Letters to the Editor

Posted: Monday, May 13, 2002

Alcohol tax may give state cushion, but it won't improve Alaskans' lives

This is in reference to "What others say" in the Thursday's edition of the Clarion from Alaska Newspapers Inc., May 2.

Except for some young women who the government thinks have to be told by posters in public restrooms, we all know that drinking alcohol has its drawbacks. The author goes on and on about this drug's dangers leading up to the perfect "fix," namely taxes.

May I refresh his memory on the benefits of sin taxes. Not very long ago the smokers "cost the government millions in cigarette related illnesses." Of course, new taxes wouldn't change the habits of the old die-hards who have puffed away for the last 50 or so years, but the higher prices would make it less attractive to our children.

These new taxes were to be used to educate the youth and help with some of the imaginary expenses created by that filthy habit. Then, too, the state was having financial problems, and it was projected that the new tax would create $40,000,000 annually. They never took into consideration that someone might actually quit or the kids wouldn't get started. They also knew that the money could not legally be designated and had to end up in the general fund.

And here we go again. Same scenario. State needs money. Public is being fed horror stories about alcohol and how much good it would do to raise the price, so we could all live happily ever after.

The kids who really want alcohol, have a way to get it. The adults who have a social drink once and again, have no objection to what amounts to a few pennies to them. The heavy drinker will complain and reluctantly pay the dues, wreck his car, beat his wife or whatever we accuse him of doing. The state has a little financial cushion for a while to give the politicians time to think about whose wallet to target next.

If, and only if, the extra tax could save lives, normalize the lives of families, stop physical and verbal abuses, and the like, I'd be all for it, and I wouldn't stop at a dime a drink. Prohibition didn't and wouldn't work. Because of it we've been fighting a (lost) war against drugs for at least two generations, but that's another subject.

"Alcohol costs society hundreds of millions of dollars" -- what about drugs? Can anyone tell me how we will all be better off with the passing of the alcohol tax?

Judy Humphrey


Board of Fisheries decisions target residents, not guides

Hey, Les Palmer, welcome to our nightmare.

Over the years I have been a commercial fisherman, a sport fisherman and a personal-use fisherman. I gave up commercial fishing when the Board of Fisheries restricted the fisheries to a level where there was nothing but financial losses. I had to give up personal-use fishing when they closed the beaches to fishing. If this keeps up much more I will have to give up sport fishing.

I guess you must have been asleep while all of this was happening. It took place over the last few years, since good old Gov. Tony Knowles took office. Suddenly, all our salmon runs were in trouble. I guess having all those sports fishing representatives on the board really didn't do you much good after all! It is about time you woke up!

Where was your indignation when the board took away the personal-use fishery; you know, the fishery to put salmon on Alaskans' dinner plate? It was the first sacrifice to put more kings and silvers in rivers up north for guides. Where was your indignation when they took away the Kenai silver fishery after September? Sure seemed to target residents and leave the guides alone to do business as usual.

Where was your indignation when they reduced the silver bag limit to two fish? Again, residents paid the cost while guides got the benefit of two trips per day, making even more money during two of the best runs in years! Where was your indignation when they closed the silver fishery for the first three days in August? This was just a sham to close the commercial fishery, there are almost no silvers to be caught that early in the river.

Where was your indignation when we lost the king extension in August? That was the last chance a resident had to fish for kings without all the guides; again, another sham.

Look at what the Board of Fish did to the Kasilof River fishery; how sad. Again, the guides sold us out and paid nothing themselves but mythical fish. All these actions were taken to protect runs that are doing quite well.

Look at what the department is saying about early kings: This is a "conservation issue"; this is a "social issue." Seems like it has been telling so many stories, it can't keep them straight. Seems like some of the department employees and board members are conspiring to cheat Kenai Peninsula residents out of the fisheries.

Why, you ask, would they allow fisheries to be restricted when runs are healthy? Easy, so the personal-use and commercial fisheries could get restricted even more. Easy, really; The Sport Fish Division collects just enough poor data to raise a possible concern, and, praise the board, we got a "precautionary principal" action.

And, as if this all wasn't bad enough, just wait until Mr. Huber and Mr. Hepler get done with the rainbow trout initiative. Yep, more catch and release.

Maybe it is time for an independent scientific review to see if there really is any problem with all these fisheries, or if the board has taken its conservation business a little too far. Keep working at it, Les; maybe you will get it at some point. Welcome to our nightmare!

John Carson


Fish board does not need another Cook Inlet sport fish advocate

Editor's note: The following letter was written to the House and Senate resource committees and submitted for publication.

Please ask Brett Huber how it is possible to use funds from an educational 501-c nonprofit corporation for lobbying purposes, to have a four-day cocktail party called the Kenai River Classic, to hire a biologist from Oregon, and to pay guides per diem at the Board of Fish meeting in February.

Huber said in December that "the resource should come before the user." That's a lie considering his hook-and-release policy that allocates fish to nonresidents and denies residents a food fishery.

Huber said he created a "stable, predictable fishery," but for who?

Huber said he has the support of commercial fishermen outside of Cook Inlet. This is another lie. United Fishermen of Alaska, the most highly regarded voice of the industry in Juneau and the state, had a vote that was exactly split among its board and has yet to come out with any endorsement of Huber. In fact, in the grand tradition of politics, it has attempted to dodge the fracas by that ol' standby, "no comment." That is because some figure this is a done deal, and others fear reprisals if, in fact, Huber goes forward.

Of some consequence, consider the Homer, Kenai-Soldotna, Anchorage and Central Peninsula Fish and Game Advisory Committees all voted thumbs down on Huber; and in his hometown. Of 45 attending only one guide spoke in favor of him. Even Mr. Pollard, a Kenai River Sportfishing Association board member as well as a board member on the Kenai-Soldotna Advisory Committee, voted nay on Huber.

In fact, in one interview, Huber stated he did not know about the advisory committee meeting in Soldotna, when he was already apprising his role as a member of the Board of Fish that very night at a meeting in Homer about the winter king salmon regs he pushed for with board member Larry Engel and and the head of the Sport Fish Division, Kelly Hepler.

You really need to separate the wheat from chaff here and recognize what is good for the board. Certainly not more controversy; certainly not another Cook Inlet sport fish advocate; certainly not someone living in the dark recesses of Bob Penney's pocket. Absolutely not Brett Huber.

I hope I have been both lucid and vociferous enough to convey local sentiments and also my own. Can Huber -- not salmon! Hook and release Brett Huber!

John McCombs


Letters to the Editor can be faxed to the Clarion at 283-3299 or e-mailed to clarion@alaska.net. All letters should include the writer's name, phone number and address.

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