Rep. Neuman: Down but not out - Must Read Alaska
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Monday, August 26, 2019
HomePoliticsRep. Neuman: Down but not out

Rep. Neuman: Down but not out

SEVERE NECK INJURY NEARLY SEVERING HIS SPINAL CORD

Rep. Mark Neuman of Big Lake is not in Juneau. He’s only been able to make cameo appearances this session. Most of the time the voting board has him marked as “excused.”

Neuman is at his home on the sofa, trying to keep his neck from moving, and thus prevent his disintegrated vertebrae from severing his spinal cord. A neck injury like this will insist on all of your attention, he explained to Must Read Alaska.

Neuman has been gone for some of the 121-day regular session and has not shown up yet at the special session, but it’s not because he doesn’t care. In fact, being gone has his anxiety “through the roof,” he said.

He’s missing because over the years, he has worked too hard, for too many hours, even when in pain, and ignored the signals his neck was giving him: It was simply giving out.

Now, it’s bone-on-bone, and his spinal cord is literally being cut in half. So he stays in place, tries not to move, tries not to sneeze even.

Any jostle of an elevator ride in the Capitol Building feels like knives. Falling down stairs at the Capitol would end up as a catastrophic medical emergency.

But help is around the corner. Neuman is waiting for the permission from his insurance company and hopes to be in surgery within a week in Anchorage to repair the vertebrae in his neck. They’ll have to go in the front and insert a piece of a femur bone where some vertebrae is supposed to be.

Being away from Juneau is stressful for him, he says, but he has kept in touch with his colleagues in the House and has spoken to Gov. Michael Dunleavy on a regular basis; those two are friends.

Neuman wants Alaskans to know that the people in House District 8 want a full Permanent Fund dividend payout, according to the formula established by tradition, and with no changes to that formula without going through a public process.

“It’s the People’s Fund,” Neuman said. “Why not go out and ask the people?”

“I fully support the governor’s approach to budget, crime, and the Permanent Fund dividend,” Neuman said. He would not have been a “yes” vote on the current House budget. He would have voted with the Republican minority.

But after years of not allowing himself to stop working, after years of simply working through the pain, he has to take extra precautions now to not end up paraplegic or worse. And so he waits for an insurance company decision. And waits.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • I’ve had a similar neck surgery due to vertebrae and disc material degenerating away. The pain was excruciating and numbing at the same time. The good thing was that the surgery was a huge success. Thanks to Dr. Jensen in Fairbanks. I too, had to wait on insurance to get the medical procedure approved. My prayers go out to Rep. Mark Neuman. Good luck, sir, and may the Good Lord watch over you.

  • Hope you feel better soon

  • I wish Rep. Neuman all the best and a full recovery. However, I wonder if his district would have been served better if he had stepped down and Governor Dunleavy pick his replacement…it would have been solid choice from the Governor no doubt based on his political alignment and the district’s compass.

    At a certain point the absences, excused or otherwise do add up. How many people have questioned legislators missing 1 or 2 votes with excuses absences?

    • It’s not like he is in Hawaii or going to see Grandma. He has a major health issue and is getting it taken care of. This is only temporary, not a permanent situation. He has been down there in the regular session, only missing this special session. With the make up of the house, Thanks to the RINOs in the house, his vote would not be a decision maker on any legislation being looked at during the special session. Get well Mark!!!

  • Mark, I wish you the very best! That does not sound in any way fun.

  • Thanks, Mark, for the good legislation in the past and prayers to God for your recovery.