The Associated Press, in a 340-word article about the debate which has been most the widely syndicated take on the event, barely scratched the surface of what went on during the two-hour event. My 650-word Progressive Alaska article from last weekend, gave the most points to Kodiak Representative Gabrielle LeDoux, the second most to former Anchorage State Representative Ethan Berkowitz.
Taufen's 1,670-word article is comprehensive, to say the least, and blasts a number of holes in my essay's premises. He noted that being in the audience, one got a different sense of Berkowitz's presence than came across from listening to the radio coverage on APRN:
"Berkowitz was very good at handling the short time frame for answers to complex issues, and stayed with the fire hard style on several cylinders throughout the night. He has to be given strong credit for his well-studied knowledge of fisheries issues and knowing what Kodiak wanted to hear. He strongly stated that he was fully against the privatization of fisheries off Alaska or anywhere else, and "the government should not rationalize boats out of the water" as he stood on the side of open competition. But I found Ethan's sparkings out of character. If he wants to win the election, knowledge alone won't do, debate watchers said he'll have to cut back on the salesmanship and hyperbole. However, those who only listened in on the radio may wholly disagree, as Berkowitz sounded strong."
Where I had been critical of Diane Benson's lack of preparation in a couple of areas, Taufen sees her tenacious attack on Don Young on the important issue of "transfer pricing" to have been the pivotal point in the debate, and the one which resonated most with the Kodiak fishermen in the audience:
"Benson, who is a member of an Alaskan native corporation, Sealaska - the largest private landowner in southeastern Alaska - clearly was no stranger to the multinational corporate exploitation of federal, state and tribal resources. She stated the problem too simply for most, because she does understand it. Others said she never explained transfer pricing. Not so, she got to the heart of it. And she asked a long-term congressman who could not deny he knows about it. Posing the question alone speaks to a commitment to deal with boat-rocking hard realities, and having the integrity to obligate oneself to doing something about it once in Congress. Those are leadership qualities."
Taufen further explains how Benson connected in the auditorium in ways that didn't come across over the radio:
"But (behold the underlying truth, again) Young faked understanding that important, multi-billion dollar question. Maybe Don Young was thinking of a hair-splitting answer to differentiate home countries from their multinational corporations who fully support their firms winning in fisheries trade by endorsing misconduct in their global transactions while in the host 'country' of Alaska, or ANC Sealaska.
"Young steered back toward the first question, already disallowed by the moderator, by saying,"I don't exactly know the question ... 'transferred to other countries'. But I will tell you, in this audience, that this [debate] is about fish, but I've heard a lot about Coconut Grove..." as he went on the defense over his actions regarding the Florida road. With a lie.
"The audience reacted and one identified person could be heard saying, "He didn't answer the question!" Someone softly shouted "What about transfer pricing?" Benson clarified to the moderator that "he did not answer the question about abusive transfer pricing, which does affect [Alaskan fisheries] because if you have packaging, for example that says on the packaging being imported to Japan...." Clearly, Benson understands many methods can be used to launder the profits through the products to deny Alaska true value for its seafood."Again the moderator cut in, saying the question was answered to the extent it was going to be answered. But Benson reiterated, "So, he's not going to answer the question about abusive transfer pricing and its effect on Alaska fisheries, and the losses we have as a result of it." Jake Metcalfe also asked the moderator if we could get a response to the question that was asked."
Taufen's entire article is well worth a read, even if you're not very knowledgeable about the issues that were debated on the 20th.