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Letters to the Editor

Posted: Friday, March 07, 2003

Bills favor special interest wants over legitimate needs of Alaskans

Our state Legislature recently introduced special interest legislation of the worst kind. House Bill 106 and Senate Bill 89 clearly favor lobbyists over Alaskans, and will enable politicians to accept campaign contributions from most of them, which is currently prohibited. This promotes special interest legislation for the highest bidder. Once again the majority of voters in Alaska will get a bad deal!

State law should not be relaxed, making it easier for lobbyists to influence our legislators. Every boondoggle that gets funded through the efforts of lobbyists, municipal representatives or special interest groups takes limited resources away from essential government services.

The public has a right to know the truth about everyone paying to obtain our legislators' favor. Alaskan laws should protect the public's interest, not hide the trail of influence that rewards cooperation between lobbyists and politicians.

Our Legislature intentionally limited public debate to a minimum number of committee hearings. Few people outside of the government-lobbyist circle will have the opportunity to testify in opposition to this legislation. While this may be a clever maneuver on the part of legislators and lobbyists pushing this bill, it has not gone unnoticed by the public. The web page www.akvoters.org/hotbuttonhb106sb89.htm has been established to track and permanently record legislative actions taken on this bill.

This is clearly bad legislation favoring a few privileged players in Juneau, at the expense of every Alaskan. Putting special interest groups and big campaign contributors before our citizens' best interests is bad public policy. The Legislature's focus must shift toward public needs, instead of special interest wants.

Please contact your representatives and demand "No" votes on HB 106 and SB 89!

James Price, Nikiski

Governor needs to listen to Alaskans before he acts

Gov. Murkowski, please slow down!

I have been a Republican all of my voting life, but I am starting to wonder if I voted correctly this past election. It seems like you have a plan. Why don't you share it with the rest of us?

All we hear are the things you are already in the process of doing, before we can express our opinion to you. Just because you are the governor of Alaska doesn't give you a free ride. You still are working for the people of this state and should listen closely.

Most of us don't like the permitting process either, but it does have a point or two to be made. Our state's economy is not in the position it is solely because of this. These large companies will rape this state if they are allowed to; it is just a matter of black and red for them. I encourage growth, but not by letting go of my principles at the same time.

My point, Mr. Murkowski, is, please don't tell me what's good for me or the other people of Alaska. Please listen to us, and ask our thoughts, then let your best judgment come through.

Rich Mondor, Ninilchik

Early-run kings managed for fishing opportunity, not protection of fish

Salmon anglers (and anyone else interested) should be very concerned about the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Sport Fish Division's management of Kenai River early run chinook salmon.

There is a lot more to this issue than the department would have the public know. The department's salmon management plan is systematically eliminating the giant early main stem chinook salmon. Les Anderson's world record giant, caught May 17, 1985, may very well be among the last to return to the river. Why?

Because the department seems more concerned about angling opportunity than it is about main stem salmon contributing to the "early run" of Kenai River chinook salmon.

Also complicating this issue is the department's failure to recognize the added mortality of chinook salmon that are caught and released more than once. Anadromous fish such as salmon cannot be compared to resident fish like rainbow trout when being evaluated for impacts of fishing methods like catch-and-release mortality. Yet the department continues to do so, apparently because more opportunity is the priority.

If you would like to learn more about these two issues go online to: www.randafishing.com

/early-chinook-mgmt.html. There you will find

information and links to the department's own scientific studies that do not support present management.

Dennis Randa, Soldotna

What are area chambers doing to support sportfishing industry?

Editor's note: The following letter was written to the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce and submitted for publication.

With the state of our country's economy (high gas prices, slow economy and a war pending) and considering our local economy (vacant buildings throughout the Kenai and Soldotna area, KMart closing, commercial fishing industry severely depressed, oil field jobs cut) I feel compelled to provide you with a polite but blunt wake-up call.

Fact: The majority of tourists visit the Soldotna area to fish, not to berry pick or photograph a ptarmigan! Surely you are aware that guided fishing is a huge economic engine that drives our local economy like none other!

I understand that being outspoken toward issues as contentious as "fish politics" can be controversial and sometimes difficult, but in a community that hinges on tourism I would expect to see and feel your presence. I often receive your e-mails concerning future "tourism marketing strategies, visitors bureaus and PR plans" and it leads me to wonder: How can you not vocally and outspokenly support the local guide industry?

In the last 14 years, I have attended and participated in thousands of hours of meetings, advisory boards, committees, sportfishing groups, Board of Fish cycles, etc., and I have never heard a peep from you folks! I must tell you that guide businesses (the very ones your visitors center is filled with!) are under fire and threatened like never before.

There is a very large, outspoken and powerful segment of our community that would like to see guides and guided fishing and the tourism that they bring virtually eliminated from our area.

Funny, I never hear any pro-guiding comments, despite our contribution to the economy, and in spite of the fact that the guides annually host and/or participate in such positive local events as Take a Kid Fishing or Veterans Fishing Day.

Rather, the chamber(s) seem content to take our annual membership dues and sit back and watch us get repeatedly slandered, attacked and virtually regulated to death by a public sector that is often ill-informed and agenda driven.

Make no mistake; the fish must come first, and I am all for livable regulations that actually address a specific need (instead of squashing the guide fleet just for the sole sake of it). I also support a guide moratorium and restrictions that are based on sound Alaska Department of Fish and Game data, but I am about fed up with guide bashing by agenda-driven individuals with self-serving motives.

Likewise, organizations that remain neutral and passive remind me of the proverbial pedestrian who elects to look the other way while the little old lady gets mugged in broad daylight! It is time to take a stance.

Eager for your response,

Greg Brush, member, Soldotna Chamber of Commerce

School libraries should not be part of budget reductions

I just read an article, sent by a friend, from the Feb. 26th edition of the Clarion titled "Ragin' Cajun Adds Spice." I was so pleased to receive this article about a grand lady that my wife and I have known for many years.

However, that is not what prompts me to write. I was appalled to read that a library in one of our schools is something that is being considered as part of a budget reduction. You have got to be kidding me!

I, at one time, had faith that the school board officials we elected would do the right thing. It sure doesn't seem to be the case any more. Ladies and gentlemen of the board, you need to get back to reality. The two most important assets to our schools are programs which round out a good school building and the teachers who staff those facilities and programs.

You need to get a little leaner and meaner in several other areas before you start to pare down areas critical to the education of Kenai Peninsula students. It's easy to say and difficult to do, but that is what I see as you having been charged with when you took those positions.

And yes, for those of you interested, it was sunny and warm today.

George McDowell, Soldotna resident over on Maui



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