- Associated Press - Thursday, June 29, 2017

Here is a sampling of Alaska editorials:

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June 24, 2017

Ketchikan Daily News: How it should work

When government works the way it’s supposed to, people like it.

And people should like government; it’s the people’s government.

The City of Ketchikan and the state Department of Transportation showed the community how it’s done correctly this week on the issue of an upcoming downtown street-and-sidewalk project.

Concerns arose about the project in the business community.

How could businesses object to the project when it would improve the streets in front of their establishments?

Didn’t they see the $10 million project as a gain for Ketchikan? Why look what appeared as a gift horse in the mouth?

It turned out the business owners had no complaint against the project being done. It was the aspect of when certain parts of the project would be accomplished.

The state wanted a noise variance, allowing the project crew to work into late night and early morning hours.

Three hotel owners pointed out that the noise would detrimentally affect their businesses, given that guests generally want to be able to sleep at those hours.

The project is slated to start Oct. 1 and will place the state and businesses in constant contact through the course of the project for an entire year.

The city asked to meet with DOT officials and the hotel owners.

The city, state and business owners met Thursday afternoon and reached a compromise that the City Council approved that evening.

Kay Andrew, owner of The Gilmore Hotel, applauded the council for its part in addressing the situation. “I just wanted to make sure that you guys know that we really do appreciate that you do listen to the community and to the people that were involved in this issue,” Andrew told the council.

Christopher Goins, the design group chief for DOT’s Southcoast Region, also complimented the process that led to a compromise. He said DOT wanted to know what about the project would work and what wouldn’t work. When it learned the latter, he added, he participated in the process to devise a workable solution with which he was pleased.

This is how to build positive relationships between business and/or community and government. The city delayed the noise variance twice to give the state time to work with the business owners and vice versa. It required patience by all parties and clear communication. But the expense of time is nearly insignificant compared to the gain in project support from those who will be most affected by it.

(Hard) hats off to the businesses, the state and the city as they move forward together to improve Ketchikan’s downtown streets and sidewalks.

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June 24, 2017

Peninsula Clarion: Time to stop that dirt from moving

Many times in this space, we’ve encouraged various agencies to finish up with studies of this project or that, and to start moving dirt.

In this case, we’re ready to see the dirt stop moving.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently released a report on Kenai’s bluff erosion - which continues at a rate of 3 feet per year even as it’s been studied for nearly two decades. In its report, the Corps found that the cost of stabilizing the bluff is greater than the economic loss of doing nothing, but makes a strong argument for moving forward with the project regardless.

The Corps’ preferred plan involves building a 5,000-foot-long rock berm along the base of the bluff and allowing falling material to fill in behind it over the next several years.

Other plans put forward but not recommended include the same rock berm, but re-grading the bluff’s slope; and relocating the mouth of the Kenai River away from the eroding bluff.Under the current timeline, the Corps would issue a contract for the project in 2020, with construction to be completed in 2022.

Public meetings on the project have been scheduled with the Kenai City Council at 6 p.m. July 5 at Kenai City Hall, and one for the general public at 6 p.m. July 6 at the Kenai Visitors Center.

Public comment on the plan is being accepted through July 16. Comments regarding the environmental impacts of the project should be submitted to [email protected]; comments regarding the feasibility report should be submitted to [email protected] Comments may also be submitted to this address:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska

ATTN: CEPOA-PM-C

P.O. BOX 6898

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska 99506-0898

The Corps’ feasibility study represents a huge step forward in the effort to halt Kenai bluff from falling back.

We encourage central Kenai Peninsula residents and visitors alike to attend a public meeting, learn about the proposed solution and provide feedback for the Corps. And we look forward to seeing construction begin - so that dirt will finally stop moving.

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June 25, 2017

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Legislature should build on budget passage, deal with fiscal crisis

In the end, sanity won out. With nine days to spare before a state government shutdown that would have thrown Alaska into economic chaos, legislators from the House and Senate sat down together and worked out a sensible compromise on the state budget.

Alaskans’ sense of relief at state services continuing uninterrupted was tempered by the (accurate) sentiment that such a deal could have and should have taken place long before now. But what’s most important is that the budget is done, and the Legislature should move immediately to deal with an overdue long-term solution to the state’s fiscal crisis.

It was the kind of compromise those watching the Legislature most closely hoped would come in April. Neither side got exactly what it wanted - the bipartisan coalition caucus leading the House secured stable funding for K-12 education and a substantial but not dire cut to the University of Alaska (at $317 million, the final funding number hit close to the midpoint between the House’s $325 million and the Senate’s $303 million). But the Republican-led Senate majority caucus got some of its priorities, too - a $1,100 dividend that reduced the draw on state savings, for instance.

Ultimately, nothing was gained by letting political gamesmanship by House and Senate leaders bring the state to the brink of catastrophe, a lesson all legislators should internalize for future negotiations.

Regardless of points of view on budget priorities, what all Alaskans should be able to agree on is that the Legislature’s work is far from done. Because the squabbling over the budget went on so long, the Legislature has not dealt with a long-term fix to address the multibillion-dollar fiscal gap.

This year, for the first time in the more than two years, the House and Senate held meaningful debates about several partial solutions to the deficit, including a restructuring of Alaska Permanent Fund earnings, state income tax and tweaks to the state’s system of oil taxes and credits. Legislators shouldn’t abandon that work and kick the can down the road until they reconvene in January, during an election year. The time for solutions is now, and members of the Legislature have just demonstrated they can knuckle down and compromise when the state’s welfare is on the line

The best time for that work to be done is immediately; Gov. Bill Walker thinks so, too, as evidenced by his addition of House Bill 111 to the second special session call immediately after the Legislature passed the budget. If legislators are able to continue their good work unabated, they should do so. If, for whatever reason, they are not able to meaningfully address the fiscal crisis during the current session, they should call themselves back into a third special session and take up the matter as promptly as is possible

The budget compromise shows there’s reason to hope functional governance and fiscal leadership is still possible in Juneau. Let’s keep that train rolling and deal with the other crucial pieces of putting Alaska on a more stable fiscal track.

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