Letters to the Editor

Posted: Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Special interests win, Alaskans lose with private prison measure

Our state House just passed House Bill 498, bringing Alaska one step closer to a tremendously expensive monument to the special interest influence of Cornell Corrections, VECO and their team of lobbyists. They've obtained the best legislation that money can buy. Their corporate interests are one step closer to the largest heist of state money ever, right in the middle of a budget crisis which could soon result in the loss of our permanent fund dividends and new taxes for all citizens unable to defend themselves with their own team of special interest lobbyists. How much money have you contributed for "your" legislation this session?

I commend those peninsula legislators who had the strength to say no. Reps. Ken Lancaster and Drew Scalzi understood that the people of the Kenai Peninsula did not want to finance a prison with public funds, which would be operated by and for a private for-profit operator. They understood the corruption involved in creating a profit entity, which had successfully lobbied for creation of its own industry today and then could lobby tomorrow for more beds and longer sentences to further its goal of making profit from our state treasury. They understood that there were no real cost savings and that the loser in this deal would be the people of the state of Alaska. Justice and fiscal responsibility took a back seat to pure greed when this special interest legislation was passed.

To the 24 legislators, including our legislator from Nikiski, Rep. Mike Chenault, who voted for this boondoggle, I'd like to say that I hope that the people in your districts do not forget your action. The people in Anchorage, Delta Junction, Kenai and Wrangell all said no. Every time the facts were laid out before the voters, the clear answer was no. What part of "no" didn't you understand?

Clearly, this project is designed for no other purpose than transferring state tax revenue to a private operator, who'll transfer money back to its favored legislators. It's a sole sourced, non-competitively bid pork project with a projected cost in excess of a billion dollars, not to mention the cost in human misery. If this bill is passed into law, our state will be paying for this huge mistake for a very long time.

Please contact the Legislature and express your outrage over this bill. You can contact your Legislative Information Office during office hours or the Alaska Voters Organization at http://www.akvoters.org anytime. Either entity will assist you to effectively communicate your message to the Legislature. Please do so now!

James Price


Parks help Alaskans, others afford to travel around state

I wish to thank Nancy Cranston for her letter of April 18 regarding park closures. I called a few local motels and was quoted rates of $150 and up per night for summer lodging. When our children were growing up we found travel the best addition to their educations we could provide and enjoyed many states (especially our own Alaska), seeing it through their eyes as well as our own. We could never have done this at these prices. Even when rooms were $20 to $40 a night, we camped one or two nights, then alternated with rentals to get showers and good bed rest.

Current prices would seem to discourage family trips and cater to single business people on expense accounts. Why else would they need exercise rooms and hot tubs each day? Tourists usually keep their muscles in tone with hikes, fishing and general sight-seeing.

It is interesting to note that also in the Clarion of April 18, two side-by side articles mentioned having to reduce manpower in the Alaska State Troopers (already ridiculously small for the area they cover) due to lack of funds, but they had $5 million to sit in the Legislature and lobby for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an area we voted many years ago to protect.

Does anyone remember the mess it used to be to camp off the road when there were no maintained campsites to use? Or the many, many miles of highway you could travel in our wonderful state without seeing the welcome sight of a trooper, knowing no help was available if you had trouble? Want to go there again? I sure don't!

Thank you for listening.

Georgia L. Griffin


State officials should quit picking on peninsula; options for parks

Recently I wrote my opinion in response to the closing of the state parks on the Kenai Peninsula. I still cannot begin to express the way I feel as I grow to find out my tax dollars are being abused just as my parents warned me about. They warned me about the "real world" and its harsh realities, but didn't raise me to fear the politicians I would some day vote into office, to fear the policies of the state of Alaska when things get a little rough.

I can only blame myself for placing my vote in the fashion such as I chose. I even wrote my opinion to the borough mayor about the parks, but I have not received not a single response yet. And the borough is here to respond to each single individual conflict as easily and quickly as possible, so we are led to believe.

But the only response I got was from my landlords who happened to read my letter to the editor.

Am I but a ghost in this community? Are we all ghosts, incapable of comprehending why these politicians think they will get away with convincing us of our own bitter ignorance?

Get the volunteers needed to keep the parks open and get the money raised through donations if necessary.

For crying out loud, anything is possible. Quit picking on the Kenai Peninsula all together. Cutting road maintenance on top of all this will raise tensions even more. Just stop -- stop trying to force the citizens of the peninsula into urbanization; stop lying to us; stop cheating on us.

Start caring about the future. We only have one planet, and my full intention is to keep it free and clean of greedy politics so that my children may experience the glorious walks on the beach and the sounds of the earth such as I have. Quit punishing us for trying to escape the "big city political correctness," and start treating us as real people who can come up with real solutions.

And I hope the mayor, or anybody for that matter, will finally respond to my cry, instead of ignoring me and heeding to the greed of money.

Dustin Billings


Kenai Peninsula property owners should sell their beetle-killed trees

Hello, U.S. Forest Service, Kenai Peninsula Borough land management, Native corporations, and federal, state and private land owners on the Kenai Peninsula: Are you selling the white spruce beetle-killed trees?

If not, why not?

It could be money for state coffers. Any amount helps.

Those forests are good for another three years or more. It is a natural resource that can and should be harvested now.

That would help prevent fire also.

There should be big timber sales by private, Native, state and federal land owners now and in the near future.

Linnus DePriest


Republican Moderate Party offers option to status quo

Outraged over the Legislature's endless efforts to tax you, cut your services and raid the permanent fund?

Fed up with legislators who won't demand oil companies to pay what our oil is really worth?

Thinking about running for office?

By doing it as a Republican Moderate:

* You automatically identify yourself as one of the few who are not in the pocket of the oil companies.

* You probably won't have an opponent in the primary, which means you will slide right through to the general election, where the real debate begins.

* Win or lose, your voice in the debates will help the cause.

The filing deadline is June 1.

Ray Metcalfe


Republican Moderate Party


Several reasons committee opposes Huber's nomination

After the Peninsula Clarion was kind enough (as usual) to advertise our meeting a couple days prior to its occurrence and after news of this meeting danced for several days across numerous e-mails, the Kenai-Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee met on April 17 to discuss confirmation of the three newly appointed Board of Fish members.

The only appointee that received any criticism was Brett Huber, and with the exception of one person, the public, representing diverse users, was unanimous in its objection to his appointment. Coming from the community in which Mr. Huber resides, this objection is glaring.

The objection was centered on the following key points:

1. Mr. Huber is an advocate of nonconsumptive users. He has a record of favoring catch-and-release fisheries. The 30 people at this public meeting were unanimously opposed to the new catch-and-release king salmon fishery designed by the Board of Fish for the Kenai River. Huber is on record as not only favoring this fishery, but also wanting to expand the restrictions.

2. Commercial fishers at this meeting testified that Mr. Huber has a mind-set against commercial fishing. Not only has Mr. Huber had a constant conflict with commercial fishers, but he also works for Kenai River Sportfishing Association, which has a long history of opposing commercial fishing at every opportunity.

3. Board of Fish members should have personality traits commensurate to public service. They should be good listeners, gifted at understanding scientific data, obvious in their respect of others, not easily angered, known as gentlemen, be good speakers and have impeccable integrity. It was the belief of the public at this meeting that Mr. Huber fell far short in some of these personality traits.

4. The Board of Fish members should be residents from diverse areas of Alaska's coast. After the current appointments, the area from Metlakatla to Valdez boasts a single member. Kodiak doesn't have a single member. Neither does the Alaska Peninsula or Area M. Bristol Bay has a single member. The Kuskokwim River has a member but Norton Sound, the Yukon River and Kotzebue Sound are without a member. And why are these areas so poorly represented? Because four of the Board of Fish members live in the Cook Inlet watershed!

5. Each member of the Board of Fish should have an extensive background in diverse fisheries, from crab to cod. For a long time the Board of Fish has had numerous, effective sport fish advocates from Cook Inlet. What does Mr. Huber know that isn't duplicated by the abundant knowledge of retired sport fish biologist Larry Engel of Palmer or saltwater guide Ed Dersham of Anchor Point?

A motion was made to support Brett Huber's appointment to the Board of Fish. That motion failed by roll call vote: Favor -- 0; Opposed --11.

Brent Johnson


Kenai-Soldotna F&G Advisory Committee

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