Letters to the editor

Water Trail thankful for foundation award

The Friends of Kachemak Bay State Park / Water Trail Committee were pleased to be the recipient of a $250 People’s Choice Award from the Homer Foundation at their Annual Meeting. One of the on-going projects the Friends / Water Trail Committee has been working on is to improve accessibility for mobility impaired visitors to Kachemak Bay State Park. The Halibut Cove Lagoon Public Use Cabins have been and will continue to be the focus of accessibility improvements. The People’s Choice Award will be used to repair an accessible latrine door which no longer opens wide enough and to provide materials for additional hand rails along an existing boardwalk. We look forward to making these improvements in April and May.

We thank the Homer Foundation for its support for our and other Community projects through the People’s Choice Award program.

Sincerely,

Laura Edwards, Dave Brann

Call to Action

For at least three years now we have heard the relentless cries that our government and governor don’t hear us here in Alaska, that they won’t listen to our calls and letters. They don’t care about what we the people want. That there is nothing that we can do, it won’t matter anyway.

I say if that is true then it is our fault.

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”

– Abraham Lincoln

Important legislation will be decided this session in Juneau, protecting our PFD in the Constitution, paying statutory PFDs, crime reform and budget issues. Our legislators use public input in the decision making process, if they are not hearing from us then we are not doing our jobs.

Last election the People of Alaska sent a message to the Government. We elected a governor who stood on the principles of transparency and restoring the public trust. I say let us put his words to the test. Take up this call to action and get involved. Go to http://w3.legis.state.ak.us/ to locate your senator and representatives if you don’t know who they are. Find all their contact information, and send them a note, email or call their office. You can also do the same with our governor here: https://gov.alaska.gov/.

Alaskans, do your part.

Brandi Wadkins, Soldotna

Thanks from Cook Inletkeeper

There is no doubt that Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet shape and define the community of Homer. But what makes Homer so special is the strong community that joins together to help one another and take care of this place that provides for us. Thanks in part to support from the Homer Foundation and the City of Homer, Cook Inletkeeper hosted several events in the past year that demonstrated the passion residents have for each other and for this place. From the volunteers and local businesses that helped collect 25,547 pounds of electronics to be safely recycled to the more than 175 salmon meals served at Wild Salmon Day, this community continues to inspire us. From the Cook Inletkeeper team — thank you for all that you do to protect the place that feeds our bodies and our spirits.

Carly Wier, Executive Director, Cook Inletkeeper

Dear Editor:

On behalf of Project GRAD Kenai Peninsula Board of Directors, staff, and supported students, families, and schools, we would like to extend a sincere thank you to the Homer Foundation for its recent donation toward our 21st Century Community Learning Center after-school program. When students in Kachemak Selo, Voznesenka, Razdolna, Nikolaevsk, and Ninilchik arrive for twice­ weekly activities in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math, (STEAM TEAM) one of their first priorities is to get a healthy snack to take the off edge of the day’s hunger and prepare to learn and engage. The snack is a requirement of the 21st Century program, but because some of the schools have no cafeteria or lunch program, they are ineligible for the federal resources that typically fund national after-school snack programs. Due to this unforeseen glitch in the use of federal funds, Project GRAD has been bearing the costs of these snacks.

We are grateful to the Homer Foundation who recognized the importance that nutrition plays in learning and agreed to contribute to this important priority. I imagine we can all relate to how difficult it is to concentrate and think when our bellies are rumbling. After school is a time when children are particularly in need of a healthy boost. So, thank-you to Homer Foundation.

Your support of nonprofits and their varied needs demonstrates a commitment to even the most isolated of our communities. Thanks to contributions like yours, children can fully attend to the excitement of our STEAM TEAM programming and are expanding their wonder in education.

Jane Beck, Executive Director, Project GRAD Kenai Peninsula

Winter Carnival was a success

The community of Homer has come together to show appreciation and support to the three United State’s Coast Guard Units stationed in Homer. The loss of Chief Warrant Officer Kozloski was a loss felt by the Coast Guard family in Homer but also the community. We are honored to be able to celebrate the 50 years the Coast Guard has been stationed in Homer. Thank you to the men and women of the Coast Guard for your 50 years of protecting the port community of Homer.

The Winter Carnival Parade that marched down Pioneer Ave. on Saturday was fun for the whole family and we would like to thank all those who came out to enjoy the winter sun. It takes an army to put on the parades and we want to thank all of our Chamber volunteers. We also want to thank parade sponsor Wells Fargo Bank and host Bay Realty.

With the Coast Guard being Grand Marshalls we decided during the government shut down to host a BBQ fundraiser for any of those service members that may need help. Once the shutdown was over, we continued in those efforts, but couldn’t do it alone. In partnership with Homer’s Coast Guard Auxiliary, Kachemak Bay Lions Club, American Legion Post 16, Homer Marine Trades, NOMAR, Smokey Bay Air, Church on the Rock, SpitWSpots, Pioneers of Alaska, The Odom Corporation, Homer Volunteer Fire Department, McNeil Canyon Meats and Karen and Larry Christopher we were able to raise $3,771.60.

Thank you once again to Homer’s Coast Guard family. Thank you for being a part of our community and for the continued service you do. Thank you, not just for protecting our waterways but for helping build our community and for all the service projects you perform.

Debbie Speakman

Executive Director – HCOC

“Who to Finger for the Deadlock” or “Stutes Pulls a Seaton”

On August 2nd of last year, I called Representative Louise Stutes, R- Kodiak, to tell her that I couldn’t vote for her if she was going to abandon her party and join the Democrats again in January. Louise told me flat out that she intended to rejoin the Republican majority if she were reelected. With her assurance, I told her that I would vote for her — and I did. Well, as far as I’m concerned, she broke her word. She voted against Healy Republican Representative David Talerico for Speaker of the House, joined forces for a time with that loose cannon from Kenai, Representative Gary Knopp, and finally feathered her own nest by voting for Representative Bryce Edgmon—-a Democrat with identity issues from Dillingham.

Will some upstanding, genuine conservative from District 32 please step forward and run against Stutes in 2020? Please. You are desperately needed.

Bob Townsend, Halibut Cove

Please help fund Louisiana’s Schools

All you have to do is be a true Alaskan and give up 50 years of financial and humanitarian gains under Governor Dunleavy’s proposed budget as endorsed by Rep. Sarah Vance. Letting $80 million per year escape the state budget that could have been recovered from Out of State workers via a state income tax is a Godsend for them. Maybe a toast to the people of Alaska as they spend $5 on a beer at the airport while taking the resources of Alaska home to pay Louisiana state income Tax and support Louisiana schools.

Twenty to 25 percent of Alaska wages go out of state with no contribution to our Alaskan way of life.

I am a 60 year Alaska resident. I’d rather have a $400 dividend check or none at all than see our town without a university, and a de-staffed hospital, both of which are huge economic drivers for Homer. You work at a store and think it doesn’t affect you, think again. No customers = no store = no job for you. 13,000 jobs will be lost in Alaska under the proposed budget. Our local and rural school system demolished, and all the humanitarian gains of 50 years destroyed by the governors ego and proposed budget. Email Ms. Vance and tell her to stand up, on her own, for Homer.

Richard Frost

On recent local utility issues

I truly appreciate the convenience of having electricity and natural gas in our community. But I bristle at two issues with our local utilities. First, I recently reviewed Homer Electric Association’s IRS filings, and discovered for 2017 the HEA General Manager reaped annual salary and benefits over $435,000. Considering HEA and the other 5 utilities comprising the Railbelt electrical grid together produce less power than half a small power plant in the Lower 48, I think the HEA General Manager’s compensation is exorbitant. Second, the recent news that Enstar increased the debt service paid by Homer-area gas customers by over $1 million without telling our legislators or the City – or us – is appalling. And this slight of hand occurred despite the fact every city property owner had to pony-up a $3,200 assessment, and the state of Alaska chipped in $8.5 million, for pipeline infrastructure Enstar ultimately will own. Thank you to Mayor Castner for discovering this problem. Our utilities exist for a simple reason – to serve us. They do not exist to bilk us.

Bob Shavelson

Invitation to participate in study

My name is Kim Burrows and I live here in Homer. I am a doctoral candidate in Transformative Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, California (www.ciis.edu). Transformative Studies is the transdisciplinary study of growth and change in human systems. I am searching for participants for a study I am conducting on the Kenai Peninsula on near-death experiences and personal change of American veterans.

In 1979, I was in a car accident from which I incurred a severe head injury and a subsequent weeks-long coma. During my coma, there was a point at which I was teetering on death. As I was passing from my body in my near-death experience (NDE), I heard voices beckoning me toward them. However, upon looking down at my crying parents on either side of my body, I made the conscious decision to live.

For many years, I had trouble explaining my NDE and how it had affected me because few people accepted it as an actual occurrence. Then, beginning in the late 1980s and 1990s, more people began talking about their experience of this numinous event and it became more accepted in American society. Although the study of near-death experiences is gaining momentum regarding the general public, not as much research has been done on the occurrence of NDEs in the military. I believe this study will allow its participants an opportunity to tell their stories.

The format of this study is twofold: completion of an online survey and a subsequent one-on-one, confidential, in-person interview with me. If you are interested in participating in my study, please contact me at 907-235-4045.

Kim Burrows

Dunleavy budget is no good

The Dunleavy budget is fundamentally dishonest. The initial cuts do not give an actual accounting of the true cost. How much money will be wasted, dismantling systems that have been built and grown over time with Alaskan money? How much money will have to be reinvested at a later date to rebuild systems and communities that will be devastated by these severe and sudden cuts. Dunleavy and Arduin have dropped their budget bomb in an effort to shock and awe the public, refusing to acknowledge the thru line between today’s cuts and our state’s future.

Dunleavy and Arduin are shifting this crisis to the local level. Senate Bill 57 will take $440 million annual revenue from Alaska’s boroughs, including $15 million from the Kenai Peninsula. When questioned about the impact of SB57 on the inevitable rise in local property taxes, Arduin said she could not comment on what boroughs will do. They drop their bomb and depart, and leave local communities and municipalities (where Alaskan residents actually live) to deal with the reality and pick up the pieces. Our boroughs and towns will surely have to raise the property tax to address the upcoming crisis, while Dunleavy’s hands are clean of the dirty tax word. They are passing the buck. They are using their tough talk and bottom line to “balance the budget” today, without acknowledging the true cost for tomorrow.

Nancy Johnson

On funding for education

Alaska has a budget deficit problem. Services have been cut for some years now, with some care and thought, and not without some pain. Revenue has been scrounged from wherever it could be found, including the Permanent Fund, but excluding changes to revenue from resource development, which instead is given billions in subsidies. Understandably, any industry, oil not excepted, would be uncomfortable with shifting tax structures, but times are tough and we all have to adapt. I also believe that we as citizens should be contributing more directly for our services, namely with a state income tax as a percentage of the federal income tax (those less able to pay, who receive federal income tax refunds, would be unaffected).

Instead, the governor’s recent proposal suggests cutting the ferry system to the point of obliteration (not all services can turn a big profit, and yet they remain necessary; there is no highway either to Dutch Harbor or to Ketchikan). The University of Alaska would be gutted, losing branches until there’s nothing left but a couple of stumps. Public education would be decimated. Alaskan prisoners shipped Outside to for-profit facilities. Medicare slashed. Public broadcasting eliminated. At the same time, the governor insists on giving every resident a bonus to make up for the dollars we might’ve gotten last year, dollars that were used to keep the wolf a little further from the door. He made a campaign promise and means to stick to it.

I would like to see our quality of life sustained. I’m willing to help pay for it. I think our resource extractors should too. There’s an expression, cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. I don’t think we should do that. I also don’t care about the governor’s campaign promises. Our legislators are elected to represent us and to work in our best interests. I think they should do that.

Ken Landfield

Dear Editor,

There’s an old phrase common in Alaska: “We don’t care how they do it Outside!”

That old saw ought to be directed at Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s hired slasher, Donna Arduin, brought here from parts south to Benihana the budget into barely recognizable ruins.

Dunleavy proposes, among other things, slicing more than $300 million from K-12 education, eliminating early childhood learning programs, deleting the Senior Benefits program, chopping 11.5 percent from the Department of Public Safety, cutting 75 percent from the Alaska Marine Highway budget, wresting petroleum industry property tax revenues from municipalities, and carving $271 million from Medicaid.

This is nothing short of an assault on the working class and poor who will face higher sales and property taxes and contend with evaporating community-level services, including medical assistance.

Nowhere in Dunleavy’s budget is there talk of revenue streams from income taxes; no recognition that the Permanent Fund was intended as a rainy-day fund, not a sacred-cow dividend teat; and, most importantly, there is no hint of revamping the sweetheart tax deal that allows oil and gas companies to steal your kids’ lunch money.

Why not? Because those would be the actions of rational adults capable of recognizing the necessity of funding state and municipal governments adequately so they can do collectively what we cannot do alone – care for sick and elderly, feed the poor, house the homeless, build and repair roads, collect trash, police our streets and – imagine this – educate our children.

Arduin’s history as a hired gun Outside isn’t pretty and often proved disastrous. Google it. Dunleavy’s dream of a state free of impediments to extraction industries will prove a dystopian nightmare for the rest of us.

We aren’t going to take this lying down. If it’s political battle they want, that’s what they’ll get.

Sincerely,

Hal Spence

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