Monday, February 09, 2009

Palin appoints a new (and Native) rural adviser in the midst of a food and fuel crisis in rural Alaska

Excessive food and fuel prices and 20-below-zero temperatures have forced rural Alaskans "to choose between keeping their families warm and keeping their stomachs full, residents" tell Mallory Simon of CNN. "Harvested nuts and berries, small game animals, and dried fish are the only things keeping some from starving." (Read more) In the midst of the crisis, Gov. Sarah Palin has appointed John Moller of Unalaska as her new rural adviser.

Last fall, when Palin was running for vice president amidst controversy, rural adviser Rhonda McBride resigned, saying an Alaska Native would be better suited than she was for the role, which had always been filled by a Native. Victoria Barber reports for The Arctic Sounder that Moller "is a former crab fisherman from Unalaska who brings a long career in fisheries management to the post, including experience with the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council and the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association."

Moller, an Aleut, has promised that his post will include multiple rural visits, especially in light of the energy crisis affecting "Bush Alaska," the huge swaths of the state that are not on the road system. Barber reports Moller will be traveling to Emmonak, Kotlik, Alakanuk and Nunam Iqua to assess their situations and "the effectiveness of some of the efforts that the state has taken already."

"The reason I signed on for this job was to advise the governor on what I think we need in rural Alaska. And it's not a one-size-fits-all hat. We are a very diverse state," Moller told Barber. "I'm absolutely amped -- I think I can make a difference." Read more.

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