Culture of corruption should be disclosed

Posted: Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Do you really think the public interest is being served (or even considered) when high powered politicians are sipping vodka and smoking cigars with defense contractor lobbyists during the Kenai River Classic?

It's about time that the culture of corruption makes the local headlines. The shady big money deals between Ted Stevens, Bob Penney and the Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) are finally being exposed. The trickle-down effects of the corruption are apparent when you see state Fish and Game employee Sue Aspelund and ex-biologist Mac Minard defending the unethical actions of KRSA.

The content of Minard's editorial in the Oct. 9 Clarion is not surprising, considering he is being paid by KRSA. His cotton candy piece was about 30 percent fact and 150 percent spin.

Minard is wrong about how projects were selected. The general public and the Legislature were denied any input on the spending of these funds. In fact, local biologists were not allowed to participate directly in the prioritization of projects. Other groups like the local tribes, commercial fishing organizations and conservation groups also were excluded.

Minard says other earmarks were not scrutinized. This is not true. The Alaska SeaLife Center earmarks certainly have been scrutinized. In fact, Ted Stevens is under investigation by the National Park Service and the FBI because those earmarks were used to purchase land from Stevens' aide Trevor McCabe.

Minard said that good work is being done. Perhaps he forgot the process resulted in illegal activities. The Slikok Creek project was started without proper permits and damage to a native cultural site was done.

Congress expected this money to be used for salmon recovery projects. Yet KSRA allocated nearly a million dollars to improve angler access to an already overcrowded river. Yes, they provided matching funds to help build boardwalks for their rich friends, thereby increasing the value of their riverfront property with taxpayer dollars.

This culture of corruption is like a cancer that is metastasizing, and it's time to cut it out.

Erik Huebsch


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