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Letters to the Editor

Posted: Thursday, May 03, 2001

Proposed alcohol tax increase unfair; it will cost more money

On April 9, I attended a teleconference in Kenai, regarding House Bill 225. This bill, sponsored by Lisa Murkowski, is about a 300 percent sales tax increase by the state of Alaska and an additional 300 percent tax increase by each municipality on the sale of alcoholic beverages.

First of all, I was not impressed by the way Rep. Murkowski conducted the teleconference. Everyone who spoke was supposed to have a two-minute time limit. Those who spoke in favor of this bill were allowed as much time as they needed, while those who were opposed were lucky if they were even allowed the full two minutes. Lisa should bow her head in shame at the shoddy way this was handled.

Secondly, the facts and figures that were used in the work draft are extremely biased and skewed in favor of this bill. Alaska's population is a little over 620,000. In 1999 there were over 1.4 million visitors to the state, while, by this bill's own wording, there was no way of calculating the impact these visitors had on the sale of alcohol in our state. Let's face it! Facts and figures can be bent and twisted to say almost anything the user wants them to say.

I heard mention and concern about underage drinking. If you think that just because the price is increased that this will help cure the problem, you need to think again. If the youth in our society want alcohol, they will get it. If this means committing burglaries and breaking and entering, then that is what they will do. Since the youth detention facilities are already filled to capacity, new ones will have to be built to house the influx of new offenders that HB 225 will have created. And at what expense to the taxpayers?

Whatever happened to being responsible for yourself? Seventy percent of adult Alaskans drink alcohol, while only 20 percent are chronic habitual offenders. Why should half of the state bear the burden of payment for the irresponsible 20 percent? This does not seem even remotely fair.

As I sat and listened to this teleconference, I heard bartenders and owners from throughout Alaska express their concerns about HB 225 and the negative impact it would have on their business. Many are concerned that this drastic increase will force them to have to close their doors because they are barely able to make a go of it, right now.

What will happen to bartenders and waitresses? They will be signing up for unemployment, welfare and food stamps. How much more money will this cost the state? Who knows?

The majority of the business owners I listened to were not opposed to the idea of a sales tax, but they are definitely opposed to such an excessive tax. Perhaps they might agree to a 15 percent or 20 percent tax with a five-year freeze before the tax could be raised again.

As it reads now, HB 225 is destined to fail because of the excessive amount being asked for; the poor way in which it uses skewed, biased facts and figures; and the fact that Alaskans are already among the highest taxed in the nation and are getting sick and tired of it. When are the politicians going to stop raising taxes and actually try to cut government spending and achieve a balanced budget?

Here's a point to ponder in closing. I wonder just how many of the legislators who back and support HB 225 were also in favor of taking money from the permanent fund?

James Glazier, Kenai

One or two bad apples do not corrupt 700,000-member union

I see the Neither/No Committee is trying to convince you a few corrupt officers in a 700,000-plus member union makes us bad.

Every organization can have a bad apple or two, and that is the very reason we have union elections every three years. None of the incidents cited are Alaska unions.

The Girl Scouts in Anchorage had one person embezzle more than $50,000. Are they a bad group? Are the Girls Scouts to be held responsible?

I'm a union officer and proud of it.

I have lived in Kenai most of my life. I played on Kenai Central High's first football team, helped build Kalifornsky Beach Elementary, North Star Elementary, Nikiski High School, and worked on the asphalt crew on many road projects. I built my house out of pocket, raised my family here and have lived on the North Road for over 25 years.

I'm vice president of Laborers Local 341, president of the District Council of Labor (6,000 members in Alaska) and president of the Kenai Peninsula Central Labor Council.

I represent the Kenai Peninsula Borough on the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council and I'm on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Economic Development District Board.

Laborers Local 341 Business Manager Mano Frey is listed in the 25 most powerful people by the Alaska Journal of Commerce and only makes $110,000 plus benefits and expenses, compared to another CEO that makes $1 million-plus per year. Who do you want to represent you?

I applaud the Peak employees for the contribution to the United Way, but it seems a company that makes millions could contribute more than two weeks of the CEO's pay; 50,000 Alaska union members contribute to United Way in a big way, we just don't need to grandstand about it.

It is amazing the money someone is spending to keep the union out. Without a contract they can take away any wage or benefit you have.

Unions are nonprofit, and we help workers get good pensions, better medical care, training programs and legal benefits.

We are the purest form of democracy -- for many of you it will be your first opportunity to have a say about your wages and benefits. You have a secret ballot vote before any contract is in place. The strength of the unions comes from you, the Peak employees.

Blake Johnson, president, Kenai Peninsula Central Labor Council

House Bill 3 flies in face of what voters want from their legislators Alaska citizens need clear answers.

There are some questions that need to be answered by those House members who voted yes on House Bill 3.

Their title of "representative" indicates their mission is to serve the people who voted them into that position.

Eighty-four percent of the voters in Alaska indicated they didn't want the permanent fund touched without a vote of the people! Their action by voting in opposition to this shows indifference to those they are supposed to serve!

What say you?

Who are they serving if not the will of the people of the state of Alaska? What part of "no" don't they understand?

Ed Martin Sr., Cooper Landing



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