On Monday night, March 1st, Governor Parnell had an on the phone “town meeting”. Of course the reason for having it on the phone is to cherry pick the questions asked and simply ignore those who call in with questions the Gov doesn’t want to answer. I called and told the woman I had two questions. I was told I was only allowed to ask one. When I told her what my questions were she immediately told me they may not get to me because they had a lot of people asking questions. Realizing before I called they would not allow me to ask a question I laughed and told her I was not going to hold my breathe.

All during the hour of questions selected by Parnell’s staff they kept wasting time repeatedly saying if someone had a question to push *3 as if they wanted more questions and giving out the governor‘s email and phone numbers, "as if ". It was a way to take up part of the time. It was a pretty poor attempt to try and look like he is listening to the concerns of the people in this state because for the most part he did not answer the questions. While this phone session was announced in the ADN, they wrote nothing about it afterwards. Perhaps that is because it was a major fail.

From the Juneau Empire's post which was also only a notification before the meeting:

"This telephone town hall meeting will allow me to reach out to the entire state to hear constituent concerns and answer questions about a range of issues," Parnell said. "I hope Alaskans will take advantage of this opportunity to ask me questions about the legislative session and discuss legislation and issues we're working on."

In most states where the governor's office does listen to the people and they attempt to help solve problems they have a staff of people at the governor's office on week days who answer questions and make referrals to heads of departments to contact the person about their issue and do what they can to solve the problem. Here in Alaska all I get is confused people who tell me to call the wrong agency, put on hold and hung up on, asked what they are supposed to do about the letter I sent them(snarkily), or as Sarah Palin’s staff did, told that the department of law advised them not to talk to me or help me with anything.

Of course my questions were related to the DOC and DOL and not allowed. Sure I could have picked questions which were not going to glaringly go against the republican principle that those people who are accused of crimes are all guilty until proven guilty (unless the accused is a republican politician) rather than innocent until proven guilty(especially if they are innocent and dare to speak up about it) and should all be made to suffer as a fear tactic to frighten those who might dare to think they can ask for fair justice in Alaska, but that just wouldn‘t be me now would it?

Here were my disallowed questions:

1. I would like the governor to address the poor health care of inmates and lack the of rehabilitation thus ensuring people will continuously be back in prison due to being homeless. Also could the governor address the problem of indigent defendants getting very poor legal assistance and lack of due process from the public defender agency and the practice of threatening people into taking pleas.

Ok, I cheated, that was two questions. 

2. This one is about prosecutors who maliciously prosecute people, which has happened to me for a charge which was clearly false and the state troopers even investigated and said they could find no evidence I did it. Rick Svobodney told me no one would ever investigate this prosecutor or do anything about it, then called me a liar and hung up on me. I now see you have him listed as a contact on the governor’s website as a representative of the DOJ for problems with prosecutors and I find that hilarious. Is the state doing anything to stop this practice or investigate these types of malfeasance?

Even though these are long questions, they are remarkably short for me, lol. The recap below of questions is from notes I took during the telephone meeting, so I do not have a lot of exact wording. I was unable to find an audio recording of the meeting or a newspaper account of any of it to use to check the accuracy of my notes. Since I was not able to find any more input I am using my notes which should be generally accurate.

There were a couple of people who asked intelligent questions, the governor did not really answer them and cut them off. Lots of those who support the republican talking points about the federal government interfering with states and paranoid ideologies were allowed to ask questions:

One woman asked what are we going to do to get “these people” off welfare? And then wanted to know why they aren’t getting drug tests before saying they don’t work because it’s easier not to work. Of course this plan would create even more homeless people in Alaska which would give her even more to complain about. How sad to know there are people who are so heartless, or is it jealousy or both? Is this woman aware that there is mass joblessness in this country right now due to a poor economy? Is she aware it could get worse before it gets better? Is she aware it could be her or someone close to her? If it is does she think she should just live on the street or would she like some of that evil welfare help? I bet she would change her tune really fast if she or her husband lost their jobs. Anyone who has ever been on a fixed income or lived on food stamps in section 8 housing will tell you it is not a piece of cake lifestyle. Food stamps don’t generally last the whole month. I am on SSDI with Medicare. I struggled to work my whole life with health issues surprisingly successfully a lot of the time. I figured out ways to make it work and had a couple small businesses I started when I couldn't stand on my feet all day as a nurse. I would still be working which is what I wanted if I had not come to Alaska where workplace bullying is so horrendous in nursing it causes PTSD. People who have never had to deal with hardship in their lives think those who have are causing it, people do get ill and loose jobs through no fault of their own.

There was a guy who was upset about the federal government’s regulation of Alaska’s resources. Parnell said he was very surprised by the level of encroachment by the federal government, as if he was severely shocked by it. He stated someone told him it was the most active level they have ever seen, complaining about the EPA. He called them “federal intrusions” (mentioned several times and clearly a GOP TP they were trying to seed into the population) with a very a derogatory sneary tone to his voice. He was attempting to create an Alaska against the federal government attitude, clearly. It was kind of similar to a lot of the other campaigns the republicans use to create fear and paranoia, only this one is specific to Alaskan citizens. One has to wonder if some of the calls were staged, but perhaps they just picked those kinds of calls. The result was the same either way.

When asked about subsidizing oil for remote villages he said he wants people to take charge themselves. He wants the villages to have a renewable energy source. This is a good long term plan, but I am wondering what about this winter? More cookies? Someone better contact Hugo Chavez for help with fuel.

A native man asked about fees for subsistence hunting and fishing. Parnell mentioned the federal government trying to make it seem as if it was all their fault Alaska has fishing and hunting licenses, well of course he did, and then mentioned checking into state regulating agencies.

A business owner complained about state lands going to the university which he uses for trees in his business. No real answer was given.

A woman who kept making the announcement that people should dial *3 if they had a question made the statement, “Bonnie has a question about federal intrusions”. She wants paramedics to be used in place of nurses to fill vacancies. This has nothing to do with the federal government. This is an attempt to change the makeup of healthcare in Alaska and is insane by the way. Remember they have those health aids with three months of training in the villages.

Nursing soapbox moment triggered: A paramedic and a nurse are two different animals. A paramedic is trained for emergency situations in the field. They are trained to work in situations that could be rapidly changing and dangerous. Their scope of practice is concentrated and narrowly defined. The reason is those who are highly skilled to rescue people who are nearly dead and keep them alive until they get to a hospital are extremely valuable. They have a very large knowledge and skill base in that area. In some states their training is vocational(In Alaska the training is 5 semesters and they give them an associate's degree, that usually takes 6 semesters). There are bachelors degrees for paramedics, but I doubt there would be many paramedics with a four year degrees in Alaska. Nursing and paramedic sciences are very different, but do have some shared basic skills. Keep in mind most nurses are women and most paramedics are men, this would decrease the number of women in the workforce. It would also eliminate those older more experienced nurses the hospitals are trying so hard to run off because they cost more than less experienced nurses. This is one reason nursing care has deteriorated. Paramedics cost less than nurses. They also don’t have the training to be a nurse, especially if the nurse has a BSN(bachelor of science in nursing). Most good hospitals strive to have as many nurses with four year degrees as possible. The skill sets and science background are different. You don’t want a nurse to do a paramedic’s job and you don’t want a paramedic to do a nurse’s job. I know some paramedics that would not let a nurse in a helicopter with them to go on a mission no matter how good they are at nursing because they are not trained for that specialty. In most states flight nurses take paramedic training because they need that special training to do that job. Will they be requiring the paramedics to get a nursing degree? Or maybe they could just take the nursing board exam, if you think they are so interchangeable with nurses. There are many people who do have the education and licenses for both professions. I have worked in situations where paramedics do come into the emergency rooms to help with I.V.s or vital signs or when they want to practice intubations(putting in breathing tubes) which is one of the things they do that nurses do not. There are some similar skills in this area. They don’t have the specific training to work on the floors as it requires the ability to formulate nursing diagnoses and write care plans and much, much more. The same is true for nurses who try to do a paramedic's job, both jobs require highly trained and highly skilled professionals. These skills help insure excellent care for patients. For example I had two years of chemistry as a requirement for my degree because it is needed to understand the biological processes in our bodies and pharmacology. I also had a year of microbiology. The reason you want highly educated, highly skilled nurses is those nurses have the background knowledge to understand the science behind what they are doing. Without this you are receiving care from technicians who were just told to do a task and lack the ability to have judgment about it. Nursing is highly specialized. When working out of your own specialty into another highly specialized area nurses often do what is called taking tasks because of a lack of expertise with that type of patient. You do what the nurse in charge tells you because it keeps the patients safer to if you do the busy work while the nurse with the background to direct the care is in charge.

How about not allowing the healthcare corporations to workplace bully the nurses in this state? If you would like nurses to come here and want to increase retention, how about appointing a director of the board of nursing who supports nurses, or how about treating nurses who have problems the same as those in other professions rather than do anything you can to harm them further when they have a problem? How about a real diversion program for nurses who are chemically dependent so they can go to treatment and then go back to work like say an alcoholic public defender. How about doing something about the physicians in this state who influence decisions about nursing because they hate nurses. Usually the doctors who do not like nurses are the inept ones. Good doctors love good nurses because not only do their patients do better, good nurses make their lives easier. In fact I have to say my biggest supporters before I came to Alaska were doctors, very excellent doctors. It is well documented that good relationships between doctors and nurses influence better outcomes for patients.

This would all go a long way for retention. If a nurse is treated like a professional in one state and a disposable item in another one, their choice of where to live and work is a simple one. The best are going to work where they are treated well as their skills are highly valued and they can get a job anywhere. How about treating nurses like professionals? Gosh, that would be different. I have a four year degree in nursing with a very impressive resume`. This was one of the reasons I was targeted for workplace bullying(they would actually get angry after asking me if I had a bachelor degree), mediocrity hates excellence, and that is what workplace bullies are about. I was not given that degree, I worked full time while I went to college full time, no grants, loans, or scholarships. It just amazes me what some healthcare corporations and states won’t do to make healthcare as low quality as possible. It also amazes me a governor and his staff would try to use a talking point to influence the people of a state to support an action which would harm their own healthcare. I would really like to know which healthcare corporation the woman who asked that question works for so I can make sure I stay away from them.

Someone asked about states rights against the federal government as if they expected Parnell to protect us from those terrible federal people who are always trying to interfere in Alaska's affairs. Parnell encouraged the paranoid thinking. Maybe the federal government should stop sending money to Alaska just one year, I bet that would change their tune.

Look what happens when federal money goes to another state:

A woman wanted to know if Parnell wants to opt out of the “federal” healthcare bill. He mentioned being required to provide services without being provided with funding.

One woman asked about tourism and waste water rules. She wants that regulation changed because she is afraid the tourists won’t come back. Parnell went into a speech about tourism in Alaska and wants to expand tourism, but also said “We obviously have to protect our waters”.

One man asked why are we paying high prices for fuel? Parnell mentioned the fuel tax which has been suspended for two years.

A very intelligent sounding woman asked about “diversity on the bench” and the numbers of qualified minority applicants who would make very fine judges and also an under represented minority population. Parnell talked about how fabulous he thinks the judicial council’s process for selecting judges is. He didn’t answer her question.

There was a complaint about bypass shipping not being allowed in the rural areas and the high cost of electricity in other areas. A couple of people asked about the governor’s performance scholarship program and one wanted to know what the governor’s office was doing to keep highly educated people in Alaska. Parnell said they were improving graduation and giving scholarships for universities and training programs. He mentioned $400 million for funding of scholarships to another caller.

One man asked about having drug and alcohol testing for legislators due to all the corruption trials in Alaska that involved alcohol, stating, “legislators should have random drug and alcohol testing“. Parnell talked about heavy equipment operators having drug and alcohol testing and did not answer the question.

One guy asked something about the name Mt McKinley vs. Denali? I did not get the gist of it.

Another caller suggested Alaska lower oil tax to oil companies in return for cheap fuel. A speech was generated about incentives, etc.

A caller wanted to know if there is something that can be done to decrease child abuse, women abuse, and rape in relation to alcohol. Parnell said his grandfather had alcoholism and sited the amount of money spent in Alaska on addiction(which as everyone knows was cut back a few years ago). He then talked about keeping programs that work and getting rid of those that don‘t and that brilliant plan is as specific as he got.

The last caller was clearly selected for his comments complementing Parnell. But, after his long complementing he asked about infrastructure and helping students. When he snuck in his observation that only anchorage infrastructure is being developed and none in the rural areas, they cut the guy off before he could finish his question. Parnell did not answer it.

I know everyone is deeply shocked and surprised that they would not let me ask a question, but really considering who they are I take it as a complement.

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