- Associated Press - Monday, April 14, 2014

Here is a sampling of editorial opinions from Alaska newspapers:

April 12, 2014

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Injection of students in medical class needs full inquiry and airing

Administrators at the University of Alaska Fairbanks have a major challenge on their hands since learning that students in a medical assistant program at UAF’s Career and Technical College were instructed to inject fellow students with a solution not authorized for use on humans or animals.

University officials so far appear to have responded with urgency and care to a situation that is highly troubling.

It’s not only Chancellor Brian Rogers and other top administrators who are wanting to understand how an instructor could, apparently, so blatantly ignore the warning labels on the solution’s containers. Past and present students of the instructor will want to know, as will prospective students.

The incident became public Wednesday in a story by News-Miner reporter Jeff Richardson. The story quoted Chancellor Rogers as calling the injection problem “the most serious issue I’ve seen” since he became chancellor in 2008. He also said UAF accepts responsibility for the misuse of the solution.

It was a student who sensed that something wasn’t right with the class’s practice injections and contacted the solution’s manufacturer, who in turn quickly contacted university officials to express alarm at how the product was being used. The manufacturer instructed that the solution cease being used for injection practice on students and that students get medical attention.

The tasks facing UAF officials here are many.

They must find out how this happened.

They must correct the procedures that obviously failed and allowed this to happen.

They must, when determined appropriate, punish those whose decisions, actions or inactions allowed this to happen.

They must provide medical assistance to the students as needed.

They must make an extended effort to contact all students who may have been injected with the unauthorized solution this year or in prior years.

They must assist students whose degree schedule may have been thrown off track by the incident. And they must make the findings of their investigation public.

That’s a long list. But university officials have shown that they are, in fact, working on these very things.

Chancellor Rogers is clearly upset, as he should be. So far, he is saying and doing all the right things to maintain confidence in the university.

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April 11, 2014

Alaska Journal of Commerce: Democrats never let good news go to waste

The news from the North Slope continues to trend in a positive direction with the latest announcement that production is 13,600 barrels per day better than the Revenue Department forecast in December, and that the annual production decline for the current fiscal year is projected to be just 1.8 percent.

In a sane political world (we could imagine one, right? OK, never mind), that news would be greeted with cheer. But we live in a state where the Democrat party never lets good news go to waste and they held true to form April 7 by continuing to poo-poo the positives because real events don’t fit into their preferred political narrative.

“I don’t know how you read these (numbers) and take anything good away from this,” said Sen. Bill Wielechowski, who never misses a chance to miss the mark when it comes to math.

Democrats, you see, have every reason to be frustrated after spending years attacking Gov. Sean Parnell, legislators and oil companies and shrieking about an oil tax “giveaway” that they claimed offered no assurances of increased production or investment.

Well too bad for them, because BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil are currently spending billions of new dollars on the Slope, and Democrats can’t deny that.

They also can’t deny metered production from the Slope, which is better than expected just four months into the new tax regime and amounts to nearly $400 million in additional funds to the state treasury.

They can’t deny the dollars are being spent. They can’t deny metered production from the Slope fields. So they keep screaming giveaway and pointing to the out years of the forecast as proof that a tax policy in place for exactly four months isn’t working.

Some day they may realize how ridiculous they sound but I’m not buying any squares in that pool.

The Revenue Department is, as it should be, conservative in the out years. After 2017, the forecast reverts to the long-term historical average decline beginning at 4.8 percent in 2018 and steepening to 8 percent by 2023 with a projection of just 315,000 barrels per day.

“See! See!” the Democrats say, “that’s proof the policy isn’t working.”

Good grief.

One can only imagine if the Revenue Department released a rosier forecast.

The time would be measured in milliseconds between such an announcement and the Democrat press release accusing Parnell’s administration of cooking the books to make his tax policy look better.

That’s the box the Democrats have put themselves in.

After years of touting the supposed benefits of ACES despite no increase in production, they now find themselves in the odd position of greeting a measurable gain in production with scorn because acknowledging it doesn’t help them politically.

Yet they still have the gall to claim they are fighting for Alaska’s “fair share” when all they are really doing is playing games with the state’s future.

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April 12, 2014

Anchorage Daily News: Lawmakers should simply and clearly fund our schools, period

A straight hand, please.

Lawmakers need to ante up for Alaska schools, period

We hope the state Senate will act with more clarity than some of their colleagues in the House on the issue of school funding.

Public school advocates, finally fed up with four years of cuts where their children go to learn, have laid out a simple course for the Alaska Legislature. Raise the base student allocation by $400 this year and $125 each in the subsequent two years. Those will suffice to restore cuts and avoid losses planned for this year and give schools more room to keep teachers in classrooms over the next two years — although the $125 increases probably won’t be enough to restore every position and program lost since 2011.

The idea here is simple, and lawmakers do not need to make it more complicated or confusing.

Raise the BSA to spare us teacher layoffs, larger class sizes and fewer counselors. That’s the purpose. We want to keep our public schools strong, not scrambling. Neither what the House has passed nor what the governor has proposed get the job done.

Lawmakers should get this job done, and clearly. No sleight of hand, no robbing Peter to pay Paul, no shorting rural districts to shore up urban districts, no attempts to mollify school advocates with one-time money.

Legislators might remember that the leaders and members of the resurgent Great Alaska Schools are people who went to school. They recognize smoke, and they don’t appreciate it.

Some lawmakers have rather condescendingly sought to remind school champions that the state faces deficits. The increases our schools’ need just to hold the line amount to roughly $160 million over the next three years. Compare that to a proposed $1.9 billion capital budget, and ask some questions about priorities.

Set aside the question of inflation-proofing for now. Let’s just restore sufficient funding for our public schools. These schools are where most of our children go to learn, where most of our teachers do their essential work. Let’s treat them that way.


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