Letters to the Editor

Posted: Monday, October 28, 2002

Nonpartisan voters will elect Alaska's first female governor

In the governor's race it should be obvious to many Alaskans that Frank Murkowski and the Republican Party of Alaska are running scared. And well they should be. From the long shot of several months ago, Fran Ulmer has overtaken Frank in the polls and has the momentum going with her.

Fran Ulmer's honesty, intelligence and sincerity are beyond question. She treats everyone with courtesy and respect and demonstrates that rare (especially in politicians) quality of being able to disagree without being disagreeable. Her 20 years in elected offices of state government stand in contrast to her opponent's zero experience in elective state government.

Frank Murkowski's long tenure as a U.S. senator does not necessarily translate into being a good governor. And it has not fitted him to deal realistically with the very real budget crunch or the divisive, perennial problem of subsistence.

That Murkowski views subsistence only in terms of partisan politics, and not as the vital human issue it is, became apparent in a recent debate with Ulmer. Murkowski accused the Knowles-Ulmer administration of encouraging the urban-rural divide on subsistence in order to gain favor with rural voters. This is an insult, not only to Fran Ulmer, but to the 70 percent of Alaskans who have been stymied time and again in their fight to vote on subsistence. Stymied by a few Republican senators under the influence of a mostly urban, Fairbanks-based, sport hunting group, the Alaska Outdoor Council. These are the agents that continue to drive a wedge between urban and rural, between the city-dwelling sport hunter and the villager who has to hunt to feed his family. Several year ago, Fran Ulmer, as lieutenant governor, went to the villages to gain information on the subsistence lifestyle at the source. When she brought that helpful information before the Legislature, the Republican super majority hardly gave her the time of day. Wrong political party.

These are facts, Sen. Murkowski, and as you yourself have said, "Facts are stubborn things."

On Nov. 5, nonpartisan voters will elect our next governor. They will elect that person who shuns partisan politics and who has demonstrated an ability to work effectively with both political parties in the best interest of our great and unique state.

They will elect our first woman governor.

George R. Pollard


Murkowski will provide more opportunities for all Alaskans

I had planned on leaving this alone, but when I saw the ad from Fran Ulmer claiming credit for the permanent fund, it reminded me of Al Gore claiming credit for the Internet. Come on, Fran. I was president of the Alaska State Senate during that bitter battle to create the permanent fund, and I somehow failed to see you on the permanent fund battle ground. As I recall, you were busy with installing regulatory systems such as Coastal Zone Management.

It is most generous of (former governor) Jay Hammond to try to pass on some of his glory, but without severe revisionist history it will not wash.

Oral Freeman and Hugh Malone were among the frontline fighters who brought the finished permanent fund investment bill through the state House and to the Senate. As president of the state Senate I can in no way claim credit for their work, but, as Jay Hammond said in his book, I was the midwife who delivered it by using my power as president to discharge the Free Conference Committee and then appointing myself and two stalwart supporters to go over to the House to sign the bill.

Freeman and Malone are not with us anymore, but damned if I want to see their names lost. I still remember Hugh saying "Clem, I want to explain how the bill works," and I said, "Hugh, it's after 11 at night, and I trust you. Can I just sign the damn thing and send it up to the governor?"

I regret that on this election, Jay Hammond and I are not in agreement. Sen. Frank Murkowski is a staunch supporter of the permanent fund and the dividend program.

But the reason I support Frank is simple indeed: My wife, Diana, and I have not only children, but grandchildren and great-grandchildren in Alaska, and while I feel being a park ranger or other government job is an honorable profession, I do not want it to be the only opportunity for employment. I want for those who were born in Alaska to have a broad and fulfilling future in the land of their birth.

Clem Tillion

Halibut Cove

State officials should put road maintenance in private hands

In a recent radio message by the Public Employees Union (they broadcast these messages at contract time and before elections in support of their employees), we were warned of the impending cuts in "services" due to cuts in road maintenance funding by the Legislature. The message suggests that we ask our representative when he knocks on our door if he cut road maintenance funding.

I would instead ask him why he does not have the fortitude to emulate the legislators in some states and provinces of Canada and privatize road maintenance. Canadian legislators gave the independent contractor a three-year contract -- long enough to prove his worth. We here wait for years for the inept superintendent to retire only to find the new one just as inept. We need to remove road maintenance from the largest union in the state and put it under a military chain of command. Would the union official be willing to go to court and under oath explain the following to some judge?

In the spring of '94, all three culverts on the lower part of the road were plugged, the ditches were full, and the road during breakup nearly impassable. I shudder to think what the road would be today if I had not interfered with labor and money ($5,000). I ditch the road in the fall and the Department of Transportation fills it back up in the summer. DOT workers just completed the destruction of another culvert. They cut the top off in years past, filled it with gravel and this year folded the end shut. How do grader operators show up for work, go through the motions with no knowledge of or sense of pride in what they actually accomplish? And how do union officials remain unaware of what's actually been done?

I envy the long-time residents of Soldotna, a city barely 50 years old, who witness constant improvement -- paved streets and sidewalks; city water, gas and sewer; and cable TV -- much of it paid for by a "free ride" Twin City sales tax on people 20 miles down the road who shop in the cities all year round. At the death of the grocery tax (by selfish city citizens), a Kenai city official said there will be no "free ride," proving he's not only selfish and greedy, he's also blind. The city of Kenai reached across the river long before the Warren Ames bridge and taxed the homesteaders. What was the quid pro quo of that "free-ride-by-the-city" tax?

I gave up looking for improvement of our 50-year-old road. Now I just look forward to the end of the destruction of it.

Lyle Cole


To protect river, fish stocks, let's act now, meet later

With all the recent flap about the early-run Kenai king salmon, I suggest the following:

If Board of Fish members will not protect these king salmon, replace them.

If Kelly Hepler and the Division of Sport Fish need to hire outside consultants to do their work, replace them.

If there are too many guides (387), reduce their numbers.

If guides catch too many early kings (90 percent), restrict them.

If hydro-carbon pollution is too high, establish more drift only days.

If there are not enough kings, enhance them.

If there are not enough spawners, close the fishery for a year or two.

Act now and have another meeting later. Protect the fish, the river and the future.

John McCombs


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