Letters to the Editor

Posted: Friday, June 29, 2001

Didn't Los Alamos blaze teach anything about controlled burns?

It's as if the U.S. Forest Service didn't learn a thing from the billion-dollar fire that swept Los Alamos, N. M., and environs just last year! And the New Mexico fire was also a "controlled fire" deliberately set by the National Park Service for which then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt assumed full responsibility. Three weeks ago, my wife and I returned from a trip to Anchorage and, as we passed through Cooper Landing, the Forest Service sign showed the fire danger to be "EXTREME." And we have had no rain since.

It will be interesting to see how Gail Norton will react publicly to a very similar situation. In any event, such demonstration of incompetence is inexcusable, not to mention the incredible, unnecessary expense of fighting the fire and potential loss of homes!

Dick Hahn, Soldotna

Redistricting Board's plan 'fair' only to Democrats in Alaska

The Alaska Redistricting Board released its legislative district map earlier this month after 90 days of consideration and hearings. The plan approved by the panel's three Democrats totally ignored its "Guidelines for Drawing New Election Districts." All five board members adopted the guidelines in their initial deliberations.

The "Guidelines for Drawing New Election Districts" contained three sets of requirements. The federal requirements section committed to one person-one vote without racial gerrymandering and no egregious political gerrymandering. The state constitutional requirements section committed to compact, contiguous districts for relatively socio-economically integrated areas. The traditional redistricting principles section committed to preserving the core of existing districts, the avoidance of pairing incumbents and the avoidance of cleaving urban neighborhoods or local communities.

The 1991 Redistricting Board appointed by Gov. Walter Hickel eliminated double-member House districts and Senate districts in which two senators jointly represented either two double-member House Districts or a double-member House District and two single-member House Districts.

The 37 percent population growth in the 1980s was more than double the 14 percent statewide growth in the 1990s. Seventy-five percent district population variations existed within each of the four Alaska election regions. The 1991 board plan produced roughly an equal number of paired Republican (6) and Democrat (7) incumbents in compact districts that had reasonable socio-economic integration.

This Redistricting Board adopted a special interest group's egregious political gerrymander that forcibly pairs 20 Republican incumbents. No Democrat incumbents are paired in the 2002 election cycle. The 1991 Redistricting Board created less pairings and fairly balanced that effect equitably between Democrats and Republicans. This plan shows additional deliberate Democrat bias in truncating the terms of seven Republican senators elected in 2000. No Democrat senator faces truncation. Furthermore, this Democrat-approved plan underrepresents the Mat-Su Borough, overrepresents Anchorage, ties South Anchorage to Valdez, tosses Delta Junction into two districts and forces Mat-Su to share senators with Anchorage and Fairbanks.

The "Alaskans for Fair Redistricting" provided this plan to the Redistricting Board. This special interest group has refused to disclose either magnitude or source of its funding. Alaskans for Fair Redistricting acknowledges representing Native, union and environmental interests. Based on the Republican incumbent pairing, Republican senator term truncations, and butchering for communities and neighborhoods, "Fair" must apply only to Alaska Democratic Party interests.

The Democrats on the Redistricting Board reduced the hearing process and draft plan preparations to an absolute sham. The input of hundreds of Alaskans was simply dismissed or even worse ignored -- just like the "Guidelines for Drawing New Election Districts" were ignored.

Randy Ruedrich, Anchorage

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