Letters to the Editor

Tillion was a visionary public servant

Former State Sen. Clem Tillion, who passed this week at age 96, was among the first legislators I met when I became The Associated Press Capital Correspondent in Juneau in 1976. He soon became my “go to” politician for a good quote when I was desperate for one. He had all the attributes a reporter wants. He was knowledgeable, approachable, articulate, funny and irascible. And he never dodged a question.

He was a Republican but not a partisan. He joined with Gov. Jay Hammond, a close friend, and liberal Democrats like House Speaker Hugh Malone to craft and then win passage of the Alaska Permanent Fund. He was an ardent conservationist. He was an honest man.

But above all, I’ll remember Clem as one of the last living World War II veterans who came into the country after the war to become visionary public servants whose imprimatur on Alaska will remain forever. And remember, Vic Fischer survives.

Mike Harmon, Pensacola, Florida

Homer Foundation support appreciated for music program

Dear Editor,

During the darkest months of the winter of 2020, Bunnell Street Arts Center and KBBI partnered to broadcast live studio concerts on KBBI AM 890. The program used pandemic relief funds to employ musicians and bring live music to people during a time of incredible isolation.

With support from the COVID-19 Response Fund of the Homer Foundation, this program has blossomed into a regular third Friday event since March. What a silver lining! The program has expanded to include visiting musicians in all genres, from Wild Shore New Music, to Tim Easton, Matt Hopper, Emma Hill, Joe Goodkin, Diane Miller and more. With their rich sound quality and live nature, these concerts connect musicians to a small, masked in-person audience and thousands of people by radio and livestreaming. Concerts are beautifully archived on kbbi.org for all to enjoy at any time.

We are grateful for the collaboration and profound community support from the Homer Foundation, KBBI (especially Jeff Lockwood, Josh Krohn and Desiree Hagen), and local and visiting musicians. We’d also like to thank Bunnell, KBBI and Homer Foundation financial supporters. This COVID-19 adaptation has brought inspiration to and from our community, and we hope to sustain it with many concerts to come.

With gratitude,

Adele Person, Executive Director, Bunnell Street Arts Center

People are logical

Dear Editor,

Gubernatorial candidate Les Gara was kind enough to share his thoughts about COVID-19 in a recent opinion piece in the Homer News. Among other things, he said that we can’t get out of this pandemic unless more people get vaccinated, implying that the unvaccinated are partially to blame for the ongoing pandemic. Former Representative Gara may wish to consider that over half of the residents on the Kenai Peninsula have chosen to remain unvaccinated and may have good reasons for their choice.

Maybe the unvaccinated have already had COVID-19. If so, some studies show that they have stronger natural immunity against COVID-19 than the protection given by the vaccines. Also, data from the CDC’s VAERS database shows that these vaccines are not risk-free. There is a small but real potential for serious injury or death from them. If an individual has already had COVID-19 and decides there is no additional benefit to getting vaccinated and evaluates the potential risks of the vaccination, they might logically conclude that it is not in their best interest to get vaccinated. This is not ignorance of the disease or anti-social behavior on their part. This is an example of individuals considering the facts and making wise personnel decisions.

Candidate Gara should remember that when he alienates over half of the voters on the Kenai Peninsula, it makes it more difficult to get elected to any position, especially governor. Good luck sir. I think you will need it.


Greg Sarber

Do your patriotic duty

The notion that you have an unfettered right to refuse to be vaccinated is just wrong.

Although our constitution guarantees certain freedoms to individuals, not one comes without restrictions. You have the right to speak, but not cause a stampede in the theater; worship as you please, but not perform human sacrifice; to bear arms, but not to carry a sawed-off shotgun. You only have the right to be free from searches that are unreasonable, without probable cause. Our constitution clearly puts community, society and the nation ahead of the rights of the individual.

The Founders read and incorporated the works of Hobbs, Locke, Rousseau and Kant. These political theorists refined the idea of the “Social Contract.” They deplored the notion of an absence of political order or a “State of Nature” in which the individual owed no duty to members of society. To avoid anarchy, we all enter a sacred contract with others to establish a political community, a civil society.

All of the rights we enjoy in our republic are granted in return for acceptance of this sacred duty to respect and defend the rights of others.

The Founders embraced this duty to community and nation. Just as our nation has the power to deny us many freedoms, even conscript us to go war to defend our society, so too can society demand that we do our duty in this war against a deadly pandemic.

Do your patriotic duty. Get vaccinated to protect yourself, your community, your country.

Mark Roye, Cordova

Ode to Hobo Jim

A well-traveled fellow named Jim

Lived his life with vigor and vim.

A real talented guy

Whose songs made you try

To sing right along beside him.

He led a rather charmed life,

That he shared with his wonderful wife.

He composed many songs

That became sing-alongs,

Made friends near and far, dear and rife

He wrote songs of bush life now past,

Of a country so wide and so vast,

That it can cast a spell,

A pull Jim knew well.

It became his anchor and mast.

His songs are a medley of themes,

Loggers, miners, mushers and dreams,

Cowboys, horses and ships,

Dangerous halibut trips.

His music flowed out in broad streams.

His fond fans will honor him now,

For the joy and the memories and how

His songs brought us cheer,

And the occasional tear.

Sweet memories his work will endow.

Kathy Steberl

Voting and voting rights

While it was disheartening to see such low voter turnout in our recent municipal election (less than 30% in most districts), I was very pleased with the candidate forums and educational news clips sponsored by Kenai Peninsula Votes (KPV) and the Native Peoples Action (NPA) groups. The forums were respectful and the questions addressed pertinent issues that affect all of us. It was fantastic and refreshing to hear Native people’s concerns addressed to the candidates. Kudos to both KPV and NPA for all your work. Thank you KBBI for airing the forums and thank you Homer News and Peninsula Clarion for running the educational clips written by members of the KPV. I learned a lot! Mostly, I want to thank the candidates for caring about your communities and putting the time and work into running for a seat.

Two big voting rights acts are now moving through congress in Washington, D.C. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, H.R. 4, passed the House in August and is now in the Senate’s hands. This act would require states to get preclearance from the U.S. Department of Justice before making legal changes that would affect voting rights. The Freedom to Vote Act, S. 2747, addresses redistricting, campaign finance, post-election audits and making election day a federal holiday among other things. It was introduced in the Senate in September.

You can read these two bill summaries at https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress by searching the bill number. If these voting rights are important to you, write or call our two senators and one congressman and let them know you care about the issues addressed in these bills.

Therese Lewandowski

Thanks for end-of-life care

To all the wonderful people at South Peninsula Hospital Long Term Care:

The care, kindness and love that you showed my mom Linda Jolly while she stayed there made my heart swell. You will always be in my heart and prayers. I can’t thank you enough.

I also appreciate the kindness that I received while being able to share my mom’s last two weeks of life. Thank you again.

Cheryl Jolly