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Alaska Common Ground's
Newsletter
September 2016

 Upcoming Events
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Hello members and friends,

We hope you enjoyed your summer. We started ours with our 25th Anniversary Celebration and Annual Meeting in May. Thank you to everyone who attended. If you couldn’t join us, you missed a lovely celebration at Cyrano’s Theatre, a chance to share stories and to see where we’d like to go from here. If you'd like to read the minutes, click here.

We also reaffirmed our commitment to Alaska Common Ground reviewing and signing the original call to action:

The purpose of Alaska Common Ground is to provide a forum for Alaskans from all walks of life and all parts of the state to address public policy issues and find areas of mutual agreement. We believe such public discussion and policy agreement are vital to the future of Alaska.

We, the undersigned, reaffirm this call of action originally dated October 7, 1991.

Read Peg Tileston's historical perspective of Alaska Common Ground.

After our celebration, we got right to work doing what we have done so well for the last 25 years, planning great events to engage Alaskans in democracy and public policy. In addition to planning a day-long event on our current fiscal challenges we are happy to report we will be hosting a few shorter events to try to reach even more people and get them involved in the discussion (see Upcoming Events). Our members also requested we engage on the issue of transportation policy and we are in the process of determining what that may look like. More on that below!

Nerd Nite
Nerd Nite: We held our first of many fall events September 7th, featuring our own Cliff Groh talking about the origins of the Permanent Fund Dividend; Larry Persily explaining proposals to restructure the Permanent Fund, and Dan Dickinson explaining oil and gas tax credits. If you missed it, we're working on getting a podcast available and will post that to our website. Thanks to 49th State Brewing Company for hosting.

Upcoming Events


Alaska Common Ground hosted events:

An evening of storytelling in the style of Arctic Entries
Thursday, September 29th, 7-9 pm, $10 (buy tickets)
49th State Brewing Company, 717 W 3rd Ave, Anchorage
Personal stories of Alaska’s changing economy.

Fiscally Alaskan: Moving towards Solutions
Saturday, October 1st, 9 am to 4:30 pm, Free public forum
Wendy Williamson Auditorium, UAA
Come explore our options for working together to find solutions to our fiscal and economic challenges. We're partnering with UAA's College of Business and Public Policy.
Click here for more information and to order a boxed lunch (available preorder only).
Event Flyer.

Series Exploring Alaska's Future Economy
Tuesdays, October 11th - November 1st, 7-9 pm, $10 (tickets will be available through 49th State Brewing)
49th State Brewing Company, 717 W 3rd Ave, Anchorage
Topics will include: AK LNG; Transportation; Tech Sector; and Brews and Weed. More information to come.

Policymakers Panel
Tuesday, November 15th, 7-9 pm, $10 (tickets will be available through 49th State Brewing)
49th State Brewing Company, 717 W 3rd Ave, Anchorage
After the election, we'll hear from policymakers on ways to move forward.


Alaska Common Ground cosponsored events:

Voting Rights Suffrage Movement
Tuesday, September 20th, 7 pm (doors open at 6:30 pm)
Anchorage Museum (use the old 7th Street entrance)
Showing of two films: "Bad Romance: Women's Suffrage" and "Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot".
Hosted by the League of Women Voters of Anchorage. 

Safe Spaces: A Panel Discussion
Tuesday, September 27th, 7 pm
UAA/APU Consortium Library, Room 307
ACG Board Member Taylor Brelsford will take part in this panel discussion exploring safe spaces in our Anchorage community.
Event Flyer.

Prosperity Summit and Expo
Saturday, October 15th, 10 am to 5 pm, Free
Alaska Airlines Center, UAA
Organized by UAA’s College of Business and Public Policy and KLEF 98.1 FM.
 

Additional Events of interest:

The Ticket: An Imaginary Meeting between Jay Hammond and Wally Hickel
September 9th – October 9th
Cyrano’s Theatre, 411 D St
More information and tickets
 
UAA Public Policy Debate and Faculty Forum
Wednesday, September 28th, 7:30 pm
UAA/APU Consortium Library
The proposition being debated is: “The University of Alaska is a better investment for the state of Alaska than a gas pipeline.”
Big-Picture Truths Regarding Alaska’s Fiscal Challenge
by Cliff Groh
 
As we prepare for several upcoming events exploring Alaska's fiscal and economic future, let’s review some enduring truths about Alaska’s circumstances.
  • The long-term decline in Alaska oil production and the collapse the last two years in world oil prices have combined to create major and continuing challenges for both Alaska’s government and Alaska’s economy.
  • The State of Alaska’s oil revenues fell by more than 90 percent in the last four years (Fiscal Year 2012 to FY2016) and are projected to continue to fall during the current fiscal year (FY17).  That large reduction in oil revenues is a big problem given that oil revenues provided an average of 90 percent of Unrestricted General Fund revenues for the period of FY2005 through FY2014.  
  • This sharp drop in revenues has contributed to big structural deficits both this year and in the future.  The deficit is approximately $3.1 billion this year (FY2017), and that number is equal to almost about ¾ of the budget (as conventionally defined as Unrestricted General Fund spending. To continue reading please click here.

Update on Cost-Effective Justice

By Janet McCabe

In September 2010, Alaska Common Ground and Partners for Progress cosponsored a public forum on Cost-Effective Justice that laid the groundwork for the passage of omnibus crime legislation in 2015 and 2016. 

Texas Representative Jerry Madden, was the main keynote speaker at the forum. He visited Alaska several days before the forum, and representatives of Alaska Common Ground and Partners for Progress escorted him to meetings with legislative leaders in Anchorage and Fairbanks. There he described his experience in developing a bipartisan coalition within the Texas Legislature to implement a mandate to “build no new prisons”. He noted that, after passing the required legislation, Texas closed prisons, reduced costs and increased public safety. Madden advised Alaska that “prisons should be for those you are afraid of, not those you are just mad at”. 

The Cost-Effective Justice Forum and Representative Madden’s visit and compelling message attracted extensive media attention. Alaska legislators started to speak of being “smart on crime, not just tough on crime” and initiated the long process of criminal justice reform that recently culminated in passage of SB 91, Omnibus Criminal Law and Procedure.

Alaska Common Ground: A Historical Perspective

By Peg Tileston

What happens when an idea whose time has come meets a group of individuals determined to make a difference in how decisions are made in Alaska? Alaska Common Ground was formed in 1991– that’s what happens!

Esther Wunninke, Wilda Hudson, John Havelock, Beryl Johnson, Pauline Utter and PegPauline Tileston all had extensive experience in public policy issues and the importance of the citizen’s role in assuring sound decisions. They agreed that Alaska’s problems could not be solved without talking about them.

When a new endeavor is started, the outcome and sustainability is never assured; however, twenty-five years later Alaska Common Ground is still around, continuing and enhancing the vision of its founders.

Its mission is to help foster better understanding among Alaskans on important issues by gathering and sharing information through forums, position papers, and group discussions. Alaska Common Ground strives to build consensus but recognizes there will always be differences of opinions; however, through respectful conversations, it is possible to engage citizens through all segments of our society in the public process in more positive ways.

Alaska Common Ground has engaged hundreds of people by producing over 50 public forums that provided information on a wide range of issues that have been televised and live-streamed across the state.  Many of the forums have addressed Alaska’s fiscal problems starting in 1992 with the most recent one last fall. The call for a long-term fiscal plan for the state has been a constant theme and the problems discussed at each of the forums have been astoundingly similar.

The effectiveness of the organization is due to an incredibly dedicated and hard working board, staff and a very loyal membership.

As Alaska Common Ground looks forward to its next twenty-five years, it does so with renewed energy and determination. Raising awareness and understanding of issues important to Alaskans will remain the beacon set by the founders. We thank them for their insight and pledge to continue and expand their vision of well-informed citizens involved with public policy decisions. 

 

Our Volunteers Make a Big Impact

By Mary Lu Harle
 
Alaska Common Ground volunteers make a big impact on the work that we do. Most of the planning and executing of forums and events is done by our volunteer board members and our part time staff, Kari. But contributions by our volunteers allow us to do more, and do things better.

Cami Dalton is an Alaska Common Ground member and volunteer extraordinaire! She helped us implement our climate change forum last November – we could not have done it without her. She participated in our planning meetings and shared new ideas to publicize and present the event. On the day of the forum she worked at the sign-in table, which was a big job since we had over 200 people attending. She also wrote lovely thank you notes to all the speakers.

She wasn’t alone either, there were several wonderful volunteers that day. Alaska Common Ground wishes to send a big thank you to all our volunteers who make things happen for us!

We'll definitely be looking for help at our upcoming events. Are you good at taking photos? Can you help us at registration? Do you like to input data? If you’d like to volunteer for any of our events, or have an idea for something we should be doing, please contact us.
Other Ongoing Projects
Transportation Series
After polling our members, we heard back that events on transportation policy would be of interest. We are now in the process of planning a series of events on transportation to be held in 2017. Because there is too much happening in the realm of transportation to explore all in one forum, we are considering starting with a dynamic speaker who can share their experience diversifying transportation in a winter city, following that up with a series of shorter events exploring various aspects of transportation and finishing with a panel of local experts to help us determine where we go from here. We are in the early stages of this planning and if you’re interested in helping, please contact us. Stay tuned for more on this topic.
 
Logo Redesign
Stay tuned! After many years, Alaska Common Ground is revamping our logo and member communications. This is part of our ongoing work related to our membership and development grant received from the Alaska Community Foundation. If you have suggestions on how we can improve our communications to you, please let us know.
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