Michael O'Meara's cartoon for the Oct. 22, 2020, issue.

Letters to the Editor

Thoughts from readers like you

Not much gained from ‘debates’

To tell the truth, not only do I object to using the term “debate” to describe recent political spectacles we have witnessed from those vying to become our top national leaders, but I seriously doubt that there is much to be gained by putting forth the expense and effort involved in staging further of these so-called “debates” among the current political candidates. Inflicting such non-edifying performances upon the public is simply punishing the American people further in a time of so much difficulty for all of us.

Not only the rule of civil discourse, but any relationship to honest traditional debate as it is meant to be practiced have, in my opinion, been completely absent from the remarkable spectacles of these last weeks on both sides of the political fence.

In a long-ago past, I joined my college debate team in order to begin to learn the basic elements of expressing and defending a position on points of discussion likely to come up in a democratic society. Subjects such as the development of nuclear weapons, ongoing participation in national and international organizations, the usefulness of trade agreements, equal pay for equal work, the correct use of public funds, etc. were the kinds of subjects we were called upon to debate. Being able to understand and articulate pro and con arguments on any proposed course of action was considered a basic skill to be developed in order to learn to work together in the democratic process so as to arrive at consensus for action. Debates could become heated, and passionate positions were often forcefully expressed, but lack of civility would quickly throw you and your team out of the game. In college debate competitions, teams actually exchanged positions after a first round of discussion. Those arguing “pro” a given position, now were required to argue “con” on the same issue, and so forth — a tactic which helped develop the ability to examine an issue from more than one perspective. The national “debates” we are witnessing have none of these characteristics and in my (debatable) opinion, serve no purpose other than to dishonor and discredit the entire democratic process upon which our country’s government is intended to rest.

Yours truly,

Carol R. Dee

Don’t attack people for wearing masks

When Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis discovered that hand washing could save lives in the hospital setting it was the middle of the 19th century. Centuries before that there was anecdotal evidence that hand washing could save lives. During the Black Plague Jewish people died at a much lower rate because of their religious ritual of hand washing. Despite these obvious indications of the benefits of hand washing, when Dr. Semmelweis pushed for instituting hand washing to save lives, he was shunned. He left the medical profession a broken man and died in an insane asylum.

Fast-forward to today and you can see a similar situation, in my opinion, in mask wearing. Despite scientific and anecdotal evidence that masks help slow the spread of diseases that are spread through the air, there is great animosity shown toward those who advocate for wearing masks and those who choose to wear masks.

Recently I learned of an experience a friend had while wearing a mask in an indoor public space. A person screamed at her for her mask wearing and after going off on her stormed out of the building without giving my friend a chance to respond. Earlier this summer a person without a mask on walked into a local store that required masks. When an employee approached the customer he said, “I don’t wear a mask, but I do carry.” No doubt these folks are unabashedly bragging about “standing up to big government” and “protecting their freedom.”

Someday, people won’t think twice about putting on a mask during a pandemic. In the meantime, I will ready myself for the attacks that may be directed at me when I wear a mask and focus on keeping calm and not escalating the situation.

Charlie Stephens, Kenai

Not forced to vote for Trump

When does an opinion become irrelevant?

Quite simply, when it’s b******t.

We are living in extraordinary times, and I suppose it’s only natural that some find it fitting to use extreme language and outlandish metaphors to describe them. The irony laden in Mr. Martin’s letter published Oct. 8 is that the very president he is being “forced” to vote for is not-so-subtly encouraging these metaphorical bayonets to manifest into a very real militia of voter suppression and intimidation. “Might see support from the far right?”

Forty-five has given rise to the foulest of scum this country previously pretended it had rid itself of. White supremacists proudly wear his words — “Stand by” — frothing at the mouth for an opportunity to ignite a second civil war. His supporters have plotted to kidnap a governor and blatantly murdered peaceful protestors in Kenosha. This is a bleak reality that supersedes metaphor. Property doesn’t breathe or bleed. Burn it down. Yes, Black lives still matter.

Aside from the obvious absurdity that our only choices are now, and all too often are, two very old and very creepy white men, I am of the opinion that it is far more absurd, and in fact dangerous, to continue to lift up deeply misdirected voices like that of my compatriot here. Let us not underestimate the power of language. An editor’s job is to weed out the psychobabble. I can only hope you’ll print this in an effort to balance the scales.

Tara Findlay

Vote Yes on Ballot Measure 1

I am not a scholar or academic, however I have lived in Alaska since 1981 and do understand the foundation, the critical nuts and bolts, of Alaska’s fiscal situation. And I have grave concerns about where we are headed with the debt we are incurring on oil tax credits; it is not sustainable or responsible.

Oil is just like mining gold, once it is gone it is gone. As Alaska’s current responsible generation, and in an effort to be good stewards, we have the duty to ensure that the value of our limited, finite resources like oil are available to improve and enhance our children and grandchildren’s lives. Alaska’s future generations are counting on us. We will have failed and been irresponsible if we do not plan and ensure investments in public health, education, roads, and ferries are sustainable for years to come. This can only be done by leveraging the natural resources granted to Alaska in our statehood act. These resources are Alaska’s grubstake.

This fair share citizen’s initiative has been labeled as an environmental movement to restrict oil development; however, that is not the goal. This is about recovering Alaska’s Fair Share and not going bankrupt while watching our oil leave Alaska.

I don’t believe I am the only one scratching my head over most of what government does. Therefore the issue of Alaska’s Fair Share, Ballot Measure 1 can only be accomplished by your vote on the citizen’s initiative brought forward by the people and not elected officials. And as cheesy as this may sound, we need to believe in, “by the people for the people.”

It is important to note, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled four times that the citizen’s initiative met the legal requirements to be on the ballot. It was not done by a bunch of guys in a dark room, as a current ad might suggest. It was Alaskans stepping in and working together to do what elected representatives have failed to do. Protect Alaskan’s interest from strong lobbies.

Do not discount your neighbors or yourselves. I can only hope Alaskan patriots and heroes will come forward and use their voice by voting. A citizen’s initiative is the true voice of Alaskans speaking.

Vote yes on Ballot Measure 1.

Mike Craft, Fairbanks

Homer Foundation and Schroer Fund ignites potential in Alaska’s youth

We are so grateful for our partnership with The Homer Foundation. In 2019, the David and Mary Schroer Fund through the Homer Community Foundation donated $500 to provide match support for 13 of Homer’s Matches.

In a time when kids are more isolated than ever, keeping kids connected is critical. At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska, we work hard every day to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. Because of partnerships like The Homer Foundation, more Alaskan Littles are realizing their potential.

Last year, one of our matches met every single week in the library. The Big Sister was intentional about making sure her Little Sister got her schoolwork done and had consistent support when she needed it. They made sure to do something fun about every other weekend as Bigs are not supposed to be tutors but mentors. This teen Little is one of the few that thrived while doing school from home last spring. The weekly visits with her Big taught her how to study, stay on task, and work independently. Because she’s gained confidence in learning from home she decided to homeschool this year. She is doing great with the IDEAS homeschool program and is happier without the social pressures of high school.

Match experiences like this would not be possible without the support of our friends and neighbors like the David and Mary Schroer Fund and The Homer Community Foundation. Thank you. Your investment in youth and the Homer community ignites potential.

With gratitude,

Rachel Morse, Interim CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska

Vote Cooper

As the election is upon us, for those of you who have not yet voted, I want to express my support of Kelly Copper for State House. I urge voters to vote early, just in case election day presents an obstacle for any reason. Kelly Cooper has served on the borough assembly for six years. That is two full terms, and each term she served as assembly president for the very reasons she is the best candidate for the job in the State House.

She is organized, pragmatic, well-spoken, works tirelessly, really knows how to run a meeting, always listens and is always polite. In addition, she firmly believes in putting people before party and she is a problem solver. Prior to her assembly service, she served on the Homer Chamber of Commerce and also on the South Peninsula Hospital Operating Board. She is also a small business owner. This is the kind of person we need in the legislature.

A vote for Kelly Cooper is a vote for an experienced, fair minded, hard worker who knows public service. This is the kind of leadership we need for our State.

Please vote. It really matters.

Rika Mouw

Vote Biden-Harris

When an avowed liberal like me yearns for a moderate leader, you know the world must be chaotic. It is time to elect an experienced leader who understands that governing requires respect for differing views, the love of negotiation and a commitment to doing what is right for the country.

And remember that Joe Biden knows how to build a strong economy. He and President Obama saved us from economic collapse after the 2007-2008 great recession.

Absentee in-person voting started Tuesday, Oct. 12, in Homer. Get out there and do your civic duty. And make your voice heard. Vote Biden-Harris.

Angie Newby

Grateful for donations from Baycrest Greenhouse

We would like to extend our thanks to Tracy Asselin for the plant starts she provides each year for the vegetables we grow for the Homer Food Pantry. Most recently she also gave us some perennials for the flower bed under our new sign. Her generosity brings a true sense of community to our efforts. Thank you, Tracy.

Heather Johnson, St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church

Parents give thanks for missing daughter support

Last Sunday we held a bitter-sweet remembrance at WKFL park for our missing daughter, Anesha “Duffy” Murnane. We want to thank everyone who helped us survive the ordeal of the past year since Duffy went missing in downtown Homer at noon on Oct. 17, 2019.

We thank the Homer Police Department for hundreds of hours spent on this case. Lt. Ryan Browning led the early phase, and special investigator Matt Haney, assisted by Jessica Poling, spent several months re-examining the data and interviewing more than 100 people. Retired law enforcement volunteers included Mike McCarthy, Donna Anthony, and Stacey Mitry. Forensic neuroscientist Amy Du Beau wrote a character profile of Duffy’s likely abductor. Anchorage dog teams with North Paw K9 Search and Recovery combed the wooded areas of Homer looking for Duffy.

Christina Whiting was our tireless spokesperson and media organizer. She filtered phone calls, and kept Duffy’s name alive in newspapers, radio, and TV around the state. Art Koeninger administered the “Bring Duffy Home” Facebook site, with more than 1800 followers. An extremely hard-working core team organized meetings, neighborhood canvassing, and posters; the team included Kate Finn, Tela O’Donnell Bacher, Art Koeninger, Ginger Bryant, Ginger Drais, and Laura Brooks.

Our family members came to help us, including Duffy’s brother Gregory and partner Jenny, Sara’s sister Trina Phipps, bother-in-law Mike Huelsman, niece Heather Byrnes, Ed’s daughter Tanya Berg Tandias, and Duffy’s close friend Hannah Ricker. Helen Armstrong and Charlie Barnwell kindly housed our visitors in their VRBO cabin.

Last fall and winter we canvassed neighborhoods around Homer, Anchor Point and Ninilchik looking for Duffy, assisted by the local volunteer fire departments. Dozens of volunteers went door-to-door with leaflets, and were often greeted with hugs and tears from residents who knew about Duffy.

November through February our friends brought full dinners several nights each week. Kate Meyer and Sharon McKemie Bauer coordinated food deliveries through MealTrain.com. We often stretched these meals out for several nights, which freed us up to focus on the search for Duffy. Josh Riley organized a GoFundMe, and we heartly thank the 153 people who contributed more than $10,000.

Michael Armstrong has kept up the drum beat for Duffy in the Homer News with regular coverage from day one. Michael’s work has been invaluable, and we give him special thanks.

We thank all of you, including those not mentioned, dearest friends and family, for this wonderful outpouring of love and generosity.

Sara Berg, Duffy’s mother; Ed Berg, Duffy’s stepfather

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