Hospital donations in question

Posted: Thursday, July 08, 2010

Some of us in the community recently learned that the CPGH administration donated up to $25,000 to the Kenai River Sport Fishing Association (KRSA). This money is to help support the Kenai River Classic fishing event where U.S. congressmen and corporate fat cats visit the peninsula to rub elbows, make deals, and fill the coffers of KRSA. Additionally, it appears that the hospital administration made a separate donation to KRSA to support the Lisa Murkowski fishing event. Are these donations because the CPGH Chief Financial Officer is on the Board of Directors for KRSA? Where I come from that would be considered a huge conflict of interest and should be looked into by the CPGH, Inc. board.

It is my understanding that the CPGH administration is allowed to make donations of up to $25,000 without board approval. I can't understand why an organization like CPGH, that is partially supported by our tax dollars, is making a donation to KRSA that brags of taking in a million a year off of the Classic and has millions of reserves in the bank. Surely there must be more needy and deserving service organizations in our community that could really use additional funds to support their causes.

Kenai Peninsula citizens know how fortunate we are to have a hospital in our area with a professional and caring medical staff. These services are expensive and as a result we often times receive requests for personal donations to the hospital. So why would the administration choose to donate our money from our hospital to further an event that is sponsored by a multi-million dollar organization catering to the wealthy and elite that are far removed from our community? Perhaps it is because they like others are fooled as to what KRSA does with the money? If they have to donate money to the community I would rather see them donate money to organizations like the Kenai Watershed Forum to protect the river or medically sound organizations like Hospice. KRSA is far removed from a health-oriented organization and is more of a good old boy network than a value to the community.

KRSA uses some of their capital to lobby for regulations that often times have negative impacts on private anglers and others in our community. Just this last year, for instance, they used their influence over the Board of Fisheries (BOF) to keep the upcoming 2011 Upper Cook Inlet BOF meeting in Anchorage instead of the Soldotna/Kenai area for the fourth consecutive time since 1999 (these meetings run in 3 year cycles). Their power base prevailed in this endeavor even though other fishing organizations, the mayors from the Borough, Cities of Kenai and Soldotna, Sen. Wagoner and Speaker of the House Chenault tried their best to get the meeting held in our area. Eighty percent of the fishery proposals are for regulation changes on the Kenai and Kasilof rivers or immediate offshore waters. You may say, "Why would they do that?" It is because they know local citizens cannot afford the expenses to stay in Anchorage for two weeks of meetings. In contrast, KRSA pays for people from this and other communities to attend, lobby Board of Fish members and otherwise control the process.

Additionally KRSA's efforts to keep the meeting in Anchorage cost businesses in our area to lose out on several hundred thousand dollars worth of wintertime business not to mention tax revenues for our municipalities.

I suspect it is to late to do anything about these donations at this point but I hope folks on the CPGH, Inc. board will look into this and amend their bylaws so that they have better control over these types of discretionary spending. All of us that support CPGH through our property taxes and patronage deserve better.

Dwight Kramer


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