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Les and Kelly near the Canning RiverA Note from Rep. Les Gara
Hiring Non-Alaskans in the
Oil Patch Hearing Thursday
& Lots More.

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Dear Neighbors

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Voice your opinions!Letters to the editor make a difference. You can send a 175-word letter to the Anchorage Daily News by e-mail (; or by fax or mail (call them at 257-4300). Send letters to the Anchorage Press via e-mail or by mail to 540 E. Fifth Ave, Anchorage, 99501. Feel free to call us if you need factual information to help you write a letter.
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Well, I’ve learned a lot this summer, and Thursday we can all learn more – on why the oil industry is hiring so many outside workers in place of Alaskans.  That hearing will take place at the Legislative Information Office, from 1:30 to 3:30.  Public testimony will be allowed from 5:30 to 7:30.  Here’s what we know.  Nearly 50% of Alaska’s North Slope workers since 2009 have been outsiders.  On the other hand, employment in Alaska’s oil and gas industry is at an all-time high – 13,600 this year, compared to 10,100 when we had a low oil production tax under the old ELF system.   So – those fancy TV ads saying we need to reduce oil taxes because we’re losing North Slope employment leave out a fact.  Well, a few.  That employment is up.  But Outsiders are taking jobs Alaskans should get.  Lowering oil taxes, when the industry is hiring more non-Alaskans, is one of those bad policy non sequiturs.

What else have I learned?

I have been fortunate enough to take a few wilderness canoeing and hiking trips with Kelly and friends.  From that, I’ve learned:  two oars work better than one oar in raging whitewater (our rowing frame bent in half!); a bug screen to cook and hang out in makes camping in the Arctic a lot more fun; and that Nome is a beautiful place. 

While I probably have travelled less to out of state conferences on the state dime than any other legislator in my nine years (once to go to D.C. to lobby the White House and Congressfolks on the gas pipeline), I did go with the House Finance Committee to Nome for hearings on transportation and infrastructure.  It’s a town with 350+ miles of roads that get you to great hiking and fishing; history; and a booming micro-mining industry.  One day I spotted five two-person boats mining the ocean for $1,300/oz. gold off the downtown beach.  With lots of federal stimulus money helping local residents pave downtown streets and build a state of the art hospital, Nome is doing relatively well – and can remain a vibrant rural hub community with smart policy.

Volunteer Opportunities Up the Ying Yang.

Looking for a few things to do to help change the world?  Or one person’s life?

  1. Donate a late-model laptop – we’ll get it to a foster youth or recent alumni so they can do better in school, find work, and keep track of family pictures.  Call us at 269-0106.  And thanks to Amanda Metivier who’s been doing the lion’s share of work on this since we started it last year.  So far we’ve matched approximately 50 laptops with foster youth.  And thanks to the Carr Family Foundation for their generous donations that helped us buy roughly 20 new laptops.
  2. Become a volunteer mentor for an older foster youth.  Once youth leave foster care they have few responsible adults in their lives, if any.  How’d you like to share advice, and some of your time for movies, lunches, and hikes – or whatever floats your boat – with a foster youth who wants to find their way in this world?  Call us at 269-0106.
  3. Become a Foster Parent:  Alaska has a dire shortage.  Call 1-800-478-7307.
  4. Help the Alaska Coalition on Homelessness gather survey data and identify the most vulnerable members of our homeless population to prioritize them for permanent housing.  Contact, or call 762-8699.

As always, call if you have any questions.

Best Regards,

[signed] Les Gara

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