Dear Neighbors & Friends,

 

It has been a pretty emotional and difficult time these last weeks and even months as we have navigated our way through an ongoing global pandemic and are confronting the lasting damage of systemic racism and injustice. I wish we had a clear end in sight, but each day the report of new cases comes out and I am reminded of my community duty right now – don’t go out if I’m feeling sick, wash my hands frequently, carry hand sanitizer for public locations, wear a mask, practice physical distancing, and encourage others to follow safety protocols. That’s a lot to ask of everyone and now is the time we must also confront some of the most horrific and painful parts of what is happening in our society.  I remain committed to the hard work to get us through this time – continued monitoring of our public health and economic crisis and action to keep people safe and help the economy recover and continued work towards systemic change to address unjust policies. 

 

EXAMPLES OF POLICY INITIATIVES TO ACHEIVE LASTING SYSTEMIC CHANGE

 

Image may contain: one or more people and textI wanted to share some of the work we have done and continue to do to achieve lasting, systemic change that will right the wrongs of the past.  I wish I could go back and change things, but I can’t. What I can do is make change that will change the future.

 

One example I’ve been using as people ask how we can make lasting change is the need for equity. Equity is not the same as  equal.  Equal means the injustices of the past are perpetuated.  If poor neighborhoods have never had the investment that other neighborhoods had then just giving the same amount year after year means that the broken system is perpetuated.  Equitable investment would acknowledge this historical injustice and invest more to provide the resources necessary to achieve success.  As we consider budgets we need to put much more of an emphasis on equity in our budget.  Too many people are getting left behind.

 

 

 

Category

 

Policy or Bill

 

How This Creates Lasting, Systemic Change

Economic Justice

House Bill 28 - $15 living wage and equal pay to overcome historical injustice

Women of color are most impacted by low wages that trap people in poverty – see this article for more information - https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/04/economic-inequality/524610/

 

Just this week a major announcement came out from major retailer Target to make permanent their $15 minimum wage.  The movement is growing for living wages!

 

https://thehill.com/regulation/business/503138-target-permanently-raising-hourly-minimum-wage-to-15?fbclid=IwAR0c9PLJlf5lU4QzbI9o29-EY-XkjHK5Kh4686Zt_SaqEt-yK3bLZOQ_bec

 

 

 

Criminal Justice

Rape Kit Reform-

Make reforms mandatory so all Alaskans have equal access to justice

The criminal justice system has not been fair to all Alaskans.  Implicit bias and racism against Alaska Native women is a big part of why our rates of sexual assault and domestic violence are so high.  Women are unwilling to move forward and demand justice because they are treated badly.  A frequent reply is that no one would believe me.  Survivors deserve justice and we must work to a system that people can trust. I say this work is also social justice work because we can work to right the wrongs against groups of people historically disadvantaged by the justice system.

 

A powerful documentary on this issue is called “I am Evidence” – learn more here - https://www.iamevidencethemovie.com/

 

 

 

 

SNAP Access-

Included in SB 91, this provision removed the lifetime prohibition for receiving SNAP benefits following a felony drug conviction

The criminal justice system has not been fair to all Alaskans.  Mandatory minimum drug laws and excessive fines and sentences are certain groups are overrepresented in the corrections system.  This provision was a relic of the Clinton era welfare reform and only served to further disadvantage groups of people particularly Alaska Native and Black Alaskans. Thousands of Alaskans have benefited from the policy change.

 

Read more here: https://www.alaskapublic.org/2016/07/28/state-partially-lifts-ban-on-drug-felons-applying-for-food-stamps/

 

 

 

Historical Justice

HB 56 – Honoring Hmong-American Veterans

Hmong Americans came to the US as refugees after they were forced to flee their homeland following their honorable service to the US during the Vietnam War.  Immigrants are often treated badly and not welcomed into a community.  It underscores how wrong that treatment is when the families are here because they saved American lives in combat.  We owe them a debt of gratitude.  It is heartbreaking to know that it took over 40 years before the US granted any recognition.  In Alaska we have honored their service be providing a Veteran’s driver license and now a state holiday to honor their service.  House Bill 56 passed this year and was signed into law by Governor Dunleavy at the end of April.

 

 

 

 

SB 46 – Honoring African American Soldiers Who Built the Alaska Highway

This bill recognizes the tremendous feat of the African American soldiers that built the Alaska Highway.  This important story should be known to all Alaskans, but many don’t know.  The African American soldiers were sent north because the other soldiers were already deployed.  The military was still segregated at the time and the soldiers were given poor equipment and forced to live outside of towns where they were told they were not welcome. They persevered and completed the highway construction faster than expected. President Truman was convinced by their hard work that the military should desegregate, becoming the first major institution to do so.  The Alaska Highway is also called the Road to Civil Rights.  It was such an honor to meet one of the soldiers who was able to travel to Alaska for the bill signing.

 

 

 

 

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS FOR AFFORDABLE, RELIABLE, HIGH-QUALITY CHILD CARE CONTINUE

 

The important conversations on child care availability in our community continue on July 10th with a conversation with providers.  Thankfully the state recently announced additional funds will go to centers, but it is still not what was committed to when centers had to close because of Covid-19. With uncertainty about school openings more parents than every may be looking for child care.  I am going to keep pushing and working for solutions.  What we know is that before the pandemic child care was expensive and hard to find and after it may be non-existent. Our economy will not recover with child care. To join this meeting, find event information here: https://www.facebook.com/events/266007387945085/

 

WORLD REFUGEE DAY GOES VIRTUAL WITH A WEEK OF EVENTS

 

I look forward to the World Refugee Day event every year.  It’s a way to meet neighbors, learn more about our community, and build new relationships.  World Refugee Day is celebrated globally on June 20th. In Alaska, this day has been honored with a community celebration with food, dancing, and neighbors sharing their stories. With covid-19 this year World Refugee Day is going online!

 

From Catholic Social Services – You are invited to Zoom Community Conversations

Sign up for virtual conversations about refugee resettlement in Alaska featuring local leaders and community members. We hope you'll join us discuss issues around resettlement in Alaska and how our community can continue to welcome and support refugees.

  • Friday, June 19, 2020: Welcoming Anchorage
    • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
    • Guests: Mara Kimmel, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, Rachel Peric, Hayat Khalaf and more
  • Tuesday, June 23, 2020: Catholic Social Teachings and Refugee Resettlement
    • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
    • Host: Archbishop Andrew E. Bellisario
  • Thursday, June 25, 2020: 40 Years of Refugee Resettlement in the U.S.
    • 5:30-6:30 PM
    • Co-Hosts: Issa Spatrisano & Lisa Aquino

UPCOMING COMMUNITY COUNCIL MEETINGS

 

 

Image result for community council meetingsMeetings have slowed down for summer, but don’t forget about your community council Facebook page as a way to keep in touch with neighbors!

 

Keep in touch with Airport Heights happenings here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/101546559886095/

 

Visit the Mountain View Community Council Facebook page here: neighbors: https://www.facebook.com/MountainViewCommunityCouncil/

 

To keep in touch with Russian Jack neighbors, please visit here: https://www.facebook.com/RussianJackcommunity/

 

We will keep you posted on future meetings.

 

Until next time,

Geran

 

P.S. For information on absentee voting, please go here: http://www.elections.alaska.gov/Core/AKVoteEarly.php

 

MY OFFICE

SESSION
State Capitol Bldg.
Juneau, AK 99801
P (907) 465-3424

 

INTERIM
1500 W Benson Blvd
Anchorage, AK 99503
P (907) 269-0144 F (907) 269-0148

Rep.Geran.Tarr@akleg.gov
http://www.repgerantarr.com/
http://www.facebook.com/geran.tarr

 

 

 

SPEAKING UP

Write a Letter to the Editor submit your 175 word letter to the Anchorage Daily News via e-mail letter@adn.com or fax them to 258-2157, attn: letters to the editor.

 

CONTACT THE GOVERNOR

550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1700
Anchorage, AK 99501
T (907) 465-3500 F (907) 465-3532

STATE of ALASKA
http://alaska.gov/
State Info (907) 269-5111

 

 

D.C. DELEGATION

Senator Dan Sullivan
510 L St, Ste 750
Anchorage, AK 99501
T (202) 224-3004
EMAIL: Sen. Dan Sullivan

Senator Lisa Murkowski
510 L Street, Suite 600
Anchorage, AK 99501
T (907) 271-3735 F (877) 857-0322
EMAIL: Sen. Lisa Murkowski

Congressman Don Young
4241 B Street, Suite 203
Anchorage, AK 99503
T (907) 271-5978 F (907) 271-5950
EMAIL: Rep. Don Young