

    UPDATE: (1:35 p.m.)

    Agriculture Secretary Vilsack: “We have a number of programs with the USDA … Alaska is not taking advantage of rural development programs for the last several years.”

    Such a short visit…
    Not enough time for public participation…
    What a waste…

    Good job Kyle!

  7. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    When I checked airplane fares between Ugashik (King Salmon) and Bethel, it was $900 RT. I can’t find the exact fare from Emmonak, but it is not going to be cheap!

    How many folks put a lot of time, effort and funds into being in Bethel for this tour? This is heartbreaking! They need to extend their trip.

  8. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    Yes, thank you Kyle Hopkins! Who is going to be at the Hooper Bay meeting for coverage?

  9. Jim Says:

    In March, the former governor’s spokesperson claimed:

    “Long-term, the administration is working through the rural subcabinet and with fuel distributors to ensure that villages get revenue sharing and other funds early enough in the year to use some of the funds to order fuel and get it delivered well before the rivers ice up in the fall. This should help reduce costs for those communities that failed to get fuel delivered before the rivers iced up and caused them to pay even more for fuel to be flown in.”

    Today, Kyle Hopkins at ADN wrote:

    “Chu, the energy secretary, just seemed to pledge some kind of federal help to lower rural Alaska fuel prices:
    “When they’re paying that much,” he said, citing costs of $8, $10 a gallon for heating oil, “We have to do something about that.”
    Said he’d tackle it when he returned to D.C.”

    Sounds like Mr. Chu may have not known much about this crisis beforehand– he plans to tackle this when he returns to D.C., but I guess he didn’t tackle this beforehand. I think this is shocking. Also sounds like the State and the Federal Government may not have had good communications regarding the fuel crisis, especially if Mr. Chu knew so little about it– Now I’m really wondering what the rural subcabinet has been doing– hope to eventually hear back from them (and their advisory panel).

  10. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    Jim, I have to agree that it seems this group came without preexisting knowledge of the region and the pressing issues – issues that can’t wait due to our weather and climate. I doubt Mr. Chu even knew we had a Rural Subcabinet and I think they are hiding under their desks so he doesn’t find out. He might actually ask them to do some foot work!

  11. Jim Says:

    Martha: One thing that seems obvious is the state and the federal government haven’t been communicating very well. This is remarkable. Did the state not even approach the federal government seeking help and solutions to issues like fuel costs? The energy secretary will START looking at this after he gets home? One disaster was declared after the flooding, and there may be a fisheries disaster, but today we’re finding out from Mr. Vilsack that the state hasn’t taken advantage of significant federal opportunities and resources. I wonder what our congressional delegation has been doing– didn’t they know of these opportunities? I’m sure some of these entities are trying, but something fundamentally isn’t syncing here . . . there is BASIC stuff that Alaska’s missed.

  12. Jim Says:

    Reading the governor’s website, “Governor, Cabinet to attend Bethel Meetings,” “August 11, 2009, Anchorage, Alaska – Governor Sean Parnell and members of his cabinet will join members of President Obama’s cabinet for a listening session in Bethel on Wednesday.”

    So I guess the cabinet (and subcabinet) may have been there. Hope they didn’t interfere with local public input– cabinet folks don’t need to meet among themselves in Bethel– they can do that in Anchorage, Juneau, or D.C.

  13. Jim Says:

    I’m sorry; I’m mad. I’m disappointed about what apparently happened in rural Alaska today. Parnell and his cabinet went to Bethel; some of Obama’s cabinet were there for a couple hours, but I guess the reason they all dropped by was merely to promote themselves while claiming they care about rural Alaska.

    Rural Alaskans traveled from afar to meet with these officials and to give input. But apparently the government people couldn’t fit them in to their busy schedules.

    I doubt any of these government people, state or federal, give a damn about rural Alaska. They just care about themselves. Why couldn’t they have spent a couple days out there? Or a week? Or a month?

  14. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    Jim, I feel like stirring the same pot – I’m also upset with the brevity of this TOUR!

  15. Kath the Scrappy Says:

    Haven’t even been able to find any info. DID Nick Tucker get a chance to speak even?

    The sacrifice these rural people make to get to this & it turned into

  16. Kath the Scrappy Says:

    Opps, sorry hit the wrong button!

    Meant to say,

    The sacrifice these rural people made to get to this & it turned into a supreme disaster. No fishing done, money spent to get to Bethel, so many expections & hopes – bummer of a deal.

    But, at least with all the airplane issues perhaps the Obama Dignitaries have some little more concept of the difficulties in the bush. I just HOPE they follow through when they get back home to their offices. Later, when they read that during freeze times food & fuel need to be flown in (& then remember just how small the planes were hauling them there) it may have an impact.

  17. Michigander Says:

    I mean no disrepect by what I’m about to say here and I hope you all know how deeply I care about this community and this issue.

    I too was disappointed that the plane was delayed but that was due to circumstances beyond President Obama’s delegate’s control. It is a shame that more people didn’t get to speak but it appears that they did the best they could under the circumstances. They are flying all over the country on a rigid schedule, unfortunately flight delays happen. At least they didn’t cancel Bethel and fly directly to Hooper Bay so as not to mess up their schedule! To turn this into the Government ‘doesn’t care’ troubles me.

    The fact that they explained programs and monies that were already in place but hadn’t been taken advantage of (due to the prev. Gov it appears!) and said they will go back to Washington to see what more can be done is a positive step IMHO.

    It is still a step in the right direction and I am grateful that they went. I choose to look at the positive side and hope for the best. There is too much negativity permeating our nation these days, can’t we find the silver lining?

  18. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    @ Michagander

    Yes, there is a silver lining somewhere! We are hoping to hear back from Nick Tucker about his experience in Bethel, but my heart breaks as I mentioned above because this situation is near and dear to my heart and time was not set aside for delays. Delays are common, but most places have trains, buses and cars for back up, which the Alaskan Bush does not have.

    At this time of year many Alaskans, myself included, start thinking of the short fall coming up and the long winter to plan ahead for. It still LOOKS like summer, but it’s soon gone. I don’t know how to describe it other than that. If you’ll notice, it was the Alaskans here who got up in arms! Things get a little touchy this time of year. There is a sense of urgency.

    Thank you for your sunny contribution!

  19. Michigander Says:

    My heart breaks too and I was teary eyed thinking of those who took time from fishing and seeing there was a crowd of 400 waiting. Thanks to you and everyone here at AB I think I understand the plight and the urgency more than you realize.

    I’m not trying to diminish that in any way, just trying to be encouraging. Let’s not hit a gift horse in the mouth with a stick unless his mouth turns out to be empty when he checks in at the Whitehouse barn…..that’s a saying isn’t it?


  20. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    @ Michigander – if it wasn’t a saying before, it sure is now! Maybe a gift moose in honor of Bush Alaskans who don’t know much about horses?

  21. UgaVic Says:

    What I HOPE was learned from this visit by the various federal people who traveled to Western Alaska this week is that we deal with these logistical things ALL THE TIME!!

    In EVERY thing we do, we deal with the weather, lack of flights, lack of back up travel methods, limited space to get things and people to the bush and so many other things.

    NOW, MAYBE, they will have a better idea of just a little of what it takes to accomplish things in Alaska. You have to plan, plan, schedule and then plan for things to not go right and HOPE one of the things you have planned will work to make your event, your project, your household be able to function.

    Also I am hoping they realize HOW MUCH people want to just be heard!! That 400 people traveled to Bethel to hope to have a short chance to be heard and did not get that is ??? – I am not even sure how to express it!! The expense, the time, the frustration, the lack of time to do all this when WINTER is fast approaching is just disheartening. I will hope that the secretaries/the federal people/Obama’s cabinet members sensed that frustration, hope and NEED to be heard.

    Just my small ‘spin’ on the trip.


  22. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    Vic – that’s no spin. You live in the Bush. I used to think Juneau was a tough place to be with no roads in or out of town. Ha! That’s nothing compared to you because our flight schedules are frequent, and we have a ferry system for back up I used to think it was a big deal when we ran out of milk in the stores midweek, and you couldn’t buy crackers or chips that weren’t in crumb form. Ha! That’s nothing compared to you because I have many stores to shop from, and plenty of things to substitute for milk and smashed crackers.

    I am humbled by the hard work which most Rural Alaskans do every day to keep going.

  23. Michigander Says:

    Dear Victoria, If you sent what you just wrote (almost ver batim) to the Washington delegates it seems you could get it included in their report. It is not spin, it is factual and heartfelt.

    I wish I were more knowledgable about this but some thoughts….Could you write it up and get others to sign it? Was there a representive from Pilot Point, Ugashik, Tribal council members that would sign? Send it in an email and ‘hard copy’ regular mail (even with one signature representing typed names)? Stipulate that since so many did not get a chance to speak that it is imperative that it be included in the report?

    Does someone know who/where to send it? It seems it should help and certainly wouldn’t hurt. I do believe they will help some regardless but this is a HUGE part of your daily lives that needs to be made clear.

    Please know this is just a suggestion and I am only hoping to help. I care very much.

    Oh dear, I left the computer and forgot to submit…here it is is – much love and respect. xxxxxooooo Rainie

  24. alaskapi Says:

    Maybe, just maybe they got it…

    Empire> Today’s Updates> Begich says rural trip was eye-opening for cabinet
    Begich says rural trip was eye-opening for cabinet
    Story last updated at 8/13/2009 – 3:27 pm
    DAN JOLING | The Associated Press

    ANCHORAGE – U.S. Sen. Mark Begich says four cabinet secretaries had their eyes opened to unique Alaska problems in a trip to rural communities.

    The secretaries were visiting Alaska as part of the Obama administration’s “Rural Tour.”

    Begich says they saw firsthand how the hurdles of high transportation costs get in the way of addressing social needs in villages.

    Begich accompanied the secretaries of Agriculture, Energy, Education and Housing and Urban Development to Bethel and Hooper Bay in southwest Alaska.

    In Hooper Bay, they toured a housing project and learned that 50 percent of the cost of the modular units was for shipping.

    They also were told that the nearest hospital was a $420 plane ride away and continuing to specialists in Anchorage meant a $1,000 ticket.

  25. UgaVic Says:

    Ak Pi-
    Oh there is HOPE:-))

    I am still considering sitting down and writing a letter to these three with some of the highlights that people wanted to get to them in Bethel but did not have time. (great idea Mich)

    Given they have a little better idea of what we deal with they might listen a little more.

    I am also curious about what programs they say we are not taking advantage of so we can look at WHY we aren’t.

    I am some questions out there to a few people which will hopefully let us know what they DID hear and the programs, then back to the key board to get things hopefully rolling!!

    Thanks for the info and ideas!!

  26. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    Yeah everybody! Go Vic!

  27. Michigander Says:

    Vic – I took it as that there were programs available from the federal government that the Palin admin. did not either request, make known to the people or employ in some way. I believe he said ‘in the past 2 yrs.’ This is only my interpretation based on that and I have a hard time not letting my anger with Palin not influence me. (P sewer) Water under the bridge if I’m right but I think the programs are still available and might be clear on the other side.

    Some info was in the Village Blog, I will try to find more info too. I do think it is important to find out how you can access these programs if they are out there. Maybe too little too late but every little bit helps for the future.

    I am encouraged by Begich’ statement – thank you Alaski Pi!

  28. alaskapi Says:
    During one stop on the tour, Secretary Chu called the trip “an eye-opening experience,” before press officers whisked him into an idling truck.

    Hooper Bay “obviously needs help,” said Vilsack, as he tromped down a muddy road through the rain, sullying his black cowboy boots.

    He said Alaskans aren’t applying for some of the grants provided by his agency — especially one to help pay for community facilities such as fire stations.

    When he’s back in Washington, D.C., he’ll look for ways to make Agricultre programs more flexible to benefit small communities like this.


  29. alaskapi Says:

    It is important to remember, every day, that Alaska, whether it be the outer coast , the north coast, in Southeast, or the interior , faces challenges in providing for itself.
    Allowing the urban/rural divide to bleed off energy we need to meet all our challenges is a waste…

    Early frost cools Interior Alaska
    Juneau Empire
    FAIRBANKS – Cold air from the northwest Arctic combined with clear skies and calm winds will bring an early frost to Interior Alaska.

    The low temperature at Fairbanks International Airport was 35 Wednesday, but National Weather Service forecaster Matthew Kidwell said lows dropped below freezing in some places.

    Only one record was set – the overnight low at Eielson Air Force Base was two degrees cooler than the old record of 32 set in 1969.

    The freezing temperatures had farmers scrambling. Faith Minnema of Big M Family Farm near Nenana said frost covers helped save the vegetable crops, but unprotected flowers were not so lucky.

  30. alaskapi Says:

    AK Dispatch did a good article on tour !

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