Letters to the Editor

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2002

Classmate remembers Nick Allen as hard-working student-athlete

My name is Kathryn Becker. I lived in Soldotna from 1995 to 2001 with my family. This past year we moved back to New Mexico where we were originally from. While in Soldotna I attended Soldotna Middle School and Soldotna High School.

It was at SMS that I met Nick Allen. I never knew him very well, but I knew he was a great person. He was a hard-working student-athlete that was successful in whatever he attempted. I am no longer in Alaska, but he is one of my classmates. I want to give my condolences to his family and all the students at SoHi. Nick will never be forgotten.

Kathryn Becker, Artesia, N. M.

No reason any child in Alaska should go without dental care

James Bounds recent letter denigrating the local dentists for their failure to accept welfare patients for treatment demands a response.

As a retired dentist with nearly 25 years of private practice experience in the nation's largest welfare state, as well as experience working in numerous locations in Bush Alaska, I feel compelled to respond to Mr. Bounds' misconceptions and inaccuracies about my profession.

First, there can be no denying that there is an access problem for low-income individuals, not only on the Kenai, but in many locations throughout the United States. There are several reasons for this serious problem.

Mr. Bounds believes that the local dentists are "bad guys" for not throwing open their doors and accepting patients at a reduced fee or even apparently for free. Many apparently believe that all doctors are rich and would have no trouble giving away their services.

Of course, this is the same crowd who feels that someone else in Alaska should pay their way for all government services. Alaskans have enjoyed 25 years of having someone else pay for these services and now, as oil revenue is depleting rapidly, complain bitterly that the rich should pay a state income tax. And God help the legislator who suggests using the permanent fund to help fund government services.

Let's examine why there is an access problem. If a parent takes their child to the dentist, and unfortunately, the child needs 10 fillings done for a total cost of $1,000 you better believe that parent will listen very carefully when the dentist talks about how to prevent this problem in the future. The entire family will more than likely adopt a new dietary plan. Contrast this to the family who pays nothing and can simply go get more restorative services if they continue their high sugar consumption (primarily pop) and poor oral hygiene practices. (Come on, Mr. Bounds, look in your refrigerator. I bet it is stocked heavily with pop.) As anyone with an eighth grade education knows dental caries is very easily controlled. All most of us have to do is brush thoroughly and not eat and drink junk food all day long.

One reads often about how overweight Americans are, particularly children. We all know where obesity comes from and yet Americans continue to shovel it in. The big picture is quite simple if you want there to be more access to dentists, then as a society we need to take steps to reduce sugar consumption. Less tooth decay means more appointments will be available. This can be accomplished by increased emphasis by our health and science teachers and even by taxing junk foods similar to tobacco and alcohol.

Last winter my wife and I were privileged to work in four villages along the Yukon River. Two of the villages had fluoride added to the water supply and two did not. The difference in tooth decay in the fluoridated versus non-fluoridated villages was remarkable. This was the first time I had actually observed first hand how effective public fluoridation can be. Yet, whenever dentists in a community speak out in favor of fluoridation they are usually shouted down by individuals who have no scientific background or training.

Folks, fluoride works! It is safe and it is inexpensive to install in a public water supply. It will very significantly reduce tooth decay. (Remember, Mr. Bounds, less tooth decay means more dental appointments will be available).

Finally, it should be noted that in reality there should be not one cavity in any child in Alaska. Why? Because the state of Alaska gives every child a dividend check. Isn't it amazing that everywhere else in the world state and local governments take from its citizens, but here in our wonderful state we are giving money to do with as we wish.

Mr. Bounds spent his child's money presumably in some manner he thought was best, and now is brazen enough to write the editor complaining about the rich dentists who won't treat his kids for free? I submit that perhaps he could use some parenting skills training or perhaps instruction in budgeting. How could anyone take their kid's dividend check, fail to adequately control their child's diet and brushing habits, and then expect the rest of us to shell out for his failure to act responsibly?

Unfortunately, Mr. Bounds is representative of many Alaskans; I hope not most. This is in part the downside of having 25 years of no-pay government. Those of us from the outside are painfully aware that services cost money. That requires taxes -- something that all of us hate paying. So, if you want more taxes vote for politicians who promise freebies, but please do not blame the dentists. I can assure you that your dentist has enough work to last his or her lifetime and would rejoice if there were better dental health in our state and nation.

I can also assure you that there will never be enough dentists or dental appointments for the underserved in this state, or nation, unless we turn our attention to education and prevention.

So, Mr. Bounds, it's nearly dividend time. Please consider using your kid's check to get their teeth fixed.

John Miley, DDS, MAGD, Soldotna

Primary, ballot measure confusing, but Alaskans still should go vote

These voters will have a choice of six ballots and must pick one of the following (alphabetical order): Alaska Democratic Party, Alaska Libertarian Party, Alaskan Indepen-dence Party, Green Party of Alaska, Republican Moderate Party and Republican Party of Alaska

Important: There is no separate ballot to vote on the one ballot measure. Each of the primary party ballots will include the ballot measure. This ballot measure also creates some confusion among the voters.

The measure is for or against a new method of voting known as preferential or instant run-off voting. Under the proposed system, voters could rank one to five candidate choices per office. A candidate who receives a majority of first choice votes would be elected. If no candidate gets a majority, the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is defeated. The second votes of the defeated candidate(s) would be applied to the remaining candidates until one candidate has a majority. In a primary election, a voter may only rank candidates within one party.

This ballot measure would enact a new preferential voting system for state and federal elections. It does not change the election process for governor or lieutenant governor. The League of Women Voters of Alaska opposes this ballot measure for numerous reasons (see State of Alaska Voter Election Guide).

Today, we urge all Alaskans to vote. Go to the polls on Aug. 27, select a ballot and vote on the ballot measure. If you are unable to go to the polls contact the Division of Elections for information on absentee voting. Call 907-465-4611 or go to Web site: http://www.elections.state.ak.us. Let your voice be heard.

Cheryl Jebe, president, League of Women Voters of Alaska, Juneau

People should get permission of property owner to post signs

I have several political signs on my property; however, "Ross for Governor" is not one of them. In fact, I am voting for Frank Murkowski.

Unfortunately, I went out of town, and when I came home I saw this unauthorized "Ross for Governor" sign. For people to put a sign on my property without my permission is wrong.

Esther Rhines, Kenai

South peninsula needs change in representation in Juneau

Drew Scalzi must be on a diet of waffles and Mexican jumping beans. It has been virtually impossible to get a straight answer or one that you can depend upon out of him. The way he tap dances around issues puts him close to being in a class with Gregory Hines.

Granted, Drew was instrumental in the establishment of the Seafarer's Memorial; however, that has absolutely nothing to do with his legislative performance.

We need a representative that we can get straight answers from and that we can depend upon standing by his word. That individual is Paul Seaton.

Let's make a change before it's too late.

Roy E. Hoyt Jr., Homer

Ballot Measure 1 makes voting more complicated than it has to be

The choice about Ballot Measure 1 on preferential voting is simple. If you vote for it, you support making Alaska's voting process far more complicated and confusing than it needs to be. If you vote against it, you are protecting our long-held traditional definition of the "one person one vote" principle.

Please vote no on Ballot Measure 1 on Aug. 27.

Deborah Gilcrest, Anchorage

Alaskans should elect those people who will guard their freedoms

With election season rapidly approaching, I am very concerned that Alaskans will elect the same people who are sitting by and allowing our personal freedoms to slip away. Among the most important freedoms for Alaskans is the right to own firearms, and we are seeing a rapid encroachment by gun control lobbyists who are coming into our state unchallenged by the current administration.

Sarah Palin is running for lieutenant governor. Not only is she a lifetime member of the NRA and winner of the "Defender of Freedom Award," she has proven as two-term mayor of Wasilla that a less intrusive government is a more effective government.

Sarah is the only candidate who has not been part of the status quo. She will bring new vision, new energy and new direction to state government.

Todd Larkin, Fairbanks

Letters to the Editor can be faxed to the Peninsula Clarion at 283-3299 or e-mailed to clarion@alaska.net.

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