In defense of city employees: Workers should come before money for chamber, museum, rec studies

  • By Mike Heimbuch
  • Wednesday, December 11, 2013 5:07pm
  • News
In defense of city employees: Workers should come before money for chamber, museum, rec studies

As a card-carrying conservative who might well have taken pleasure in last week’s Homer News editorial casting a less than favorable eye on the health insurance package of city employees, I find that I do not. In fact, I see both a lack of appreciation for the pay scale of city employees and an uninformed opinion regarding public sector employment in Alaska. 

There is not a single Homer city employee that was lying drunk somewhere along some sidewalk and subsequently rehabilitated for a job in the city of Homer. Every single employee answered a media published advertisement for the job they are doing. 

None of them were primary determiners of the health insurance packages they received as part of the job. If the holier-than-thou private sector believes we should reduce the compensation of city employees to the level of subservient slave labor than by all means get on top and ride that crippled white horse.

The state of Alaska has by far the highest percentage per capita of public sector employment of any state in the union. Even before oil it did. But after Prudhoe Bay the state had a choice of whether to pass all the money out to us via Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend checks or create jobs that would sustain a far greater society. 

Homer is no different. We have gotten accustomed to strong public sector employment. It may be true that those jobs are better than working for a newspaper. 

But when did it become acceptable to tear down the pay and benefits of one group so another group didn’t have to feel inferior? 

Far more than most people around here, I know the faces, the names, and the jobs being done by Homer city employees. By and large they are superior civic citizens who have given every bit as much as any other local folks to the betterment of the community. 

If people want to feel some anger about the cost of city employee health care I suggest they take it up with legislators across the country and the associated health care industry folks — and not city employees. 

And, for what it’s worth, we should take care of our employees before one dime is spent — particularly on the Homer Chamber of Commerce, then the Pratt Museum, community schools, parks and recreation  studies, new public safety or harbor offices, and especially more public restrooms for people who can’t remember to pee before leaving home.

Mike Heimbuch is a former member of the Homer City Council and a lifelong Alaskan “with a strong interest in adversarial positions” he writes.

More in News

The 2021 elections will be held Oct. 5.
Kenai Peninsula Borough School Board Q&A

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, elections will be held for Homer City Council,… Continue reading

The 2021 elections will be held Oct. 5.
Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Q&A

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, elections will be held for Homer City Council,… Continue reading

The 2021 elections will be held Oct. 5.
Homer City Council candidate Q&A

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, elections will be held for Homer City Council,… Continue reading

Traffic moves north along the Sterling Highway shortly after a fatal crash closed the highway for several hours Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. The state is seeking federal funding for a project aimed at improving safety along the Sterling Highway between mileposts 82.5 to 94, or between Sterling and Soldotna. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
State looks to federal funding for Sterling Highway project

The project is aimed at improving highway safety between Sterling and Soldotna.

Ethan Benton (left) and Laura Walters of Kodiak win the vaccine lottery for the Alaska Chamber's week one vaccine lottery giveaway "Give AK a Shot." (Screenshot)
State names winners in 1st vaccine lottery

A Valdez and Kodiak resident took home checks for $49,000 each.

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion
A podium marks the beginning of a StoryWalk at Soldotna Creek Park on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. The project was discontinued in August due to vandalism.
Vandalism ends Soldotna library program

The StoryWalk was made possible by a $2,500 donation from the Soldotna Library Friends.

Juneau Empire file
The Coast Guard medevaced a 90-year-old suffering stroke-like symptoms near Ketchikan aboard a 45-foot response boat-medium like this one, seen in Juneau, on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021.
Coast Guard medevacs man from yacht near Ketchikan

The 90-year-old suffered symptoms of a stroke.

James Varsos, also known as “Hobo Jim,” poses for a photo during the August 2016, Funny River Festival in Funny River, Alaska, in August 2016. (Peninsula Clarion file)
‘Hobo Jim’ opens up about recent terminal cancer diagnosis

Varsos was named Alaska’s official “state balladeer” in 1994.

Most Read