Blogs by Rep Bob Lynn

Blog site of Representative Bob Lynn, Alaska House of Representatives,District 31 Anchorage, Alaska. Blogs consist of public comments during legislative sessions, speeches, political commentary, as well as personal observations, and some journal type entries. Comments are invited.

Location: Anchorage, Alaska, United States

Member of the Alaska State House of Represeentatives since 2003. US Air Force, Retired; military bandsman; F94C interceptor pilot; Vietnam service as radar controller (Monkey Mountain), radar site commander(Pleiku); Government Contract Management; Public school Teacher, Retired. Married 55 years to Marlene Wagner Lynn, 6 children, 20 grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild. Member St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton Church. Former Tucson Arizona policeman, Ambulance Driver and Mortician's Assistant, Realtor (currently on referral status).

Saturday, July 30, 2005


Most of us hope for an appropriate gas pipeline with a pipeline contract that will benefit Alaska for decades to come. The governor and his negotiating team appear to be in the final stages putting some kind of deal together. A bigwig in the oil industry told me yesterday that a proposed and long-awaited contract for the gas pipeline could be a fait accompli within weeks. I hope so, and I hope it’s a contract with appropriate safeguards for Alaskan interests (that means the citizens of Alaska), as well as attractive to our business partners on the other side of the table.

If that’s the kind of gas pipeline contract that’s laid on the table for public and legislative scrutiny, it will sell itself to the public and their representatives. Advertising (the commercial variety of political spin) the pipeline contract product will hardly be necessary

I read that the state is putting out a request for bids for an advertising agency to “sell” the gas pipeline contract to the public – and, by extension, to their elected representatives. But similar to the words of Ronald Reagan, “Well, there they go again!”

I have a big problem with public dollars of a publicly funded school district, municipality, or state being spent to advertise a government product, be it a school bond, a percent of market value payout (POMV) of permanent fund for government services, or a gas pipeline (whatever its route). How can someone on the other side of one of those issues combat a bottomless pit of governmental advertising dollars? They can't. There's no level playing field.

And please don’t tell me it’s not government “advertising,” it’s just a providing of “information.” By that logic, those of us who spend money advertising our political campaigns, aren’t really advertising, we’re just providing “information.” That would be disingenuous for a political candidate, and it's no less disingenuous for the state to call their advertising just “information.”

There are appropriate ways for the state to inform the public about a pipeline deal. The administration should provide public briefings throughout the state, as well as newspaper, television, and radio talk show interviews. Copies of the proposed contract - both in full and summary versions - should be made easily available to the public. Legislators should make themselves available for public input, and public testimony should be encouraged at committee hearings. Just like everything else the state does, there should be full disclosure – and it shouldn’t happen behind closed doors.

Let’s examine any gas pipeline contract on its own merits - not the merits of a cute jingo, motto, or slick television commercials. If it’s a good contract, or even halfway reasonable, advertising (or whatever spinmeisters want to label it) is unnecessary.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Attended "Frank's Picnic," better known as "The Governor's Picnic," on the Anchorage Park Strip. This is an annual event It's free to the public, and more real picnic than politics. The governor graciously invited me to have a picture taken with him and Alaska First Lady Nancy. I don't know which of us was the most brave!

Amazingly, it appears this year that I may have been the only state legislator in attendance at the picnic. Maybe there were others I didn't see, but during the time I was there, I didn't see them.

Later I had a very informative discussion about Alaska homeland security with Brigadier General Thomas S. Westall, Commander of the Alaska State Defense Force, and Colonel Roger Holl, Comander of the 492nd Coastal Command. As Chair of House Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs, and a US Air Force retiree, homeland security is one of my top concerns.

We are fighting a very different kind of war today - much different than the wars of my generation. Our biggest vulnerability is perhaps failing to appreciate the danger of terrorism in our own backyard. And yes, we do have people in Alaska who give their allegience to Osama bin Laden. Scary stuff. Wake up folks! It's time to recognize reality.

Friday, July 22, 2005


It was a beautiful Alaska summer day for a boat trip inspection of Knik Arm. The trip was arranged by the the folks who are studying the feasibility of a bridge across Knik Arm, the question being a "bridge from where to where." Other legislators on the trip were Senator John Cowdery and Representative Mark Neuman.

Anchorage is running out of buildable land, and the Matnasuka Valley (The Matus) is experiencing rapid growth. Many Matsu people make a hour commute to Anchorage for work. Economic development for both Anchorage and The Matsu would be well served by a bridge from Anchorage across the 2.8 miles of silty waters of Knik Arm to the area of Point McKenzie to The Matsu. The bridge has been a topic of discussion for years, but it is now closer to reality.

Two possible for the entrance to the bridge from the Anchorage side are through Government Hill or through the wooded area between Elmenforf AFB and Fort Richardson. I would prefer the entrance to be across the military land. The government Hill route would bring even more traffic through the already crowded downtown Anchorage. The military route would be to the east of downtown in a less traffic crowded area. The final verdict on an entrance across military land would be from the military brass, based on potential impact on the military mission.

The bridge studies are in the environmental impact study stage. Biologists are counting beluga whales, sea life, and birds to determine what effect, if any, the bridge would have on the creatures.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Want to open a health care or nursing home business? Under current Alaska law, you’ll have to go hat-in-hand to the state bureaucracy, and beg for a “Certificate of Need” to open your business!

That’s why I’ve introduced House Bill 287 and agreed to be a sponsor of an initiative to also take this issue directly to the people of Alaska.

HB 287 eliminates the requirement for a government-issued “Certificate of Need” for health care facilities and nursing homes in boroughs with a population of more than 25,000 people. That includes Anchorage, Matsu, Kenai, Fairbanks, and Juneau.

Medical costs in Alaska are reaching crisis levels. Passage of HB 287 should help lower the escalating medical costs of Workers’ Compensation, PERS/TRS retirement, and the cost and availability of medical care for both companies and individual families. Consider how competition lowered the cost of communications in Alaska. If it worked for communications, competition could for everything else.

The free market should decide if a health care facility is needed, not some bureaucrat in state government. If someone wants to open a health care facility they shouldn’t have to beg the government for a Certificate of Need that, in effect, provides other larger businesses with a de facto monopoly. We need more competition, not less. Free enterprise motivates excellence, and encourages lower prices through competition (just the opposite of a monopoly).

HB287 is already co-sponsored by Representatives Coghill, Chenault, and Kohring. I expect more co-sponsors as the bill progresses through the legislature.

The goal of HB287 is to restore American style competition and expanded medical choice for the benefit of Alaska’s medical consumers.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Lunch today included a serving of information about electricity from wind energy throughout Alaska and the nation. This was especially interesting to me, because only a week ago I visited Fire Island to learn about Chugach Electric's wind power plans on the island.

I was surprised to learn there was an energy producing windmill at Kotzebue, where I had been stationed in 1964-1965.

Other legislators at the briefing were Senator Fred Dyson, and Representatives Ethan Berkowitz, Max Gruenberg, Harry Crawford, and Berta Gardner.

I think alternative sources of energy - like wind, tidal changes, geothermal, hydrogen - needs serious consideration. The more varied the sources of energy the safer we are. Development of renewable energy should not be a partisan issue.

However, for the far foreseeable future, none of these so-called renewable energy sources will replace the need for oil and gas development. We must open ANWR and build an appropriate gas pipeline that best serves Alaska - and the sooner the better.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Every year Governor and Mrs. Hickel open their lovely home and beautiful yard for a Salad Luncheon hosed by the Republican Women. The ladies bring scrumptious salads of every delicious description, while every Republican politico in town share political gossip and speculation. If you love the political process - and what politician doesn't - this annual Republican "get together" is the place to be. Almost every Republican officeholder (those that aren't fishing in July), wannabe legislators, legislative staffers, political activists, really have a great time. I know I do. This is my third Republican salad luncheon, but it won't be my last. Thanks and appreciation to the Hickel family and the Republican Women for such a wonderful event.


The good folks on and around DeArmoun Road are still fighting their heroic and lengthy battle with Department of Transportation (DOT) plans that would take their homes and property.

The good news is that funding of the project has been zeroed out for this year. The bad news is affected homeowners are still in limbo, including Ann and Mike Flister who could have their home demolished to accommodate a trail. DeArmoun area homeowners could still suffer governmental “property abuse,” when funding for various road projects becomes available next year.

The outcome depends on where the DeArmoun project falls on the priority list of long range road plans, and the votes of AMATS committee (Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Solutions) that consists of Mayor Mark Begich, Assembly members Debbie Ossiander and Chris Birch, and two officials from the state Department of Transportation (DOT).

As I told a newspaper reporter after the latest AMATS meeting, “We need to put ourselves in the shoes of people who live on DeArmoun, It’s become a full-time job for some of the folks on DeArmoun to defend where they're going to sleep at night." Community teamwork of everyone one involved in the battle to protect property rights has been outstanding. I’m “cautiously optimistic” homeowners will finally win.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Forty -one years ago in the US Air Force, I was scheduled for a remote tour on Fire Island with the 626th Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron (AC&W), radio call sign “Slugger.” Upon arrival at Elmendorf AFB (ten days after the Good Friday 1964 earthquake), my assignment was changed to the AC&W radar at site at Kotzebue as Operations Officer. So I never set foot on Fire Island, three miles west of Anchorage - until this July!

The old radar site on Fire Island was deactivated and demolished in 1979, but activity on Fire Island may be coming back to life with a state-of-the-art electrical generating windmills. Chugach Electric began studies in 1998 to determine feasibility of using wind to generate power. The studies indicate Fire Island may be the best site in South Central Alaska to harvest energy from wind. .

Along with Rep. Harry Crawford, and staffers from the offices of Senator Ben Stevens and Rep. Ethan Berkowitz, I flew over to Fire Island for an on-site briefing and tour. Steve Gilbert, Manager of Energy Projects Development for Chugach Electric gave us an on-site briefing and tour of the island. We learned high-tech windmills could render a capacity of some 50 to 100 MW of electrical power. Wind is free, and will continue so long as the earth keeps turning. That’s why energy from wind is one of the fastest growing energy segments in the United States.

The need for natural gas to run generators to make electricity will continue, with or without the wind energy from Fire Island. We will still need gas from the proposed gas pipeline for south central Alaska’s electrical needs. At best, wind energy from Fire Island would only cut the local need for natural gas about seven percent - but it’s a very important seven percent.

Electricity from wind power and other renewable resources has a huge market potential. In addition, there is potential for using a very small portion of the wind power on the island to develop energy from hydrogen. Fire Island is also has potential for generating electricity from the very large tidal changes in Cook Inlet.

In mid-July, Alaska Congressman Don Young sponsored the Water Resources Development Act which passed on a 406 to 14 vote. Congressman Young, Chair of the US House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, included in that legislation a Causeway to Fire Island and authorized $5 Million to fund it. But like other amounts in the legislation, the money would have to be included in future appropriation bills before it could be spent. The building of the Causeway would add impetus to any development on Fire Island, including renewable energy development.]

Renewable energy from wind, tides, and hydrogen is only - repeat only - a potential adjunct to the mainstay natural resources of Alaska’s oil and gas. It's essential that ANWR be opened, and that an appropriate gas line be built.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


Despite all the testimony and public outcry, the Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) has not budged from its recommendation that a home be destroyed to accomodate a trail and" speed up" traffic on DeArmoun Road. Anchorage's Mayor Mark Begich is a member of AMATS, a joint State/Municipality group that will make final decisions. Ergo, I FAXed the following letter to the mayor and other members of AMATS.

Mayor Mark Begich
Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska

Dear Mayor Mark Begich:

I support roads and highways that promote public safety, but the DOT proposal for D’Armoun Road is extremely questionable.

I am absolutely dismayed that the DOT proposals for DeArmoun Road in Anchorage continue to plan the taking of two entire parcels of private property, including the destruction of Mr. and Mrs. Flister home to - among other questionable plans - help make room for a trail. .This proposal comes at the cost estimate $12.3 million dollars for 1.8 miles of roadway or, put another way, $6.8 million per mile. It appears that public testimony has been ignored

I urge you to reject the DOT proposal for DeArmoun Road. Surely, a better and more appropriate use of the money can be found.

Your consideration is respectfully requested,

Alaska State House Representative
District 31

I hope they listen. Hope springs eternal.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


"What's a nutraceutical?" I hear you ask. Answer: it's the formal name for a nutritional supplement, just as medicinal druges are known as "pharmaceuticals."

Frankly, I'd never heard of "nutraceuticals" until I attended a luncheon meeting of the Anchorage World Trade Center. The featured speaker was Mr. Thane Humphrey, vice president of Denali Biotechnologies. His company, Denali Biotechnologies, produces a dietary supplement called "Aurora Blue made primarily from Alaska wild blueberries (of which wee have no shortage) on sold via the Internet

Wild blueberries are well known as a low fat, sodium free source of fiber and Vitamin C. Other statessuch as Maine harvest millions of pounds of blueberries every year and market them for their high anti-oxidant capacity and healthful benefits. Humphrey says, however, that Alaska’s blueberries contain much higher levels of anti-oxidants than Maine and Michigan, and could earn big incomes for Alaskans who want to commercially grow blueberries. In the case of Denali Biotechnologies, demand for blueberries supply exceeds the supply of picked blueberries.

To resolve the supply problem, Denail Technologies has applied for land use permits on large swaths of state land to commercially harvest wild Alaska blueberries. The permits, however, do not give the permit holder exclusive carte blanche rights to pick berries on state land. The company also has been establishing contracts with private, Native and borough land owners to gain permission to harvest berries on their land, and in some cases, for the landowner to employ workers to harvest the blueberries. This could develop into a entire new source of income for some Alaska villages.

I think the growing and harvesting of nutraceuticals, blueberries and other plants, has an excellent potential as a new source of Alaska economic development - especially in niche markets. The growth and marketing of nutraceuticals certainly bears investigation.

Today's World Trade Center luncheon was well worth my time.

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