News-Miner opinion: Extremely difficult times have fallen upon Alaskans. Angst is everywhere, it seems, because of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s vetoes and the Legislature’s inability — so far — to overturn them or otherwise counter them.
Many legislators have been saying they haven’t seen the public this engaged, this angry, this energized — this worried. Alaskans have been protesting, picketing, flooding legislators with emails overwhelmingly critical of the governor’s vetoes.
This is democracy in action. It is beautiful to watch.
Yet democracy can also be ugly to watch if protesting and picketing become violent, if opponents are disrespected, if emails of opposition to the governor and his supporters in the Legislature include threats.
That is not who we are. And it is not who we should become, even at this critical hour.
Peaceful protests, large but peaceful protests, are what we need.
Let that be the message when the House Finance Committee comes to Fairbanks today to hear from the public about issues related to the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend and the services that government provides to residents. The Fairbanks hearing is the last of three the committee is holding this week during the Legislature’s special session.
The committee has scheduled five hours for public testimony, from 2-7 p.m. The hearing will be at the Legislative Information Office, 1292 Sadler Way, Suite 308. Residents can also call into the hearing by calling the Fairbanks Legislative Information Office at 452-4448.
The hearing is certain to be filled with emotion. If you are attending or calling in, do your best to be respectful of committee members and those in the audience with whom you disagree.
Ridiculing a Dunleavy supporter who might now be wary of the scale of the vetoes — more than $400 million worth of them — isn’t productive. It is precisely that person who needs to be welcomed into the opposition.
Making someone feel bad for having voted for this governor won’t accomplish what needs to be accomplished: a restoration of the vetoed funds and creation of a near-term plan to stabilize our state’s finances without bringing the economic harm that many in the business community fear the vetoes will cause just as our state is emerging from a long recession.
We can find a better way. Alaskans just need to demand it.
Attend the hearing or call in to participate. This is not the time in Alaska’s history to be left on the sideline.