Letters to the Editor

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2001

Earlier assembly meeting time will not accommodate most people

As a resident in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, I don't see the advantage in moving the borough assembly meeting time from 7 p.m. to 5 p.m. People often work jobs until 5 p.m. and then have to rush all the way into a meeting and be late. That doesn't sound like an improvement to me.

An example is the number of employees working in the Nikiski plants and various outlying areas of the borough. Also, even if a person lives in town, having a meeting at 7 o'clock gives them time to get back home and have something to eat or prepare whatever is necessary.

I particularly see a disenfranchisement of those who live and work in the farther reaches of the community. Moving the meetings from 7 to 5 p.m. seems inconsiderate and would benefit only those who live close by and who could get off work early.

I think government deserves its own special time and place. It should be important enough for time to be set aside just for it alone. Our Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meetings are very important as our borough covers a large and diverse area with many different needs.

Additionally, the only time many people attend a meeting is when there is an issue that directly affects them. Therefore the hue and cry concerning this issue (meeting times) would be sporadic and be looked at as the price of political enterprise. The inconvenience wouldn't be felt until one had to participate in local affairs. In your Sunday editorial, you cite de Tocqueville and his hailing of municipal government. I think one could use his point as a reason to keep meetings at 7 p.m., thus allowing for easier participation by the greatest number. I think this is the fairest alternative and gives government the priority it deserves.

Otherwise, people would weigh participation at the expense of opting out due to the inconvenience and rush required in getting to the meeting. You will always have the die hard and true blue, thank God for that, but wouldn't it be nice to at least have a user friendly time for the greatest overall good?

Our government is based on the rule of the majority, but it is nice to see minorities accommodated when they assert themselves. In this case, you won't feel your minority status until you need to attend a meeting.

Mike Huhndorf


Poachers taking peninsula's moose

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know the reason for the decline of the moose: Bulls, cows and calves are being shot!

For every one poacher caught, there are 20 who are not. You know who you are.

Deborah Moore

Anchor Point

State constitution requires equal access to fish, wildlife, waters

In the letter from John Nelson on Tuesday he states "that a subsistence priority distinction between residents does not constitute unequal classes of citizens." He believes that distinctions like senior citizen permanent hunting and fishing licenses, senior property tax exemptions, senior sales tax exemptions, permanent fund dividends and personal-use fisheries are not unequal classes of citizens. Therefore, he believes that these exemptions are the same as a rural subsistence priority.

Kind of like a "subsistence exemption."

John, you are wrong. All of your senior exemption examples do not apply because the Alaska Constitution guards only three state resources for mandatory equal access. Those three resources are fisheries, wildlife and waters, and they are called state trusts. The state legally must guarantee total common access to all Alaska residents. The state may legally and unequally distribute a great many things, but it must equally offer common access to fisheries resources.

Rural subsistence priority access to fisheries is unconstitutional because it would only apply to some residents who happen to live in a specific area. That makes it geographically unequal. Most people can't control the place they happen to live any more than they can control the color of their skin.

That is one of the reasons why the Alaska Supreme Court ruled a rural subsistence priority to be unfair and unconstitutional. Your reasoning is in error. Age is not a trust resource; fisheries are. That causes you to lose the subsistence debate.

Don Johnson


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