Julia O'Malley

Julia O'Malley writes a general interest column about life and politics in Anchorage and around Alaska. She grew up in Anchorage and has worked at the ADN on and off as a columnist and reporter since 1996. She came back full time as a reporter in 2005.

As a reporter, she covered the court system and wrote extensively about life in Anchorage, including big changes in the city's ethnic and minority communities.

In 2008, she won the Scripps-Howard Foundation's Ernie Pyle award for the best human-interest writing in America. She has also written for the Oregonian, the Juneau Empire and the Anchorage Press.

E-mail her at jomalley@adn.com.

Can the city keep focus on homeless? - 10/13/2012 10:19 pm

Two flippers to hold you - 10/9/2012 7:50 pm

On local talk radio, where rape isn't rape - 9/27/2012 3:52 pm

Two grandmothers come together in life-saving plan - 9/22/2012 10:44 pm

In the blink of an eye - 9/15/2012 9:00 pm

I didn't even have a working flashlight - 9/6/2012 10:13 pm

Something's off about fair's body exhibit - 8/29/2012 7:21 pm

Cab drivers help woman recover her stolen car - 8/26/2012 10:55 pm

Can the city keep focus on homeless?

In 2009 and 2010, an epidemic of outdoor homeless deaths gripped the city's attention. The cause wasn't easy to pinpoint. Alcohol, weather, mental illness were all factors. Over the last few years, as the pace of outdoor deaths has slowed, it's been just as hard to say definitively why.

But Mayor Dan Sullivan would like some of the credit.

"I challenge people to look at my record," he said in a recent release defending his position supporting a controversial ordinance that prevents people from loitering on sidewalks.

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Two flippers to hold you

Mitik: Mitik, one of Alaska's increasingly famous baby walruses, takes a dip in his pool at the Alaska SeaLife Center. See a video of the walruses below, and view a gallery of photos here. (Photo by MARC LESTER / Anchorage Daily News)Mitik: Mitik, one of Alaska's increasingly famous baby walruses, takes a dip in his pool at the Alaska SeaLife Center. See a video of the walruses below, and view a gallery of photos here. (Photo by MARC LESTER / Anchorage Daily News)

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On local talk radio, where rape isn't rape

On AM radio one morning last week, a local host whose show I don't feel like advertising lent his limited expertise to a serial rape trial going on at the downtown courthouse. You think the days of blaming women for being raped are over? Not on this show.

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Two grandmothers come together in life-saving plan

Friends Judie Wolfe, left, and Terri Teas pause from their weekly workout Friday. (ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News)Friends Judie Wolfe, left, and Terri Teas pause from their weekly workout Friday. (ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News)

The conversation that would change Terri Teas' life happened in a hallway at Providence Alaska Medical Center last spring. It started with small talk.

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In the blink of an eye

Israel Hale (Photo courtesy Hale family)Israel Hale (Photo courtesy Hale family)

The last moment Israel Hale felt the ground beneath his feet, he was standing behind his truck and trailer in the westbound lane of Dimond Boulevard.

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I didn't even have a working flashlight

Near miss: fallen tree nearly missed a house in Mountain View/Instagram photo by Julia O'MalleyNear miss: fallen tree nearly missed a house in Mountain View/Instagram photo by Julia O'Malley

Sometimes it's quiet, not noise, that wakes you up. Early Wednesday my house ceased all its usual respirations. The buzzing cable box. The humming fridge. All of it. Silent. Then came the whoosh of wind.

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Something's off about fair's body exhibit

I wasn't expecting to be queasy as I walked through the “Our Body: Live Healthy” exhibit of preserved human remains at the Alaska State Fair last week. I'm not squeamish, but the pelt of human skin was a little much. And the eyebrows left on the skinless faces. And the strange chemical smell. All of that might have been OK in another environment, say a museum or a lab.

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Cab drivers help woman recover her stolen car

Back in good hands: Poli Gaiduk stands by her car, which she recovered with the help of cab drivers.  (BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News)Back in good hands: Poli Gaiduk stands by her car, which she recovered with the help of cab drivers. (BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News)

Living in a spread-out city that's cold most of the year makes Anchorage people car people. We get attached to our cars. We decal. We bumper sticker. We personalize our plates. Poli Gaiduk is a perfect example.

She owns a 2006 Audi TT. Plate: MYLILU. Color (get your shades): Papaya orange.

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Shake your tambourines -- it's a campaign jingle fest!

Some elections, candidates smear each other, sling mud and float innuendo. But this year, as days tick away before the Aug. 28 primary, the race for seats in the Alaska Legislature has taken on the flavor of “America’s Got Talent.” Or, maybe just a junior high talent show.

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A season to grieve

Alex and Kathy Davis weed their beet field in Palmer. (ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News)Alex and Kathy Davis weed their beet field in Palmer. (ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News)

Alex and Kathy Davis crawled on their hands and knees, yanking weeds. Webs of chickweed. Nettles. All of it strangling their beet field. Dirt filled the slivers of their fingernails and caked on the backs of their hands.

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Creek sculptor comes out

The person behind the Chester Creek rock sculptures I wrote about Monday called me to reveal himself.

His name is Daniel VanPelt. He is 27 years old. He washes dishes at Hot Stixx restaurant.
VanPelt waits a moment as he finishes another cairn.  Anne Raup photoVanPelt waits a moment as he finishes another cairn. Anne Raup photo

He's been working on rock stacks in both Chester and Campbell Creeks for the last few weeks.

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Tiny sculptures in creek lend magic to trail

Creek art: An artist with a steady hand and a lot of patience built a series of cairns in Chester Creek. The little rock structures delighted passers-by earlier this month.
(ANNE RAUP / Anchorage Daily News)Creek art: An artist with a steady hand and a lot of patience built a series of cairns in Chester Creek. The little rock structures delighted passers-by earlier this month.
(ANNE RAUP / Anchorage Daily News)

In the shadow of the A Street Bridge, there’s a secret along the trail. Don’t bike by too fast — you’ll miss it. Take out your iPod headphones, runners; it will help you see.

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To a handyman who did his best to make good

Bill "Guillermo" Martinez "tried his best to make good" all his life.Bill "Guillermo" Martinez "tried his best to make good" all his life.

Bill “Guillermo” Martinez arrived at my door for the first time looking like a person who’d recently disembarked a cruise ship. He had on a denim shirt, sweater vest and sandals. It wasn’t until I looked closely that I noticed his clothes were covered with a fine spattering of paint.

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When the fox watches the hens, or Dumpster ravens, as the case may be

I wrote a column over the weekend about a move by our city's Planning and Zoning Commission that would overturn new land use code meant to regulate Dumpsters.

I interviewed one of the commissioners who supports overturning the new code, Terry Parks. Parks gave me some of the committee's reasoning for wanting to overturn the code. Mainly, he said, cleaning up Dumpsters is impractical.

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Is it really going to be Dumpsters forever?

A mural is fronted by a Dumpster along West 26th Avenue.  (MARC LESTER / Anchorage Daily News )A mural is fronted by a Dumpster along West 26th Avenue. (MARC LESTER / Anchorage Daily News )

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Friends, don't we all deserve a nut bar?

What is it about walking through the doors of the Carrs-Safeway on Abbott Road that feels like a change of climate? Is the air more calm? Are the shelves taller? The meat section is gigantic. The health food aisles are stocked. Banks of olives and cheeses and organic fruits. There's a nut bar. A nut bar!

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(Probably) why Chester Creek flowed orange

Pumpkin-colored: Chester Creek on the morning of July 18. (by Brendan Babb)Pumpkin-colored: Chester Creek on the morning of July 18. (by Brendan Babb)

Chester Creek and parts of Westchester Lagoon turned an opaque, pumpkin orange for a half hour or so the morning of July 18, generating a flurry of calls to the mayor's office and the Alaska Waterways Council looking for an explanation. That explanation never really came.

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Sign of a standoff

"Over my dead body": Mary Lou Redmond is owner of Mary Lou's Liquor Store and the Diamond Jim's sign in front of it. She is resisting a state order to move the sign from the right-of-way. (Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)"Over my dead body": Mary Lou Redmond is owner of Mary Lou's Liquor Store and the Diamond Jim's sign in front of it. She is resisting a state order to move the sign from the right-of-way. (Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)

Under the faded neon sign for Diamond Jim’s along the Seward Highway, Mary Lou’s Liquor Store is so Alaskan it almost seems like a parody.

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Fourth Avenue cabin may disappear, along with its 100-year history

This historic downtown cabin may be demolishedThis historic downtown cabin may be demolished

You could miss the red log church among the spruces and the lilacs next door to the Downtown Soup Kitchen. It isn’t much bigger than a shed with weathered shingles, a crooked foundation and a rough-hewn white cross. A plaque tacked next to the front door tells the building’s story. Or one version of the building’s story.

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When electronic road signs go bad

Hacked sign on 100th Ave (Photo by reader Tikka Banie)Hacked sign on 100th Ave (Photo by reader Tikka Banie)

Tikka Banie was driving on 100th Avenue near Minnesota Drive around 1 a.m. Thursday when she heard a couple other motorists leaning on their horns.

"I was wondering why people were honking," she said.

Then she saw an electronic warning sign up ahead, the kind that usually informs drivers about detours and road conditions. It gave an unorthodox command.

"Honk For Boobs," it read.

"I about wrecked because I was laughing so hard," she said.

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