Friday, March 23, 2007
Veterans Party Of Alaska Candidate Ted Gianoutsos Launches Second U.S. Senate Campaign, This Time Against U.S. Senator Ted Stevens
Alaska's senior U.S. Senator Ted Stevens already has an opponent for the 2008 election campaign - from a source he probably didn't expect, but who has run for office in the past.
According to a report posted by KIMO Channel 13 in Anchorage, on Thursday March 23rd, 2007, Ted Gianoutsos (pictured at left with his wife, Fran from Tedandfran.com) turned in nearly 5,000 signatures to the Alaska State Division of Elections as the first step towards getting his name on next year's general election ballot. The Division of Elections will have to certify the petition by checking the veracity of the signatures. Once certified, Gianoutsos' name will be placed on the ballot and he'll be running against Ted Stevens for U.S. Senate as a member of the Veterans Party of Alaska.
This is Gianoutsos' third try for elective office. In 2004, he ran unsuccessfully as a write-in candidate against Lisa Murkowski, who was ultimately "elected" (since she was appointed in the first place, the term "re-elected" would not be precisely accurate). He also ran unsuccessfully as a write-in candidate for governor of Alaska in 2006, at the very last moment throwing his support to the eventual winner, Sarah Palin. His wife, Fran, also ran as a write-in candidate for lieutenant governor during the same election campaign. However, while the Gianoutsos' write-in candidacies were considered "marginal", Ted obviously must have stepped on somebody's toes in the process. According to an October 26th, 2006 report in News.com, somebody infected the Gianoutsos' campaign website with either a worm, virus, or some sort of "malware". Gianoutsos expressed the belief it was because of his advocacy of opening ANWR and on veterans' reforms.
Gianoutsos continues to push two primary issues; natural resources and veterans affairs. He bills his proposed North Slope Natural Resources Act as a balance between development and environment. “The way to open ANWR has nothing to do with budgets or deficits. ANWR is a PR issue. The low-ground on ANWR is the oil. The high-ground is the wildlife”, he told Channel 13 News.
Regarding veterans' issues, Gianoutsos also said, “Veterans have had enough of being neglected and shortchanged by both Republican and Democratic politicians, and it's time for a veteran’s party. This will have more effect on their healthcare than anything else.”
Ted Gianoutsos has an active campaign website. Link: http://www.tedandfran.com
Commentary: On his campaign website, Ted Gianoutsos discusses his proposed North Slope Natural Resources Act (NSNR). Under this act, there would be a three-way split of North Slope energy revenues. He recommends a split of 34%, 33%, and 33%.
In this scheme, Alaska would receive 34% of the entire NSNR revenue, which, in turn would be subdivided equally between the state government and the Alaska Permanent Fund. Next, a National Endowment for Wildlife (NEW), to be created under NSNR, would receive 33% of NSNR revenue, to be invested in a U. S. Treasury-based permanent endowment for wildlife conservation in America. Annual interest earned by the NEW would be apportioned to wildlife conservation in all states in proportion to their natural wildlife and wilderness resources. Alaska would of course get the lion’s share, as it should, having by far most of America’s wildlife and wilderness.
Finally, the remaining 33% would be allocated towards energy conservation, alternative energy research and development, and any necessary reclamation of those parts of the North Slope used for energy production. Each category would be allocated one-third of this remaining revenue. Gianoutsos further recommends that the projects for alternative energy and enrgy conservation be headquartered in Alaska. This latter proposal is particularly smart because Alaska, due to its sheer size, has the greatest potential for alternative energy diversity; indeed, geothermal energy is already proving its worth at Chena Hot Springs, and the Aleutians could become one of the largest reliable sources of wind energy. Turning Fire Island outside of Anchorage into a wind farm has also been seriously discussed. As a matter of fact, Alaska State Representative Harry Crawford (D-Anchorage) has introduced HB73, which would appropriate $24 million from the Railbelt energy fund (AS 37.05.520) to the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development for payment as a grant under AS 37.05.316 to the Alaska Railbelt Energy Authority Joint Action Agency for construction of a wind farm on Fire Island and transmission lines to connect it to existing electrical infrastructure in Anchorage. The bill is currently bottled up in the Finance Committee.
The advantage to the NSNR approach is that it does as Gianoutsos advertises: It shifts the ANWR debate from oil to environment. The bet is that an environmentally-oriented sell of ANWR will better convince Congress to open it up for exploration and responsible development.
Gianoutsos' interest in veterans' issues is motivated by the Federal government's disinterest, negligence, and occasional outright malevolence towards veterans. The Feds scarf them up to serve in Uncle Sam's imperial wars, use them up, then cast them aside like used condoms when done with them. Gianoutsos considers health care in Alaska to be grossly inadequate for veterans and non-veterans alike. While a growing percentage of Alaskans are uninsured, the remainder are caught between ever-rising premiums and lowered coverage. He considers this situation in America’s richest state to be a disgrace, especially for 250,000 Alaska veterans, serving military and our families. In 2005, the VA only served the health care needs of 13,000 vets out of 75,000 Alaska vets, and didn’t serve our families at all! TRICARE is short-changing Alaska serving military and their families, in wartime no less. In short, health care for all Alaskans is a real mess. While the politicians are talking health care, we veterans are actually DOING health care!
And Ted Gianoutsos has backed up his talk with action! Working with other Alaska veterans, they founded the Alaska Veterans Foundation to ensure the best possible health care for ALL Alaska veterans, resident serving military, and our families. Within the Foundation they created the Veterans Endowment Trust (VET) to help fund our health care. The VET is solely and transparently invested in secure U.S. Treasury securities. However, the aforementioned organizations are non-profits legally constrained against partisan political activity, so to fulfill the political mission, they founded the Veterans Party of Alaska.
The abuses of some veterans have been well-chronicled. Not only did we hear of the Walter Reed Army Hospital scandal, which cost the Secretary of the Army his job, but there have been reports of veterans medically discharged before their expiration of term of service (ETS) being forced to pay back portions of their enlistment bonus. On March 26th, 2006, the Daily Kos posted the account of Kevin Strongstreet, who was medically discharged for post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from service in Iraq. The U.S. Army successfully recouped a part of his enlistment bonus, even though his discharge was at the Army's behest. This is absolutely cold-blooded, and other medically-discharged veterans have also had portions of their bonuses recouped. The regulations permit recoupment of a bonus in the event of an uncompleted term of service without regard for the reason for discharge or the character of service.
So should we Alaskans support Ted Gianoutsos? I met him three years ago at a candidate forum. He didn't strike me as a lonely senior citizen in search of a hobby, but as a sincere, committed individual who wants to make a difference. His candidacy is worthy of attention. Only one local Alaska media outlet gave him that attention. However, the crafty Stevens, a consummate master of political intrigue, is not exactly resting on his laurels. Recently, Alaska's senior senator proposed to make ANWR a part of the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve, in order to place it more within the context of patriotism and complicate the efforts of the opposition. Stevens is betting that many Democratic lawmakers don't want to appear as if they're voting against the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, so the old war horse has a few more aces up his sleeve.