Opinion / Publisher's Column


Sorted by date  Results 1 - 25 of 136

  • Presidential election campaign painfully long

    Larry Persily Publisher|Jun 12, 2024

    There is nothing longer in America than a presidential election campaign. And that is not a good thing. A long vacation is enjoyable. Long summers are a treat. Reuniting with long-lost friends is special. But long campaigns are becoming indescribably painful. Just think of an Excedrin headache that lasts all year for more than 240 million eligible voters. It could be like the supply-chain shortages of the pandemic, with people clearing out store shelves and grabbing for the last bottle of headache medicine. Still not convinced how miserable...

  • Sentinel will be free online for a month

    Larry Persily Publisher|Jun 5, 2024

    The expression, the best things in life are free, applies to fresh air, the view out the window and a positive attitude. For the next five weeks, it will also apply to the Wrangell Sentinel. Starting this week, the Sentinel has turned off the paywall to its website. Anyone with a keyboard, a mouse, a smartphone, a swiping finger or a voice-activated personal assistant will be able to go to wrangellsentinel.com and read all the news they want. Normally, the online edition of the Sentinel is available only to people who buy a subscription. As old...

  • Ironing out all the answers in life

    Larry Persily Publisher|May 29, 2024

    A longtime friend who is just a couple of years younger than me called recently to ask some advice. I’m always flattered when someone seeks my opinion. It makes me feel wise and useful, which is more uplifting than my usual specialties of old and opinionated. But rather than some in-depth inquiry into public policy, finances, taxes, politics or journalism, his question made me feel nostalgic, like remembering my younger life of scrubbing whitewall tires, the low-cost joy of replacing a simple key before expensive programmable fobs took over the...

  • Everyone helps pay the real cost of low prices

    Larry Persily Publisher|May 22, 2024

    National news stories last week reported that a survey of almost 1,500 Amazon employees across 42 states found that one in three need government assistance, primarily food stamps or Medicaid. The news matches a Government Accountability Office analysis in 2020 that covered nine states and found that Amazon — and Walmart, too — were among the biggest employers of workers whose earnings were low enough that they qualified for food stamps. That Amazon and Walmart would be near the top is no surprise: Walmart is the largest private-sector emp...

  • Imitation is not flattering, it's embarrassing

    Larry Persily Publisher|May 15, 2024

    The Republican-controlled Alaska House of Representatives last Saturday did their best impersonation ever of the U.S. House, spending all day on legislation that will never make it into law. It was the same kind of political circus that the nation has endured the past couple of years after a skinny margin of Republicans took control of the U.S. House, beholden to a small group who spend more time on social media than doing their schoolwork. Too bad teachers cannot take away their phones. Rather than focus on bipartisan legislation that could he...

  • Alaska might as well embrace the past

    Larry Persily Publisher|May 8, 2024

    One proposal to solve the impending energy shortage for Alaska’s population centers is to go back in time. To the 1970s, when coal was king in the U.S. The governor, legislators, municipal officials and business leaders are worried that the Railbelt — the population corridor stretching south from Fairbanks, through the Matanuska Valley and Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula — will run short of natural gas before the end of the decade. The region has lived off the nearby underground warehouse of natural gas from the Kenai Peninsula and Cook Inlet...

  • No sense wasting time, except for politics

    Larry Persily Publisher|May 1, 2024

    The state House needed an auctioneer last week. Instead, it wasted three hours in a meaningless bidding war as the Republican-led majority told Alaskans they cared far more than anyone else about supporting education and ensuring state-funded alternatives for correspondence school students and their families. That meant they didn’t want to move too quickly to fix the constitutional problem of state money going to private and religious school programs. Let the millions continue to flow and wait for the Alaska Supreme Court to hear the appeal o...

  • No need to amend the Alaska Constitution

    Larry Persily Publisher|Apr 24, 2024

    Less than two years ago, Alaskans voted overwhelmingly against convening a constitutional convention to amend the state’s founding document. More than 70% of voters said no thanks, it’s a bad idea. It was the sixth time in a row, going back to 1972, that voters by wide margins rejected the whimsy of shaking up the constitution as you would a game of Etch A Sketch and redrawing the fundamental laws of Alaska. While they oppose reopening the constitution to a potential wholesale rewrite, Alaskans have approved multiple specific amendments ove...

  • Time to let younger people take the lead

    Larry Persily Publisher|Apr 17, 2024

    Neither President Joe Biden, 81, nor former President Donald Trump, 77, is necessarily too old to be president. Their biggest flaws are not their ages, it’s that they are blocking and discouraging younger people from getting a chance to lead the country. It’s because the two nominees are so certain that they are best suited for the job of leading the country and that they, more than anyone else, are best able to manage a nation of 335 million people. They seem to think that younger leaders are not as capable as they are. Their ego tells the...

  • Alaska high schoolers are right to speak up

    Larry Persily Publisher|Apr 10, 2024

    Who better to talk about education in Alaska than students. They could continue leaving it to school administrators, elected officials, their parents and teachers to speak for them, but that would be the easy way out. It’s also been unsuccessful. Looking to break that losing streak with the governor and state legislators unwilling to adequately fund education, hundreds of high schoolers around the state last week showed they are frustrated at the outcome. From Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau, in Anchorage, Eagle River, Homer, Bethel and Utqiaġvik, st...

  • Stop serving up PFD as a sugary dessert

    Larry Persily Publisher|Apr 3, 2024

    Alaska faces a seriously long list of long-term serious problems. Our population is aging, people are not moving here fast enough to replace those who leave, too many employers lack enough workers to fully staff their operations, and the state’s finances are as stable as oil prices — which is to say not. State funding for K-12 education is frozen in time from the past decade. We maintain our deteriorating public buildings about as well as a teenager cleans their room. And we seem in a contest to see which is in shorter supply in our com...

  • Tax credits no substitute for state responsibility

    Larry Persily Publisher|Mar 27, 2024

    Tax credits have long been popular, growing more so every year. Supporters push them to provide government backing for new initiatives or ongoing programs, steering money to worthy causes — some unworthy ones, too — bypassing actual appropriations by federal, state or municipal lawmakers. With a tax credit, businesses or individuals can make donations to a program or invest in a project, such as housing, and reduce their taxes to the federal, state or municipal treasury. Tax credits divert private money that otherwise would become public mon...

  • It's always been free, now it's free to see

    Larry Persily Publisher|Mar 20, 2024

    The Sentinel has never charged for listings in the community calendar, which has been displayed on Page 2 for years. Easy enough for print subscribers to open the paper and see what’s happening in town, whether public meetings, fundraisers, youth activities, multiple Parks and Recreation activities, movies and more. But it did not dawn on me until last week that anyone wanting to read the calendar online needed a subscription. My apologies for never thinking about that. It’s another reminder that my 72-year-old head still thinks of new...

  • Russia's loss could be Alaska's financial gain

    Larry Persily Publisher|Mar 13, 2024

    Even in winter, there are hot opportunities. And since the state’s prospects for economic well-being are in short supply these days — like being short of buyers for Alaska salmon, running short of energy for Southcentral residents and businesses, and falling woefully short of funding for public schools — the state needs to seize whatever unexpected opportunities arise. Alaskans have long prided themselves on ingenuity, making something anew from the discard piles left behind by others. In this case, there are six ice-class liquefied natur...

  • Alaska needs to control its PFD politics

    Larry Persily Publisher|Mar 6, 2024

    It was a perplexing week in the Legislature. While the Senate Finance Committee was reviewing honest numbers about real budget needs hitting up against the limit of available state revenues, the House was debating whether the exalted Permanent Fund dividend belongs in the Alaska Constitution, putting the PFD above all else in life. The Senate committee last week was doing the math, realizing the state would not have enough money for a fat dividend this year, no matter what the governor and too many legislators may pledge, promise and promote....

  • Make all schools better, not just some

    Larry Persily Publisher|Feb 28, 2024

    The governor’s growing obsession with charter schools is frightening for the future of public education in Alaska. He talks as if charter schools are by far the best answer to the state’s low student test scores. He has told Alaskans he would not support an increase in state funding for public schools unless the Legislature also backs his proposal to bypass local school boards when parents want to start up a new charter school. At the same time, he resists providing adequate support for public school districts that have not seen any real inc...

  • Too risky for the state

    Larry Persily Publisher|Feb 21, 2024

    The advice for Las Vegas gamblers is don’t bet more than you can afford to lose. It’s generally the same advice for investors: Don’t take more risk than you can afford, even when the riskier bets look like they could pay off the same as 21 at the blackjack table. The six members of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. board of trustees should take this advice to heart. Most every investment is a gamble — company stocks can drop in price, bonds may be worth less if borrowers stop repaying their debts in full, real estate can fall in value, interes...

  • Don't empty the pocket that feeds us

    Larry Persily Publisher|Feb 14, 2024

    Think of the state’s Constitutional Budget Reserve Fund as the rich uncle or rich aunt you can go to when you’re short of cash to pay bills and need a loan. But even that wealthy relative has a bottom to their pocket. Take too much out and that pocket could be empty when you really need it. It’s like that with Alaska’s budget reserve fund, the voter-approved, 34-year-old savings account that was created to hold excess oil and gas revenues for when the state needs readily available cash to balance the budget. The budget reserve provides an infi...

  • Alaska's attorney general working for the wrong state

    Larry Persily Publisher|Feb 7, 2024

    The U.S.-Mexico border is a humanitarian disaster, with U.S. Border Patrol agents taking custody of upwards of 200,000 people a month trying to cross a line in the sand, river, desert shrubs or razor wire in search of a better life. The numbers are staggering — for the burden it imposes on U.S. border cities, on federal agents, and on the immigrants caught up in the political war of a U.S. election year. A bipartisan group of U.S. senators worked hard to find solutions to tighten the border, only to watch as presidential candidate Donald T...

  • Story of Alaska's income tax like a soap opera

    Larry Persily Publisher|Jan 31, 2024

    Just because few to none of Alaska’s elected officials are talking about bringing back the personal income tax is no reason to ignore its anniversary. OK, maybe it’s weird to celebrate your anniversary with an ex, but it’s different with the state income tax. Whereas you’re unlikely to remarry an ex, Alaskans eventually may reunite with the tax. Not willingly, of course. More like a shotgun wedding based on financial necessity. It was 75 years ago this month that the territorial Legislature enacted Alaska’s first personal income tax. It was als...

  • It's smart to try on different work shoes

    Larry Persily Publisher|Jan 24, 2024

    This column has little to do with actual footwear — dress shoes if you have an office job, work boots if you’re a contractor, comfortable shoes if you’re on your feet all day or rubber boots if you work on a fishing boat. It’s about walking in their shoes or, more specifically, walking and working in the shoes of people in other jobs. It’s about elected officials and office bosses who make decisions about the jobs and lives of other people. What better way to make good decisions than to know what your employees deal with on the job, the probl...

  • Trump excels at something - being mean

    Larry Persily Publisher|Jan 17, 2024

    Children are taught not to make fun of others, tease them or be mean. Parents, teachers, counselors, church leaders and community mentors such as Girl Scout and Little League volunteers work hard to explain why it’s hurtful to make fun of someone who is different. Most seem to get the message. But not all. Bullying and shaming continues to be a problem, made worse by social media which treats so many things as a joke or an amusing video, regardless of how it may hurt someone. And rather than set a good example, Donald Trump makes it worse — and...

  • AI is similar to a teenager, but costs more

    Larry Persily Publisher|Jan 10, 2024

    There is at least one big similarity between artificial intelligence and teenagers. They both think they know everything. And now, an AI applications provider is promoting in its marketing material that it is just like a teenager. But first, a bit of the history that underlies my commentary. And, no, AI did not assist in writing this column or augment my memory or provide data scraped from the internet. Though I do enjoy the crispy pieces scraped from a good mac-and-cheese casserole. Several years ago, actually three decades ago, I was dating...

  • We less partisanship, not more

    Larry Persily Publisher|Jan 3, 2024

    Partisan politics itself is not evil. Disruptive, yes. Phony, certainly. Shortsighted, no doubt about it. On its own, partisanship is a childish game played by adults who care more about headlines, fundraising and winning elections than anything else. But in recent years, partisanship has devolved into something much worse than a political shouting match. Stoked by social media, half-truths and everything but the truth, partisanship has grown into a divisive force that threatens the country by threatening our elections. Far too many Americans...

  • PFD the center of governor's budget universe

    Larry Persily Publisher|Dec 20, 2023

    Gov. Mike Dunleavy is starting his sixth year as the state’s top elected leader. Sadly, he’s not providing much fiscal leadership, other than beating the drums for his perpetual political bandwagon that trumpets the Permanent Fund dividend at the front of the parade, with public schools playing second fiddle. It’s off-key and off-base. The governor unveiled his proposed state budget last week, setting out a spending plan for the fiscal year that will start July 1 and which legislators will start working through when they reconvene in Junea...

Page Down