Fisherman Pete ARCHIVES


Alaskan Politics Explained

September  5, 2022



Womens Issues in Alaska

May, 2022


The first law that the brand new Teritorial Legislature passed was to give women the right to vote. Its been down hill for wome rights ever since. But in this years Alaska Legislature there was notable progress by the legislature and the governor in creating laws and the advocating of policy important for the women of our State. Many of these laws are basic human rights and might be considered ‘well duh’ measures. In any case I think the members of last years legislators, many of whom are not running again, deserve recognition. As well, the governor is to be commended for his support of the women’s rights that were accomplished in this session. No one argues that we are anyway close to where we should be but great progress was made . Maybe it’s a sign Alaska is growing up. Let’s take a look at was done.

The first law that has finally been changed is the minimum age at which one can marry in the state of Alaska. It was raised from 14 to 16. How anyone can know their own mind at 14? The law supposed that it could be in the best interest of 14 year olds to get married. No doubt the option to marry was provided as an alternative to abortion. Chances are this kind of a relationship is not an equal affair with one partner having a disadvantage. It was set at 14 when women were seen as property and the husband decided her fate. Before the recent revision, the Alaska minimum age to marry was the lowest in the nation.

The passage of the ‘no means NO’ law is ground breaking for Alaska. It will enforce by law that a simple no will enough to stop and convict anyone physically aggressive toward a partner who can’t take no for an answer. Alaska has by far the highest rate of rape incidents in the nation and this is a small step in the right direction. Date rape is as prevalent in 1/3 of the cases of adolescent. There is no doubt that in Alaska that we have a major problem here. ‘No means No’ is start.

The missing indigenous women of Alaska has long been a problem in the Frontier state and and it’s shameful that these missing cases have piled up. Perhaps it’s because of the remoteness of Alaska that is the problem. Whatever causes it Alaska has an epidemic of unsolved missing native women. Governor Dunleavy put his money where his mouthing was (rare for a politician) and budgeted for more public safety officers in remote areas in an attempt to impact the issue. Attorney General William Barr came to Alaska to raise awareness of the issue. Senator Murkowski was instrumental in raising awareness of the issues.

Fisherman Pete thinks we need to elevate the discussion in Alaska on women’s issues by electing Mary Peltola as Alaska’s next representative to Congress.

Why Alaskans Should worry about the Ukranian War


A deal is deal! We have the paperwork to prove it! Alaska was bought and paid for fair and square. Still, reaquiring Alaska has been part of the Russian Nationalist Party platform for many years. Some times when it is referenced in Russian speeches as it has been lately, that Russia should “re acquire Alaska”, our National media will run a “ha ha this is funny” story about it. If you live in Alaska it ain’t so funny. The last ‘ha ha this funny” story was funny too until he was elected President.

People were making fun of Sarah Palin when she was trying to make a point about seeing Russia from Alaska. Well you really can see Russia from Alaska. In fact at certain times of the year you can walk there. That is why Eilson Airforce Base, Fort Richardson, Fort Greely, Fort Wainwright, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson we’re all constructed in response to the Russian threat to the US. They ARE closer to you than you think.

This is the reason that we in Alaska have more on the line than any other state. Russia has pointed us out as a target for them. A possible acquisition for them to be granted. They see in Alaska an opportunity to reacquire their former glory. Isn’t that what the war in The Ukraine is all about?

If Putin is allowed to have his way, who is to say he would not move to the east. There is a current dispute between the Russians and the US over navigation rights through the Bering Sea. The Russians claim that the navigation rights through the strait were NOT part of the sale of Alaska and that the Russians still control the passage of ships through the Bering Sea. Get out your globe and look where that leaves the rest of the world in 2040 when the polar icecap is estimated to disappear entirely and the Arctic Ocean a navigable ocean.

We have a lot invested in this war, Alaskan’s should take note!

The Alaska Ferrys!

My comments come from many years of experience. In fact, I was born the same year that the ferry system was created. To say I have “grown up" with the ferries would be an understatement.

Through out my life stages I have gotten to know the ferries very well. I have sailed on everyone of the ferries in my lifetime including the Wickersham. In the summer my mother would take the family station wagon and take the ferry to downtown Seattle at the Alaskan Avenue terminal to visit my grandmother. When we came back she would have bought enough whole sale food to fill the car and last the winter.

As I got older school trips on the ferries was how we all gathered for basketball tournaments. It was the same age cohort from other towns that we had always known. It was “celebration like” in that half the school went on theses trips not just the players. The pep band, cheer squads, and even the honor society got to go too.

My first kiss was on the state ferries. I went north on the ferry to Haines and on to Wasilla via the un-paved Alaskan Highway to visit my uncle's family. Skagway did not have a road out of town yet. I would take the ferries south to Prince Rupert to connect with the highway to Seattle hospitals. I would take the ferry to go to college at Bellingham once it became the southern terminal.

As an adult I worked nearly 30 years in the tourism business for the West family. When Cruise West folded in 2010 and I was the Director Southeast Alaska Operations. In that capacity I was responsible for all land side operations which included stevedoring, motorcoach, and sales & service. I used the ferry system to deploy my assets all through the state using the ferry system to get around. I rose through the ranks and as the company grew to 8 ships operating in Alaska, I was able to train and develop a staff of over 60 employees in three division in  Ketchikan, Petersburg, and Juneau. We operated high end tours with small ships that promised high service. Our guest paid easily $1000 and upwards per day for their  cruise to Alaska and we always had the highest rating on land of service and guest satisfaction. There is a lot of pressure to deliver exceptional service to some one expecting that high level of service. My experience here is unique and Board should pay attention to what I’m proposing in the next section.

In my professional career I again relied on the ferry system to move my fleet of 40+ vehicles among the different towns. I also used the ferries to get my self around Southeast Alaska. I have indeed grown up with the ferry system. During my long career l was in position to hire many employees and silently flipped a 90% out of state hire to a 90% in state hire by the time I left Cruise West.  Many of the people I hired from out of state have since become state residents and are contributing citizens. I also established a working arrangement with over 100 local  business that serviced our Alaskan fleet of ships . I was loudly an internal advocate and quietly a public advocate of turning Juneau into a major turn port for almost every ship in our fleet with an over night stop in Juneau. That would drive more than 10,000 visitors into local restaurants, hotels,  and excursions. I understand how to maximize economic impact because I’ve done it.

The other factor that contributes to my understanding is my father who worked many years on the ferries and was the Regional Director of IBU for several terms. Growing up I saw my father working with the members of the Inland Boatsman Union to the benefit of its members and their families. In the end it is the employees that make and organization work well.

What do I recommend to ensure that the AMHS thrives going forward?

1. We open the Prince Rupert Terminal immediately. I can’t believe we have allowed this vital link to disappear from the system. It really is important that we open up this option. Accessing this route will allow travelers to flow through and feed the other routes and drive people into the towns of Southeast. If Prince Rupert cannot or will not cooperate, there is no reason we can’t go to Hyder to access the highway south.
2. We maximize the ferry system to the economic potential of its riders. Some where someone decided that it was to everyone’s benefit to move the ferry terminals out of the towns that they serve. Yeah it is cheaper to operate from a lot 20 miles out of town but that does not do anything to strengthen the economic impact of travellors getting on and off the ferries. If we were to prioritize the location for ferry terminals based on their economic potential for the hotels, restaurants, and other services, the economic multipliers could easily make up the cost of operating in downtown locations. At least experiment with this in the winter time when Ketchikan and Juneau basically close up downtown.
3. Offer vendor services and opportunities to third parties on board the ferries. There are many services that people would pay for onboard the ships if they were available. Subway, Super 8, Cindy’s Cruises and tours, or whatever the private industry deems they can sell. There should be space and facilities that could be granted to private industry to provide. Where ever we are able to provide a customer pool, there is an opportunity to make money and provide a service. People will pay for a good service that is needed.

Long before oil was discovered in Alaska, the founders and early leadership of the AMHS saw the establishment of the ferry system as the great economic stimulater for All of Alaska. To “save” the ferry system we need to resort to thinking again that it is an economic stimulater. The key emphasis is to use the ferry system as the great hope for economic development for all of Alaska yet again.



Oct 2021


This idea is central to many basic working theories that we use to understand how our world works. People are expected to make decisions that benefit them. That if one set of condition is true then it will lead to another. A then B. The assumption is that people will move away from pain and toward pleasure. It’s very basic. Skinner and Pavlov showed that animals behaved according to these principals.Humans are animals, why don’t we always behave in our best interest?

Part of our problem is that we do not suffer direct consequences and that leads to a disconnect, a disconnect between actions and consequence. It is this gap that can be exploited , and recently been evident in recent dislocations. This gap in logic can be misdirected, minimized, or exploited by false information and false rhetoric that can purposely obscure one’s own best interest. Here are some examples of where one would expect that people would act in one way, but do not, and it’s consequence.

My first example is Donald Trump. Why would a self-serving billionaire playboy from New York City become the choice for president of poor rural farmers and others that would seemingly have nothing in common with him. This gap was and is still not understood. As Donald Trump gained power to the disbelief of people who could clearly see that he stood only for himself, the mystery of why people were not acting in accord to their own best interest would lead them to underestimate the growing threat to democracy. People acting in their own interests is the basic principal behind capitalism and democracy. They are both threatened by people not acting in their own best interest.

My second example is the coronavirus. The assumption was that everyone would want to be inoculated against the virus and that all we had to do was develop it and get it out the door. It was assumed that people would weight the benefits and risk and make a decision that would easily come down on the side of inoculation. How wrong it was. Rhetoric clouded the science and as a community we have failed to defeat the virus.

My third example is climate change. It is very clear that our planet is changing very rapidly and uncontrollably. It is also very clear that it is changing because of human activity. How can 7 billion humans not affect the planet? This one is the scariest of issues. We only get one planet and if we blow it we have to live on it and in it. How can that not be understood?

My conclusion is that based on the first two examples, we do not have the ability to bridge the gap on climate change. It is no wonder that it us the number one concern of young people. We need to change our thinking in so many ways. If we don’t we will fail as a species. It’s that simple. Do not let that result fade from this reality. A will lead to B. Getting a clear understanding of climate change and realizing that it is nothing short of life and death will be part of the message for those who can clearly see.

Lincoln's "Team of Rivals"

December, 2018

Alaskan Solstice Moon

It was a symbolic and precedent setting decision by our new governor Mike Dunleavy to hold his swearing in ceremony in rural Alaska. It was evidence of his proclamation of the way he was going to govern, by restoring trust in the people in all of Alaska. That apparently doesn’t mean anyone who doesn’t hold the right political views despite doing their job exceptionally well.

That is the case with the firing of two state attorneys, Libby Bakalar and Ruth Botstein, both who have on their own time expressed differing views than the Governor on social issues. Their rhetoric is from social media and clearly protected under 1st amendment rights.

It is typical in any new administration that the Governor gets to choose their own governing team. They have the right to choose who they want and demand loyalty to carrying out policy decisions. This doesn’t mean that the assembled team should be filled with candidates who are all of one mind of thinking. A litmus test of political thinking would not allow the governor to hear dissenting points of view that come up on almost any issue. Alaska is a huge state in not only geography, but it may also be the largest state in the expanse of opinions.

The decision making process is an important part of any good government. A full vetting of all points, and all sides of the issues is important for understanding the issues put before the Governor. Without a dialectic decision making process, crafting good policy for all Alaskans would be difficult to achieve.

What the Governor should strive for is a staff that voices views from many different sectors of Alaska and then truly makes a decision that is best for all of Alaska. However, the time for honest open debate is before policy is decided. The Governor has a right to choose staff that he believes will close ranks and follow through on his decisions.

This is how our most successful leaders have been effective. Abraham Lincoln’s “team of rivals” is the classic example. Lincoln included on is staff the very people who disagreed with him while running for office so that he could hear their point of views and make the best decisions.

One of those was our William Seward who now has a statue in front of our Capital. A contemporary version of Lincoln naming Seward to his staff, would be if Dunleavy were to name Mark Begich to his cabinet. It might be a little unfair to the Governor to ask him to display that kind of self assurance, but I hope he can create an administration that has the courage to truly represent the views of ALL Alaskans.