Say ‘no’ to outside political money
I notice in the last few days homes and businesses displaying anti-recall yard signs. Letting people know where you stand is a good thing, and I note the signs have all the requisite information about the group that printed them and who is in charge of that group.
And then there’s the nasty-gram I got in the mail this week, like most of you probably did. No group is identified, no return address, no indication at all who is responsible for it. Make no mistake, Homer, this is dirty outside money coming in to try and influence our local election. You have to wonder what kind of people would spend the money to send this to every single mailbox in Homer, but wouldn’t have the courage to put their name on it.
No matter which side of this issue you stand on, remember, we’re all all Alaskans and we don’t need outside political money to tell us what to do and how to think.
Let’s do what’s best for community
I’m confused by the recall effort. A couple months ago, a Homer City Council member sought to cut the library budget by 10 percent. Because the cuts weren’t needed to balance the city budget, I interpreted that effort as an ideological attack on education and learning, and I strongly disagreed with it.
But I knew then as I do now, the councilman did nothing illegal — he simply expressed an opinion protected by the First Amendment — and that my only recourse would be at the ballot box. If our laws worked in any other way, our government could not function, because on every decision, an unhappy group could move to remove the alleged offender.
I understand the frustration of the recall supporters — as a liberal in a very red state, I live it daily. But if Homer is truly the “City that Works,” I hope we can come together around what’s best for the entire community.
Recall all about accountability
It is a shame that our city is facing a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of council members Donna Aderhold, Catriona Reynolds and Dave Lewis. They claim that they have a right to free speech and that the recall election is unconstitutional. The city has elected to fight the lawsuit, standing behind the city clerk whose job includes deciding if a recall is warranted. The clerk did so under the advice of the city attorney. More than 400 city residents signed the petitions calling for a recall vote and that vote is set to happen in June. The recourse for Aderhold, Lewis and Reynolds is to see if the citizens of Homer fully support them by waiting out this accepted democratic process, or to sue the city and try to block the vote on the basis that they are allowed to speak freely.
Freedom of speech is highly valued but carries great responsibility. You must accept the consequences of your speech, and of your actions. When Hal Spence gave them the hate-tinged Sanctuary City resolution why did those three council members submit it to the council agenda without getting the advice of the city manager or city attorney? And why did they pass it on to a citizen without marking it as a draft? And when this citizen posted it on social media, mentioning that the council members who sponsored it were looking for support for it, why did not one of them announce that it was a draft and a work in progress? After all it lit up the media group and was obviously being rejected and causing division after only a few hours online. Yet not one of the three made any statement online and the city office was inundated with emails (and I imagine phone calls) and the next council meeting consisted of four hours of testimony regarding the resolution. By then stories had changed and the council members were the object of mistrust, gaining a reputation of deceit. The national press had picked up the news and Homer was the subject of negative press.
I am not a sponsor of the recall effort but have become knowledgeable in the words and actions surrounding the controversy and the making of the resolution. The recall is not about a difference of opinion, it’s not the conservatives against the liberals, it’s about being held accountable for your words and actions.
Citizens have the right and the responsibility to hold their elected officials accountable, and a recall vote not only gives them that opportunity, it lets officials know that people are watching. I want to vote, it’s my right.
Shared moment of grace
It was one of those gifted late spring sunny mornings in Homer, birds singing, snow on the mountains sparkling, bluest of seas. I paused as I always do in my morning run to stand at that overlook on Skyline to absorb the munificence. A man whom I did not know was also standing there in deep reflection, open to the untrammelled panorama before us.
After a few minutes he softly spoke: “How could anyone look at this and not believe in God?” “I was just thinking the same thing,” I replied.
It was not the time or circumstance to fracture our sharing by introducing a dialogue about how, in pondering the same question, I would use different terminology. It did not matter that we had different belief systems. What mattered was that we both were sharing the profoundly sacred.
“If more people felt this,” he continued, “they would make less of a mess of things.” “Yes,” I replied, “I agree completely”.
We went our separate ways, holding in our hearts a moment of true communion that goes deeper than the limitation of words and concepts
Conflict can bring greater insight
After spending part of the winter out of Alaska, I returned home six weeks ago and am still a little shocked to hear what feels like a focus on division in our beloved community. I hear so much talk of “for and against.” I personally have valued participating in our public process — mostly because of all of our council members’ willingness to hear diverse opinions. They have helped me understand how to craft needed ordinances and made so much of their time available to take all forms of citizen input, which fosters the best outcomes. Some of this seems to be what has been targeted as inappropriate in the recall effort, yet it’s the stuff I myself most value.
Conflict can always bring greater insight, or it can be destructive; let’s not forget how much common ground we have together. Whatever you think, I hope you will vote in June, so we can get back to hearing from everyone on the issues. I myself will vote “no” on the recall, because I think we need all of our unique and different voices. We need to let our council do their work, if we want to keep our community strong and vibrant.
Council members acted selfishly
Yet again, I find myself compelled to write a letter on the upcoming recall and the lawsuit from the ACLU on the city. The recalled city council members cry that they have First Amendment rights, but if it was somebody else bringing the initial resolution to them, why is it “their” First Amendment rights being affected? Questions have come up on their right to sponsor whatever has been brought to them. I ask this in all sincerity. What if I had asked them to make this city “officially” a non-sanctuary city, would they have sponsored it? I think not.
Aside from government overreach in all areas of government, pushing an agenda that was known to be controversial, shows me that they don’t have the rights of each and every citizen in mind. Loss of federal funding, loss of peace and goodwill between our citizens and bringing in heavy-hitters who neither know our town, our ways and quite frankly, don’t care about it. Let’s not mention all the people that wrote they wouldn’t bring family and visitors to Homer anymore.
All these things add up to a selfish, unpopular act that affected negatively more than 50 percent of the population here in Homer. To complain that the cost of a recall election brought by the petitioners for the recall show how hypocritical that is when compared with the costs of ACLU attorneys. The nation is watching this and the fallout (no matter what happens) makes the future of visits, sales of lodging, food and trinkets questionable.
Who loves Homer? I’m beginning to think it isn’t them, for sure.
Students display artistic talents
This past February, West Homer Elementary students were fortunate to work with Jimmy Riordan, Artists in Residence, to enjoy the art of printmaking. The students created a variety of print making pieces including lithograph, linoleum block printing and etchings. Creative materials such as domestic pasta makers, cereal boxes, and scrap linoleum were used by students to develop their art pieces.
Through his artistic skills and inspiring creativity, Jimmy supported each child to form an original print design. Each piece of artwork was displayed on the walls at West Homer Elementary. On Friday, Feb. 24, all students participated in a gallery walk where they reviewed and celebrated the artwork of their peers and teachers. The entire school enjoyed the experience of sharing and observing art with great enthusiasm.
Without the support from the West Homer PTA, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, Alaska State Council on the Arts, Homer Foundation, Kenai Fine Arts Center and Alaska USA, who sponsor Bunnell Street Arts Center’s Artist in the Schools program, these experiences wouldn’t be possible. Thank you!
A sample of the artistic talents at West Homer Elementary were also on display at the Art Fair on Friday, May 5.
Yours in Learning,
Christine Faber for the
West Homer Elementary Students and Staff