Thumbs up thumbs down

Posted: Sunday, May 16, 2004

Thumbs up to Gov. Frank Murkowski for not calling a special legislative session and for leaving that matter to the state lawmakers who dragged their feet for the past four months and have so little to show for it.

Murkowski is smart to not force the issue of a special session in which both houses of the Alaska Legislature could, in effect, sit on their hands if they chose to do so. Now the onus is on our state senators and representatives to solve the state's most pressing issue, a hefty budget deficit, and that's as it should be. Lawmakers should have worked harder with the governor to solve the budget puzzle during the regular session but didn't get it done.

Murkowski also did the right thing in not vetoing the $82 million in increased education funding approved by the Legislature during the regular session. The governor had threatened to veto the additional educational money, but doing so would have been counterproductive and would have been seen as a purely partisan political maneuver. Murkowski took the high road on this issue as well he should have.

Thumbs down to state Democratic lawmakers, their leadership in particular, for not attending Murkowski's press conference last week in which he announced his decision to not call a special legislative session.

Yes, there was some political posturing on Murkowski's part in hosting the press conference, but more than one Democratic leader (House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz of Anchorage) should have shown enough interest to at least be there. That's especially true in light of some Democrats saying they're ready for a special session any time the governor's ready. If that's the case, why not join Murkowski at the podium and say, "OK, Guv, let's get ready to rumble!?"

And thumbs up, surprisingly enough, to Gov. Murkowski and the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) for being on the same page in the playbook in urging cruise lines to serve wild Alaska salmon on their ships. Who'd have thunk it?

SEACC has thrown its back into this issue and is promoting one of Southeast's core industries and the many Alaskans who derive their livelihood from salmon fishing.

Last week more than 1,000 people, including Murkowski, several Alaska legislators, commercial fishermen and representatives of industry organizations signed a letter of endorsement urging cruise lines to serve their passengers the real deal, wild salmon, from Alaska's pristine waters.

The governor and SEACC haven't always seen eye-to-eye on environmental and economic development issues, but in this case it's good to see that the two could work together for a cause that will benefit Alaska's commercial fishermen, the cruise lines and their passengers.

And, finally, a big thumbs-up to J-1, the giant, aging Pacific octopus who, at the end of his natural life cycle, has found true love in a younger suitor. And who says love ain't grand?

Aquarists at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward introduced the 5-year-old J-1, an old man in octopus years, to the much younger Aurora last week and the two hit it off immediately. That's great news for both denizens of the deep, for aquarium officials didn't think the old man had it in him. Now, however, the aquarium is making plans for little J-1's to join the fold soon. Young or old, you gotta love this story. This is the undersea equivalent of George Burns hotly pursuing J-Lo and with success. And now it could be that Aurora will produce anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 eggs which, when hatched, will look like little squid.

Attaboy, J-1, for doing your part to propagate your underwater world. You 'da man.



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