Following up on the letter to Governor Parnell

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Meeting anouncement

Meeting announcement

I wrote a letter to Governor Parnell and others.  Not only did I email it to many government officials but also to the media and posted it HERE on Anonymous Bloggers.

We were putting up the responses that we received and here is another one that I received from Mr. John Moller, Governor Parnell’s Rural Advisor:

Ms. Ann Strongheart:

First let me say how sorry I am to hear about your recent loss of your husband.  My thoughts and prayers go to you and your family.

If the below responses (from the Dept of Commerce) don’t fully answer your questions or you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to call me.  If I don’t have the answer, I will get it.  You’ve called me in the past on my cell phone so please feel free to continue.  Direct email is also another preferred means of communication for me.  If it takes awhile for me to respond, it is probably because I am in one of our rural communities.

With respect to your August 14, email I have attached responses from Mr. Black and Ms. Jollie that hopefully answers your questions.  These emails were in response to another Alaskan with similar questions as you.

Deputy Commissioner Black is the Chairman of the Rural Subcabinet Advisory Panel.  Directly below is an August 13, email response from Mr. Black to questions about the rural advisory panel:

1.      When has the advisory panel met? Are meeting minutes available?  We meet once a quarter beginning in March of this year.  Notes are taken and available if requested through Angelina Burney at the Commissioners Office

2.      Has the advisory panel held any public meetings?  The meeting is open to the public but no public announcements have been posted except at the day of the meeting in the Atwood building.

3.      How was the advisory panel selected? Did the State publish any announcements inviting Alaskans to apply to serve on this panel?  The advisory panel was selected from a list of names suggested by vario us rural organizations and vetted through the Commissioner’s Office and Governor’s Office.  There were no published announcements for candidates but each member was approached to ensure they wanted to participate and that they represented a diversity of backgrounds that the Commissioner thought was appropriate.

4.      Will the advisory panel be meeting with NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco? Also, do you know if the subcabinet will be meeting with Ms. Lubchenco? (Jon Katchen in the Department of Law might be able to answer the subcabinet portion of this question but he is currently on leave).  I do not believe that either the subcabinet or advisory group will be meeting with Ms. Lubchenco as a group.  I am not sure if individual members plan to meet with her.

5.      Are any of your advisory panel members involved with NOAA’s Community Development Quota program, or do any of your panel members have any other interests with NOAA? Yes we have members that represent CDQ programs.  Billie Charles of Emmonak is the Chair of the Yukon Delta Economic Development Corporation and Robin Samuelson is CEO of the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation.  “

I have one correction to #5 of Mr. Blacks above response:  Billy Charles is no longer the Chairman of the Yukon Delta CDQ.

Tara Jollie is the Director of Department of Community and Regional Affairs.  I have attached two separate email responses from Ms. Jollie that hopefully answers your questions regarding fuel in communities.

The First:

Providing fuel is a private section function.  DCRA is not a fuel provider.  In many communities, for-profit businesses run the fuel service and do not want state government intervention in their private business.  In other communities fuel supplies are the responsibility of City or Tribal government.

DCRA helps these local entities develop their capacity to manage their businesses and/or government.  That is the role DCRA plays.

When requested, local capacity is developed through offering technical assistance to communities on accounting, rate setting, or management of utility facilities.  Financial technical assistance is offered via municipal budgeting, applying for state and federal shared revenue programs, applying for loans for purchasing bulk fuel, or to residents to apply for individual fuel assistance programs.  DCRA collects and publishes information on rural fuel challenges to inform communities, agencies, legislatures, and the public of fuel supply issues.  We also work with other state agencies, the Governor’s office, and Legislature on ways to address problems.

DCRA continues to work with rural communities as they request assistance.  The resources we have are limited, both in staffing and programs.  Fuel in rural Alaska is one of many programs that DCRA is charged with.  Others include Flood Assistance, Climate Change, Local Boundary Decisions, ANCSA Land Trust and land conveyances, and the administration of approximately $750 million in more than 2000 grants to individual rural entities,  $100 million in shared revenue programs, and assistance to communities in preparing for managing piped water/sewer projects.  DCRA has 60 staff in 7 regional offices to do this work.

We deal with more than 466 entities.  If you have specific communities that you are concerned about, please let me know so I can provide more specific information.

Regards,

Tara Jollie, Director

Division of Community and Regional Affairs

Department of Commerce

And Second:

On Aug 13, 2009, at 3:54 PM, Jollie, Tara L (CED) wrote:

The Division of Community and Regional Affairs implemented the Fuel Watch initiative last spring.  Fuel Watch consists of three DCRA staff that coordinates the information between fuel providers, fuel buyers, loan programs, regional non profits, and communities that get their fuel via barge delivery.  We will use the information gathered via Fuel Watch to identify critical needs in remote communities.  It is our goal to mitigate fuel supply emergencies in remote  Alaska this winter.

Best Regards,

Tara Jollie, Director

Division of Community and Regional Affairs

Department of Commerce,

Community, and Economic Development

tara.jollie@alaska.gov

907-269-7959

I am following up on getting minutes from the meetings. Some other things that really bug me about these answers are:

1.  The meeting is open to the public but no public announcements have been posted except at the day of the meeting in the Atwood building.

Unless I live in Anchorage  or have someone who lives there and is willing to go to the Atwood building every single day to see if there is a notice posted for a meeting that same day, there is no way for me to know that they are meeting.  Plus lets not even mention the fact that if I did have someone tell me the meeting was today I’d need to have several hundred dollars and pray that I could get a commercial flight to Anchorage that would actually make it there in time.  Well we know that wouldn’t happen so I’d have to spend thousands of dollars to charter a plane and again pray that I could make it to the meeting.

How is this going to work?  How do they justify that this some how makes it open to the public?  Don’t worry I have someone doing research on the laws and requirements of making this information open to the public and how they aren’t meeting the minimum notice requirements.

The meetings were held on the twelfth floor of the Acme ...oops Atwood Building...

The meetings were held on the twelfth floor of the Acme ...oops Atwood Building...

2.  The advisory panel was selected from a list of names suggested by various rural organizations and vetted through the Commissioner’s Office and Governor’s Office.  There were no published announcements for candidates but each member was approached to ensure they wanted to participate and that they represented a diversity of backgrounds that the Commissioner thought was appropriate.

I have seen the list of the rural sub-cabinet and if I remember correctly out of the 13 members only 6 were in fact rural Alaskans.   It seems like to me they picked people who they already liked or maybe who they knew wouldn’t put up much of a fight?  Not that I know many of the sub-cabinet members but I find it a little worrisome that neither Nick Tucker or I were approached.

3.  I am not even going to go into my thoughts on Ms. Jollies email and the DCRA information b/c I think if I had time I could go on and on for pages and pages about just what a run around I think that sounds like.

4.  Did anyone else besides me notice that Mr. Black and Ms. Jollie didn’t personally respond to me??  Obviously they must have discussed the letter if the emails were provided to Mr. Moller to give to me..right?   So is this still considered a response? or a run around blow off?  It’s not like they didn’t know how to reach me.  Maybe that is part of Mr. Mollers job to answer for them?  Seems like that would sure pull him away from rural issues if he is responsible for answering for them too?

Before this post gets any longer I am going to wrap it up.  Here is a response I got about the request I put in for the minutes of the meetings:

Ms. Strongheart:

Thank you for contacting the Department of Commerce Commissioner’s office.  At your request, we will mail copies of the notes taken from the quarterly advisory group meetings by the end of this week.

Thank you for your interest. Have a good day.

Best,

Angelina Estrada-Burney

Special Assistant

Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development

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18 Responses to “Following up on the letter to Governor Parnell”

  1. Jim Says:

    Ann,

    The State must bring people like you, Victoria, and Nicholas Tucker to the table and embrace your concerns in good faith. Your input should help define Alaska’s rural policy.

    Until that happens, I doubt the State will have much credibility with its rural programs or with groups like the Alaska Rural Action Subcabinet or its Advisory Panel.

    The State should have told everyone, in detail, what the subcabinet and advisory panel have been working on. They should have been seeking feedback and public input. You shouldn’t have had to ask.

    I’m disappointed we couldn’t even learn if the State knew of any specific village fuel shortages that might have been mitigated before freeze up. If there are shortages, I guess we’ll learn about them soon enough.

  2. alaskapi Says:

    Our Ann-
    I’m here. Standing at your shoulder …

    Here we are… almost 6 weeks from the last run we made at the whats , hows, and whens of the work of ARAS and it’s advisory panel. Just prior to that we talked about whether anyone could be found who knew whether any work was being done to address the likely re-run of our neighbors , in too many places in rural Alaska , facing the same problems as last winter…
    And not much has changed except we are 6 weeks closer to winter.

    While we wait for you to receive the meeting minutes, I’d like to make some observations and propose a question… not sure who we ask the question… Mr Moller, perhaps.

    After the initial announcement that the rural subcabinet was being formed and what the now- past governor said it was charged with accomplishing , we have heard doodly squat in our so-called mainstream press. We, ourselves, scoured our Alaskan press for updates or information… phhhht.
    It confounds me that there is so little followup done by the press (and public) about whether there is correspondence between an idea and action regarding it anymore …about SO many things .

    It is obvious the subcabinet was put together to look at LONG term ideas and possible solutions but at this point , good ideas or not, I have deep reservations about what comes out of it-
    A- the advisory panel is made up of the same old faces- on too many boards . The selection process is too narrow. The idea that all are known and so on to subcabinet members ( and therefore ‘play well with others’ ) is all well and good but I am not convinced that choosing the same old gang is going to result in any NEW ideas to meet the challenges of rural AK.
    B- the process has been compromised, to me, by it’s closed-ness. Granted the subcabinet and it’s advisory panel might desire some brainstorming and /or policy sessions in a private setting . However , it is unacceptable as far as I am concerned to purport to advise the governor about solutions for rural Alaska in what is essentially a closed system- with sketchy to non-existent connections to on-the-ground realities facing Alaskan citizens in the bush.

    A governor is by nature of the job, more and more separated from the people. Creating another wall is … well… stupid. If the subcabinet could not think of a way to gather information from citizens in a tidy manner, a carefully crafted survey might have produced information the advisory panel cannot.

    Only partly related to this subject but of importance to any work which issues from this group- either in recommendations to the governor or in pushing for legislation to address issues they “find”-
    The amount of money the state has thrown at rural AK over the last number of years, which is large, has often been spent poorly- both by the state and communities. Poorly conceived projects with good intentions are as bad as bad intentions…

    I was amazed that Ms Jollie went off on a tangent about how many chores the department she works for has… if it’s too many to keep one’s finger on, perhaps we need to push our Legislators into splitting Commerce and Development off from each other or something… so folks who work there can keep a handle on the outfit they work for! Crimenently!

    The need for short term assistance has NOT been addressed .
    The balance between short and long term has not been arrived at…
    and therefore no matter what good,bad,or indifferent plans there are -from the subcabinet or anywhere else-
    folks in too many parts of rural AK are left flopping on the banks or twisting in the wind…

    ———————————————————————–
    OK- question…
    WHO do we direct this question to?

    We, at anonymousbloggers, have been trying to get definitive information regarding the stated inability of the State of Alaska to declare an economic disaster in Western Alaska last year.

    We have long had the statutes in hand but lack the formulas and opinions applied to them for the determination.

    It is the set of actual findings we are looking for.

    If Alaska shot itself in the foot with un-usable economic disaster regs in 2000 , we want to get it out there and get it talked about and change the law.

    There is every appearance we, Alaska, may have done so …

    http://community.adn.com/node/141228#none

    (K Hopkins at the ADN has made the ONLY mention I can find that the findings might be available to interested parties…
    I think all of rural Alaska is mighty interested…)

    “I have attached copies of letters from both the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development as well as a legal memo from Department of Law which explain the restrictions related to the two disaster statutes. As a brief summary, Title 26 specifically excludes economic disasters, due in part to changes made by the legislature in 1999 and 2000. Title 44 requires that specific economic criteria be met in order for a disaster to be declared. Analysis completed by the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development concluded that the situation in the Yukon, while certainly severe, did not meet the specific criteria for a Title 44 declaration. Neither of these determinations impeded the ability of the state to respond to the situation with all available aid.

    Regards,
    John Moller”

    —————————————————–

    from an earlier thread here I asked what people all over this state have been asking since January…

    There was much talk about HOW the state could not declare an economic disaster but never a clear explanation of WHY.

    Did anyone try to say how they did the figuring -within these guidelines?
    ——————-
    Alaska Statutes.
    Title 44. State Government
    Chapter 33. Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
    Section 285. Action By Governor.
    previous: Section 275. Definitions.
    next: Section 290. Employment Preference.

    AS 44.33.285. Action By Governor.
    The governor may, upon recommendation of the commissioner of commerce, community, and economic development, designate by proclamation an area as an area impacted by an economic disaster. When an area is so designated, the legislature may appropriate money for assistance grants and the governor may recommend in the governor’s budget submission that capital projects planned for the area be accelerated and that new projects be funded for the area. The proclamation may provide that waivers of capital projects requirements, as authorized in AS 44.33.300, become effective only to the extent set out in the proclamation.
    Alaska Statutes.
    Title 44. State Government
    Chapter 33. Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
    Section 310. Definitions.
    previous: Section 305. Regulations.
    next: Section 320. – 44.33.380l Residential Care Facility Revolving Loan Fund. [Repealed, Sec. 72 Ch 113 SLA 1982].

    AS 44.33.310. Definitions.
    In AS 44.33.285 – 44.33.310,

    (1) “base period” means any 10 years after 1950, not necessarily continuous, and if the economic disaster is caused by a fisheries failure the period shall consist of years during which a fishery produced at economically representative levels as determined by the Department of Fish and Game;

    (2) “department” means the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development;

    (3) “economic disaster” means that the annual income to workers in the designated area dropped below the average annual income for the base period for workers in the designated area and the drop in income is of such magnitude that the average family income of all residents of the designated area as determined by the department is below the poverty guidelines issued by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, adjusted by the department to reflect subsistence economic patterns and appropriate cost-of-living differentials; the availability of alternate employment shall be considered in determining whether an economic disaster has occurred under this paragraph.
    ———————
    I’m here waiting with you Ann

    Aa’nana Pi

  3. k'idiki kenaitze Says:

    This link apparently has the names of the members of the rural sub-cabinet advisory panel if anyone is interested:

    http://progressivealaska.blogspot.com/2009/08/n-open-letter-to-governor-sea-parnell.html

  4. k'idiki kenaitze Says:

    There seems to be something extremely flawed in the first statement by Jolie in which she states: ” In many communities, for-profit businesses run the fuel service and do not want state government intervention in their private business. In other communities fuel supplies are the responsibility of City or Tribal government. DCRA helps these local entities develop their capacity to manage their businesses and/or government. That is the role DCRA plays.”

    My thought: She is correct on on point…..MOST for-profit businesses would rather NOT have state government “intervening” in their business dealings. In the same regard, lots of businesses would rather OSHA or MSHA not “intervene” on behalf of worker safety. Other businesses would rather that ATF, Troopers, or the pesky Department of Justice, etc., not “intervene” as well.

    Let’s pause and ask WHY. Why the lack of transparency regarding the Advisory Panel?

    I’m going to follow up on this tomorrow and make a few phone calls.

    You’ve got me fueled up about this!

  5. alaskapi Says:

    Please come back and share any information k’idiki kenaitze .

  6. booboodog Says:

    Ann, I am having deja vu about these notes from the meeting you are awaiting…visions of Diva, running to her mailbox/email, clasping her hands together, closed eyes. Nothing. I hope your request isn’t ‘delayed’ like hers was. Too much is at stake. You GO girl! with all our hearts and spirits behind you!

  7. k'idiki kenaitze Says:

    My email to Angelina Estrada-Burney yielded the same exact response as Ann received. The response was a succinct “we will forward them [sic: minutes, agendas] by the end of the week”.

    Tara Jolie and I played phone tag today, so I ended the day with an email to her. I posed a few questions to her that I hope will answer some questions I have, as I read and learn of Rural Alaska residents repeated attempts to learn how those in positions of influence, power, authority, and appointments are addressing Rural Alaska’s very real concerns and immediate needs. Time IS of the essence.

    It seems to me that this Panel is quite possibly not sharing their input, efforts and conclusions as effectively as they could be. If they are doing a good job and making great strides of progress – then they should be sharing it. On the other hand, if they are meeting, eating bon-bons and blasé about it, then you’ve got yourself a real problem.

    I’ve learned in my job – from a great boss – you don’t tell people what they need, you ASK them…and you listen. Then you work like hell to bring that expectation to fruition. If you don’t, then you’re not the right person for the job. It really IS as simple as that.

    You, dear readers and Ann, may already know the answers to the questions I asked, but I had to ask so I have a clear understanding of what the Rural Subcabinet Advisory Panel purpose is, their mission and any yardstick goals they have and how far they have come to reaching those goals with winter right around the corner.

    I hope you don’t mind that I’m being a busy-body and getting involved in this, but I hate to sit back and hope that everything works out as it should.

  8. alaskapi Says:

    k’idiki kenaitze-
    We are happy to have you get involved in this. It is important to all of Alaska .
    Reapportionment is likely to take away some legislative voices for rural Alaska after the census so we citizens need to be speaking up from all over the state…
    It makes a great deal of sense to orient yourself.
    If you haven’t found it already- the Administrative order which established the rural subcabinet is at this link.

    http://gov.state.ak.us/admin-orders/247.html
    Governor Parnell added a voice to the subcabinet in the last week
    http://gov.state.ak.us/admin-orders/250.html

    At least 2 of the July posts here at anonymousbloggers have bits of info we gathered together.
    The subcabinet has an advisory panel comprised of established leaders from the bush.

    As a body established to advise the governor on long term policy , etc with regard to rural Alaska we are dismayed that rural Alaska … all over this state… has yet to sight or take part in any real factfinding related to this body…

    Short term issues regarding fuel availabilty and cost , especially in areas where lack of commercial fishing this year made slim wallets for folks to face the onset of winter with, are also within our radar…
    Welcome aboard.

  9. Jim Says:

    k’idiki kenaitze:

    Thank you for getting involved and engaged. You are an advocate– we need another hundred, thousand, ten thousand just like you. You are asking the right questions.

  10. Jim Says:

    Despite our efforts and requests for information (well documented going back to June) the State didn’t disclose if they knew of any specific village fuel shortages going into next winter. If there are fuel shortages, we will learn of them later.

    We asked.

  11. alaskapi Says:

    Jim-
    We did ask.
    We did better listening to fuel news via streaming audio from radio stations like Bethels’ than with state…
    PHHHT.

  12. k'idiki kenaitze Says:

    Please don’t think I’m over-simplifying this when I ask the following questions. Forgive me if my questions seem naive. I am doing my best to educate myself and understand this from the perspective of all of those impacted, which will take light-years to catch up to the knowledge you all have of the ins-and-outs of all of this. So please school me in this!!!! If this isn’t the appropriate forum for this, let me know.

    1,) What information do you feel the rural communities could provide that would prove to be most useful to the State or Advisory Panel?
    If you sat on the Panel, what would your concerns be?
    What would you make as your priority?
    If you could have their undivided attention, what would you say to them?

    Ann S: Ok I am not trying to over simplify either but I think just the struggles we face every day living in the bush. I could make a list that goes on for a mile that includes things like subsistence and commercial fishing, running water, sanitation, fuel prices, weatherization, food prices etc etc. As far as if I were on the panel I’d have to prioritize fuel costs, susbsistence, and food at the top of my list. Hmm what would I say to them well I think I addressed that in my original letter….STOP IGNORING US!

    2.) Is there a way to gather the pertinent information in a timely fashion without relying on the State to do it?
    What might be an impediment to obtaining the information that is unique to
    the rural communities?
    (such as upcoming hunting, winter preparation, travel, conferences,
    potlatches, holidays, ect.)
    Ann S: I think that each of the cabinet members needs to be known in their areas. They need to make themselves available and hold hmm maybe some type of town hall meetings to “LISTEN” to the people and learn what the issues are so that they are better informed about what exactly is happening in Rural AK. If people do not know who is representing them then how will they be heard? And you hit it right on the nail as far as impediments moose hunting just started, kids are in school, berry picking and putting away food for the winter. These are just a few of the things going on right now. Not to mention the worry that we’ll have an early freeze up like last year.

    3.) Might a survey be drafted relatively quickly and then circulated to the communities?
    Has this already been attempted or completed?
    What method would be more effective?
    phone, online, fax, other
    What wouldn’t work? (such as been there, done that)
    Why wait for the State to gather the information?

    Ann S: Surveys….ooh I hate surveys. In my experiences with surveys there are many obstacles to tackle first just getting people to answer them. Paper surveys don’t seem to work. Talking on the phone or in person seems to be the most effective way to accomplish a survey. There are barriers such as language and understanding that need to be tackled. Last winter I literally called every household in Nunam Iqua and asked how they were doing and what they needed. Pride is a HUGE obstacle. In my opinion there needs to be a rural advocate in each village who is willing to take the time to address these issues and talk to everyone about them. This is a huge task but until we take the time to do it we will never know what is really happening in our communities. Additionally one obstacle I found was that if you go to the leaders in the community such as the city offices or the tribal offices they seem to think that if they are personally doing ok then everyone else must be too. It’s a PRIDE thing again. Not that they don’t care or want to help, I think it’s just hard for them to look at the bigger picture b/c they have jobs that have to be done and that is why I think it’s so important to some how “create” the job of rural advocate in every village that this is their only job.

    4.) What about some sort of a moderated online conference or phone conference of all the communities that want to express their concerns, with the assistance of an entity like the University of Alaska or such.
    Would it be useful?
    If no, why?
    Has this been attempted?
    What do you perceive as the negatives?
    Any positives?
    Ann S: First obstacle to this is lack of hmm equipment or how do I say it there aren’t that many places in villages that even have internet access. Most internet access currently is dial up. We need to work on utilizing the facilities that do have wireless which in most of the villages are the schools and the clinics. Again I think a rural advocate position could work as a liaison in bringing these things together. I would like to see the cabinet meetings really OPEN to the public via teleconference so that we can know exactly what it is they are doing.

    5.) If you could appoint the perfect Panel to represent Rural Alaska…who would YOU choose as the Voices of the People regarding the issue you feel are not being addressed by the State.
    I’ve served on many boards and understand how sometimes people just
    attach their names to a board or committe, but are stretched too thin with other
    obligations, that it usually turns out to be three people carrying the load for
    everyone.
    Ann S: Ooooh the perfect panel would include new dedicated voices. Out with the Old in with the New. We can’t have the same people on every board that don’t seem to accomplish anything.

    6.) Has each member of the current Advisory board been individually contacted and your concerns relayed to them?
    Ann S: My original letter was sent to every member of the board and I haven’t received a response from any of them. I don’t even recall how long it took me with internet access just to find out WHO was ON the board. That’s something that needs to be addressed and rectified all rural Alaskans with or without internet access need to know who is representing them and how to reach them.

    7.) Do you feel all of the communities have a spokesperson, or are there some communities without adequate representation to express their needs?
    Ann S: I think all communities have a spokesperson via their tribal governments but I do not think that these people adequately represent their people. It goes back to out with the old in with the new. We need NEW voices that are willing to work hard and help their communties and who are NOT in it for the stature or stipends.

    8.) What hasn’t worked that has been tried in the past?
    Ann S: I think we need to work better within our own local governments and also work with the State. Lack of communication, lack of understanding, lack of knowing how to stand up and make yourself heard is what I think will help address issues specific to rural Alaska.

    9.) What question didn’t I ask that might shed more light on this for me?
    Ann S: What is being done?? What is the State doing? What is the Advisory board doing? What is Mr. Moller doing? What are the concerns for this winter? How do we all become more involved? How do we get our representatives and elected and non elected officials to listen to us? Why isn’t there a better system set up so that rural Alaskans can voice their concerns and get them addressed? Why don’t our officials respond to us when we ask them questions? Why do we get the run around? Why do they think it’s ok to ignore us?

    10.) What can I and others do to help you?
    Ann S: Keep asking questions! Keep up the pressure! Contact our officials! Spread the word! Help us keep this in the spotlight!

  13. yukonbushgrma Says:

    When one government official doesn’t give you good answers, you go up one level, then up another level, until someone levels with you. Sounds like you guys are doing that. No time to waste. Go directly up that ladder, and do not pass go!

  14. alaskapi Says:

    k’idiki kenaitze-
    No time this morning to formally respond but quite interested in your questions …:-)
    This IS the forum to ask in…
    We do as much work in the comments to posts as we do in posts…

  15. UgaVic Says:

    Kidiki-

    I am reading and thinking still on this list. My first response is;

    LISTEN with a an open mind and get some new voices BUT given the layers of issues in our villages and the need to address this as a RURAL issue and not just city, tribe, Native or not, I am inclined to take a little more time to answer.

    As Ann and I have gotten more involved we have come to see how difficult it is to get the true answers from our villagers and also how that in itself makes it hard to help. Many times villagers have given up seeking help and accept that their leaders are just ineffective and it will always be that way. Knowing they have the right to question and hold people accountable is also a big thing many don’t know how to deal with.

    Also I continue to go back to point that we have so many groups working on issues and they do not seem to know what the other is doing.

    I will come back to this but again want to take a bit to formulate some thoughtful answers.
    Victoria

  16. k'idiki kenaitze Says:

    Ann….thank you for addressing the questions I had. I understand the pride issue. My late Grandfather was Native. Quiet, proud and often misunderstood by those that weren’t close to him. People mistook his mannerism for passive…and proud he was, along with determined (the trait of his that I’m most proud of inheriting!). I just personalized that – because what you wrote spoke to what is within my own family and how rural the Kenai Peninsula was when I grew up there. We had our own struggles, so this speaks volumes to me. My family was large, coupled with poor fishing years, struggled to get by and as children we had the bare minimum available to us. Perhaps that is why I feel compelled to learn all I can and assist in any way that might help.

    With your blessing – I would like to write a letter explaining my desire to get involved and why I posed questions to this blog and your responses and send the letter to all of the Rural Alaska Subcabinet members and Advisory Panel. I want them to understand that ALL of Alaska cares and sees the urgency – not just Rural Alaska – and that Alaska IS watching. Any suggestions on who else’s cage I might rattle while I’m at it?

    I had called my local Kenai Peninsula (District Q) Senator Wagoner’s office, inquiring about the Advisory Panel. Though extremely helpful and very willing to assist me, the staff person I spoke to had no knowledge of this Panel. Not surprising how many panels and committees are out there doing who knows what. She googled it while I was on the phone with her as she was stating “Well we aren’t rural…”. What I enjoyed was…I could tell by the comments she made that she had found an article by Ann in the Alaska Dispatch, as she repeated the words, “Don’t blow us off in rural Alaska”, followed with an “Oh MY”. So chalk up one more person “outside of rural” that has heard your voice.

    Maybe that should be my vanity name…”outside of rural” instead of k’idiki kenaitze. hahaha

    You have my email – send me names/addresses/emails – and any points you want to emphasize, in addition to what I intend to write. I’ll get after it.

  17. Jim Says:

    k’idiki kenaitze:

    It has been difficult to get specifics, but here are the basic topics that the Subcabinet and the Advisory Panel are working on:

    1. Economic development “hubs”– I guess they are working on a pilot
    project where roads would be built between near communities and all
    the kids would go to one school. They are seeking funds for a pilot
    program.

    2. National Guard issues: there is a lot of attrition of guard people
    in rural Alaska; they’re trying to address that and also get
    scholarships for guard people at the University of Alaska.

    3. Education: school improvement and strategies for communities that
    may lose schools due to inadequate populations.

    4. Procurement code issues: how to enhance local hiring in
    constitutional ways.

    5. Public Safety (don’t know specifically what they’re doing about that)

    6. Energy.

    I have gotten the agenda and a very brief summary of the August 17 quarterly Advisory Panel meeting but these didn’t go into details. Sounds like various people made presentations at the meeting. It was an opportunity for the new Attorney General to meet the advisory group members. They had presentations from Commissioner Joseph Masters, Dept. of Public Safety VSPO Program; Tyson Fick, DCCED Legislative Liaison State of Alaska Procurement Procedures; McHugh Pierre, Acting Deputy Commissioner National Guard in Rural Alaska; and the Department of Public Safety presented a power point presentation (they offered to mail this power point presentation to me).

    The Subcabinet itself (not the Advisory Panel) has met about half a dozen times. Their minutes are NOT available. Seems like they may be claiming “executive privilege” — they may want to have frank discussions and would feel restricted if these discussions became public. I’ve been told they will summarize what they have covered, but I doubt it will be very detailed. For example, I asked if they had discussed this summer’s Yukon fishing crisis, and I was told yes, they did.

    A group, consisting of Subcabinet members and/ or Advisory Panel members, plans to travel around rural Alaska. Last I heard they would do this soon but I don’t know when it will be or where they will go.

    Some contacts have been duds, but I have gotten reasonably good feedback from:

    DCCED Commissioner Emil Notti: emil.notti@alaska.gov
    DCCED Deputy Commissioner Michael Black (Advisory Panel Chair): michael.black@alaska.gov
    DCCED Special Assistant to the Commissioner Angelina Estrada: angelina.estrada@alaska.gov
    DOL Special Assistant to Attorney General (the AG is the Subcabinet Chair) Jonathan Katchen: jonathan.katchen@alaska.gov

    Rural Affairs Advisor John Moller has gotten back to me; I think he travels a lot and sometimes it takes a while: john.moller@alaska.gov

    I would like to know more, in much greater detail, about what the Subcabinet and Advisory Panel are working on. For example, if they are working on law enforcement proposals, someone in Emmonak should be able to give informed feedback about whatever these groups are proposing.

    One of the commissioners told me that they are probably running out of time: there will probably be only one more Advisory Panel meeting before the legislature convenes in January and they would need to finalize any proposals that would need legislative action. This may be the last chance for this administration to achieve legislation. It is doubtful the public will be able to make much input before their plans are finalized.

    I could be wrong, but perhaps the most significant proposal to come out of these groups could be the economic development “hub.” I was told they are working on a pilot program proposal which would probably require a legislative appropriation.

    It may turn out that the only meaningful input the public will make will occur at legislative hearings next winter/ spring when the administration forwards subcabinet proposals to the legislature.

  18. JuneauJoe Δ Says:

    Ann,

    Great job! Even though times are hard, the work needs to be done and you have the ability to do it.

    On a personal note: Billy Charles of Emmonak is a great person to represent rural Alaska. I had the pleasure of knowing his family and met Billy a few times. I trust Billy and his family from my dealings with them.

    Keep up the great work.

    Rich Brisco

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