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Thursday, July 24, 2003

"The Murkowski pledge to get tough on crime sounded like music to my ears during the campaign."

Cutting VPSOs not tough on crime


(Published: July 24, 2003)
Anchorage Daily News

During his campaign, Gov. Frank Murkowski promised to "get tough" on crime. Unfortunately, the Murkowski administration's actions do not back up the "get tough" rhetoric.
Recently the governor wielded his veto pen to cut 15 Village Public Safety Officer positions from the budget. VPSOs are first responders to crime in Bush Alaska. Now, instead of waiting minutes for a local law enforcement officer to respond to an emergency, rural communities affected by the cuts will wait hours or even days for a state trooper to arrive by airplane.
Rural Alaska has long been plagued by high crime rates and slow police response times. One study found that 57 percent of the emergency requests from Alaska Native communities in rural areas were not answered within 24 hours of the incident.
Twenty-four hours is a lifetime in an emergency. Indeed, we know from the Godfrey tragedy that 45 minutes is an unacceptably long time to wait for a police response to a violent crime. The study's conclusion was that residents of Alaska Native villages have the distinction of receiving the slowest police response times in the entire United States.
Combine the decrease in public safety officers with the Bush's historically high rates of homicide and rape and the outcome is not difficult to predict: In the years to come there will be more crime, more victims and fewer criminals held accountable.
The Murkowski cuts to VPSOs are especially problematic, as they fall on the heels of recent legislative efforts to beef up the program, efforts that candidate Murkowski pledged to support. Two years ago the Legislature, recognizing the need for more local law enforcement, expanded VPSO responsibilities to include probation and parole monitoring duties.
The idea was to allow offenders to return home and reintegrate within their communities once their prison sentences had ended instead of having to stay near a state parole office in less familiar surroundings. Cutting these positions means that probationers and parolees from these 15 communities will not be able to reintegrate with their communities as readily.
The same bill, which passed both the House and Senate with only a single "no" vote, increased VPSO salaries and added some modest retirement benefits. As the Legislature recognized, VPSOs are a cost-effective front-line force for public safety.
In a speech covering public safety issues made Aug. 7, 2002, at the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, candidate Murkowski delivered this pledge:
"We need to evaluate and improve our delivery of police protection and justice to our Bush communities. There should be no compromise when it comes to public safety in those communities." Gov. Murkowski didn't just compromise; he surrendered outright in the 15 villages that no longer have a VPSO as a result of his cuts.
My own background tells me that reducing the number of VPSOs is an ill-considered idea. I was a state prosecutor from 1996 to 2002. I was in and out of court on a daily basis. Though I spent most of my career in Anchorage, I also helped out in Bethel, Dillingham and St. Paul.
Those communities have had their share of difficulties in attracting and retaining qualified police officers. The best officers were the ones who took the time to understand something about the people and the place they served. The VPSO program was founded on that simple idea: Use local knowledge and familiarity to your advantage in fighting crime.
The Murkowski pledge to get tough on crime sounded like music to my ears during the campaign. But the music stopped when the budget ax fell. Common sense says that you can't cut the number of law enforcement officers and get tough on crime at the same time.
When the legislative session begins next January, I will file legislation to restore these lost positions. Many of the legislators who voted to increase the program in 2001 are still serving. I hope that their commitment to public safety is as strong now as it was then.

Hollis French, a Democrat, represents West Anchorage and Spenard in the Alaska State Senate.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Feline hygeine problems? Ask Ray!

Any advice on cat vomit? I live with two great cats. One cat vomits every once in a while, about every week or so. The vomit consists of any combination of food, saliva, plants, colored liquid (bile?), hairballs. The vet says she's healthy, and to use the hairball control food. We've used that food for years now, we tried that grass to chew on (she eats it, sometimes throws it up), chicken-flavored hairball-control paste stuff. The other cat never vomits; but he gets way curious and close-up-sniffy when she's heaving. She has to continually move to maintain her personal space, so the vomit ends up all around sometimes. It's sort of funny. I don't mind the vomiting b/c it hardly ever leaves a stain anywhere. I just want this cat to be comfortable. Thanks for your time, Ray.
K in PA

Dear K.,

Yeah, man, that don’t sound like too cool of a scene if you ask me. A vomiting cat being chased by kind of a “refluxophile” cat. I’m not gonna do the obvious thing and just go on talkin’ about bulimia, ‘cause that’s a cop out. But seriously, have you checked your liquor cabinet? It’s no trouble for a cat to open a bottle, and if your cat is a pretty bad binge drinker then yeah she’ll urp pretty often. Especially if she is smokin’ weed and stuff. Did you leave your weed out? I don’t know that you did, but it is one idea which came to mind. (more)

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Ashcroft in Anchorage: USA PATRIOT Act "misconstrued." Yeah, General, Whatever. The Florida vote count was "misconstrued," too.

U.S. Attorney General Ashcroft defends Patriot Act

By RACHEL D'ORO, Associated Press Writer

ANCHORAGE (July 21, 5:50 p.m. ADT) - U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft defended the USA Patriot Act during a visit to Anchorage Monday, while dozens of demonstrators outside waved signs criticizing the anti-terrorism law and Ashcroft.

The Patriot Act has been "misconstrued," said Ashcroft, a former Republican senator and governor from Missouri who became attorney general in 2001. The act consolidates other laws long on the books that deal with drug dealers and other suspects of serious crimes, he said.

The law, passed by Congress shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks, broadens government powers of surveillance and investigative methods.

"It's simply a way of extending a robust set of tools available in other settings to fight terrorism," Ashcroft said at a press conference at the Captain Cook Hotel.

Ashcroft was in Alaska to meet with members of the state's anti-terrorist task force and U.S. Attorney Timothy Burgess as part of his swing through Western states. Next stop was Seattle. Ashcroft has met with 40 of the 93 task forces set up nationwide since the terrorist attacks.

The nation is currently at a low terrorism alert level. The only recent development in Alaska has been the appearance of a Coast Guard boat at the Port of Anchorage earlier this month. Rear Adm. James Underwood, commander of the 17th Coast Guard District, said the boat's presence is in response to the general threat of terrorism, not to any specific event.

Ashcroft praised cooperation by law enforcement and justice officials in the fight against terrorism.

He listed efforts that have led to the death or capture of more than half the al-Qaida leadership worldwide. In the United States, hundreds of suspected terrorists have been identified and tracked and many have been arrested and detained as potential terrorist threats.

Protecting American soil would be difficult, if not impossible, without the Patriot Act, Ashcroft said.

"Using these tools secures the liberty of our citizens," he said. "Using these tools can save innocent lives."

Ashcroft's comments came on the same day the Justice Department said 34 credible claims were filed among more than 1,000 complaints stemming from anti-terrorism efforts under oversight provisions of the Patriot Act.(more)

Monday, July 21, 2003

Countdown to CHEAP TRICK

'Elo Kiddies! Tommorrow the Trickster's new website goes live, along with sales of their new album SPECIAL ONE. The title is a reference to their early popularity in Japan.'Looking for a preview? Go to and listen to Scent Of A Woman and My Obsession. I am wearing out my Windows Media Player for OS X playing Scent Of A Woman over and over again. It's GREAT.

Here's a recent report on a Trick gig:
Cheap Trick Live in Las Vegas

By Tokemaster General, Contributor
Tuesday, May 27, 2003 @ 4:33 PM

Cheap Trick Live at the House of Blues @ Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, NV on May 2nd, 2003

REVIEW BY: No Baloney Homosapien
Doors were opened at 5pm and around 6pm was when Magnify (the rock band that's formerly known as The Szuters) warmed up the eager crowds at the Guitarmageddon 2003 Grand Finals presented by Guitar Center. About a half dozen unsigned guitarists shredded away for judges of the Guitarmageddon event.

"We are the one, the only, Cheap Trick. Accept no substitutes!" ...finally the main headliner, Cheap Trick took to the stage at 9:15pm on Friday night (May 2nd) at the House Of Blues located inside of Mandalay Bay Casino on The Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada.

They played many popular & classic hits as well as a few numbers from Special One, (their newest album which is due to be released on July 8th.)

House Of Blues can hold a capacity of 500 people upstairs and 1300 downstairs, and the place seemed pretty full. Tickets for this concert went on sale during April Fool's Day and only cost $20.00 general admission (downstairs) and $30.00 for reserved seating (upstairs).

The group appeared to be in good spirits, interacting heavily with the crowd & each other. Band consisted of original members: Robin Zander (vocals & guitar) / Bun E. Carlos (drums) / Tom Petersson (bass & vocals) / Rick Nielsen (lead guitars).

Songs performed on this evening include: Hello There / Big Eyes / If You Want My Love / Wrong All Along / I Know What I Want / I Want You To Want Me / Best Friend / Never Had A Lot To Lose / Words / Downed / Tonight It's You / Heaven Tonight / Ain't That A Shame / Surrender

Tom Petersson sang "I Know What I Want (And I Know How To Get It)" and Rick Nielsen even played a five-neck during "Surrender." The band played an unusually fast version of "I Want You To Want Me" and also offered a couple of new numbers from the upcoming album, featuring "Best Friend" and a ballad "Words."

Despite the sound being a bit distorted, it seemed as if a really good time was had by all!

kobe link dead...too bad anyways

Sunday, July 20, 2003

As if we're interested

Would someone PLEASE reassure me that the social and financial elites serve a productive purpose?

This NYT article is one of the most disgusting things I have read in a long time.

At Bailey's Beach, the Ruling Class


The names drift through the air like fragments from a Social Register Genesis, not excluding the begats. Everyone is somehow connected to someone, Cushings to Ameses to Cuttings, and Slocums to Drexels to Wetmores and Browns. At a certain level of a certain segment of society, the one Gore Vidal calls America's ruling class, any conversation is destined at some point to become a narrative of tribal history. This is rarely more clear than on the buffet line for dinner here at Bailey's Beach on a summer Sunday night.

Bailey's Beach is the democratic-seeming name given to a rumpled but exclusive club located at the apex of the social order in this city of 27,000, long considered the queen of American resorts. The official name of the place is the Spouting Rock Beach Association, named for a geological formation, and membership in it tends to define summer life here in ways that are sometimes difficult to comprehend, even for insiders.

"People kill to belong to the beach," said Beth Pyle, whose twin sister, she added, has never quite made it into the club. "It has really driven some people crazy when they don't get in."

The beach itself is a crescent of coarse gray sand off Ocean Drive at the terminus of the famous Cliff Walk, the shoreside path skirting the opulent chateaus erected by men known in their day as tinplate or railroad or tobacco magnates. Of the Vanderbilts and Astors, whose marble and limestone palaces along Bellevue Avenue remain the city's largest tourist attraction, there is not locally "one living, breathing member left," said Eileen Slocum, a Republican Party stalwart and Newport's octogenarian doyenne. But this is not to suggest that their class is defunct. As tourists queue up along Bellevue Avenue every day awaiting admission to Gilded Age palaces turned museums, like the Breakers or the Elms, they are not likely to have much inkling that, behind the nearby hedges, there remains intact a world of emerald-barnacled dinosaurs attended by uniformed retainers and underwritten by ironclad fiduciary trusts. There are people still living in Newport who have not only never held jobs, but "literally never met people outside their class who didn't work for them," said Ennals Berl, whose family owns Seaweed, a 19th-century "cottage" overlooking Bailey's Beach. (more)