Letters to the Editor

Posted: Thursday, November 02, 2000

Governer should retract letter on dangers of hemp inititive

I was genuinely offended by the letter from our current governor regarding the initiative 99HEMP, of which I am a prime sponsor. It is replete with lies and deceptive omissions.

I disagree that the initiative is poorly crafted. It is, in fact, quite comprehensive in its treatment of mending the damages caused by years of prohibition. Its sections are all fully severable, so if one part cannot be implemented for constitutional reasons, all the others are still in force. The text on which you will vote took years to write.

I am totally dumbfounded by his allegation that the initiative would make use of recreational-grade Cannabis sativa legal for children and adults alike. He gives no citations to support what he says. The attorney general who reviewed the text last year made no such observation. The initiative seeks to remove all legal penalties for legal adults 18 years of age and over. The reason we chose that age is that 18 is the age where one may legally enter contracts on one's own, join the Army and so on.

The governor's statement that this initiative requires the state government to make financial restitution to the newly released drug war prisoners is, of course, a lie. He should know that the state's constitution bans using an initiative for disbursement of funds. 99HEMP calls for forming a committee to explore the possibility -- no more.

If there is no test now to determine prevailing THC impairment for individuals driving while under the influence of Cannabis sativa, what are they using now, and how would this initiative further endanger public safety? The text gives the state power to discourage such irresponsible behavior by law.

The initiative covers industrial-grade hemp also, and for good reason. It is true that hemp rope, cloth and so on are legal to possess and sell, but the raw material must come from abroad. 99HEMP would let people at least try to find, at their own financial risk, a strain of hemp which could survive an Alaska growing season. We know that hemp has been grown as far north as Scandinavia; the "hamp" root in such place names as New Hampshire came from there. That's the part that the governor omitted from his rant about industrial hemp. Further, you should know that legislatures in other states have sought to ban industrial hemp products for political reasons.

The only "scars" to be seen in California from their "marijuana buying clubs" were put there by the federal government and by a governor too spineless to stand up to it. Such scars include Peter McWilliams, an AIDS and cancer patient who choked on his own vomit because he could not use the one substance that gave him a semblance of relief; and Todd McCormick, who lives in solitary confinement because he used Cannabis sativa to relieve the crippling pain and spasms of a severe spinal condition.

I am convinced that one of two things occurred regarding the governor's letter: Either the governor signed a letter written by someone else without reading it, in which case he acted in a foolish and reckless manner unbecoming his post and without respect for the power that his words carry; or, he knew full well of the untruths and deceptive omissions contained in the letter, but decided to use it to further his own political goals, which is a despicable abuse of the good name of the office of governor.

If he has any sense of honor, he will cause a complete retraction to be printed in all the media outlets in which the letter has been placed. I am afraid, however, that he will never be fully able to take back his words, which will be happily repeated by every opportunistic fan of prohibition in Alaska.

Len Karpinski

Prime sponsor, initiative 99HEMP

Alaska chair, Libertarian Party

Libertarian candidate for

U. S. House of Representatives


Why would Alaskans want to limit constitutional rights?

Government for the people, by the people. Do we want to give up our right to decide our own wildlife issues in Alaska? Would residents of any other state vote to reduce their own voice? Why are we?

Fish and wildlife resources belong to all Alaskans, not politicians. We can make our own informed decisions. We do not want to change our constitution to prevent us from doing so.

Let us not forget that powerful Outside trophy hunting groups are special interest groups pumping dollars into the "yes" vote -- they don't want Alaskans to decide their own wildlife management.

Why on earth would Alaskans want to limit their constitutional rights? Vote "no" on Ballot Measures 1, 2 and 3.

Diane McBride


Vote for individual freedom by voting 'no' on Ballot Measure 1

A vote against Ballot Measure 1 is a vote for individual freedom. This is an issue on which all shades of the political spectrum agree. The Legislature is trying to take away our constitutional right to express ourselves through the ballot box. Every Alaskan has a right to vote on important issues.

This is your opportunity to send a clear message to Juneau. Don't let the Legislature trick you into voting away your right to vote. This is just the Legislature's first step in their plan to gain total control over the people. Protect your constitutional rights by voting no on Ballot Measure 1.

Marga Raskin


Same-day airborne wolf hunting bad policy, poor hunting ethics

A "yes" vote on Proposition 6 will restore the ban on same-day airborne wolf hunting that Alaskans passed overwhelmingly in 1996. This year, powerful special interests in the state Legislature overturned the people's vote, ignoring strong rejections from the public, the governor and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Same-day airborne wolf hunting is bad public policy, poor hunting ethics and unsound wolf management. Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Frank Rue, stated in the Fish and Game position paper: "We know from past experience that the practice leads to other abuses such as chasing wolves to exhaustion, herding wolves, and shooting them from the air." In his veto message, Gov. Tony Knowles said "To use a method of state predator control, unethical techniques, that encourage illegal activity is a throwback to the universally discredited policy of bounties, poison and killing wolf pups."

Given the credible and formidable positions that these statements represent, our opponents have shamefully resorted to the worst sort of misrepresentations, distortions and fear mongering in a desperate effort to win votes against Proposition 6.

First, they said that our champion group Alaskans for Wildlife consists of "outside animal rights extremists." The fact is, we are all long-time Alaskans -- and not one dime in campaign funds has come from animal-rights groups. Moreover, our group is the same core group that brought the wolf initiative in 1996. The group membership is as follows: Lowell Thomas, Jr. of Anchorage, former lieutenant governor and bush pilot; James Thompson M.D. of Juneau, former chairman of the state medical board and mountain climber; Joel Bennett of Juneau, former member of the Alaska Board of Game and wildlife filmmaker. Jim Brooks of Auke Bay, former Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and avid outdoorsman; Douglas Pope of Anchorage, former chairman of the Alaska Board of Game, attorney, and outdoor writer; R.T. "Skip" Wallen of Juneau, former member of the Alaska Board of Game and wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and artist; John Schoen of Anchorage, former biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, senior scientist with the National Audubon Society, bush pilot and avid outdoorsman; Celia Hunter of Fairbanks, 50-year conservation leader, former pilot and outdoorswoman; Paul Joslin of Anchorage, wildlife biologist and executive director of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance; and Richard K. Nelson of Sitka, ethnographer, writer and avid outdoorsman.

Secondly, opponents to Proposition 6 say legalizing same-day airborne wolf hunting will not result in chasing, herding or harassing wolves. The fact is, without harassing them, there is no efficient way to kill wolves in this manner. Former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officer Al Crane, in affidavits filed in federal court in the Jack Frost case in 1990 said, "They chased the hell out of those things. Frost and other pilots herded wolves by plane until the animals were near exhaustion. Then he landed and gunned the animals down with a semiautomic rifle."

Former Governor Jay Hammond, a veteran bush pilot says, "The method is totally unenforceable. At best it's an offensive approach to hunting wolves; at worst, it tends to make criminals out of the people who do it."

Thirdly, they say the Alaska Department of Fish and Game needs this "game management tool" for the benefit of Alaskans. Not only do they not need it, but also it is clear from their position that they don't want it. Under existing law, the state has complete authority to control wolves in areas that the Board of Game has designated, using whatever means deemed appropriate by the commissioner. In fact, a successful program to control wolves by sterilization and relocation has been ongoing for several years in the 40-Mile region of the eastern interior.

Finally our opponents are running a television ad showing an injured child (presumably from the Icy Bay incident last spring) for the purpose of saying that our children are at risk from wolves everywhere. This Little Red Riding Hood stunt is a bogus and embarrassing effort to stimulate fear in rural Alaska. After an investigation into the Icy Bay incident, the commissioner of Fish and Game said, "This wolf was likely habituated to human food. There were known incidences of feeding wolves in the logging camp and this wolf was seen in the area, where wolves have been fed." In fact, according to the department, that incident was extremely rare and there are no known cases of people being injured from wolves in Alaska unless they were bitten while feeding wolves or the wolves were rabid.

On the other hand, the Alaska trauma registry lists 190 Alaskans killed or injured by dogs in the last six years, as well as the following number of injuries from other animals: 39 from house cats, 23 from horses, six from moose, and 1 from a pig. Let's keep things in perspective here.

Alaskans can send a strong message to the Legislature on Nov. 7. It is simply wrong to shoot wolves with the aid of a plane. We said it before and we'll say it over and over until they listen. Stop same-day airborne wolf hunting. Vote "yes" on 6.

Joel Bennett

Proposition 6 sponsor

Wildlife filmmaker

Former member of the Board of Game


Voting out legislators, judges will help restore justice to Alaska

For those of you who can't pay $300 an hour for an attorney, yet you know that this state has over $35 billion dollars in "our" treasury, yet our seated politicians have intentionally eliminated every single state legal aid office (Alaska is only state), so you can't fight against this state and corporation corruption -- now is your chance!

First, you must vote out all seated legislators. They are the ones who have refused you this most fundamental constitutional right of equal access to justice. The state has used your money to hire 209 state attorneys to fight against you. They defend this state-corporate corruption when you file a suit against this corruption because they are part of it. This is called a dictatorship, not a democracy.

If you have tried to file your own suits, "pro se," as I have, I can tell you that every single Alaska Supreme Court justice who you can vote against on Nov. 7 are allowing their court clerks to violate the law by refusing to process your appeal.

The law allows a low-income person to file their cases by waiving the high filing fees, yet the top judge in Anchorage, Elaine Andrews, has illegally and unconstitutionally refused to accept my case for filing, because it was against a doctor and no other reason. Judge Dan Hensley was ordered by the then Chief Justice Matthews to hold a hearing to disqualify Valdez's judge from my case. The law required Matthews to order this hearing, but Judge Hensley defied the law and order and refused. Your local judges are probably as corrupt because this judicial corruption couldn't exist without them all protecting each other, instead of demanding their removal.

These so-called honorable judges are not only violating their oath of office through these unconstitutional acts, it is in clear violation of the Law. Get rid of these corrupt judges -- vote them all out. Send the message that you won't tolerate this injustice.

Sylvia Sullivan, president

Alaskans for a Just Society

P.O. Box 2684


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