Monday, August 31, 2009

August 2009 Month-End Roundup

I. Many in Southwestern Alaska were struck when young Segundo Strongheart succumbed to a heart attack in Ugashik, on August 18th. PA wrote then:

He leaves his wife, Ann, their daughter Cecilia, and a yet-to-be born child.

The young family had come to national attention in early 2009, as Ann took the name Anonymous Bloggers (based on former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's derisive term for online community activists who disagreed with the chief executive), for a new collective blog, that has helped enormously in a revitalization of awareness of rural, largely Alaska Native, issues in the Far North.

A memorial fund, to help educate Cecilia and her younger, soon-to-be born sibling has been created. There is now a permanent link to that fund at the upper right margin, here at Progressive Alaska.

II. Ann Strongheart and others, including me, have been trying to get more information from the State of Alaska on the details of the history and ongoing activities of the so-called Rural Affairs Sub-Cabinet. I must say that the Parnell administration has been more forthcoming than the Palin administration had been. But the answers aren't very reassuring.

My favorite answer that Ann got was on how this panel devoted to matters important to rural Alaskans announces their next meeting:

The meeting is open to the public but no public announcements have been posted except at the day of the meeting in the Atwood building.

Ann describes other aspects of the rural sub-cabinet's makeup at a recent post at Anonymous Bloggers.

One thing that struck me, reading Ann's post and my answers from the state on this panel, is that it seems the majority of rural Alaskans who are on the panel are affiliated with the Community Development Quota program, paid for by the Bering Sea trawlers who figure so prominently in the enrichment of foreign and Seattle-based owners and investors, and who are so rapidly depleting the Bering Sea and Yukon-Kuskokwim ecosystems.

III. During August, Progressive Alaska seemed more and more at odds with some other progressive Alaskan blogs:

a) I thought the Obama cabinet dog & pony show to Western Alaska was a racist farce, no different than one might have seen Ted Stevens pull off. My colleagues mostly ignored it.

b) I was even more disappointed with the industry-oriented Oceans Task Force meeting in Anchorage in mid-August. I was appalled at the lack of time given to testimony by Alaska Natives and environmentalists, compared to that given by pro-development forces, few of whom mentioned climate change, none of whom stressed any urgency. I thought this to be one of the most important public meetings in recent Alaska history. I'm doing research right now on why that may be the case.

c) Progressive Democrats outside of Alaska are more concerned each month about Alaska Sen. Mark Begich. He IS a Blue Dog. Those who think he isn't are deceiving themselves. He may be a new breed of blue dog, but if you asked him if he is "progressive," he would smile, laugh, make a couple of warm, possibly self-deprecating jokes and change the subject. That's our Mark.

d) It is beginning to look like now might be a good time for Progressive Alaska to step back from covering Mark Begich so critically, so I should probably just not cover him unless he does something incredibly brilliant, or incredibly egregious.

e) The Alaska progressive blogging community might orient more toward attracting young people, who will vote toward political action, and toward helping those young people take over the party. Katie Hurley has told me that nothing in her life has inspired her more than seeing the beginnings of the ad hoc movement in Alaska Democratic Party politics, back in the early 1970s.

IV. Sunday I gave a talk at the Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. I really like the people there, and had a good time. The speech was hard to make, but the question-and-answer session afterward was fascinating to me, and very rewarding. Thanks for the invitation!

At the end of the talk, I announced I will be blogging a lot less in the near future.

I have a number of musical composition and other projects - mostly public service - backing up. I serve on five boards, and am an officer on four of them.

I had planned on cutting back on blogging after the August 26, 2008 primary, but something got in the way.

• To those who have encouraged and supported Progressive Alaska - Thanks!

• To those I have offended - sorry, if the offense was unwarranted.

• To those I've learned from in the comments - I appreciate everything you've taught me and others.

image - Segundo Strongheart


jim said...


We'll see how comprehensive the records from the Alaska Rural Action Subcabinet's Advisory panel meetings will be. I hope they will be thorough so citizens may submit informed feedback.

I've been told that (although advisory panel information is available), the minutes from Alaska Rural Action Subcabinet meetings are not available to the public. Apparently they've held about half a dozen meetings. They didn't want to release their minutes out of concern that internal candor would be exposed-- and as a possible consequence of disclosure, in the future their group might feel truncated or restricted if they no longer had a private environment for their frank interchanges. (Sounds interesting-- I wonder what happened in those meetings).

They said if I disagree with their refusal to provide minutes, I should feel free to file a public records request for the meeting minutes. I'm busy on an art project too so I probably won't do that.

I did ask them to summarize their past business. They said they would, but they haven't yet.

Best wishes on your projects, and thanks for your work here.

alaskapi said...

Here's hoping you don't go completely quiet here.I have learned a great deal visiting here.
I am, myself,considerably more conservative than many who visit here ( I am excluding the recent rash of snarky anonys... whew ! Stench-o-rama or what? )and certainly more so than you. I am, however,a grandparent with many concerns about what we will be handing over to our children and their children... and how many of our own messes we need to get tidied up.
This place of yours here on the tubes addresses many of our messes,is full of questions about what in the world we ought to and might be doing about them.
For that alone, I thank you- even when I don't agree.
Best wishes on your projects and activities... Thank you for supporting Ann Strongheart - a powerful young voice finding it's songline - because, yes, it is time we start hearing and supporting those who must pick up and run with what we have built...

Anonymous said...

My, My Phil. You've got the beginnings of sounding like a Dictator as with regard to you're continuing comments as to what your "colleagues" are writing about, some of whom have been far more actively writing than you have over the past year.

Take a look in the mirror -- there have been issues to which you wrote nothing while you wrote about your garden or your music or promoting a friend or just embedding a youtube video to name a few.

This has a familiar ring to it -- someone who takes no responsibility themselves but throws the blanket of blame on to others.

As far as I'm concerned, it's your 'colleagues' choice for what they choose to write -- NOT YOURS. I only wish they would knock you off your pedestal as you are not the 'Ruler of the Alaska Blogosphere' but seem to think so. Situation is they are too kind and wouldn't do so even though you deserve it.

Sorry Phil -- you may write of some important issues but you've let your head grow far too big. Time for you to be deflated.

Anonymous said...

Now is the time to back off on Begich?

Just don't ever wonder why many of us don't have much faith in the Democratic party insiders.

When Lieberman started to literally grope his way into the favor of the opposition camp, what was the Democratic Party response? They acknowledged the treasonous turncoat activity and then rewarded him with insisting he suffer no sanctions. They might as well have embraced Bush too.

Here in Alaska when Begich is finally acknowledged by a party insider that he isn't nearly as reflective of the image the party helped build for him, that same party insider posits that maybe now would be a good time to turn the spotlights off so Begich can be allowed to escape further scrutiny.


Anonymous said...

Your service to Alaska and the Progressive Community has been invaluable. I guess everyone focuses of the things that move them and there is no telling what inspires folks. I think that the situation in rural Alaska is reaching a tremendous tipping point and the changes will be of enormous proportions, mostly to the detriment of the indigenous population. And somehow, I see the invisible hands of the greedy behind it. Its like the Guggenheim brothers all over again, sucking the life out of our state and giving back nothing. Do we ever learn? You fight the good fight and I, for one, applaud you my friend.

Martha Unalaska Yard Sign said...

Phil, I don't want to lose your voice and your meticulously researched posts - but I think it sounds like you need some profound and ordered beauty back in your life (music) to help you get grounded again. This last year was hard on us - I feel like someone threw me off a cliff, retrieved my broken body, then hung me upside down for awhile and wouldn't let me sleep for months. You can't believe how many times I was waiting to run into Palin in Juneau and give her a piece of my mind...(she needs help there since hers is gone). She threw up on Alaska and we're still finding the putrid slime she left behind.

I know you will do what you need to do, and come back stronger than ever when you are ready - whether it is here, or in other venues. Like Ann Strongheart, from the ashes of loss and despair...

Your posts, research and insights have been invaluable and welcomed. I have learned a lot. Go enjoy your garden, music, friends and family and come back to talk to us when you can.

I absolutely agree with you on the Fed stuff - I was not impressed with the poorly planned Rural Tour and how they also dropped Salazar from this last visit. Your description of the Ocean Task Force sounds ridiculous. A bunch of puffed ups sitting behind panel podiums, shuffling papers and not looking you in the eye while you testified is just so much more "podium service". Yeah, just what we need.

We are here for you!

Philip Munger said...


If you read my September 1st post about my speech Sunday at the Anchorage UU fellowship, you'll know that I have Mark Begich in my prayers.

anon @ 7:58 am - Thanks for your wise words. I feel deflated already...