Letters to the Editor

Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2001

Borough needs contingency plan before any prison contract signed

A contingency plan needs to be in place before any contracts are signed with anyone. If our representatives truly feel the state will take control of this private prison if the contractor defaults, then our state government must own the land and facility. This would also ensure that a takeover would not cost the taxpayer double in payback liability of the lands and facility while guaranteeing that the 800 to 1,000 prisoners will not be displaced through any violations of a private landlord or private operator.

If the Kenai Natives Association wishes not to sell, the only feasible alternative is the 150-plus acres adjacent to Spring Creek maximum security prison in Seward. This land would not need to be purchased as it is city-owned land. This would be referred to as a government-government model. This, however, will not protect us from the buyback liability of a contract from a private operator.

The monies that are being authorized in this contract to Cornell for the planning and promotion of this private prison should also be utilized to investigate the allegations presented to the assembly on Dec. 12, 2000, by the Public Safety Employees Association, which represents Alaska State Troopers, court services officers, fire marshals, airport safety officers, cities of Juneau and Unalaska police officers and Alaska State Correctional Officers. Of special interest are North Carolina, Louisiana and Florida, where takeover of adult and juvenile facilities has already occurred.

My biggest fear is once the precedent is set to fully privatize this prison and a government-to-government model isn't used, that the state and this borough will pursue fully privatizing our planned juvenile detention center. Then, they will proceed to place halfway houses irresponsibly in our neighborhoods on private lands throughout the entire peninsula without regard to buffer zones or proximity to services that are required by residential inmates -- ignoring a 1997 task force recommending that a government-to-government model be used in locating these types of institutions.

You can logon to this report at: http://www.

borough.kenai.ak.us/planningdept/CCRC/cover/index.htm. You can also logon at www.borough.kenai.ak.us/assemblyclerk to view ordinance 98-33, chapters 21.25 conditional land use permits, and 21.27 correctional community residential center (CCRC) permits.

This kind of industry is not encouraged to decrease its population. There is no legislation in place that will forbid this institution from importing out-of-state prisoners. Where will it stop? It won't!

I really do feel that the majority of the folks on the peninsula are opposed to this private prison. We have not been given the opportunity to truly express how we view this project because we have not been given our right to vote. This very important issue will financially obligate us and effect our children and our lands for generations to come. Is this really what we want for our beloved peninsula?

Thank you, Paul Fischer, for Resolution 2001-027 and for caring about getting an advisory vote by the people. Grace Merkes, thanks for your proposed amendment to Resolution 2001-037 for a feasibility study to be conducted before entering into phase two contracts with Cornell. And last, but not least, thank you for your "no" vote on Resolution 2001-037, assemblyman Pete Sprague. Way to hang in there for your constituents.

Vicki Duggin, Nikiski

Even though he wins, defendant stands to lose because of costs

We have followed the Zebulon Nudson case in the media from its beginnings -- 13 months of misery for the defendant and his family.

The Alaska statutes dealing with self-defense are pretty clear, even to the layman. When one is in mortal fear of his or her life, deadly force is OK when defending one's life, according to our statutes.

The prosecution stated "We knew from the start this would be a difficult case, but the seriousness and the facts of the case, which were egregious, made us put this before a jury. We did not want a government official sanctioning this killing. We wanted a jury to decide."

Kenai District Attorney Dwayne McConnell said the circumstances of the shooting were such that Nudson's guilt or innocence was not a decision he or someone in his office should make.

In the American system of justice, the state, police, prosecution and the defense should all investigate the truth and let the cards fall as they may, preferably before any trial is warranted. The prosecution filed a multi-charge indictment against the defendant, hoping to convict him of something. The prosecution tried to spin the evidence in its favor. This case should not have gone to trial. The defendant's attorney tried to have the charges dismissed or his client acquitted on April 4. Judge Link let the trial continue to a jury decision. Judge Link either has blinders or tunnel vision, or both in our opinion.

The real tragedy in this case is the defendant and probably his family mortgaged their future to pay for the costs of the defense. They may very well be gutted financially without recourse to recover their costs from the state and/or the people involved with the prosecution. The state, as a result, can falsely charge anyone with a crime in a multi-crime indictment, lose the case at trial knowing that beforehand. The defendant still loses, being gutted financially.

It is time for our community to contact our local legislators -- Sen. Jerry Ward, Sen. John Torgerson, Rep. Mike Chenault and Rep. Ken Lancaster -- in Juneau and have them design and work to pass legislation that holds the state, its agencies and employees entirely responsible for the defendant's cost of a defense when the defense prevails.

Any clever prosecutor can charge anyone with a crime in this state as the perverted system operates currently. The legislation, if passed, should be retroactive to this case. In the public good, retroactive legislation is entirely legal.

We need community action because anyone of us could be the next perverted prosecution victim!

Bill and Samon Arnold, Sterling

Folk wisdom applies to recent trial

Regarding the Zeb Nudson trial: As my granddad used to say, "Fly with the crows, get shot with the crows."

Bob Kintzele, Kenai

P.S. Never, ever, bring a handgun to a rifle fight.

Halibut IFQs for charter fleet give public less control over resource

The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council's recent decision to award Individual Fishing Quota halibut shares to the charter boat industry attempts to politically and economically isolate the sport fishing community and the public at large from any control over their own halibut resources.

The commercial fishing industry, seeing what a balanced state fisheries board membership and allocation process did to their decades long dominance of the salmon resource, hasn't sat idle. Rather, they have, by brute force, forged a Mafia-like "deal they can't refuse" alliance with the largely public interest friendly charter boat fleet that has made a substantial investment and commitment to support Alaska sport fishing.

The charter fleet, first threatened by the commercial industry dominated NPFMC last year with a one-fish limit (the gun), is ironically now offered a junior partner's seat at the commercial trough in order to stabilize and reverse evolving political changes that the commercial industry sees as a threat to its total dominance and control of the public's halibut resources.

The commercial fleet knows that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's work on local area management plans and the potential for a more balanced board membership composition is a threat to its agenda of placing its special interest over the public interest.

Alaskans should stand up to this ongoing disproportionate, corporate welfare allocation of our halibut resources by supporting Gov. Tony Knowles' opposition to the IFQ plan for the charter fleet.

Further, we should be encouraging the governor to continue to appoint council members who are more capable of collectively representing the public. Contact the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to protest and stop this ill-thought proposal by writing/calling him at: Assistant Secretary of Commerce (NOAA), 14th and Constitution Ave., NW, Room 5804, HCHB, Washington D.C. 20230; phone, (202) 482-3567; fax, (202) 482-6318.

Robert Siter, Soldotna

Kenai Middle School should not be ashamed of its Kossack mascot

I am the father of two Kenai Middle School students and am a former Kenai Junior High School student. My kids told me that a vote to change the mascot is coming up. The kids love to get me going about a mascot change at the Kenai Middle School. When I heard a vote was coming up, I had to write you and see just how serious the mascot change is.

The Kossack is a big part of the Kenai history and is a great original mascot. I have heard one teacher quoted to say that the Kossacks were a murdering, evil band of military warriors. I disagree with this kind of propaganda. The Kossacks I remember were, well, "US" -- the people who attended this great little school and stayed around Kenai to raise our families.

We were the "Kossacks" and in some way still are. Not to sound like a broken record, but your mascot should be a symbol of pride and individuality. Awards should be associated with it and kids should be proud to wear it on their clothes, bags, pennants, pencils, books and anything it could be printed on. Your mascot should be promoted by the older students and the teachers -- yes, the teachers and faculty should be professional and promote it, not trash on it.

It may be too late for the old Kossack, because I do not believe this class will care for any mascot. KMS teachers are the ones the students follow and look up to in class and in school. I am sad to see lack of school pride in the sixth- to eighth-grade Kenai classes and faculty of KMS. Personally, I hope I am mistaken and KMS takes much better care of the old or new mascot.

Thank you for you time,

Joe A. Bryant, A former Kenai Kossack, Kenai

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