WC’s Wishlist for Governor Walker


Govrnor Bill Walker and Lt. Governor Bryan Mallott

Govrnor Bill Walker and Lt. Governor Bryan Mallott

Governor Walker’s transition team came up with a list of ideas for the Governor-elect over the weekend. Notably, the transition team conference didn’t include any conservationists, and very few folks from southwest Alaska.

They missed some stuff. Important stuff.

So WC has some suggestions for the new Chief Executive. They’re broken into categories: Easy and Obvious, for the softballs, and BUCIPs for the tougher ones. Feel free to add your own via comments.

Easy and Obvious

  1. Expand Medicaid. Captain Zero’s idiocy and posturing has gone on long enough. We don’t need to hurt any more people who need health care. How about a First Official Act following inauguration?
  2. Deal with the Interior Alaska and Bush Alaska energy crisis. The Alaska LNG Project, for all its flaws, is the only solution – well, partial solution anyway – likely to be in place in time to do any good. But it must be transparent. The higher the delivered cost of LNG, the greater the need for transparency.
  3. Repair Alaska’s broken Board of Game. Predators are not the problem; there’s no biological evidence to suggest they are. Focus on a sustainable harvest and mitigating the effects of climate change. Not butchering tourist-dollar generating megafauna.
  4. Suspend all litigation with the federal government while you organize a conference to meet and sort the issues out like the sister governments you are. The lawsuits haven’t worked and aren’t likely to work. If you can’t negotiate your way to a tolerable solution, you can litigate, but it should be the last choice, not the first.
  5. Stop all the mega-projects Captain Zero started: the road to Ambler, the Juneau Highway, Susitna Dam, Knik River Bridge. We have a fiscal crisis created, in part, by Captain Zero’s insane policies. We can’t afford more boondoggles right now. Perform a cost-benefit analysis on each of them.
  6. Appoint an independent special counsel to sort out the unbelievable mess at the Alaska National Guard.
  7. Stop treating environmentalism as anathema. All of us live in Alaska because it is unspoiled, because most of it is accessible and all of it is beautiful. Let’s implement policies that preserve the things we value.

The BUCIPs

BUCIPs, you will recall, are Big, Ugly, Complex, Intractable Problems, the ones that have haunted the State of Alaska for decades. Even modest progress on some of these would make your administration historic.

  1. Create a task force to deal with tribal sovereignty and Alaska’s Native Peoples. Right now, the Alaska Supreme Court is trying to do it, by defaul,t in the absence of action by the other branches of government. Appellate jurisdiction isn’t the best way to sort this out.
  2. Face the inevitable: the Supremacy Clause means what it says and Alaska Native people have subsistence preference to fish and game resources. The present system of ownership-based control isn’t working, because those pesky moose, caribou and salmon don’t respect state boundaries. Time for détente. Persuade the Legislature and the public, and amend the Alaska Constitution.
  3. Address climate change before it bites us on the economic butt. Figure out the impact and then try to address it. That’s going to mean moving some communities, larger budgets for repair of infrastructure and sharply increased maintenance costs. At least try to get your arms around the size of the problem.
  4. As long as Alaska continues to be supported by resource extraction, without adding any value, Alaska will keep its economic status as a colony. Big business comes, extracts the resource, and leaves: fur, gold, salmon, copper and now oil. Diversify Alaska’s economy before the oil runs out.
  5. Extraction of any non-renewable resource must never, ever be permitted to impair the continued use of a renewable resource. No exceptions, no “threat assessments,” no excuses. Anyone who thinks otherwise should be sentenced to two months on foot in the Alberta Tar Sands tailing and waste ponds.

Alaska voters have such low gubernatorial expectations after Murkowski, Palin and Parnell that they are pretty easy to please. Shucks, Governor Hammond is well-regarded for just preserving a fraction of the state’s oil wealth in the Alaska Permanent Fund. If the Governor-elect can accomplish just two of these five BUCIPS, and clean up the seven easy ones, his administration will be a huge success.

Have at it, Governor-elect Walker.

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One thought on “WC’s Wishlist for Governor Walker

  1. WC, I really agree with your priorities, unfortunately I just wonder if not “All bets are off “. I recall vividly events back in early 1987, I was doing a stint then with State aviation. We had just finished up a gubernatorial election campaign then too, just before the oil price dumped, big time. Everybody had been living so “high on the hog” that it was very difficult for them to grasp reality. After a decade of throwing money around like confetti and making wild promises for more of the good life to come, the word on the street jokingly was that “All bets are off.” Truth was, all bets were off. But we kept spending, sucking down the reserve accounts so fast that the end of the fat days was clearly in sight.

    The magnitude of this is very hard for many to grasp. For instance, a construction industry relative of mine back then was explaining how easy it would be to put everything in balance . How is that I asked? He explained: “Just get rid of the deadwood” meaning lay off public employees. I explained to him that if we get rid of all state workers, the entire legislature, all the executive up to and including the governor and his office, we are only half way toward cutting the annual operating budget deficit. And, yes, forget about any capital budget, on which you depend.

    One analyst the other day said this, which I agree with: “Particularly those with a vested interest in maintaining current state spending levels — are saying that these changes are a temporary blip, that prices will rebound quickly and thus, while some adjustment may be appropriate, continued spending near current levels is appropriate. But those comments are based on wishful thinking, without …any foundation in economic analysis.”

    A lot of enterprises and folk went under due the 1986 dump . Some situations were pretty sad to witness. Not just Alaska either, Texas! Remember John Connally? He went bankrupt too. His friends said, “Big John” thought the trees would never stop growing.” When asked about his financial demise, Connally responded, “Its better than getting shot in the chest”.

    Income tax anyone? Since I have been in the airplane game all my life I still pay attention to what’s going on e.g. I receive Aviation Week and Space Technology. Two years ago last April I read this (Hopefully it isn’t too prophetic):

    “$40 per gallon oil prediction.
    This conference took place in March 2012. An address at the Aircraft Trading Conference in Phoenix. Aviation Week and S.T. had two relevant articles: “Bubble Trouble” and “Crude Talk”.

    Excerpts:

    “If you want to buy a new aircraft, you have to wait years for it–to me that’s a sign of a bubble,” Adam Pilarski, senior VP at aviation consulting firm Avitas, told the International Society of Air Transport Trading conference in Phoenix.

    Pilarski made one further projection that, if realized, would definitely worry Boeing. He gave a detailed argument that oil prices, currently at $108 per barrel, are artificially high.

    He said there’s no scarcity of oil and the price is not rational; instead, it’s affected by short-term political judgments. He forecasts it will drop drastically in the medium term, as low as $40 per barrel by 2018.

    Pilarski maintains that high oil prices are key drivers of airline demand for new, more fuel efficient jets. It would destroy the business case for ordering the 737 MAX and A320neo. It would certainly lead to airlines holding on to their older jets much longer.

    Proven reserves now stand at 50 years’ worth of consumption, up from 30 years at the start of the 1980s.

    And Pilarski waves off talk that China’s growing thirst for oil will drive fuel prices even higher. While China’s oil consumption increased 54% between 2005 and 2011, total global demand rose just 0.5%. “Whatever China increased in demand, the U.S. and Europe cut in consumption,” Pilarski said.”

    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?…id...

    http://o.seattletimes.nwsource.com/…/2017793790_istat20.html

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