Finally, Stoltze Responds
It took the determined idea of Senator Bill Wielechowski (D – Anchorage) to put forth a School Meals Bill TWICE (once in 2009 and once in 2011), six years of lobbying by Food Bank of Alaska and Alaska Food Coalition, several endorsements from Community Council across Alaska, acknowledgement from the Anchorage Assembly, six months of harassment from Channel 11’s Corey Allen and a man starving himself for 12 days before Representative Bill Stoltze (Chairman of the House Finance Committee) made his FIRST STATEMENT about a School Meals Bill!
Mind you, Senate Bill 3 will affect 52,000 hungry Alaskan children.
Anchorage Daily News reporter, Lisa Demer quoted the Stoltze saying, “I don’t appreciate a mandate, ‘You pass this by such and such a date or I’m going to go on a hunger strike in front of your office.’”
Obviously, the Chairman is not concerned that 2012 is an election year for Alaskan officials. His seat must be secure. Nor is he worried about how electable his co-Chair, Bill Thomas is or Vice-Chair Anna Fairclough.
Stotlze continued “defending” himself. Demer wrote, “He has been targeted on liberal talk radio over the school meals bill, and he said some of the criticism has been unfair and off-base. Among other things, critics have accused him of wanting to trade his support on it for Senate support on lowering oil taxes.”
Stoltze concluded, “Anyway, other legislators have concerns too, Stoltze said. Maybe not much money is being requested this year but will school districts, he wondered, want more in the future? Will the money help districts create more nutritious meals? Will the state just be creating a ‘new entitlement?’ he said. That’s a problem for legislators trying to craft sustainable budgets at times of declining oil production.”
Unfortunately, the information the Lead Coordinator is receiving from his meetings with “others” in the Capital building do not echo Rep. Stoltze’s political views.
First, Kokayi Nosakhere is cautioned to not pressure Rep. Stoltze to the point that he becomes angry or upset. Apparently, the Chairman has a history of venting his frustration over his leadership being challenged by destroying State Property. The Alaska Ear reported last year that Stotlze destroyed a door inside the Capital Building. (You can do that.)
Second, the Lead Coordinator was instructed that the national gridlock seen on cable is reflected in Alaskan politics. Republican-sponsored bills fly through Committee. For example, a Bill requiring women receive an ultrasound before an abortion recently passed the House in a week! Yet, Democratic-sponsored bills are held back, used as leverage during the waning days of the Legislature.
Third, no politician likes a pressure campaign. They feel embarrassed and have very little wiggle room to save face. The more sophisticated the pressure campaign, the more the politician digs in his heels, out of self-respect.
Nonetheless, the Lead Coordinator produced a new video on Day 16 of The Juneau Hunger Strike. It displayed a thinning, weakening man. On Feb. 7, 2012 when the Hunger Strike began, Kokayi Nosakhere was a healthy, muscular 260 pounds. On Feb. 20, 2012 when he weighed himself, he registered 233 pounds, losing 27 pounds in 14 days.
This demonstration of unwavering concentration on behalf of 52,000 hungry Alaskan children is galvanizing the public’s imagination. On Monday, Feb. 20th a street demonstration occurred in Anchorage on the corner of Arctic and Northern Lights led by Kima Hamilton , a local dj and poet.
Even rank and file Republicans are becoming ashamed of the Chairman’s power-intoxicated tactics. Anchorage business person, Chris Bailey sent in the following statement.
“The State of Alaska is one of the most prosperous states in this United States of America. We are truly blessed with our natural resources and a delegation in Washington DC that fights for us on a daily basis. Unfortunately not all of those working for us in Juneau are thinking of all Alaskans when doing their daily work. I understand the need for Alaska to be competitive to stay prosperous.
Something I do not understand is why SB3 is being held up in a House Committee. Why it is being held up is of no importance. Who is holding it up is of no importance. What is of importance are the approximately 52,000 hungry children in Alaska.
Have you ever skipped a meal? Most experts will tell you that starting the day with breakfast is one of the healthiest, most important things you can do. This is true for Alaska’s children as well. Sustaining that nutrition throughout the day is also important to keep up physically and mentally. When one is hungry you cannot work or learn at your best. For this reason SB3 is a great investment in Alaska’s future. Think if we could maximize our school budget, by only slightly increasing it to get children proper nutrition.
The ultimate giveaway in our budget would be NOT supporting SB3. It will naturally lead to higher test scores, more student retention rates and higher graduation rates. If we simply invest in Alaska’s future through SB3, with all of its benefits, crime rates would go down, state college enrollment would go up, and possibly Alaska’s children wouldn’t have any incentive to leave the state once they become adults.”