AK Voices: Alex Sheshunoff

Alex Sheshunoff is a writer who lives in Anchorage.

A REAL BRIDGE TO THE FUTURE - 2/18/2011 1:18 pm

HEADS I WIN, TAILS YOU LOSE: HARNESSING THE FREE MARKET TO AVERT CATASTROPHE - 5/4/2010 9:56 am

ALASKA'S OWN MARCH MADNESS - 3/19/2010 1:17 pm

Sometimes the Truth Is Simply Inconvenient…Alaska’s Potemkin Science - 12/29/2009 1:35 pm

The Cockroaches Must Be Crushed - 12/16/2009 12:50 pm

HOW TO THWART THE NEXT BILL ALLEN? MOVE THE STATE CAPITOL - 11/9/2009 12:11 pm

THIS JUST IN: Palin Resigns Governorship to Become Full-Time Celebrity - 7/3/2009 12:09 pm

THIS JUST IN: City Planners to Permanently Close Lake Otis and Tudor - 7/1/2009 1:27 pm

A REAL BRIDGE TO THE FUTURE

I’ll get straight to it: The Knik bridge is an ego-driven boondoggle benefiting a handful of consultants and the legacy delusions of a few politicians. Let’s think long-term and big picture: How does Alaska compete in the world economy? My hunch is that it’s not by building bridges to swamps and farmland.

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HEADS I WIN, TAILS YOU LOSE: HARNESSING THE FREE MARKET TO AVERT CATASTROPHE

What do the B.P. Oil Spill, the financial crisis, and the Exxon Valdez all have in common? Misallocated risk. In all of these cases, the upside return is held by shareholders (of B.P., Exxon, and Goldman Sachs, among others) whereas the downside risk is shouldered by all of us. To put it another way – when the things are going well, a few folks rake it in. And when things go bad, the rest of us get to rake up the mess. The answer isn’t always more regulation, though. The answer is insurance.

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ALASKA'S OWN MARCH MADNESS

I don't want to just rant about the news, but today's particular constellation of headlines from the ADN's web site warranted at least a mention. Here they are:

“Anchorage man kills neighbor's Chihuahua with shotgun”

“State worker charged with funds theft”

“Collared wolves killed during aerial predator control”

“Fairbanks gun-rights advocate arrested on weapons charge”

“Governor calls for cut in tax criticized by cruise companies”

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Sometimes the Truth Is Simply Inconvenient…Alaska’s Potemkin Science

If you know beforehand the conclusion you want your science to reach, it isn’t science. It’s something else. But it isn’t science. Apparently, that 7th grade lesson was missed by Rep. Don Young and Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan. They recently held a press conference announcing they want the state of Alaska to fund science to ‘counter’ the existing data that Cook Inlet’s beluga whales are a distinct subspecies and therefore, not subject to federal regulation under the Endangered Species Act.

Their speech reminds me of the Potemkin villages erected in honor of Russian Empress Catherine II (whose generals created fake villages to demonstrate the happy, appreciative people her military had just conquered in the Crimea.) Perhaps, we could sidestep the science shenanigans entirely by simply tossing some fake belugas in the Inlet to reassure Don Young that his “personal belief” about marine mammal biogeography is well founded. Would be cheaper at least than paying some phony scientists to phony up some opposition science.

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The Cockroaches Must Be Crushed

Yesterday on his radio show Dan Fagan replayed a speech by Newt Gingrich. Mr. Fagan introduced it by saying this was an example of the type of leadership that we need, that it provided one of life’s “few clarifying moments” in which everything suddenly makes sense, especially the end of the speech.

So what does Mr. Gingrich say? It’s the usual political right baiting its base with social issues and the “liberal-socialist” bogeyman. But that’s not what was notable. Like Mr. Fagan, I too was mostly struck by the end, specifically the line where Gingrich says the time has come to “isolate and crush the secular, socialist left.” After the speech, Mr. Fagan came on again, lest we missed the message and explained: “So, there you go. That’s the key, folks. Isolate and crush the secular left.”

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HOW TO THWART THE NEXT BILL ALLEN? MOVE THE STATE CAPITOL

No doubt there will be another Bill Allen – the question is, what can we do to reduce his chances of success? For a start, we can move the capitol off what is, essentially, a remote island and closer to where more of us actually live.

Doing so, could reduce corruption by over 52%. How can I be so exact? Well, I ran the numbers. With some help.

Using Department of Justice and U.S. Census Bureau figures, USA Today ranked all the states according to how many public officials were convicted of corruption between 1998 and 2007. I added some geographic data and happened upon these fun facts:

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THIS JUST IN: Palin Resigns Governorship to Become Full-Time Celebrity

Meetings Especially Irritating
Frustrated by the day-to-day encumbrances of governing, Sarah Palin today announced she is resigning so she can focus all her time on being a celebrity. Starting on July 25th, Palin will be free to travel the talk show circuit, present awards, sign autographs and be introduced at banquets without having to worry about running the country's largest state.

At a press conference in front of her Wasilla home, Palin explained her decision with three words: "Meetings, meetings, meetings." Palin also rejected speculation that this is in preparation for a run for the White House. "I just want more time to be with my family and to be famous," she said, adding, "There simply wasn't time to do those things well and be Governor. Something had to give."

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THIS JUST IN: City Planners to Permanently Close Lake Otis and Tudor

Project Costs, Complications Cited

Long the bane of East side commuters, the infamous Anchorage intersection of Lake Otis and Tudor will be closed, most likely permanently, starting August 1st. City Planning Official, Duke Cunningham said they had little choice. “To be honest, we’ve struggled with how best to handle that f------City Planners Give Up on Lake Otis and TudorCity Planners Give Up on Lake Otis and Tudor traffic there for a long time. One obvious solution never occurred to us: just close it. That will reduce traffic at the intersection.” He made a point, however, of saying the city might reevaluate its decision, but only after everyone has “had a chance to take a breather.”

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THIS JUST IN: State to Hire Stevens’ Attorneys for All Defendants

Public Defender’s Office to Close. Kott and Kohring a ‘test case.’

Noting the constitutional right to legal representation, Alaska state officials today announced that all defendants in need of an attorney would now be represented by Washington D.C. law firm Williams & Connolly. The firm, known for representing high-profile clients including the recently exonerated Ted Stevens, will be put on retainer. Stevens is estimated to have paid his team of thirteen lawyers up to $5 million.

“They did really such great work representing the interest of their client. We feel all of Alaska’s defendants could benefit from such a dedicated team,” Acting Attorney Richard Svobodny said in a statement. Though the cost will be higher, Svobodny said the stakes were simply too high to skimp. “How much are someone’s constitutional rights worth?” he asked. “Here at the Department of Law, we think a lot.”

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