Letters to the Editor

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2003

Some ideas for Homer to think about regarding oil lease sales

This letter is mainly a letter to the people of the Homer area in regard to the proposed petroleum lease sales. I have several ideas that I wish you would consider. Please read the complete idea.

Idea 1:

Let the oil companies explore. Most "wildcat" wells come up dry. These wells, generally, are not produced. The sands that are "drilled up" are checked for signs of hydrocarbons. Then the "well" is plugged and abandoned. There is no production.

Even if the companies find hydrocarbons, it would need to be really, really big for them to do anything with it. The lease area is a very difficult place to build facilities and there are no in-place facilities. Marginal fields are not developed.

An example is the gas field north of Homer. Remember the gas pipeline that was almost run to Homer last year. The field wasn't going to pay them a return. Reduced field, no pipeline.

If you took this approach there most likely would not be a hydrocarbon development and you could get rid of the meetings and could stay home by the fire. Ask Seward about the big oil boom in the Gulf of Alaska a few years ago. The oil companies tried, nothing. They went away with no impact.

Idea 2:

Did you know that Homer is not well liked on the rest of the peninsula? You are referred to as "Homeroids." There are many who feel that the road to Homer should not have been repaired last fall. Always with your hand out, but not wanting the economic development needed to pay for the services.

Why don't you show those critics that you have what it takes? Cut the "North" off. Form your own borough. You can have better control of what happens to you.

Idea 3:

Be more pragmatic. Don't throw up walls that give the "enemy" something to shoot at. Come up with plans that make them think they received something. Little plans, little gains.

If you and people of similar thinking around the country had not been so rigid in your approach, there might not be the backlash that we are seeing at the federal and state levels. There is a good chance that all that you think you gained will be lost.

We're all in this together.

William L. Hightower

Sterling

Story on assembly member being in Hawaii served no good purpose

I'm not certain what purpose was accomplished by printing the article that called our attention to Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member John Davis conducting borough business from Hawaii. Was it to criticize him? If so, what value do we derive from public criticism just for the sake of criticizing? Exposing wrong-doings is always to be applauded, but I searched the entire article and can find no wrongdoing.

The reasons assembly member Davis cited for not changing his plans are to be applauded: 1) Money does not grow on trees and nonrefundable deposits means nonrefundable, so canceling would be unnecessarily wasting money; 2) Family is important, and planned vacations are one source of reinforcing and refreshing family bonding;

3) Assembly member Davis answered every single one of my three e-mails from Hawaii by the very next day -- even though I am not one of his constituents because I am not in his district, but it was an assembly-type issue. And his replies were not the hurried "don't-bother-me-I'm-on-vacation" type answers either. They were respectful and informative to one not used to writing to the assembly.

It is a bit discouraging that this article seemed to have generated one person having to defend his vacation time, creating additional questions where our borough president was called upon to answer.

As far as the trips are concerned (or any other assembly business, for that matter), I believe our Assembly President Pete Sprague has our borough interests first and foremost and should be trusted to make decisions for our benefit. I totally agree with him that we need to have exposure in Washington because we are not a stand-alone government.

In my opinion, the question was asked of -- and answered by -- assembly member Davis so it should have satisfied Mr. Spence, making this article redundant. After all, I was at the 3:30 p.m. meeting on Jan. 21 and his chair was not the only vacant chair.

It is my desire to contribute to my community and the first thing I'd like to see is honest government and community support of our government officials. We vote them in and hold them accountable, but we must give them the tools -- and two of those tools are our trust and our support. Perhaps we could find articles that show how hard our assembly members do work, starting with President Sprague.

I'm sure Mr. Spence is a great person, and I mean no disrespect to him, but I really wish all our media outlets would feel compelled to start a new resolution -- print the successes and wins and the thanks of our community, and, if there is pain to report, print ways we can help. Our government and our caregivers (police, fire, state troopers, hospital, etc.) need to know they make a difference while they are alive and among us.

Please know I am not related to and I do not know any assembly member -- yet! I am a new constituent in Soldotna who arrived here on Nov. 2, 2002, and I am loving every moment of being here.

May God bless Alaska, our district of Soldotna, our Mayor Dale Bagley (I heard he has already entered a second term and is doing great things), every one of our assembly members, Hal Spence and the Peninsula Clarion!

Thank you for allowing me my thoughts.

Aloha,

Bunny Chong

Soldotna

What legislative priorities could top education, transportation?

Every July during the Fiesta of San Fermin in Pamplona, Spain, you can witness the "Running of the Bulls."

In Juneau, each January we see the "Running for the Money." Both of these events can produce skinned knees, bruised egos and other maladies. We must ask ourselves, "Why would any sane person participate in these activities?" Perhaps it's the hope of fame or fortune? Let's examine the Alaska case more closely.

Municipal leaders from all over Alaska are in Juneau presenting their legislative priorities. These phonebook-sized documents are full of projects that someone wants, but are unwilling to pay for themselves. For too many years our Legislature has handed out "free money" to just about any smooth-talking character who could get to Juneau and make a sales pitch.

To date billions of our dollars have been given away, and, of course, those on the receiving end don't want to see this payoff come to an end. The last Legislature continued these give-away programs, but failed to pay for needed schools and transportation. We had to borrow money to pay for these projects!

What kinds of legislative priorities could possibly be more important to Alaska than our education or transportation needs? To answer part of that question, I picked up a copy of the new Kenai Peninsula Borough list from the clerk's office.

What I found was $735,036,152+ in legislative requests. Similar requests will be presented by every municipality in Alaska, and the only cash resource big enough to pay this bill is our permanent fund!

Some local examples include the Nikiski Fire Service Area Board, which requested $475,000 to do site development at the Nikiski Community Center (a project which has never been approved by voters!). The North Peninsula Recreation Service Area has also requested $475,000 for the same project! At least these two

boards are made up of people duly elected and they can be removed at a borough election. This is not true for a group called the North Peninsula Community Council. Like community councils around the state, these people are not elected during official borough elections, and therefore really don't represent anyone but their own self-interests. The North Kenai group has requested in excess of $229,634,880 for various projects, including $3,500,000 for the same Nikiski Community Center mentioned two times above!

When your property tax bill goes up next year, consider where that money will go. Part of your new tax burden will be used to pay for all the new positions created by self-proclaimed conservative Borough Mayor Dale Bagley. Our property taxes are already being used to pay for two economic development departments, tourism and fish marketing programs, public transportation, a natural gas pipeline promoter, a private LIO exclusively for the borough's use and all their related studies. The public will ultimately pay for their silence on these issues in the form of higher taxes to fund proposed construction, operation and maintenance costs required by the Arctic Winter Games and these new community centers.

If we were in a growing economy, these questionable projects would not be such a big concern. There would be more people to share the cost of these new services and structures. Anyone not wearing rose-colored glasses can see more businesses closing every year, more foreclosures listed in the paper, fewer good paying jobs and increasing taxes.

The last remaining taxpayers will shoulder a huge tax burden. They will see firsthand that growth in government programs and spending never represents sustainable economic development.

The quality of life in Alaska was much better before we had this legislative priority list and all the bull that runs with it!

Mike McBride

North Kenai



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