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).

Monday, October 31, 2005


Situation: I'm a US Air Force Project Officer assisting Vietnamese refugees transition from their flight from Vietnam, to a temporary refugee shelter at Marine Camp Pendleton, California, to free and independent living in the United States. Year: October 1976. Place: March Air Force Base, Riverside, California.

I had been counseling a very nervous and insecure Vietnamese mother of a toddler, and her husband - a former Vietnamese Air Force pilot – on the wisdom of depositing their small nest egg of savings in a bank where it would be safe. They were understandably uneasy about the whole procedure, but I assured them that the people at the bank could be trusted, and were very dependable.

After much convincing, I drove the couple to a bank in Riverside, to help them establish a savings account. They entered the bank, clutching their savings, and walked up to the teller’s window to be greeted by a - - - a clown!

It was October 31, Halloween 1976. Twenty-nine years ago. All the bank employees were attired in outlandish costumes. I was flabbergasted, and tried to explain the Holiday to my equally flabbergasted Vietnamese friends.

I wish I had a photograph of the expression on the faces of this poor Vietnamese couple when they handed their money over to the “clown.” If anyone ever exhibited faith in me, these people did.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


I listened in on radio this afternoon (in amazement) to the governor’s press conference regarding Commissioner of Natural Resources Tom Irwin’s questioning memo regarding Alaska’s gas pipeline negotiations with the producers, and a request that the Attorney General render an official legal opinion on the matter.

From the press conference we learned that Commissioner Irwin has resigned, and six top level executives in the Department of Natural Resources followed suit with resignations. Next, the governor lavished pro forma praise on the seven administration departees. Then the Attorney General assured us that Commissioner Irwin’s eight stated concerns were matters of “policy” differences rather than something more serious. This was followed by the governor and attorney general responding to questions from the assembled frenzied media.

Hopefully, right-minded Alaska government and business leaders can overcome the “difficulties” (in delicate military lingo, the “Charlie Foxtrot”) that will be tomorrow’s headline, and bring home a gas pipeline with a contract that will benefit all Alaska both in the short and long term. Hope springs eternal. No one belongs in the legislature unless they are an optimist.

“Tune in for the next exciting episode.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


An editorial in the Anchorage Daily news today got things right – it happens from time to time. Miracles do happen. The editprial sub-headline reads “Commissioned Officers give Orders; NCOs (sergeants for the uninitiated) Get Things Done.” How true, how true.

I’m a retired military officer, with prior enlisted service. In military jargon, that makes me a “Mustang.” Among other ribbons I wore on my officer’s uniform was the “Good Conduct Medal” only awarded to enlisted people. Anyone one who saw that ribbon knew me to be a “mustang officer” that is, an officer with prior enlisted service. Of that I’m rightfully proud. Because the reality is, sergeants and the other enlisted types are truly the people who run the Armed Forces. An officer may give a command (perhaps a “meaningful suggestion”) and the enlisted troops make it happen - or it doesn't happen. This is as true for a 2nd Lieutenant as for a four star general.

Behind every great general, colonel, major, or lieutenant is a competent “First Shirt” (1st Sergeant) non-commissioned officer (NCO), and behind the NCO is his enlisted backup. In our corner of the world, there’s a special bond between good officers and good enlisted that only military people can understand and appreciate. This successful relationship isn’t limited to the military, although in the military it’s in its apex.

There are many examples. Like, who runs your kid's school? The principal? Sure. But who makes what “has-to-happen” at your kid’s school happen? It’s the school secretary, that’s who. And don’t ever forget the school janitor. It’s a team. Or should be.

And who really makes things happen in our major business corporations? I submit it’s the Executive Secretary and the secretary’s assistants. They are the ones that make the President, Chief Executive Officer and the Board of Directors look good – or as good as they can, under the circumstances.

Same, same in the legislature. State Representatives come and go. State Senators come and go. But it’s our legislative staff that provides “institutional memory” (as well as knowing “where the bodies are buried). Legislators can conjure up a bill, but it’s the staff which gets the hearing packages ready, brings in the testifiers for pro or con presentations, and gets hearings scheduled. It’s also usually the staff that finds the “fly in the ointment” in a bill or an argument, before the legislator embarrasses himself on Gavel to Gavel television, and commits his goof to the official House Journal for all eternity.

I submit a general is only as good as his first sergeant, a CEO is only as good as the executive secretary, and a principal is only as good as the school secretary. Likewise, a legislator is only as good as their staff because – well, I could expound on that, but I’m afraid my staff will ask for a raise, and I must protect the public purse. So there.

Monday, October 24, 2005


Many are the issues to be faced in the upcoming 2006 legislative session, and multitudinous bills to be voted upon in committees and on the House floor. All are important, but all pale in comparison to a potential vote on the forthcoming (I hope forthcoming) gas pipeline contract.

If I’m fortunate enough to be in the legislature for the next eon, it’s likely my vote, “yes” or “no,” on the gas pipeline will be the most important vote I’ll ever cast. Every other legislator I’ve talked to feels the same.

A few legislators signed a “confidentiality agreement” that permits them to see the current state of the proposed contract, before the public sees it, and before the legislature as a whole sees it. I did not, repeat did not, sign that agreement. Therefore, at this point I don’t know anymore about the proposals that anyone else who monitors the media, or anyone else who listens to political “gossip.”

I didn’t feel comfortable participating, either directly or indirectly, in gas pipeline negotiations. I believe it’s the place of the administration, and their counterparts in the private sector, “to propose” a negotiated contract to the public, and to the state legislature as the representatives of the public.

And I do know it’s the legislature’s responsibility to dispose what is proposed, whatever it is, with a majority “yes” or “no” vote. Staying outside the negotiations, and not even having confidential knowledge of the on-going negotiations, will help me evaluate with a fresh eye – with the help of constituent and other public input – how I should vote.

When we finally see a contract (if I live long enough), I urge everyone to communicate with me on how I should vote. I cannot represent without communication to and from constituents. The “psychic network” doesn’t work very well.

I do know it will not be a “perfect” contract, for either Alaska or the producers, because there is no such thing as a perfect contract. The contract will have many plusses and minuses (depending on one’s perspective), and a change on one page could cascade into changes on other pages. I understand that the process may not have been perfect. Obviously, we must tread carefully – but not so careful as to do nothing. In both negotiations and politics, perfection can be the enemy of the possible.

I have made NO PROMISES TO ANYONE, whatsoever, as to how I’ll vote on a contract that none of us outside the negotiators has seen. I most emphatically want to vote “yes” on a gas pipeline - but that “yes” vote can only be cast if the deal makes enough sense. When the time comes, I’ll say a prayer, and I’ll do my duty.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


My wife Marlene is the proud owner today of a brand new knee joint. The doctor told me the old joint, was bone-on-bone, and that her new knee will be a tremendous improvement for her. We are replacing ourselves part by part. I now have a new lens in each eye, and my wife has a new knee. What’s next? Don’t ask.

We are Blessed to live in a place and a era, and to have the means, to benefit from modern medicine. Without health, we have nothing. God Bless good doctors.

Ten minutes after the doctor gave me the good news about Marlene’s successful knee surgery, I was interviewed on the KFQD 750 Dan Fagan Radio Show (from the hospital lobby – that’s life in the fast lane) about my proposal for suspension of the state gasoline tax. Dan knew I was calling from the hospital lobby, and my wife’s knee replacement. Then he asked how old she was, and I was dumb enough to answer (That goof may have cost me a vote in my own household!!).

Sunday, October 09, 2005


This is news befitting a slow news day. Nonetheless, it's important to be well informed - and it does have political potential.

Check out United States Patent 58-68140 for “Neuticles.” Inventor Gregg Miller mortgaged his house and maxed out his credit cards to mass produce his invention which is (are you ready?) prosthetic – fake - testicles for animals. Don’t laugh. He’s sold more than 150,000 Neuticles and doubled his investment of $500,000. Isn’t entrepreneurship marvelous?

Three models are available: Neuticle Originals (rigid firmness) are $73 a pair, Neuticle Natural (natural firmness) $159 and Neuticle Ultra Plus for only $329. Price includes priority mail delivery, applicable taxes, and handling (handling?). Furthermore, custom sizing is available. Wow! Or should I say, “Bow Wow?”

Surely, there’s a market waiting-to-happen for these things in the political world. Here’s a thought. If we could just add artificial backbones to Neuticles for needy politicians, the world would be a better place.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Anchorage Daily News
Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:

Good News: Alaska is raking in record profits from the high price of oil. Bad News: Every time Mr. and Mrs. Alaska put gasoline in their vehicles they suffer a “wallet-dectomy.” So why not lower the outrageous price of gasoline by suspending unnecessary fuel taxes?

That’s why I asked the governor on September 6th, and again on September 28 that, when he calls the special session of the legislature for consideration of gas pipeline contract, he include on the agenda suspension of state gasoline, diesel, marine, and aviation gasoline taxes for so long as the price of Alaska oil remains above $50 a barrel. Lowering taxes on anything helps business and families. Fuel taxes are no exception.

When the budget is tight, we do need these taxes to maintain our roads. But state coffers currently runneth over with oil revenue. Let’s give Alaska’s business and consumers a break – however small it may seem. Alaska can set the example for America by suspending fuel taxes.


Bob Lynn
Representative, District 31

Saturday, October 01, 2005


Today Marlene and I received our yearly “good newsgram” from the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation announcing the amount of our Permanent Fund dividend, and the date it will be deposited into our savings account.

Previously, we got separate notifications in the mail. This year both notifications were on one single piece of mail. Considering the number of multiple recipients aroound Alaska who live at the same address, the state is saving a large amount of money. Somebody got smart. Congratulations!

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