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It’s a new beginning this week in both Alaska and the United States.

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This past week saw two mainstays of American democracy take place: On Friday, the peaceful transfer of power, when President Barack Obama stepped down and Donald Trump was sworn in as president, and on Saturday, the right to protest peacefully.

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Monica C. Kintana, 90, died Jan. 13, 2017, in Ketchikan.
4/8/2013
The right approach

Hats off to Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, who set an example last week by furloughing 26 staff members and returning some of his own salary to the U.S. Treasury.

In announcing the cuts, the Anchorage Democrat noted that “there is no reason that members of Congress shouldn’t feel the pinch like everyone else.”

The staffers who will be taking a couple of unpaid days off are the highest paid, according to the senator’s office, and that, too, is how it ought to be. Leadership begins at the top and, while no one can afford a cut in pay —we tend to spend to the level at which we earn — those who make more money generally have more discretionary areas to cut.

While the rest of the delegation didn’t make similar cuts, The Associated Press points out that Begich had the largest staff, at 41, among Alaska’s trio in Washington, D.C. (Senators and representatives have an annual budget which they can apportion as they will.)

Begich, a former Anchorage mayor, reports having returned close to $1 million to the Treasury from his office budget since coming to Washington, D.C., in 2009. He said this past week that he knows such gestures as his won’t solve the country’s spending problems. But “families and small businesses make these tough choices every day and now it’s time for Congress to do the same.”

He’s right.