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).

Sunday, October 21, 2007


The following is a copy of my Letter to the Editor to the Anchorage Daily News E-mailed to the paper today. It's a challenge plus a summary of the remarks I made on the House floor on October 18th (See Oct 18 Blog).
From: Representative Bob Lynn, House District 31

To: Letters to the Editor, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska

Dear Editor:

We’re in Special Legislative Session because the Foundation of Trust between the good people of Alaska, and the folks they elect to public office, has been damaged. If someone thinks we shouldn’t meddle again so soon with oil taxes, blame those indicted or convicted, VECO executives who plead guilty to bribery, and other wrongdoers involved. Legislators in Special Session are the “fix-up crew.”

Step One for repairing the Foundation of Trust started when Alaska elected a governor we could trust. Note: Trust and agreement aren’t always the same

Step Two in repairing trust was passage of HB109, our governor’s ethics bill.

Step Three is our Special Session taking another look at oil taxes and other PPT issues, without taint of bribery, real or perceived. Alaska’s at a turning point economically and politically. Straightforward negotiation can bring about economic results needed both by producers and Alaska’s best interests.

Step Four is a bi-partisan effort to continue improving ethics legislation and eliminating political corruption, without one party seeking political advantage by finger pointing, or pushing an agenda to win next year’s election. I challenge both Democrats and Republicans to make this happen. Alaskans working together must win our battle against corruption - not one party over the other. It’s a privilege to be one small part of the process, on the Republican side of the aisle.


State Representative
Alaska House District 31


Tonight at 8:30 PM, the Alaska House gaveled in for the Special Session. Governor Palin's ACES bill (the revisit to oil taxes and related issues)was read across mthe floor, and assigned to the House Oil and Gas Committee, the Resources Committee, and the Finance Committee. When the "Special Orders" portion of agenda came at the end of the session, I rose to speak on "The Foundation: Steps One, Two, and Three. The following is what I had to say:

"Mr. Speaker,

I don’t want to be here at this Special Session. I doubt that you want to be here, and I could probably say the same for every other legislator in this building, at both ends of the hall. But here we are, like it or not. As we used to say in the military, “We knew the risk when we joined up.”

This Special Session was forced upon us. Not by the governor. Not by you Mr. Speaker, and not by the one of the political parties. This Special Session was forced on us because the Foundation of Trust between the good people of Alaska, and the folks they elect to public office has been seriously damaged.

The damage started with the previous governor’s actions and attitudes, and some in his administration. Then came the searches of several legislators’ offices – none of those legislators are here in the House tonight. Then came the indictments, and the convictions for bribery.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the innocent families of those involved, but dishonor and distrust have been brought to the political process, and that’s reality. In fact, one of the convicted former legislators, in his sentencing memorandum to the court, stated that, and I quote, the “breach of the public trust has undermined confidence in Alaskan government.” Well, I have to agree.

So, if someone thinks this Special Session is too expensive, and thinks we shouldn’t meddle again so soon with oil taxes, don’t blame those of us here tonight. Blame those indicted. Blame those convicted. And blame the VECO executives who have plead guilty to bribery, and blame any other wrongdoer involved – upstream or downstream from VECO.

We’re in Special Session as the “fix-up crew.” We here to continue repairing the damage to the Foundation of Trust brought about by others. And that repair is underway.

Step One for repairing the Foundation of Trust started almost a year ago, when the good people of Alaska elected our new governor – a governor they could trust.

Now let me be clear about that. “Trust” and “agreement” are not necessarily the same. I trust my wife, and she trusts me, but I’m here to tell you we don’t always agree.

And I trust our new governor – but that doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything she does or doesn’t do. Trust doesn’t mean I have to agree with some of her vetoes, or recommended oil taxes, or anything else. In the words of President Reagan, “Trust but verify.” It’s a matter of checks and balances. So rebuilding trust started with election of a new governor.

Step Two in repairing trust was the passage of HB109, the governor’s omnibus ethics bill. Many of us, including both you and me Mr. Speaker, and many others, sponsored our own good ethics legislation, and we had hearings on those bills. But we rolled our individual ethics bills into the governor’s bill so no individual legislator could take credit for improving ethics laws.

In a manner of speaking, the omnibus ethics bill, passed by the legislature and signed into law by the governor, was sponsored by all of our constituents. So, Step Two in repairing the Foundation of Trust was improved ethics legislation, ands that was a very good thing.

This Special Session is Step Three in rebuilding the public trust. We are here to consider ACES – in plain language, oil taxes and other PPT modifications. Once again, this Special Session would not be happening had there not been bribery and corruption.

Now, let me tell you straight up, I support the concept of ACES, and I support the need to revisit oil taxes, and other PPT matters - without the taint of bribery, real or perceived. I should also tell you that, at this point, without the benefit of hearings and debate, and whatever else we may learn during this Special Session, my tax preference is probably between 22% and 25 percent.

Some would tax producers at 30, or 40, or who knows what percent. For some, greed has no limit. But at some point – and that point is debatable - we reach diminishing returns. At some tax rate, oil taxes would amount de facto state ownership of producer profits. Mr. Speaker, this is America. This is Alaska. This is not Venezuela.

The producers are not our enemy. Let me repeat that, the producers are not our enemy. We want to encourage their investments. That’s good business. We want to encourage exploration. That’s good business. The producers have done great things for Alaska, and I expect them to continue to do so. They’re good business people who have an obligation to bring maximum profit to their shareholders. Nothing wrong with that. That’s free enterprise, and I’m in favor of it.

But legislators also report to shareholders. We call our shareholders “Alaskans.” Our legislature has a Constitutional obligation to make sure we utilize Alaska’s natural resources for the maximum benefit of the people. That’s in the Constitution. And that’s also good business.

Alaska is at a turning point, both economically and politically. No doubt about that. Honest and tough negotiation can bring about the results we need – both for business and for Alaska. I’m an optimist. No one should be in the legislature unless they are an optimist!

In summary, Mr. Speaker, we’re here in Special Session to continue repairing the Foundation of Trust between Alaskans, and their elected and appointed officials. We have a new governor, we have much improved ethics legislation, and now we’re taking a needed new look at PPT with the governor’s ACES bill as a guideline. This is a turning point in Alaska history, and it’s a privilege to be one small part of the process."
Amazingly, I was the only person in the House to address "the elephant in the room" i.e. the bribery and corruption scandals vis a vis the Special Session.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


I visited Shanghai on a World Trade Center mission two years ago. On my second visit to Shanghai this month, as part of the Special Olympics Team Alaska delegation, the great city continues to be the same economic and cultural dynamo as before - except more so. Two visits to this vast and complex nation do not an expert make me. Winston Churchill once described the former Soviet Union as “a puzzle wrapped inside an enigma.” He would likely say the same of China. Nonetheless, I know more than before about China.

After my first trip to China in October 2005 I posted a blog entitled “Dancing with a Schizophrenic Dragon” ( I think one of my better Blogs ). I could write the same Blog today. I still maintain that the marriage of hard line communism to extravagant capitalism, is politically and economically schizophrenic. I asked one of the few cab drivers who could speak English about that (cabbies, bartenders, barbers, and kids are experts on everything, and should be running the world). He told me the Communist leaders and politicians are”flexible.” I’ve met a few flexible politicians in Alaska, so I understand that.

Speaking of taxicabs, the rate of traffic accidents in China is, including fatal accidents, is according to US Embassy, among the highest in the world. It’s like the co-mingling of bikes, scooters, pedestrians, and careening cabs is one Chinese variety of population control. It’s amazing religion isn’t burgeoning in China’s cities, as riding in a typical taxicab is truly a “conversion experience.” But I digress.

Whatever, China is a force to be reckoned with. Ancient China was one of the earliest centers of human civilization. Today, with well over 1.3 billion citizens (I think most of them inhabit Shanghai’s highways and byways), China is the world's most populous country – even with it’s outrageous “one child” policy - and the third largest country in the world in terms of territory. India and the United States are second and third most populous. According to John D. Negroponte, US Deputy Secretary of State, “China's rise as a global economic power is one of the major events of our time . . . China's economic strength has come with increased political and diplomatic influence within and beyond the Asia Pacific region.” I agree.

America (and its economy and workers) suffers a glut of “Made in China” merchandise.
Wal*Mart, Starbucks, McDonald, KFC, have invaded China, and are visible all over Shanghai – but these are service industries. What’s surprising to me in China, are the expensive world famous (Gucci, etc.) high-end label stores. Even more surprising are the luxury car dealers, like a Masarett store. Shanghai is surely the last place in the world I’d venture out in the street with a shiny new Masaretti.

Just this week I received this quarter’s Anchorage Economic Development Corporate (AEDC) Newsletter, with news that a business delegation from China has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the Municipality of Anchorage on increasing the export of Alaska seafood to China, as well as promotion of tourism, and direct passenger flights between Anchorage and Beijing. That’s encouraging news. Alaska's location puts it at the crossroads between the East and the West.

Considering its place on the world stage, there’s a paucity of public school education on China, as well as the rest of Asia – especially as it pertains to far eastern history and culture that underlies Asian thought and action. America is a product of the Judeo-Christian culture, also known as western civilization. It’s both critical and essential to national interests, as the intercourse between east and west increases – and it will - that tomorrow’s leaders understand and appreciate the similarities and dissimilarities between the western and eastern worlds. Currently, Chinese youth are far better educated about the United States (not including democratic and religious ideals) and other western nations, than vice versa. Beware. He who is educated has the inherent advantage.

China has inherent problems. One is that China contains at least fifty-five diverse ethic entities or “nationalities” numbering over 105 million people, in addition to the 91% majority Han Chinese. There are huge language differences, not just regional dialects such between Georgia and Massachusetts. There’s also a huge disparity between upscale Chinese urban populations and poor rural populations, both in terms of economics and national assimilation. China must not be an easy place to govern and administer.

Alarmingly, China maintains one of the largest militaries in the world. In 2000, the total estimated personnel strength of the Chinese military is 2.5 million. However, there’s a paucity of hard information on China's military power and plans. However, it’s no secret that China is a nuclear power and, in then long run, could be more dangerous (but perhaps more predictable) than Iran. In the year 2002, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the size of the Chinese nuclear arsenal was about 400 warheads. Moreover, The Bulletin estimated that 20 nuclear-armed missiles are deployed in the intercontinental role, and another 230 nuclear weapons on deployed (or can be deployed) on aircraft, missiles, and submarines. That was seven years ago. I’d bet my housecat China’s nuclear arsenal is much larger in 2007.

Just this week, China launched a lunar probe into space that's expected to beam images of the moon back to planet earth in November. China has already launched astronauts into space, plans on a lunar rover five years from now, and has knocked one of their aged weather satallites out of space with a rocket interceptor (which means they could knock down one of our surveillance satellites, if they choose to do so). According to our National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA), the odds are China will soon put a man back on the moon before the United States repeats its manned moon landings between 1969 and 1972. Ergo, China possess nuclear weapons and has increasing ability to rocket them to anyplace on earth. As an US Air Force retiree with much of my military career in air defense, I'm concerned.

Of especial concern in today’s scary world is China being a key supplier of weapons
technology, particularly missile or chemical technology to folks like Iran, North Korea,
and Pakistan that our State Department say (and I believe) support terrorism.

There’s been longstanding conflict between the People’s Republic of China (Communist Mainland China) and the Republic of China on the Island of Taiwan (Democratic). Each “China” claims the other “China” as their own, and only the narrow Strait of Formosa separates the nations. China has consistently threatened to take military action if Taiwan declares independence from the mainland or indefinitely prolongs the unification process.

It’s disturbing too that China has refused to renounce the use of force against Taiwan. If China ever attempts to invade (not soon likely), or blockade Taiwan’s ports, the United States would find itself in a sticky situation. Would corporate America succumb to potential profits in Communist China’s booming economy, and desert Taiwan? Would Congress and an American president stand by a friend, and get between Taiwan and China’s military multitudes, or what? We have the technology, but China has the manpower – and would have no moral qualms in sacrificing it to achieve its goals.

Any visit to Shanghai is an eye opening experience. It surely was to our Team Alaska Special Olympic athletes. There must be more cops in Shanghai than there are people in Alaska. The Chinese Army is there - but discrete. Churches are “safeguarded” as “protected monuments,” and freedom of the press and freedom communication is not ready for prime time (an understatement). Construction is booming. There must be a contest between architects on who can build the most bizarre skyscrapers. The people are warm and friendly - not just the hotel people who cater to well heeled tourists – but also common folks just walking down the street. All the young people are jabbering on cell phones that seem to be permanently attached to their ears. One interesting thing is that most models appearing on billboards seem to be Caucasian. Major shopping areas, such as Nanjing Pedestrian Road, are lit up like Las Vegas on steroids. As an avid amateur photographer, there’s a picture everyplace I turned camera (but one has to be careful what one photographs; in fact, one Special Olympian (not from Alaska) got hauled down to a police station for taking a photo of the wrong thing at the wrong time. Shanghai is exciting, China is amazing (both the good and the bad), and I hope to return.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


What an honor and priviledge to help support our Special Olympics TeamAlaska during the 2007 World Summer Olympics in China!

It was a long and exhausting trip to Shanghai, China: 17 hours 16 minutes in flying “sardine cans” called airplanes, five hours navigating airports and standing in lines, plus 2 hours 30 minutes going to and from airports (likely the most hazardous part of the trip). When we arrived in China, it was still yesterday in Anchorage. But complain I do not. Observing our Alaska contingent of the Special Olympic Team USA perform at the 2007 World Special Olympics was both inspiring and an honor. 7,200 athletes from 165 nations competed, including TeamUSA and TeamAlaska. The games were a major media event, with more than 1,400 media outlets from 120 nations dispatching their reporters to Shanghai. All of this occurred during China’s “National Day” holiday in which more than 4.6 million visited Shanghai (we were somewhere among them).

Special Olympics provide people with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to compete on an equal level and to display their talents and abilities, no matter what their race, age, or limits of their own bodies. Eighty thousand enthusiastic folks packed the humongous Shanghai Stadium to view the Opening Ceremony (and when the ceremony concluded, all 80,000 left at the same time - which didn’t help in capturing a taxi).

Our TeamAlaska contingent of TeamUSA made our nation and state proud.

Alaska power lifter Bobby Hill earned four second place medals in the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai. Hill resides in Eagle River. Hill’s best results for each event include: bench press-92.5 kg, dead lift-140.00 kg, and squat lift-142.5 kg. For pound equivalent, multiply by 2.2.Swimmer Jeremy Hartman, Wasilla, earned a gold medal in the 4x25 meter freestyle relay. Fellow Alaskan Melanie Flowers won two third place medals in swimming. Alaska

Swimmer Melanie Flowers from the MatSu won two third places, and a fourth.
Whitney Davis, a Special Olympics runner from Juneau, captured a second place, and two fourth places.

At the Shanghai Natatorium, where the swimming competitions took place, I got to present the Alaska Special Olympic pin to Iceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson and shake his hand - my second presidential handshake )the first presidential was George W. Bush in 2003 at the White House).

Fifteen Alaskans attended Special Olympics World Summer Games Opening Ceremonies to support our Alaska contingent of TeamUSA, including Special Olympics Chairman Craig Gales (VP Alaska Waste Management); Chairman-Elect Ken Privratsky (Senior Vice-President Horizon Lines, and Major General US Army Retired) and his wife Kathy, a long-time volunteer working in the Healthy Athletes program; Chief Executive Officer Jim Balamaci, Vice-President Nicolle Egan, Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan and his wife Terri (Monegan was in China in support of law enforcement official Terry Vrabec, a runner in the final leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run), Speaker of the House John Harris; and myself.

Chinese President Hu Jintao, who could pass for an up-and-coming young American politician, left little doubt that he was thoroughly behind the concept of the dignity of disabled people. He not only attended the games and spoke to the crowd, but also got “in-among-them” with the athletes and gave all appearances of being sincere in his support of the disabled. I found that very very encouraging, given Communist China’s long time record of - shall we say - “opposite” human rights behavior. Hopefully, it wasn’t for all for show. Hopefully, China is moving toward a broad range better human rights behavior.

The Closing Ceremony, was as extravagant as the Opening Ceremony. Some 5800 performed at each ceremony. I’ve never seen firework pyrotechnics anywhere to match what I saw in China – but then China invented fireworks!

Congratulations to all the Special Olympians over the world, and especially to Special Olympics Team Alaska!
Note: The top photo is a view from the Puxi side of Shanghai, across the river to Pudong and the Pearl Tower, the next photo shows me admiring power lifter athlete Jeremy Hill's medals, below that is a a photo of some of our Alaska supporters and athelete Jeremy Hartman at the Pudong Natorium site of the swimming competitons, and the lower photo is a view of the massive Shanghai Stadium.

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