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).

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


For the first time, the Alaska legislature met outside of Juneau (in Anchorage), and we held the shortest special session ever. That's an historical event. More importantly, Senate Bill 4 (the Senior Assistance Program) passed the legislature with a vote of 34-3 in the House, and 14-3 in the Senate. I voted “Yes.” Was there ever any doubt? Without today’s action, the program would have expired.

Today’s passage of the Senior Assistance bill has a convoluted history. Governor Murkowski eliminated funding for the promised-based Longevity Bonus (the beginning of his troubles). The Bonus would have terminated when the last recipient terminated. In its place, Murkowski – with the legislature’s help – substituted the “needs based” Senior Care Program. Actually, the Longevity Bonus remains in statute - there have just never been enough votes to fund it again.

Murkowski’s Senior Care Program was set to expire on June 30th, 2007 - just a few days from now. During the last days of the 2007 regular legislative session, two bills were sponsored to extend the Senior Care Program: SB4 by a Senate Democrat, and HB198 by a House Republican. SB4 was held in the House Finance Committee, and never came to the House floor for a vote. However, HB198 was permitted to come to the House floor for a vote – but it contained “poison pill language” to eliminate the unfunded Longevity Bonus from statute.

I sponsored an amendment to remove the poison pill. This was gratuitous language that had whatever to do with Senior Assistance. The Longevity issue was another debate for a different day. My amendment passed on a bipartisan vote of 23-20. (See my Blog for April 10, 2007) Unfortunately, when my amendment passed, the sponsor of HB198 was party to taking the bill off the floor by returning it to the limbo of the House Rules Committee – essentially “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” I have yet to understand the rationale for that, since the Bonus and the Assistance program are separate issues, and if a senior qualified for one they needn’t qualify for the other.

Some supporters of HB198 attempted to “roll the chair” of the Rules Committee to bring the bill for a vote, but the effort failed on procedural grounds. Likewise, attempts to force SB4 out of committee and to the floor from the finance committee failed on procedural grounds. Ergo, no Senior Assistance bill passed during the regular session, and it appeared the program would die June 30th.

The legislature came home to a firestorm for failing to act (though everyone doesn’t admit it). Apparently, the governor also wasn’t happy. As the saying goes, “when folks feel the heat they see the light”! So today, the legislature came into special session for “essential repairs.”

The Democrat SB4 bill was the chosen vehicle for restoring the senior assistance program – a bill with lower senior benefits than the Republican HB198. However, the sponsor of HB198 sponsored an Amendment today to raise the benefits of SB4 up to about what HB198 had been – the same bill he helped send back to the Rules Committee in April. I co-sponsored his amendment – along with several other legislators – but the sponsor of the Amendment had our names removed without asking (probably another history making event). The amendment passed on a vote of 22-15. I voted “Yes” - same as I would have voted in April. If anyone can explain (or even understand) these Byzantine machinations they get a gold star!

Bottom Line: needy seniors can sleep a little better tonight.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Marlene and I attended the funeral Vigil Service at St. Benedict’s in Anchorage last night, and today’s Mass of Christian Burial at St. Andrews in Eagle River, for our friend and former pastor Father Alfred Giebel. The Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Emeritus Hurley, an ally of Father Giebel.

Father Giebel was a conservative (conservative in the best sense of the word) priest. Everyone called him “Father Giebel” – not the au courant “Father Al,” which in his case would be like calling your dad by his first name. Of German descent, he was born in Brooklyn, New York. Father Giebel had a wry sense of humor, expressed with a vestige of Brooklyn accent.

No shrinking violet was he. He wasn’t one to be pushed around. Never was he too timid to confront the hierarchy with his opinion. Near the end of his pastorate, he suffered the results. As a priest, he was obedient – but deeply hurt.

Father Giebel was ordained in 1972, and came to Alaska in 1975. He served the Archdiocese of Anchorage from 1975 until the present. During that time he served at Holy Rosary Parish, Dillingham, and Saint Joseph's, Cordova. Father Giebel was pastor of St. Michael's, in Palmer, and pastor of St. Andrew's, in Eagle River. He was pastor of St. Benedict's in Anchorage for many years, and people came from all over the Anchorage bowl (like us) to St. Benedict’s, because of Father Giebel’s message and character. After the current archbishop removed him from St. Benedict’s, Father Giebel concluded his pastorate by serving the Monastery of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Anchorage for a short time before his death.

Father Giebel was a dedicated ham radio operator, a private pilot, an indoor gardener, and was famous for making old fashioned German sauerkraut for the St. Benedict October Fests. Most of all, he was dedicated to youth education.

Marlene and I attended Father Giebel’s 35th ordination anniversary celebration at St. Nicholas of Myra Byzantine Catholic on May 27th. That’s the last time we saw him alive, just twenty-two days ago. More than 200 honored the good priest’s anniversary. At the Vigil, today's Mass, and Graveside service, even more people were present to celebrate his entrance to eternal life. God Bless you, Good and Faithful Servant Father Giebel. May you rest in peace.

The photos show Father Giebel, the Knight’s of Columbus Honor Guard at the funeral, and Michael Rzeszut giving the first reading at the funeral Mass.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Letter to Editor

Following is a "Letter to the Editor" I emailed to the newspaper this morning:

Letters to the Editor
Anchorage Daily News

Dear Editor:

The important thing about our new and improved ethics legislation is that it passed the legislature. Who sponsored what bill, or when a bill was heard in someone’s committee, may be interesting, but it’s irrelevant to the good legislation we passed.

We all did our job. The House State Affairs Committee, of which I’m chairman, combined all the good ideas of various ethics bill sponsors (including my own HB10), and many recommendations from other legislators, into one omnibus bill that used Governor Palin’s HB109 as the legislative vehicle. No names of individual legislative sponsors attached to the bill. In a manner of speaking, every legislator and every constituent was an honorary co-sponsor to HB109.

No ethics legislation will make a dishonest person honest. But our new ethics legislation can help provide improved public visibility and personal accountability, in addition to assisting the “ethically challenged.” Obviously, HB109 is legislation whose time has come.

The great majority of our public servants - like everyone else - are decent and honest people, regardless of political party, regardless of ethics legislation. Even so, it’s past time to increase public confidence in their state government.

Thank you,

Bob Lynn
State Representative, District 31

Saturday, June 16, 2007


I happily accepted the invitation to attend the official dedication of the new Cross Park (formerly Birch Park) today. The dedication, put together by Joe Kurtak and Sue Herminghaus, honored the homesteaders who contributed the park land as well as volunteers who have maintained the site over the years. The park is once again an inviting place where families, dog lovers, horseback riders, sport players of all sorts, and the community can come together for a leisurely hang-out.

In the words of Antje Carlson, a member of Friends of Birch Park since 2003, “This sense of community is what Bob and Arlene Cross had in mind when they donated the 10 acres of land that is now Birch Park whose story began in 1949, when the Cross-family homesteaded the 160 acres of property that is bound by Bainbridge, Huffman, and Birch roads on the lower Anchorage hillside. The entire area was deepest ‘jungle,’ scarcely populated and safe recreational places for children were not available . . . In 1955 some community members approached the Cross family and asked them to donate some land that could be turned into a family park. Bob and Arlene liked the idea, and saw it as one way of passing on their good fortune to future residents.”

The dedication of the park this afternoon was a culmination of good old-fashioned Alaskan community teamwork. Music for the event was provided by Marge Ford and the Polka Chips – and of course, when there’s polka music I have an uncontrollable urge to dance (see photo of Sue Herminghaus dancing with me!). The other photos show honoree Arlene Cross with roses, the Birch Road pioneers by the new park sign, and me enjoying my first ride on a Segway provided by Dennis Nelson – President Bush fell off a Segway when he tried it out, I didn’t!! Good times. Good folks.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


What a joy! Daughter Mary Renee Lynn and grandson Holden are now Alaskans.

Mary is registered nurse. She accepted a position on the Heart Team at Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage. She moved here from Grand Forks, North Dakota, where she was for several years a member of the Heart Team at Altru Hospital. Mary is a graduate of the University of North Dakota, where she worked her way through college, plus the nursing school.

Mary and Holden drove from Grand Forks to Bellingham, Washington where the boarded the ferry. Before they changed ships for the crossing of the Gulf of Alaska, they were given the “grand tour” of the State Capitol in Juneau by my Chief of Staff Nancy Manly. We expect that grandson Holden will be attending South High. Our son and daughter in-in-law and our grandkids Simon and Ethan moved to Alaska last year.
The photos show the ferry Kennecott pulling into port at Whittier. My son John and I drove down to escort Mary and Holden to Anchorage. The other photo shows Mary seeing her very happy mother Marlene at our driveway in Anchorage.


A rally, organized by the AARP (American Association of Retired People) - described as “massive” by NBC television KTUU - of senior citizen supporters, was held at Fireweed and A Street in Anchorage today. The rally sent a loud message to state lawmakers favoring the Senior Assistance Program.

The rally was held between 11:30 AM to 1PM participated in the rally, but I didn’t arrive until about 12:15 PM, because of meeting my daughter Mary Lynn and grandson Holden at Whittier when they disembarked from the ferry Kennecott (they have now moved permanently to Alaska). I was graciously invited to speak to the rally, but declined. I just wanted to wave signs in support of seniors like everyone else. The photo shows a few of the rally participants, just before the rally concluded.

I sent a Legislative Alert on the proposed assistance program to fellow seniors in District 31, which arrived in most mailboxes today. I support the Senior Assistance program, so long as it doesn’t remove the Longevity Bonus from statute. Quite frankly, this issue should have been resolved before the regular legislative session adjourned May 16th. To remedy the situation of the legislature not having a senior assistance bill on the House floor for an up or down vote, we have called a special session to be held in Anchorage at the Egan Center on June 26th. Consider this an invitation to attend

Monday, June 11, 2007


When I was a kid in East Los Angeles, I had never seen a moose, or any other variety of ungulate. But Alaska is a marvelous place where wild critters abound (including the four-legged variety). Moose are frequent visitors to my yard on Trapline Drive in Anchorage.

Today a mama moose and her two lanky calves paid our back yard a visit. The photo is one of a zillion pictures I shot, as well as voluminous video –taken through our dining room window of course. I wasn’t about to venture outside. I have enough problems without being attacked by a moose protecting her calves.

Living anywhere in Alaska – even within the Municipality of Anchorage – is like living in a national park. I’ve had moose (the plural of moose is “moose,” not “mice.”), black bear, rabbits, and foxes in my yard – and nearby I’ve seen lynx and Dall sheep, plus salmon swimming up stream. People spend thousands of dollars to visit Alaska for such sights – but the Lynn family gets to live here year round (and even gets the PFD).


Among my many life adventures, I was an Air Force Weapons Controller (for those who understand AFSCs, I was a 1744 and then a 1716). A civilian controller’s job is to keep airplanes apart; a military weapon’s controller’s job is to bring aircraft together. Today, along with Lt. Governor Sean Parnell, I toured the 176th Air Control Squadron, operated by the Alaska Air Guard, at Elmendorf AFB.

“Everything” is changed, but everything is the “same.” Gone is the darkroom, the vertical plotting boards, the dais, and the big cathode ray tube monitors (and maybe some of the ambiance). But the job is still the same: identifying aircraft that could pose a threat (including Russian bombers intruding Alaska’s airspace), running fighter intercepts on targets (for real or for practice). Also the same, I’m sure, is long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of frenzied action dealing with aircraft emergencies and other unexpected situations. Do I miss all this? The answer is "yes."

My first experience as a controller was in 1955 at Jitney Control at Cape Charles (Virginia) AFS. Later came computerized controlling at Air Defense Sage Centers at the Los Angles Air Defense Sector (LAADS) at Norton AFB. I was a controller at LAADS during the Cuban missile crisis – and that, I’m here to tell you, was exciting stuff. Later I controlled at the Great Falls Air Defense Sector in Montana. I spent a year remote as Operations Officer and Second-in-Command at the 748th AC&W at Kotzebue AFS in 1964-65 (never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d ever serve in the Alaska Legislature thirty-eight years later!).

My last job as a controller was at Sembach Air Base, Germany in an inflatable building we called the “Rubber Ducky.” Before that, I was Battle Commander at "Motel Alpha" control site at Udorn, Thailand. However, my controller’s piece de resistance was in Vietnam (1972-73) as a Senior Director at Monkey Mountain, DaNang, Vietnam, and then as Commander of the radar site at Pleiku, Vietnam - Peacock Control - where we controlled airplanes (both American and Vietnamese) many times while undergoing rocket attacks (which tends to focus one’s attention), and calling in help for battle damaged aircraft trying to make it back to home base. At Pleiku, I was on duty controlling aircraft during the famous Christmas Eve raid of Hanoi.

The photos are of my Master Weapons Controller Badge, me at a control scope today at Elmendorf AFB, me as a Controller at Kotzebue in 1964 (check out that mustache!), and a picture I took on Christmas Eve 1972 of my control scope at Pleiku, Vietnam of B52 bombers en route to Hanoi from Thailand - each blip contains three of the big bombers. I'm the only person in the world with that historic photo!

Friday, June 08, 2007


Tonight I was honored to attend Opening Ceremonies for the Alaska 2007 Special Olympics Summer Games at East High in Anchorage. Jim Balamaci was Master of Ceremonies. Mayor Mark Begich, Sen. Lesil McGuire, and Knights of Columbus State Deputy Louie Banderola made keynote remarks.

Over 300 Alaska athletes with intellectual disabilities will compete, representing the communities of Anchorage, Central Peninsula, Homer, Juneau, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Mat-Su Valley, Seward, and Tanana Valley (Fairbanks), and Valdez. The Special Olympics Motto is “Let me win but if I can not win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Five Alaska athletes and one coach are part of Team USA and will travel in October to Shanghai, China to participate in the Special Olympics World Games; if possible, I’ll attend.

To be eligible to participate in Special Olympics, one must have one of the following conditions: intellectual disabilities, cognitive delays as measured by formal assessment, or significant learning or vocational problems due to cognitive delay that require or have required specially designed instruction. I can’t think of anything more inspiring than watching Special Olympic athletes compete, with their focus on ability, not disability. To me, Special Olympics are another dimension of what it means to be “Pro-Life.”

The photo shows the “Torch Run” arriving on the East High stage, led by Anchorage Police Lieutenant Paul Honneman.


Marlene and I got home to Alaska from our sojourn to Washington DC and Indiana at 2:00AM, but I didn't miss the construction job trainee graduation noon celebration at the ball fields at O'Malley and Old Seward. The young men (pictured above) successfully completed training that will help them enter the construction trades, including forklift certification, and were awarded graduation certificates.

If we are going to "Hire Alaskan" for the gas pipeline, we're going to have to intensify vocational training - something that has been sorely lacking. The program these young folks completed is a joint effort of the Anchorage School District, construction companies, and the State of Alaska. Rick Rios, the school district Career & Vocational Education Coordinator commented to the graduates that without qualified construction people, there would be no houses, buildings, roads, bridges, pipelines, or little else - and that someone has to know how to construct things properly, if we are to live in a civilized nation.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


En route home to Alaska from Washington DC, we visited with our daughter and son-in-law Marla and Lance Wainscott, and our seven Wainscott grandchildren: Hunter, Elisha, River, Enoch, Titus, Hosanna, Boaz. Marla is a home schooler, and Lance runs Wainscott Family Pottery. They live in the country, outside Rossville, Indiana near Lafayette. Marla uses the St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton curriculum and does an outstanding home school teaching job (I’m a retired public school teacher – I know good education when I see it).

The photos show all of us outside their home (except me - I’m taking the picture!), sharing lunch, and shooting BB guns at left-over pottery pieces. It was a very relaxing visit.

Friday, June 01, 2007


Marlene and I were honored this evening to attend the induction of our granddaughter Regina Morriss into the Junior Honor Society at the Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School in Silver Springs, Maryland. We also got to visit with our grandson Nathan Morriss, who is on the University of Maryland Police Department.

I was in Washington DC on political business. Marlene and stayed with our daughter and son-in-law Robyn and Rob Morriss in Silver Springs. Robyn is Vice-President of the Reinsurance Association of America in downtown DC. The photo shows Regina receiving her Honor Society certificate, and Regina with her proud parents and grandparents.

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