Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Bethel Circus?

This image of Emmonak elder Nick Tucker (image courtesy of Anonymous Bloggers) might have been taken today in Bethel (it wasn't), where Tucker hopes to speak to somebody from the State of Alaska or - preferably - from the Obama administration - about the plight of villages on the Yukon River that are getting shafted by the ongoing Federal policies that enable a 25- to 30-year old fishery destroy the basis of a 7,000-year-old culture.

He wants to communicate an important message:

Help us now!

Not by handouts, not by applying band-aids, not by shipping us out of the area.
But by helping us regain control of our long-term future.

Seems like it could be simple, doesn't it? Especially with so many "helping" people in Bethel:

• Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell
• Alaska's junior U.S. Sen. Mark Begich
• U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu
• U.S. Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan
• U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan
• U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
• former Alaska House of Representatives Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz
----- and other local dignitaries

I believe both Parnell and Berkowitz are there separately, and not as part of the Federal Cabinet/Senate party.

Surprisingly, the only person in the mix who has begun to publicly address the concerns of Nick Tucker is Gov. Parnell, with his request, made last Friday, for Federal didaster aid to communities devastated by the Bering Sea pirates' rapine and waste. Even National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration administrator, Jane Lubchenco, who comes to Alaska at the end of the week, and oversees both the National Marine Fisheries Service and the North Pacific Fisheries Advisory Council, hasn't specifically addressed the growing concerns of Tucker and many others, who see the devastation of the Yukon River Chinook fisheries as one of the most important environmental questions now facing Alaskans and Americans.

Meanwhile, the long-touted Bethel meetings have had to be severely truncated with plane trouble this morning in Anchorage for the Federal government people, and morning fog in Bethel. I doubt the shortened, hastily re-arranged Bethel events will go over well with Alaska Native leaders, who have flown in from all over the YK Delta to perhaps get a point across. After all, the group is supposed to be in Hooper Bay within 75 minutes from right now, and only go into Bethel 40 minutes ago.

What a circus, eh?

You can keep up with the "tour" at:

Anonymous Bloggers
ADN Rural Blog

Update - 2:05 p.m: Kyle Hopkins writes at the ADNRB:

This thing's about to wrap up ... the secretaries' staffers are getting ready to whisk their bosses away to the airport, headed to Hooper Bay.

and Martha Unalaska Yardsign, commenting at Anonymous Blogger, writes:

We need to write letters. We need to gather information on how much financial outlay and traveling time away from fishing or late summer subsistence activities some of these rural residents spent to be in Bethel. I hope I’m wrong, I hope a lot of folks won’t find this a huge disappointment....

…if only it weren't so true, Martha. Bethel circus, indeed.

When will people learn how to make adequate time budgets for the inevitable climate or equipment problems endemic with Alaska Bush travel for such appearances? As it stands, this was nothing more than another lame fucking dog & pony show.


sauerkraut said...

The mudflats server is not responding. It is 6:20 pm Eastern on August 12, 2009. Pass the word if you have a similar experience.

amalgamation said...

This makes me sick. How could they not plan for delays? Many words i would chose right now!! I will leave with this one. Disingenuous.

Ennealogic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim said...

Well said, spot on.

This fiasco is very disturbing.

I'm blown away with what these cabinet members don't know today, August 12, 2009, about rural Alaska. They didn't learn much more-- they landed, got out of the airplane, went to the restroom, learned fuel costs a heck of a lot, said they'd look into that after they'd returned back to their offices, and then flew off for a pdq tour of Hooper Bay.

Sorry Alaska indigenous elders who spent a ton of money to travel and meet with us, but we cabinet folks are just too important and in too much of a hurry to hear from you. Better luck next century! Sincerely, the United States Cabinet.

Philip Munger said...



SMR said...

There is at least a glimmer of positivity to be found in the fact that they had the same difficulties getting to/fro that residents experience on a regular basis. One can hope that they were provided for some in-depth reading material for the flight, info that included transportation, fuel, food, some history, the detrimental state policies &/or legislation... the list goes on.

It remains a disappointment on many levels, but crossing fingers that something good came out of it or will come out of it.

I'm sort of burned out on the negative stuff, every day brings plenty, so focusing on the positive here!

SMR said...

sorry, that should have read "provided with..." -- wouldn't want some nutter discounting everything here due to my grammar mistake!

Anonymous said...

What exactly is a "lame fucking dog" ? Some new breed ?

Bones AK said...

They could have gone to Hooper Bay tomorrow. As those of us that have lived and worked in the bush know, you HAVE to be flexible. The people in Hooper Bay would have understood or they come back to Bethel & have teir meeting.

Philip Munger said...

Bonwa AK,

good point.

The people in these towns probably showed a lot of flexibility in how they dealt with or were prepared to deal with schedule changes. So far I've seen no examples of flexibility on the part of the traveling cabinet members and my friend, Sen. Begich.

I doubt the problems on this trip will influence the time sent on upcoming fundraisers that Sen. Begich will host this weekend.

HarpboyAK said...

Typical Beltway idiocy. Whether it's a hearing there or a meeting somewhere in Nowheresville, our Congresscritters just put on dog & pony shows for the cameras, since the real work is done by lobbyists and staff folks who are all Beltway insiders.

If those Delta leaders want to be heard, they unfortunately need to hire the same type of lobbyists that the Seattle based At-Sea Processors Association does, in both Juneau and DC. Money and lobbyists talk, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

wait a minute, I didn't see Parnell taking on the factory trawlers.

All Parnell did was ask for some federal money to hand out.

Parnell begging for a band-aid isn't going to solve the problem, it's only a ruse to buy some temporary popularity.

That action by Parnell is typical of what's been done in the past, and applying a short term band-aid doesn't do anything to prevent future injury.

I see no basis to elevate Parnell's action to appear as if Parnell is actually spearheading any call for change.

Where is the evidence to back such a claim?

Anonymous said...

There should be a 5 year morotorium on trawling in the Bering Sea and North Pacific. That would tell us if the trawlers are decimating the salmon stocks.

But the trawlers have the creepy left in their pocket as much as they do the righteous right.

This isn't something I can grin about.