Alaska Common Ground
Winter 2020 Newsletter

Upcoming Events
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A Year Like No Other

In these remaining days of 2020, Alaska Common Ground wishes to share our gratitude for our members and supporters, volunteers, guest speakers, moderators, sponsors, and partners who helped make our high-quality programs possible this year. We also want to thank everyone who continues to stand up for our democracy, a more just and equitable society, and the health and safety of others. It has truly been a challenging year. We wish for all of you a happy, healthy, and peaceful 2021 and hope to see you again very soon.

Can we talk?

Can We Talk?

For the past several months, ACG has been working on a short video that succinctly captures who we are, including our mission, vision, and values. In order to communicate this effectively we turned to ACG’s best asset—our membership. Over a dozen past and present board members and current and future ACG members took part in our project and we were honored by their genuine enthusiasm to participate. If our video resonates with you, please share it, and help us spread the good word about Alaska Common Ground. 

We extend a heartfelt thank you to all who participated, including founding members Vic Fischer, John Havelock, and Peg Tileston; Jane Angvik; Fiona Bruce; Cami Dalton; Katie Dougherty and her stepson Charlie; Cliff Groh; Bill Hall; Camilla Hussein; Stephanie Nichols; Elizabeth Nicolai; Theresa Philbrick, and Jim Posey. We are very grateful to John Tracy and to Scott Jensen and the great team at Jensen Hall Creative for bringing it all to life!

Get Engaged in Determining Alaska’s Fiscal Future

Alaska is facing a dire fiscal crisis. The Governor just released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2022, which starts July 1, 2021, and the new Legislature will begin work on January 19, 2021. We intend to host additional fiscal events this coming year, but in the meantime, we encourage you to check out this list of resources below to help you get ready to engage!

  • ACG developed a no nonsense guide called Alaska’s Fiscal Future: Goal, Problem, and Options.
  • Cliff Groh—ACG Board Member and a leading authority on Alaska fiscal policy—recently wrote a guide to Alaska's Fiscal Crisis featuring details about a workable plan along with cartoons and graphs to help explain this complex issue in a more engaging way. This guide, and Cliff's many other writings on the topic, can be found on his website.
  • The Institute of the North hosted and recorded an excellent series recently discussing the history and Future of Alaskas Permanent Fund.
  • Commonwealth North developed an online budget tool that allows you to try your hand at balancing the state’s budget. By answering a series of questions, you will gain a better understanding of the difficult decisions our legislators will be facing this year.
  • ACG has hosted many events over our nearly thirty-year history to inform Alaskans about Alaska’s ongoing fiscal challenges. Check out our catalog of fiscal events here.

Upcoming ACG Events

Anchorage’s Climate Action Plan:
How Can YOU Take Action?

ACG is continuing our discussion of Anchorage’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) with a series addressing the individual sectors of the CAP. We will learn from experts what actions we can all take to support and achieve the goals. Details follow and additional resources can be found on our website. Please join us!

Buildings and Energy
Thursday, January 28, 2021
7 – 8:30 pm

Register here

This event will focus on how the Municipality is reducing energy use and carbon emissions, the proposed Anchorage Green Bank, solar options, and what homeowners and businesses can do to reduce their energy use.

Land Use and Transportation
Thursday, February 25, 2021
7 – 8:30 pm

Register here

We will discuss electric vehicles and charging stations, biking and walkability in neighborhoods, public transit, land use and tax incentives.

Food Systems
Thursday, March 25, 2021
7 – 8:30 pm

Register here

At this event, co-hosted with UAA, representatives from local food projects will discuss their efforts and how people can get involved or start similar projects in their communities.

Ballot Measure Debates

ACG held two debates this fall on the ballot measures that appeared on the November 3 ballot. The Oil Tax Initiative debate was superbly moderated by former ACG board member Drew Cason and featured Ralph Townsend, from the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER), providing an overview of the state’s oil taxes and the initiative’s potential impact on revenue. Robin Brena and Senator Bill Wielechowski then advocated for the measure, while Roger Marks and Aaron Schutt argued against it. Approximately 270 participants attended the event. (Eventually, the Oil Tax Initiative was defeated by Alaska voters with 58% voting No and 42% Yes.) 

The debate on the Elections Initiative was skillfully moderated by Thea Agnew Bemben. Arguing in favor of the initiative were Scott Kendall and Andrew Halcro and arguing against were Brett Huber and Anna MacKinnon. A poll of event attendees showed that 94% felt it helped them “decide how to vote on Ballot Measure 2”.  (The Elections Initiative was approved by Alaska voters by a vote of 51% Yes to 49% No.)

We are happy to report the virtual platform enabled people to participate from Fairbanks to Arizona to as far away as New Zealand. Recordings of both events are now on our YouTube and Facebook pages.

Campaign Finance & The Constitution

ACG recently partnered with the Anchorage Public Library, Alaska Move to Amend, and American Promise to host a series of compelling civic education events. Recordings of each can be found at the links provided.

  • Amending the Constitution: Mission Impossible? In observance of Constitution Day on September 17, Beverly Churchill, President of Alaska Move to Amend, spoke about what it takes to amend the Constitution. Watch the discussion here.
  • The Color of MoneyA Discussion on Dark Money (the movie) and Lessons for Alaskans. ACG board member, Bill Hall, facilitated a thoughtful discussion about the film Dark Money which examines the influence of untraceable corporate money on our elections and elected officials. Watch the film or the discussion here.
  • Campaign Finance, States Rights, and the Constitution: Where Are We and How Did We Get Here? Brad Keithley, Managing Director of Alaskans for Sustainable Budgets, moderated a panel with Jim Rubens, former New Hampshire state senator and GOP platform committee chair; Alaska state senator Scott Kawasaki; and Joe Geldhof, Alaska attorney and a founder of the Permanent Fund Defenders. Watch the discussion here.

Help Advance Our Vision

If you value ACG’s efforts to provide respectful and relevant events and information on policy issues of importance for Alaskans, please become a member or make a one-time year end donation today.* Only together, will we advance an engaged Alaskan democracy. Thank you!

Join / Renew
*As you consider your year end giving, the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act allows taxpayers in 2020 to easily deduct up to $300 of charitable cash contributions to qualified organizations like ACG. More information is available here.
And as you apply for your PFD starting on January 1, 2021, please consider a donation to ACG through Pick.Click.Give. It would be an honor to receive your support!
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