I have a cause!

This week I’ve started to find my rhythm, I’ve attending committee meeting and writing citations and taking the senator’s meeting with ease and stride.  I’ve completed the list of citations, which is huge as the deadline in Monday at 5pm.

This week the Senator made us fresh king salmon and deer meat stew.  YUM!

I attended two marches: one on choose respect and the other on the second verse of the Alaska flag song.  The second verse is significant because it acknowledges Benny Benson, an Athabascan, who designed the Alaska flag.  Quoting Katya Wassillie, “Alaska Natives are as much a part of what represents Alaska and its beauty as the mountains, streams and flowers.”

It’s been a great week to represent and be a part of representing the people of Alaska.  I am thankful for the opportunity.

Spring has sprung!

We here went yet another week of session and the tension is building and the capital budget and department close-out budgets are being heard.   There seems to be a consensus that a lot is riding on the oil and gas bills: HB 110 (the governor’s tax reform) and HB 9 the instate gasline.  The house is in the midst of a war and offices are getting short with each other.  The looming doom is when the house stops passing senate bills and the senate stop passing house bills.  There seems to be a rumor that nothing will pass unless the oil and gas items are taken care of.

There is definitely a bit of tug a war happening as each legislator is pushing for their personal legislation to move through the process.  We had a brainstorming meeting on how to pass the second verse of the Alaska flag song.  They’ve been trying since the 80s.  Also, today the bush caucus is meeting regarding redistricting, coastal zone management, and perhaps expanding the legislature to add a senate and two house seats.  Wow, this could be history in the making.

My world had stayed pretty steady with more citation and constituent meetings.  It’s gold medal week, so our office has a lot of visitors.  This week has also been busy for me personally, because of my daughter’s birthday.  She just turned five on the first day of Spring!  My mom, Claudette, and Ella came over. I made homemade pizza dough, and everyone put toppings on individual pizzas.  For dessert we had flourless chocolate cake and Ella brought agutuk from Kotlik, YUM!

Event”full” week

This week has been more of the same trying to catch-up:  citations, legal research, committee meetings, and file organization.  I completed the newsletter for the office and the Chief of Staff continually says nice things about the work I do.  I feel like there needs to be a balance and have her give me a few tips.  I’ve checked-in with her and she seems to be happy with my performance, so I guess I’ll just stay the course.

A few events of the week to highlight: Unalaska reception with all the crab you can eat; Perseverance play “A raisin in the Sun, about poverty, racism and assimilation; ” Cultural and Education Summit where the kids performed native dances and stood together to say “I like me.”; Women’s Reproductive right Conference Racial equality discussion; and Celebrating women in Alaskan politics with Arlis Strugeluski, Fran Ulmer and others.  It’s amazing what they can pack into one week.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Some reflections of the week:  I’ve found “the more I learn, the less I know;” cliché, yes, but true nonetheless.  I realize I may put more emphasis than needed on tasks I am assigned.  I’ve found it necessary to be patience with others as they are working on items ready to make a difference for women, children, health, safety and I am here to learn.  Perhaps one day, I’ll be the one making a difference for these and other groups.  I’m thankful for each opportunity.


This week has been eventful, after an amazing weekend with Allison Warden as guest in my home.  She came to Juneau to perform for the Women of Distinction.  She was a big hit and so were all the Distinct Women; amazing women with big hearts leaving trails of healing and rejuvenation in their paths.  I have the honor of serving on the AWARE board and have learned a great deal about the wonderful women in this community and state and the strength they have and share.

The beginning of the week was busy with a few meetings and brainstorming sessions.  It’s frustrating sometimes to begin great discussion only have to end it when solutions start to bubble to the surface due to time constraints.  A 90-day session I starting to find is debilitating, obviously workable and doable, but perhaps not ideal.  John Lamont, from the Lower Yukon School district, met with us and we made to time to discuss education, environment, suicide, alcohol, psychology, transportation and many topics that are needed to create a successful learning environment.  It was fascinating; we were all on fire for education and rural Alaska. It is so great to be surrounded by such like-minded people.  This is the first time I have felt like I belonged, that I fit in.  I have always lived in two worlds, never feeling like I belonged in either one.  My two worlds are now merging and I finally feel at home.

On a lighter note Senator Mark Begich came to Juneau and met with staff talking about his tow bill priorities: ANWAR and By-Pass mail.  Ella and I decided it was a pretty unique situation for two young women from Kotlik to both work at the capitol during the same session, so we gave him the honor of getting his picture taken with us.

This week the senator went to DC to honor Don Young for the mountain of legislation he has pushed through on behalf of indigenous people.  He came back from that trip after an all-night flight and got up and made is lunch.  What a treat, for your boss to serve you.  It just doesn’t happen very often.

One of the Senator’s bills was heard in Senate Judiciary this week and I went and watched.  I was frustrated how I waiver, when good points are made in opposition.  Trying to learn to take a stand and stick with it, but still stay open-minded when the opposition really has a valid point.  There was not a quorum at the committee meeting, because of energy break.  There is a conference in DC regarding energy that a number of legislators attend, and while they are gone, other legislators go home and hold meetings.  While others still, take the well-deserved rest, to get ready for longer work days, sometimes lasting into the night.

Ella is taking the time to go home to Kotlik, I’m envious.  I’d love to go and bring my children.  I get anxious spending that kind of money, but some days I think I should just do it and adjust the budget later.  What are your thoughts?

The Senator wrote a letter to Governor Parnell regarding the percentage of non-resident hire on the north slope and many industries across the state, I think by the time he signed, four lines of my original letter remained.  I understand this process well, and I’ve see it in many offices.  It’s always rewarding when a letter goes through untouched.

The other items I worked on this week were drafting memoriams and citations.  I am amazed at the accomplishments of so many people in this state, let alone the Senator’s district.  It’s inspiring to read about their lives and loved ones and the imprint they have left behind.

Personal Connection

This week was busy with many staff and constituent meetings plus committee meeting attendance.  I spent little time at my desk and have little documented worked to show for the time I’ve spent here this week.  The schedule and my understanding of the process grew this week.  I have enjoyed supporting this office and in exchange gaining knowledge and experience from those around me.  I find interesting the closed doors meetings and how they unfold on the floor of committee meetings.  I am surprised to see when staff whom are normally on the inside of issues, find themselves on the outside as they watch bills announced on the floor they have yet to see or hear about.  I am sure this is a regular occurrence, but for me to witness it was eye-opening.  I have had to opportunity to use my experience in this building to advocate for a victim of a violent crime and pass information onto the Attorney General,  Special Staff Assistants to the Governor, a Representative and another Senator.  This process was enlightening in that I thought the issue might be discarded and the concerns I raised about the way this case has been handled would not be taken seriously .  To my surprise, they all were receptive and genuinely concerned.  I actually got a few ideas on how specifically to support this particular individual and how it can help victims in the future.  In all professional enterprises I continually hope to make a sincere difference for the mission of the agency or a person.  I consider it a success if one person is help and no one is harmed.  Wow, I’m already getting sentimental, sorry fellow bloggers, I can get carried away at times.  Have a great weekend all.