Following Up and Following Down: June 2015

WC has tried to peer through the dense smoke from a couple hundred wildfires here in interior Alaska, and make the usual desultory effort at follow up on earlier blog posts. There’s not much to see but wood smoke. But through his itchy, red-rimmed eyes and a scratchy throat, here we go.

Senator Pete Kelly’s 30-year old son, Devin McKee Kelly copped a plea to a reduced charge of first degree indecent exposure, his second felony conviction. He got 14 years, eight suspended. The convict is to establish a $7,500 trust fund to provide counseling for the child. Pops will administer the trust fund. There are so many things wrong with this criminal case that WC can only sputter at the awfulness of it all. The single worst aspect might be the dismissal of the charge of sexual abuse with penetration of a minor under age 16. Just as a hypothetical, do you think that would happen if your father wasn’t co-chair the state Senate Finance Committee?

Good luck to the merchants and residents on College Road in Fairbanks. The part of College Road that wasn’t closed is now as the Alaska Railroad, in a masterpiece of piss-poor timing, closed the College Road rail crossing for four days. WC recognizes the season for doing road repairs is short, and that maintenance has to be done, but this has been a masterpiece of wretched planning.

On a happier note, back in February 2014 WC wrote about Neil Hayward’s Big Year, his effort to set a new record for the most species seen in a calendar year. WC received an email from Hayward this month:

Hi there! I just came across this write up of my big year. Thank you so much for the kind words! I’m glad someone appreciated the writing! It was certainly hard work trying to convey the magic of a big year without sounding repetitive. (Each bird is essentially the same story – a chase with one of two possible endings.) I’ve heard back about two of the provisional species. The Common Redstart was accepted and the Sparrowhawk rejected. That puts me at 748 with one bird still pending – the Rufous-necked Woodrail. New Mexico have just accepted it, so assuming the ABA follow suit that’ll make a final total of 749. I’ve just finished writing up the year as a book, and starting to look for a publisher. I don’t know if anyone will bite, but it certainly made my day to read your comments. Thank you so much! All the best, – Neil

WC thanks Mr. Hayward for his kind words and his update. At this point, then, Hayward is tied with Sandy Komito, with the Rufous-necked Woodrail still pending. It’s taken a lot longer than the “few months” that WC expected. WC wishes Neil Hayward well on finding a publisher for his book.

As expected, The Donald and Another Bush have announced their candidacies for the Republican presidential nomination. The Donald is running on his credentials as a serial bankrupt; Another Bush is running in his record as Florida’s governor eight years ago. So far as WC can tell, none of the 18 or so Republican candidates have folded their tents and gone home just yet.

The Anchorage Municipal Assembly sensibly deferred action on anything important until it is shut of the Sullivan Administration. Outgoing Mayor Sullivan is 0-2 in his most recent elections; we can hope we’ve seen the end of his political career. But the hope is faint. Mayor-elect Berkowitz is stepping into a mess; WC wishes him well.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the twisted interpretation of ill-crafted language in the Affordable Care Act. Anyone not completely blinkered by ideology – you know, someone like Justice Scalia – would interpret a statute to accomplish its purpose. Not as an effort to kill its avowed purpose. It’s difficult for WC to understand all of the excitement.

The U.S. Supreme Court gave permission – a demeaning, but necessary step – for same-sex couples to marry. Those aren’t 4th of July fireworks; those are Christianist heads exploding.

Some of you took WC to task for claiming the frequency and severity of wildfires in Alaska are both getting worse. You demanded proof. When you aren’t choking on wood smoke, see this report from Climate Central. Any questions? And do all of you anthropogenic climate change deniers have any informed response? WC is talking to you, Senator Sullivan. Obviously, wildfire smoke isn’t the only thing that can obscure one’s vision. Clouds of money from the energy industry seem to work very well, too.

WC is off to look for cleaner air to breathe. After a summer of record-breaking rain in 2014, a summer of wildfires and choking smoke is doubly disappointing.

Try not to inhale.