Archive for the ‘federal abuse of authority’ Tag

Partially Deaf, Blind in 1 Eye, Paralyzed, and Easily Confused   Leave a comment


July 7, 2016

What crushing irony: over the weekend of July 4, as Americans celebrated their alleged freedom, the TSA graphically proved yet again our total enslavement.

The outrage in question actually dates to June 30, 2015; it’s only now hitting the headlines thanks to Hannah Cohen’s lawsuit. But last year, when she was 18, Hannah tried to fly with her mother to their home in Chattanooga from Memphis, TN. The duo were pros at this route, having traveled it “hundreds of times” over the last 17 years, “without incident ever,” to treat Hannah at St Jude’s Medical Center. This particular trip was special since it was the final one.

Hannah probably inspires everyone around her. Though she’s suffered “damage from radiation and removal of a brain tumor that substantially limits her ability to speak, walk, stand, see, hear, care for herself, learn work, think, concentrate, and interact with others,” she frequently braves commercial aviation, a gauntlet that daunts even the strongest and healthiest. Her mother, Shirley, “a professor of nursing at a university in Chattanooga,” summarizes Hannah’s condition as “partially deaf, blind in one eye, paralyzed, and easily confused…

Source: Partially Deaf, Blind in 1 Eye, Paralyzed, and Easily Confused

Issues unresolved after Jewell’s visit   Leave a comment

Issues unresolved after Jewell’s visit – Alaska Journal of Commerce – February Issue 4 2015 – Anchorage, AK.

Finding the elusive reset button   Leave a comment

The winter of our discontent: ‘Reset button’ to improve state-federal relations may prove elusive – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Editorials.

This is part and parcel with what I was discussing with Thom Stark yesterday.

Lela on Sovereignty   1 comment

Lela Markham Davidson Ditch CorrectedThis is what Thom had to say last week on states rights.

We definitely see the Civil War from different perspectives. The United States of American (formed under the Articles of Confederation) came into being when the Americans decided that they would no longer tolerate the caprice of George the III and elitism of Parliament. The American colonies seceded from Great Britain. They tried to do it peacefully, but England chose to prosecute a war against them by moving on strategic locations like Boston, New York and Charleston. The colonists had no choice but to fight back or be subjugated. Consider Ft. Ticonderoga to be the 18th century equivalent of Ft. Sumter. And just as the Revolution might have been averted by George and Parliament recognizing the rights of the colonists, the Civil War was an unnecessary event caused by the political cowardice of Congress and the hubris of President Lincoln. Had the South won the war instead of the North, we might view all this differently.

A primary element that has separated the United States of America from virtually every other nation in history is the concept of it being “a nation of laws, not a nation of men.” For a country to be considered a nation of laws requires that nation adhere to its foundational laws — which here in the US is the Constitution. Subsequent statutory law is meant to be subordinate to Constitutional law, not subject to the political whims of a president, Congress or even the Supreme Court. The 9th and 10th amendments make it clear that the states did not think they were ceding their sovereignty when they ratified the Constitution. Several states required the Bill of Rights in exchange for their ratification of the Constitution. Those amendments could be set aside, of course, by the procedure established for modifying the Constitution, but they haven’t been. They’ve just been ignored. The very fact that state legislatures must ratify amendments to the Constitution speaks to an understanding of states rights that no longer exists in this country.

When laws are too numerous, abusive, designed to help or penalize one group at the expense of others, are formulated by unelected bureaucrats, or are subject to the caprice of the monarch in the White House, then the law is no longer based on the Constitution and we are no longer a nation of laws, but of men.  Goodbye liberty, hello tyranny.

I’m not sure liberty is such an old-fashioned idea. It appears people still have a longing for it. And states are much more able to protect liberty for their small citizenship than is a huge federal government.

You’re mixing apples and oranges with your examples, by the way. Neither are really states rights issues. Tesla is suffering from government-corporation cronyism while Comcast and AT&T in Chattanooga are suffering from government competing against them in the marketplace. Michigan gets revenue from the car manufacturers while Tesla is an outside company that provides little or no revenue to Michigan while competing with their bread-and-butter industry. I’m not saying its right. I’m just explaining it.

If government were small and permitted only to do a very few things, this would not be an issue because it would not need as much revenue. Neither example has to do with states rights because the federal government does the same thing. The federal government’s record on both is not substantially better than those of states. Google Goodyear, Dole Fruit, and Solyndra for examples. Both issues could be solved satisfactorily by the government getting out of business. Here in the Alaska, the cab drivers of Anchorage are seeking to keep Uber out and the City of Anchorage must decide whether to stay cozy with their revenue providers or do what the people want? Hmm … We’ll see how that works out.

Meanwhile, a private company called Quintillion is bringing fiber optic to parts of the state by laying the cable from England down the Dalton Highway Corridor. They’re being helped by favorable State permitting and Department of Transportation allowing them to use some remote facilities, but government is by and large not paying for it. The attached article does a good job of explaining the project and future plans.

The State of Alaska was offered this opportunity with the same stimulus funds Chattanooga is using to fund EPB, but Sarah Palin declined, so the Native corporations listed in the article (private companies) stepped up to provide fiber optic to several villages using private funding. I suspect that within five years, a high-speed fiber network will be available throughout the Railbelt region — still privately funded. GCI and AT&T are already investigating doing it in Fairbanks. That’s progress without government intervention.

But these are not states rights issues. These are examples of the government’s unhealthy interference in the private marketplace — either by favoring some companies or setting itself up as a competitor against others. States rights has to do with federal overreach into areas where state governments can and should be in control.

Have you ever heard of Positive Train Control? The train received GPS information about its location and where it is allowed to safely travel. Equipment on board enforces this information and prevents unsafe movement. It’s a good technical innovation that could save lives in the dense Northeast rail corridors. And since those rail routes cross state lines, you can make an argument for interstate (federal) control.

Applied to Alaska, however, it’s stupid.

First, not surprisingly, the Alaska Railroad goes nowhere near a state line, so there’s no interstate argument here. Driven by the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Railroad Administration has demanded that the Alaska Railroad develop a PTC system for collision-avoidance, speed control and a centralized control station. The system has a price tag of around $160 million, which is more that the ARR’s annual operating budget. If the equipment is not in place by the end of 2015, the ARR will no longer be able to provide passenger service, which will devastate our tourism industry.

The reason for this is that Alaska only has one rail line between Seward and Fairbanks, 500 miles apart. But here’s where it gets silly. Only four trains run on that track every day. While there are sidings about every five miles, the north-bound and south-bound trains meet twice daily in Denali Park. Since they exchange passengers at that point, they wait for one another. While operating, they keep in touch with the dispatch center and each other through radios and sat phones. Top speed is also only 50 mph and with a transit time of 12 hours (the federally mandated limit for train operators), there is always a second pilot and fireman on board, so falling asleep or dying at the controls is not a problem. We also use Automatic Train Control which is similar to PTC  without the hefty price tag. Bottom line is, we’ve never even had a close call on the ARR and the odds of such an event are extremely low. Our waiver application was denied and we’re now working on a deferment until 2018 so we can get the financing together (oil prices being what they are, you know?)

Thom StarkPTC is simply a one-size-fits-all federal law that says single track is a head-on collision in the making and therefore you must install this expensive system regardless of whether it is needed. THIS is a states rights issue. When federal bureaucrats who are not familiar with a situation try to make regulatory law from a distance without regard to what makes sense in a state — then the federal government is out of hand and needs to be set back.  And it’s not an interstate transportation issue because the Alaska Railroad goes nowhere near another state.

That’s just one example. I could give you at least a dozen more examples of where the federal government imposes edicts from on high, often through regulatory law, that place unfunded mandates on states that do not make sense for those states.

I’m waiting for the day the federal government mandates we all drive electric cars, turning the highway commute time from Fairbanks to Anchorage from seven hours to three days due to recharges. Now that would be idiocy! But can we deny that it’s coming?

Village sues feds to open road in refuge | Juneau Empire – Alaskas Capital City Online Newspaper   Leave a comment

Village sues feds to open road in refuge | Juneau Empire – Alaskas Capital City Online Newspaper.

Good for them! Not that the 9th circuit will recognize the right of people to have access to the outside world, but this speaks to the larger issue of federal overreach and the more of these court cases that make it into the national view, the better.

Fairbanks utility chief says EPA emissions rule could cost ratepayers   Leave a comment

Fairbanks utility chief says EPA emissions rule could cost ratepayers – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Local News.

Of course, it’s no reason for Mr. Borgeson to worry. His electricians are being paid nearly $43 an hour. For those of us currently paying $250 a month electric bills on considerably smaller salaries, it’s something to worry about.

Fairbanks, when are we as a community going to say “Go pond sand, EPA! You don’t live here, you don’t understand the challenges here and carbon emissions are faulty science anyway. Go back to DC and worry about your own air quality and let us balance our concerns between staying warm in the winter and having healthy air to breathe.”

But of course, we won’t do that until they can no longer hold highway funds over our heads.

Pebble cites EPA emails in claim assessment was biased – Alaska Journal of Commerce – May Issue 3 2014 – Anchorage, AK   Leave a comment

Pebble cites EPA emails in claim assessment was biased – Alaska Journal of Commerce – May Issue 3 2014 – Anchorage, AK.

For the record, I support Bristol Bay fishing as well as Pebble Mine. I do not believe they are mutually exclusive. Until the full environmental assessment is done on Pebble there is no reason to suppose that the mine is a danger to the fishery. The end of this article tries to boost the value of the Bristol Bay fishery. I do not argue with the numbers, but add to them so that readers can understand why Alaskans should support Pebble and not be in a lather about Bristol Bay fishing. It does not provide that many jobs for Alaskans. The majority of the permits are let to West Coast outfits.

From the 2013 Bristol Bay Economic Report, authored by the Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska-Anchorage:

  • About one-third of Bristol Bay fishermen and two-thirds of Bristol Bay processing workers live in West Coast states (not Alaska).
  • Almost all major Bristol Bay processing companies are based in Seattle (not Alaska).
  • Most of the supplies and services used in fishing and processing are purchased in Washington state (not Alaska).
  • Significant secondary processing of Bristol Bay salmon products occurs in Washington and Oregon (not Alaska).

There are about 3000 seasonal jobs created in Alaska by the Bristol Bay fisheries. Unfortunately, many of these workers are from other states because the Seattle-based boat captains and processors put the call out at the University of Washington rather than University of Alaska-Fairbanks. I tried for three years in a row to get a job on a processor back in college and never even got a call back. Meanwhile, I had three cousins out of Seattle working in Bethel. My daughter tried a couple of years ago and was told by State employment that she had to go to a website and compete with out-of-state workers.

There will be at least 1000 year-round  jobs created in Alaska by Pebble. Year-round means Alaskan-based. Alaskan-based workers spend their money in Alaska, not Seattle.

Nevada Rancher Highlights Larger Issue   Leave a comment

Cliven Bundy’s fight with the federal government over his cattle grazing on public lands highlights a much larger issue than one Nevada cattle rancher and a bunch of beefs.

The federal government (illegally) claims ownership of 80% of the land in Nevada and substantial portions of most other western states. They have all sorts of arguments for why this is a good idea, but rancher Bundy shows why it isn’t. Like Alaska, when Nevada became a state, the citizens living there were promised that they would have access to the lands controlled by the federal government. Bundy’s family built their ranch with that contract in mind. They thought they were dealing with themselves. They thought if the federal government ever let the land for private sale, they would be given the option to buy it.

How do I know that? My grandfather and his brothers owned homesteaded land next to open grazing land in the Dakotas. My grandfather was a farmer with a small herd of dairy cows, so his use of open range was limited, but his brothers made wide use of it to build up cattle herds. There were ranchers in that area who had created a cooperative for the purpose of purchasing that land to continue as open range if the opportunity came about. Private cooperative ownership was what they expected, although I’m sure there were rich ranchers in other communities who thought they would buy the land for themselves.

Most of that area of the Dakotas is now locked up or requires expensive grazing fees. Yet the ranchers remember the promises. As Alaskans remember the promise that we would have access to the federal lands here in our state. Alaska actually had that in writing until the Statehood Compact was passed and then kept from us until after the plebiscite.

The ranchers and Alaskans thought they were dealing with their own government — their servant, not their master.

The federal government has replaced King George!

What are we going to do about it?

Alaska’s long road war   Leave a comment

This subject appears to have struck a cord with the American press.

Alaska’s long road war.

Guano Piles High at Izembek Refuge   Leave a comment

The Alaska Dispatch did an excellent run-down of the issues surrounding the King Cove Road. Ultimately, this comes down to a massive federal overreach into Alaska’s affairs, whereby citizens from other states get to tell the people of King Cove how they should live … of if they should live at all.

I keep riffing on this issue because it is incredibly indicative of why top-down government doesn’t work.

Myths muddle effort to carve a road through Alaska refuge

Alex DeMarban

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An aerial view of King Cove (population 948). Located 18 miles southeast of Cold Bay on the south side of the Alaska Peninsula, King Cove was founded in 1911 and incorporated in 1949. Laurel Andrews photo

The guano is piling up at the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, but it’s not just from the birds.

Up to its ears in the stuff was a recent editorial by former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. But he’s not the only one getting it wrong about a proposed road through the wilderness.

Babbitt refused to be interviewed for this story. He was involved with the road nearly two decades ago when he ran the Interior for then-President Bill Clinton, who had threatened to veto the idea.

The Aleut village of King Cove has long sought the dozen-mile extension through the refuge wilderness. Village leaders say a road would save lives by allowing sick and injured residents to quickly reach Cold Bay, where emergency flights to Anchorage hospitals can land in bad weather and low visibility. Those conditions ground planes at King Cove’s tiny airstrip.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in December refused to allow the road, because the refuge offers important habitat for migratory birds and animals. Alaskans are pressing Jewell to reconsider.

Myth 1: A road for Peter Pan Seafoods

Enter Babbitt’s recent editorial in the Los Angeles Times. It contained a glaring omission that prompted King Cove mayor Henry Mack to call Babbitt “full of shit.” Babbitt and other opponents of the road, apparently want “to confuse the public about the facts” and “repeat this misinformation over and over again so people will accept it as truth,” Mack said.

In his article, Babbitt said the road is really just a way to help Peter Pan Seafoods, which has a processing facility in King Cove, gets its seafood to markets more quickly.

What Babbitt didn’t mention is the 2009 congressional law that gave Jewell the chance to approve a single-lane gravel road. The law says the road must be noncommercial.

Maybe Babbitt assumed Congress will one day rewrite the law? Maybe he thinks the seafood processing plant will find a loophole? Who knows, since he wouldn’t talk.

Dale Schwarzmiller, a Peter Pan executive in Alaska, said in a statement the law is clear. The seafood plant in the village of 1,000 residents will get just one benefit from a road: faster medical help for employees. He called it “deceitful and cynical” to make Peter Pan’s “supposed” commercial interests “the villain in this battle.”

Myth 2: Who’s paying for the road

Fiscal watchdog Citizens Against Government Waste piled on with its own commentary, citing Babbitt’s editorial for support. It awarded Sen. Lisa Murkowski its “March Porker of the Month,” arguing that she wanted to tap federal funds to build a road for the seafood plant.

That attack makes quite the leap — no one knows how the road will be funded. But it’s not as bad as another Babbitt assumption: That Murkowski will probably try attaching a legislative rider to a “bill mandating that the project be built at taxpayer’s expense.”

Murkowski hasn’t requested federal funds. Her office, in fact, has said the state will pay for construction and maintenance of the road.

That’s not known, either. Sharon Leighow, spokeswoman for Gov. Sean Parnell, said she’s not aware of any such public commitment from the governor, in charge since 2009. She also said it’s too early to talk specifics about financing. Officials with the state Department of Transportation said the same thing, adding that they know of no such public commitments by top state officials.

What we do know is the state has placed the road in its current Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan, although that plan can and likely will change.

As of this week, the plan estimated that $21 million will be needed to build 17 miles of road, with part going through the refuge wilderness and another chunk outside. That 17 miles would be the last phase of a longer road connecting King Cove with Cold Bay, some of which has already been built, using mostly federal funds.

For that last 17 miles, the transportation plan estimates design and right of way will cost $4 million. The transportation plan calls for the state paying 10 percent, with the rest from unused federal funds already available to the state.

The transportation plan also estimates an additional $17 million would be needed to build the road. The source of that funding isn’t specified.

And there’s the rub. No one knows. The state could step up to the plate and pay for construction. Or not. The state could also still decide to pay for all the $4 million for design and right of way, if the wilderness road is ever allowed.

By the way, the federal portion of that $4 million had once been earmarked money to be used for what critics call the state’s “Bridges to Nowhere,” such as the Knik Arm Bridge that would connect Anchorage with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. It would be ironic if the same money is ever used for what Outside opponents call a “Road to Nowhere.”

Myth 3: The hovercraft worked

The Aleutians East Borough, essentially the county government for that Alaska Peninsula region, has said it would help maintain the road. It said funds could come in part from selling its hovercraft, something it hopes to do this summer. The hovercraft was part of a $37 million gift from the government in a 1998 deal brokered by the late Sen. Ted Stevens and the Clinton administration.

The hovercraft was supposed to satisfy King Cove’s desire for a road by providing a vehicle for shuttling residents to Cold Bay when planes couldn’t land.

But the hovercraft — which residents have long maintained they had no choice but to accept — couldn’t operate in all conditions. It worked sometimes, getting people to the hospital at times. But some of the same bad weather that kept emergency flights out of King Cove also shut down the hovercraft. Meanwhile, its huge operational costs were unsustainable for the borough, in part because a special crew from Washington state was needed to operate it.

Myth 4: No one’s dying

Supporters of a road often talk about the 19 lives lost in King Cove because the road doesn’t exist. But the Wilderness Society recently released a publication saying no one had lost their life during an emergency flight since 1990.

However, that argument ignores the sick and injured who suffer while waiting for weather to calm.

And it doesn’t mean no one has died since 1990 because there’s no road to Cold Bay. Borough officials acknowledge there have been no medevac fatalities since 1990. But they say at least five local lives could have been saved since then, had a road existed.

They are:

• Walter Samuelson died Feb. 1, 1990, after suffering a major heart attack. His body had rejected a heart transplant, due to complications caused by being forced to wait two days for medical evacuation because of bad weather.
• Ernest Mack, who died in March 1997 after waiting four days in King Cove for medical care. He was 67.
• Harry Gould Sr., who suffered congestive heart failure at age 80. Bad weather meant he couldn’t get a timely flight to Anchorage. He died Aug. 26, 2000.
 Newborn twins born to Riza Bendixon. She lost them in July 2007, after going into labor prematurely. She was unable to get adequate medical help. Both babies weighed less than 2 pounds at birth. One baby lived a week; the other died within two months.

Contact Alex DeMarban at


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