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In our first installment we introduced game and how it is played. Now we will introduce you to the players involved and how they might affect the "game."
Frank Murkowski, newly elected head player: He may represent some hope to the pawns. I say this as he ran on the following platform: (1) he will build new roads. This indicates that he may find money to maintain the ones we already have. Otherwise what's the point in building new ones; (2) he will revive the Alaska "can do" spirit - perhaps one of the things they "can do" is plow the roads; (3) wants to improve the Alaska economy, which will be helped if the pawns are allowed to get out of their houses to shop and work this winter; and (4) perhaps most importantly, can appoint all new players for the DOT team.
Kim Elton, current senator, not much help here I am afraid: (1) lives on state road (Lena) that will be maintained so he doesn't have a sign (game piece) to look at every night he drives home; (2) in the minority so he doesn't have much influence in picking new DOT players; (3) environmental friends like snow left in natural state on all highways (except ones they drive on); but, new power players could put his road on the "No Maintenance" list which might spur some action.
Bruce Weyhrauch, new player - hard to tell where he will go: (1) most unmaintained roads in his district could cause problems if it snows during next election and pawns can't get out to vote; (b) lawyer, could help economy and drum up some off-session business representing pawns in negligence suits against DOT; (3) could have some influence with head player in naming new DOT players.
Beth Kerttula, in office when game started, but could be a wild card: (1) not many neglected roads in her district; (2) good people skills, seems interested in the community as a whole; (3) lawyer whose specialty is gas and oil, knows if pawns can get out on the road and drive their cars this will help economy; (d) husband is Finance chair for the "Great Equalizer" (CBJ Assembly) who could get nervous if pawns stage tax revolt and elect not to pay portion of property tax dedicated to road maintenance, or if the pawns ask for large reductions in assessments due to lack of maintenance, which decreases property value.
DOT bureaucrats, no help here whatsoever: (1) most do not realize that their primary function is to help and provide service to the pawns; (2) left Channel Drive on maintenance list even though no one lives there (of course it is main road they travel on to get to work; (3) our hope is that many of them will be replaced by head player.
The pawns, not much I can say here: (1) you know who you are, and the state has made sure all of your friends and neighbors know who you are by placing the signs (game pieces) on your roads; (2) state maintenance workers whose wages are reduced and are being laid off so the bureaucrats can stay; (3) those who hope that someone will come to their senses on this issue.
That's it for now. I have done my best to lay out the rules of the game and introduce the players. I hope this will help in the upcoming months as we play the "game." However in doing my extensive research on this project, there was one piece of information I could not obtain. My game piece says "No State Road Maintenance from Nov. 1-May 1," so what do they do on these roads from May 1-Nov. 1? If you have the answer let me know!
In all seriousness, let's hope all of our government officials can work together on this and come up with a satisfactory solution before winter sets in and the "game" gets out of hand. It would be a real tragedy if someone is killed, injured, or suffers financial harm because politics ended up being more important than public safety.
Dean Nordenson lives in Auke Bay and pays taxes.