My Turn: An Alaskan who won't get relief

Posted: Friday, August 29, 2008

I have an Alaska driver's license and a Progressive Direct car insurance policy based on my downtown Juneau apartment address.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska covers my health insurance while I live here, at an 80/20 split after the $1,500 deductible. I've used it only once so far, for some X-rays on my big toe at the Southeast Foot and Ankle Clinic.

The toe hurts most when I push on the pedal of my blue mini-van with yellow Alaska license plate while driving on the road - mostly the same 8 mile stretch to get to work, my son's daycare, and the Fred Meyer, Wal-Mart, Costco triumvirate. I've driven more than 8,300 miles, up and back, up and back, since I moved here.

I've paid a total of $18,590 in rent, $7,800 in daycare costs and no cost in state taxes.

I like Mount Roberts. I've hiked it almost 50 times, usually with my son, although we rarely walk past the tram.

My favorite Alaskan Brewing Co. beer is IPA, then Winter Ale.

I've never been to Anchorage or Wasilla, so maybe this makes me less Alaskan. However, I know exactly where the Mattress Ranch stores are located in each of those places. Cal Worthington seems like a family friend too - I see him on TV so often.

I've eaten seal oil, salmon roe, Filipino food, and one pizza from Bullwinkle's.

On Facebook, I have seven Alaska friends and 32 photos of Alaska in an online album. One is of Gov. Sarah Palin from the 4th of July parade in Juneau.

Last year, I taught at Yakoosge Daakahidi Alternative High School. According to Rate My Teachers online, my performance was scored a 4.3 out of 5 overall based on the opinions of the two students who posted.

A quote: "A good man, trying to fit into a place where the students don't care, well most don't, there are a believing few." I'd like to think that this describes my approach to being a citizen of Alaska as well.

My statistics for the Foodland Hammerin' Ales softball team this season: games, 4; home runs, 4; innings pitched, 7; and ERA, 27.00.

Stints on the designated list: 1 (hamstring).

I've had my photo in the Capital City Weekly and the Juneau Empire. I've spoken on the radio with Pete Carran at KINY and Jeff Brown at KTOO. I made a speech to the Downtown Rotary once, and have eaten a pineapple ham, mashed potato, and dinner roll lunch at a Chamber of Commerce meeting at the Moose Lodge.

I am a bit of a nuisance for Alaskans though, because of my cell phone contract. I still have a Maryland phone number.

In the past year, I've attended two conferences in the lower 48 states as a representative of Juneau. At the Community Leadership Association's conference I explained repeatedly about the loss of hydroelectric power in our city. There, and at the Washington State Coalition for the Homeless conference, I was repeatedly approached with "Oh, so you are the Alaskan."

Recently though, I'm a bit of a conversation killer. When Alaskans discuss how they are going to spend their energy relief funds, then turn to me, the situation becomes awkward. It is no fun discussing your purchases; home heating oil, airline tickets, or whatever, in front of someone who wasn't invited to the party, or isn't considered equal, or isn't yet an Alaskan.

Do I tell my parents to stop referring to our family as "the Alaskans" when we call them on Sunday nights?

The decision to add energy relief funds to the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend checks is not illegal, but it is discriminatory. It is a politically immature decision too, to discriminate against a group of people that the state of Alaska desperately needs to recruit and maintain. Perhaps by the time more assistance is handed out to all Alaskans, I'll be considered one. Or maybe not.

• Scott Ciambor is a Juneau resident.



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