REI store emerges as epicenter for initiatives


For $1 a signature, seasonal work for petition pushers is in full swing at the one location in Anchorage, where the autograph hunting is good between now and Christmas — and especially so this weekend in front of REI during the company’s “garage sale” storewide event.

Shoppers heading for the Midtown Mall, where REI is now the anchor store, were approached and asked to sign the “Alaska Students’ Educational Bill of Rights” petition, which demands that the State of Alaska ensure every student receives a “quality education.” They were also implored to sign a “Better Elections” petition being held out by a woman from the state of Maine, where “ranked voting” (also called “instant run-off voting”) has been pioneered. More on ranked voting

[Read more at the Heritage Foundation about how instant run-off voting is a scheme to promote marginal candidates and manipulate outcomes.]

The signature contractor for the education petition at REI was aggressive, and he was certainly at ground zero for picking up hundreds of dollars for several hours worth of work. Saturday was a busy day of to-ing and fro-ing for Alaskans in the mood for fleece clothing.

The contractor with the petition didn’t appreciate a photographer documenting the petition process for Must Read Alaska, and attempted to chase him off.


The education petition is a grammarian’s nightmare with education goals that include paying teachers more money and what looks like over a billion dollars more of spending for education of everyone from babies to octogenarians. It would mandate that the state provide all students, regardless of age or ambition, a “quality education.”

However, the language is vague and subject to wide interpretation.

One thing is clear: The mandate for state education starts at birth and the “quality education” goes through an entire lifetime, including post-graduate and doctoral work — at no cost to those who cannot afford college.

The Education Bill of Rights petition calls upon the State Department of Education and Early development, the State Board of Education, and the University of Alaska to do not much more than “make recommendations to ensure that all students in the State of Alaska receive a quality education.”

Nearly the entire list of demands refers to the clause that says “recommendations.”

The ballot initiative calls upon the agencies above to make recommendations so “students of all ages have access to a continuous system of high-quality education.”

It further calls for recommendations for investments to be made in voluntary pre-elementary programs that “reflect the best available data on outcomes for students throughout their academic careers.

It calls for recommendations for how public schools may be safe, accessible, and modern.

It calls for recommendations for how schools can receive “the tools, including salaries and benefits, to attract and retain highly-qualified (sic) professionals in a manner that is competitive with other jurisdictions.”

It calls for recommendations for “class-size” (sic), caseloads, and educator workload, that is conducive to frequent one-on-one interactions with educators.”

It calls for recommendations for how public schools can offer “comprehensive education that includes career and technical education; engineering; world languages; language arts; mathematics; physical education; science; social studies; technology; visual and performing arts; consistent with the provisions of AS 14.35.010-030; and other electives offering enrichment.

It calls for recommendations for voluntary pre-elementary programs and after-school extracurricular activities.

It calls for recommendations for how public schools may “provide culturally sensitive curricula, including programs, experiences, and teaching methods that speak to and preserve Alaska Native identity and history, and reflect the needs and cultures of diverse student populations.”

It calls for recommendations for “where practicable, voluntary pre-elementary programs and kindergarten through twelfth-grade public education are available at or near each student’s place of residence.”

And finally, it calls for recommendations that enhance social and emotional needs of students.

The recommendation section is backed up by a change in statute to add regulations that would actually implement the recommendations.

In other words, suddenly, it’s no longer about “recommendations,” but actually ensuring such things as the university system being “affordable and accessible to Alaskans of all economic means…” (Essentially, a free university to those who qualify.)

And it mandates regulations to override the authority of the Board of Education and the Board of Regents, not to mention local school boards. It’s a takeover of the schools via a badly written ballot initiative.

But petition signers are not being told that. They are not being shown the cost of implementing their lofty goals that, curiously, make no mention of parents. They are being told by incentivized signature gatherers that it’s a voter initiative to “Support Our Public Schools.”

And the hapless fleece shoppers are signing the petition because, perhaps they were dozing off in Civics 101, or perhaps they are just favoring every petition that is put in front of them as a “resist” statement. And who, after all, could be against education?


  1. Is that private property where they are parked? If so I guess the owner (REI?) gave them the ok? I’ve been denied to collect petition signatures any number of times in front of grocery stores, a US Post Office & a public library.

  2. We had to muscle by those petition people, and that one guy *was* very loud and aggressive. I actually had to put up my hand to fend him off he was so in my face. I wondered, at the time, who was paying him and considered whether I would just skip going in the store. This getting paid for signatures should be illegal as it is so abused in the process. They will say (or not say) anything to get your signature. I wished REI would have at least kicked them away from the door (preferably off the property all together.)

  3. I could be wrong, but it seems like certain groups from back “East” are trying to push their way of life on Alaskans.

  4. And who, after all, could be against education? MRAKers, that’s who – as proven by their incessant raging against the University system.

    • No, Whid. MRAKers love education, as you can plainly see from being a bit beat-up here. We just don’t believe in sophism, union-meddling, inflated wages, forced liberal curricula, and dishonesty in fact. And we love your postings because your arguments are so easy to dismantle.

    • “MRAK’ers”… Cute tag line. And a wide brush used to take a swipe at this news sources readers.

      However, those who regularly follow this venue are for limited government, balanced budgets, low taxes and self governance without leftist, East Coast and West Coast interlopers coming and attempting to re-make our wonderful state constitution and Alaska.

      Maybe I’ll start a petition stating that in order to collect signatures for a petition, one must be first a registered voter in Alaska and second eligible for the PFD. Then, we’ll know which neighbors want to see Alaska destroyed.

    • Widbey,
      I’ve spent a lot of time in our public schools and the financial waste is appalling. The administration and teachers have grown to accustomed to bloated budgets and no accountability. Not every school or teacher is guilty of this but it’s the common trend. Student performance keeps declining while funding keeps increasing.

    • Whidbey,

      How are things down in the lower 48? I’m glad things are so great in the state you live in that you choose to spend your time commenting on issues in a state you don’t live in.

    • The UAA system is a failed black sheep who needs their wool cut. You know that. I don’t have a bone against the K-12 system, but I do have against rude signature takers no matter what the cause.

    • Whidbey woofer……you are correct…..MRAKers are against the university system that brainwashes the students with garbage political correctness, hate, and intolerance of independent viewpoints. Apparently, these are your pathways for further education?

  5. Democrats with all of their money and peddle power hang out at REI. It’s a target rich environment for young progressives who don’t have time to read or reason. I have made several large purchases myself over the years at REI, but I am done shopping there.

    • Sounds good to me. It is a long way to drive from the Kenai just to be accosted by some gugans. Am getting use to shopping on line anyway.

  6. Conservatives need to stay on their toes and be vigilant. These petitions that are presented to the public to sign are almost universally the goals of Saul Alinsky’s goals in his book “Rules for Radicals”. Controlling our lives completely is the goal of these Democrat Socialists. The goals are achieved by getting the populous to feel comfortable about accepting small incremental losses of their freedoms. “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” Ronald Reagan Thanks to Susanne for providing another insight into the truths of the underhanded schemes of the Democrat Socialists.

  7. REI is where they hit me up to sign the recall petition back in August. It was hilarious to see the look on the guy’s face when I told him no and that I liked and supported the governor’s budget cuts.

  8. You gotta love the lefty hive mind. Push some piece of paper in front of them, hype it with left wing platitudes, and do it all in front of one of their worship centers- and they have no idea what they are signing, but they can’t wait to do so.

  9. Who goes to REI when there’s now both a Cabela’s and a Bass Pro shop in town? Oh yea, I forgot about the Subaru driving Marxist transplants from Kalifornia, Portland and Seattle.

  10. I just tell all of them no. And I dare that — to get loud with me. I will embarrass the — out of him right there for all of God’s country to see and hear.

  11. And who, after all, could be against education? How about the loyal readers here who continually rage against the University and its Administration?

    • Whidy why don’t you step up and fund this mess since you seem to want it? You have no useful information to share here so go back to your safe space.

  12. What a great way to kill a business… Solicit signatures for a bunch of petchulant little babies who can’t understand the word no…. It is Not The rest of the states job to ensure an education.. That is on the person attending and how serious they are. Not taxpayers. Nobody is against education… What we are sick of, is our money being used and then they demand more even tho the grad rates for the colleges is so low its disgusting. It’s becoming a breeding ground for liberals… Don’t sign these idiots petitions… Walk away..

  13. Good one, Mongo. I’ve pulled many Suburu’s out of the ditch with my gas guzzling 7.2L turbo-charged V8 RAM pick-up. Most of those drivers had Begich, coexist and anti-Pebble bumper stickers on them, with kayak racks mounted on the roof and Starbuck coffee holders inside. Typical, stereotypical Liberals who can’t drive worth a sh*t. I can’t wait for Suzanne to make some classy MRAK bumper stickers for my truck to wear.

    • I would love a MRAK bumper sticker. Suzanne, what is the hold up? I would pay for some.

      I always laugh at the “COEXIST” bumper because that is exactly what the owner of the car wants. Their objective is to get you to believe what they believe. They don’t want to hear any other opinions, because they might have to think!

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