Editorials

FISH FACTOR: Salmon harvest keeps setting records; watching Walmart

Alaska’s 2013 salmon season has yielded the largest catch ever, and the value of the fishery is also headed for the record books.

The statewide catch on Sept. 6 was nearing 265 million fish — the old record was 222 million in 2005. A bumper run of pink salmon is behind the big harvest — the mindboggling catch was approaching 213 million fish. The previous record was 161 million pinks, also in 2005.

Some boats are still out on the water, but the big pink catches have gone by, said Geron Bruce, assistant director for the state commercial fisheries division.

AJOC EDITORIAL: 'Smart power' wants another 'dumb war'

Testifying to Congress against the Vietnam War in 1971, John F. Kerry uttered what would become his most famous quote: “How do you ask a man to be the last to die for a mistake?”

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky resurrected that statement as once-senator and current-Secretary of State Kerry went to Congress to seek authorization for military strikes on Syria.

“How do you ask a man to be the first to die for a mistake?” Paul said.

FISH FACTOR: ASMI-McDowell Group report details value of state seafood

Want to know the average fish prices at the docks over a decade ... or where most Alaska fishermen and fishing fleets call home? Or how Alaska’s seafood industry stacks up against other state industries?

EDITORIAL: Administration's Alaska-hire decision followed the law

Local hire has always been a favorite issue to demagogue in Alaska, and, as the 2014 election approaches, the well-worn theme has reappeared.

The catalyst for last week’s dust-up was the state administration’s decision to drop a rule giving Alaskans in certain areas a hiring preference on public construction projects that are paid for entirely with state and local funds.

FISH FACTOR: Sodexo latest to snub Alaska salmon over eco-labeling

Alaska salmon continues to get snubbed by ill-informed, far away big wigs who believe they are best suited to make the seafood choices for their customers.    

Last week Sodexo, one of the world’s largest food purveyors, said its policy is to only serve seafood certified by (you guessed it) the London-based Marine Stewardship Council. In this case, the fish is targeted to the U.S. troops.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Ending statewide Alaska-hire preference has far-reaching impacts

A sweeping change happened when Gov. Sean Parnell, through his Deputy Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, ended statewide Alaska-hire requirements for public works contracts.

With one stroke of the pen, a statewide Alaska-hire policy that’s been in place for the last 25 years to serve the interests of Alaskans and their families was made null and void by the elimination of Alaska-hire preferences in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, and other communities.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Health insurance tax will hurt small businesses

These days it is difficult, if not impossible, to escape news of the upcoming implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Lately, it seems like exceptions and delays to the law are being handed out to different groups on an almost-daily basis.

But as the co-owner of ProComm Alaska, a two-way radio communications company located here in Anchorage, I am discouraged that one element of the health reform law that will deal a big blow to local small businesses has not yet been addressed.

Fairbanks offers good arguments for F-16s

Air Force officials received an earful from Fairbanks area residents and their elected leaders during the past two days of hearings. The range and depth of comments surely must give the Air Force some pause as it nears a final decision on whether to move F-16 fighter jets from Eielson Air Force Base to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Dems want to have it both ways in attacks on Treadwell

In the facing space you’ll find a response to my editorial from last week calling out the Democrats for playing the race card against Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell as their opening volleys of the 2014 U.S. Senate campaign.

Democratic Party Chair Mike Wenstrup is upset because his party didn’t use the word “bigot” to describe Treadwell, and for me to draw that conclusion from their accusations is an ad hominem attack on them.

AJOC EDITORIAL: NMFS Alaska puts trawlers ahead of conservation

The final vote to limit chinook salmon bycatch by the Gulf of Alaska bottom trawl fleet to 7,500 per year was 10-1, but the decision by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council was hardly as decisive as that margin would indicate.

While the drama was lacking on the final chinook salmon limit vote in Juneau on June 8, the council came precariously close to adopting a cap for the non-pollock trawl fleet of 10,000 rather than 7,500.

EDITORIAL: First Amendment is the only 'shield law' we need

Advocates of a shield law for journalists sound an awful lot like the gun-control activists who have been pushing for tougher laws in recent months. Both were energized by specific incidents. And both readily concede the incidents that stoked their fury wouldn’t have been prevented by the laws they propose.

In the case of the shield law, the probing of Associated Press reporters’ phone records by the U.S. Department of Justice and the seizure of emails from Fox News reporter James Rosen by the same agency are being cited by advocates of a federal shield law.

EDITORIAL: Common interests: Religion shouldn't trump state salmon fishing rules

Norman Maclean famously began his novel, “A River Runs Through It,” with this line: “In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.”

Maclean’s little book carried ideas and emotions powerful enough to make it an enduring national best seller. In Alaska during the past year, we’ve watched as people employ powerful ideas and emotions that also equate fishing and religion.

AJOC EDITORIAL: ACES works...for North Dakota

Here’s a headline from Bloomberg you won’t see the Juneau spendaholics touting as they run their dishonest campaign against the recently signed oil tax reform bill: “Alaska North Slope Premium Drops to Lowest Level in 16 Months.”

Because West Coast refiners lack access to the more extensive pipeline infrastructure of the Midwest and rely heavily on imports, Alaska North Slope crude has long traded at a premium compared to West Texas Intermediate, or WTI, crude.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Opponents of tax reform still don't get it

On the opposite page you’ll find that Rep. Les Gara has his knickers in a twist over the spurt of positive news flowing from the North Slope in the aftermath of the latest legislative session that ended with passage of a comprehensive oil tax reform bill.

EDITORIAL: State forced to fund federal railroad mandate

The Alaska Railroad received about half of what it asked for from the Alaska Legislature to keep moving ahead on the major technological upgrade known as “positive train control.”

The $19 million inserted by the House into the capital budget is far short of the $35 million the railroad asked for to keep the project going for the next two years.

As a result, expect the railroad to be back in Juneau next year seeking more funds, as it struggles to regain financial stability.

GUEST COMMENTARY: The Gipper, Iron Lady tower over 'Leaders' today

Back when I was still writing speeches and giving policy advice to naïve candidates foolish enough to listen to me, I once told a young, first-time congressional candidate who was depressed about all the negative attacks coming his way that you can tell a lot about a man by the enemies he attracts. Such was the case with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Cantwell letter to SEC latest nonsense over Pebble

Thanks to Sen. Maria Cantwell, the federal budget put forth by Sen. Patty Murray wasn’t the dopiest thing to come out of the Washington delegation last week.

On March 18, Cantwell sent a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission asking the agency to investigate Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. for what she alleged may be “inaccurate information” filed with the SEC or “intentionally fraudulent” testimony by the company to the Environmental Protection Agency.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Sequester an overdue dose of reality for DC spendaholics

Two days after this issue of the Journal went to press, the much ballyhooed “sequester” was set to take effect March 1 with an automatic $44 billion in federal spending cuts over the rest of the fiscal year split equally between the Defense Department budget and domestic spending.

Naturally, the prospect of cutting 12½ days of deficit borrowing has given our elected leaders in Washington, D.C., an excuse to do what they do best: full-blown panic mongering.

AJOC EDITORIAL: House Dems should send student loan bill to DC

Last week it was noted in this space that there have been several not-so-pleasant and costly surprises associated with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. This week, state Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage, reminded us of another one.

Gara and his fellow House Democrats have introduced a bill, HB 17, that calls for the reducing of principal on student loans for Alaska residents by as much as 2.5 percent per year depending on the amount appropriated by the legislature to fund it.

FISH FACTOR: Salmon markets looking strong; comment period extended

In a word, the outlook for Alaska salmon markets this year is favorable.

That’s the conclusion of Gunnar Knapp, fisheries economist at the University of Alaska Anchorage in an overview of world markets to Alaska legislators.

Knapp cited three key factors for the short-term outlook: lower sockeye harvests, strong canned salmon markets with low inventories, and strengthening prices for farmed salmon.

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