Monthly Archives: August 2006

Alaska Take Note: Pensions Not Dead Across the Nation!

I have written extensively about the recent destruction of the pension systems for public employees in Alaska (traditional “defined benefit” plans), and their replacement with “defined contribution” plans similar to 401k plans, which are little more than savings accounts. Some time ago a legislator mentioned to me that he thought this was the worst piece of legislation passed in many years in Alaska–and I would have to agree.

However, this is what is important: the struggle by ideologues and by those who believe they can profit from the destruction of traditional pension plans for public workers is increasingly being met by a powerful upsurge of resistance by public employees and their families who understand the critical necessity of maintaining or returning to a defined benefit plan, in other words, a traditional pension. Two recent victories come to mind. Read the rest of this entry

Cook Inletkeeper: Who is to Blame?

Regarding British Petroleum and corroded pipes on the North Slope…who is to blame? Cook Inletkeeper has an informed opinion, but first, who is Cook Inletkeeper?

Cook Inletkeeper is a private nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the vast Cook Inlet watershed and the life it sustains. Inletkeeper’s programs unite individuals and groups through water quality monitoring, environmental education, and effective advocacy, to give citizens the tools they need to promote clean water in the 47,000 square mile Cook Inlet watershed. Inletkeeper’s 19’ patrol skiff provides the organization with a unique platform to sample water quality, educate groups, and press for responsible stewardship. Since its inception in 1995, Inletkeeper has become the leading advocate for watershed-based protections in the rich but threatened streams, lakes and estuaries of the Cook Inlet watershed.

Here is Cook Inletkeeper’s take on “Who is to blame?Read the rest of this entry

The Innocence Commission

Alaskans take note!  Here is a great idea from the other side of the Lower-48.  North Carolina Governor Mike Easley has signed into law a bill that will establish a commission to review claims of innocence by inmates who have evidence that was not presented at trial.  The independent, eight-member panel will be comprised of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, victims’ advocates and citizens of the state. HB 1323, sponsored by Rep. Rick Glazier, is considered the first law of its kind in the nation.

I found this public policy gem in my copy of the July edition of CPANews, a monthly email newsletter from the Center for Policy Alternatives.  You can sign up for CPANews on the home page of the Center’s website.  The Center describes itself as “the nation’s only nonpartisan nonprofit organization working to strengthen the capacity of state legislators to lead and achieve progressive change.”  CPA is a wonderful organization, and I urge you to poke around their website to find all sorts of public policy treasures.  Take a look, for example, at their extraordinary publication, Progressive Agenda for the States 2006, featuring 66 model state bills on a wide variety of topics (note that this is a big 300 page PDF file).


Bad for Alaska: White House Pushes to Cut Medicaid, Despite Lack of Support

According to Alaska’s Medicaid website, “Medicaid is an ‘entitlement program’ created by the federal government, but administered by the state, to provide payment for medical services for low-income citizens. People qualify for Medicaid by meeting federal income and asset standards…” True, but this is kind of a dry and lifeless statement. It does not convey the enormity of Medicaid in Alaska. In fact, Medicaid is the largest public or private health insurer in the State of Alaska. Nearly one of every four Alaskans is insured by Medicaid. One of every two babies born in Alaska is born with the assistance of Medicaid. So, it is with great alarm that we read the following… Read the rest of this entry

Privatization of Social Security: Not Dead Yet

Here is an important summary of recent events relating to the resurrection of truly terrible public policy, the privatization of Social Security. This summary is courtesy of the August 4 issue of Friday Alert, the weekly electronic newsletter of The Alliance of Retired Americans. Read the rest of this entry