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
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Appoint an independent special counsel to sort out the unbelievable mess at the Alaska National Guard.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.