September 13: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on publisher's exclusion of Alaska from contest:

Posted: Tuesday, September 19, 2000

Alaskans who haven't yet sampled a Harry Potter book may be inclined to shrug off the outcry from young readers, librarians and others offended by the U.S. publisher's arbitrary exclusion of Alaska and Hawaii fans from the company's national essay contest. Ketchikan Mayor Bob Weinstein gets credit for summing up the principle at stake for all Alaskans:

''Your company's treatment of Alaskans -- particularly our children -- as second-class citizens reminds me of the colonialist attitude which the federal government often displays to our state and residents,'' Weinstein wrote Richard Robinson, chief executive officer of Scholastic Inc., the American publisher of British author J.K. Rowland's wildly popular series about a young wizard's battles with the forces of darkness.

''In closing,'' Weinstein wrote, ''you can be like Harry Potter or Voldemort -- the choice is yours.''

The mayor's 9-year-old daughter, an avowed Potter reader, armed her dad with that parting shot, comparing the publisher's arbitrary focus on readers residing in the continental U.S. to conduct befitting Potter's infamous foe.

The mayor's letter got results.

Summoning staff members who've been publicly dismissing the complaints from excluded Alaskans and Hawaiians, Robinson straightened them out concerning this nation's borders.

''Who made this decision?'' chagrined subordinates quoted the boss as demanding. ''It's wrong. Change it!''

Alaska readers interested in landing a ticket to New York to meet Rowland now have until Sept. 18 to submit 300-word essays describing how the Harry Potter books changed their lives. A total of 10 contest winners are being selected from among the essays submitted by writers across all 50 states.

We can only wish top officials in federal government were as quick to lift inappropriate air-quality standards and other arbitrary rules adopted without consideration for their application in Alaska.

Voldemort's craftiness and appetite know no bounds. -

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