Letters to the Editor

Respect the flag

Recently around town I’ve noticed a lot of American flags flying proudly from residences, churches and pickup trucks. I take this as a resurgence of patriotism, which is great. However, anyone who has been in the Boy Scouts or the U.S. Army knows that the flag is to be flown in the sunlight. So it pains me to see tattered Old Glories rain-sodden and drooping in the dark.

Anybody can hoist a flag in the sun. The hard part is hauling it down and folding it properly when it’s dark and stormy.

John Rate

Thanks from HoWL

Dear Homer,

On behalf of HoWL I would like to extend an enormous thank you to Stoked Beekeeping for the spectacular Harvest Festival fundraising event last Sunday at Alice’s Champagne Palace. Ana and James had a vision for a community celebration to support HoWL’s scholarship fund and they pulled it off in the most spectacular way. There was an amazing spread of food donated by Vida’s Thai, Wild Honey Bistro, Captain Patties, Finn’s Pizza, the Pho and Thai Restaurant, Dez and Garrett Lambert of D&G Charters along with chickens donated by Blood Sweat and Food Farms and two suckling pigs donated by ARLA Ranch and roasted to perfection by Brick Mouse.

Ashley Steiner from Tickled Pear not only donated taco fixings for 200 plus, but took charge of coordinating the entire buffet. Alice’s donated the venue and mixed up some delicious honey themed cocktails and mocktails and 15 community superstars participated in the honey dessert competition. Fourteen local Artists and business owners donated a selection of items for our silent auction. Meredith rocked the trivia corner and Jason gave informational tours of the observation hive. The place was packed with good food and good friends and buzzed with excitement and community spirit. A special thanks to Zac Brown, whose generous matching donation of $4,000 propelled the event past “successful” and straight to “phenomenal.”Over $11,000 was raised for HoWL and many more thousands in in-kind donations.

This event couldn’t have come at a better time for HoWL, and the Stoked folks have inspired our Board of Directors and made it possible for us to commit to 2020 programming that is not only fun, educational, dynamic and service oriented but that is also affordable to every family in our community that wishes to participate. We look forward to sharing more about our plans in the coming months. Until then, we share an enthusiastic HoooooooooWL!

Thank you.

Susannah Webster, President, HoWL Board of Directors

Teachers didn’t want to strike

I have dedicated my professional life to helping students become the best version of themselves. I love going to work each day engaging with students in the learning process. For the last few years, I have had the honor and privilege of serving as the president of the Kenai Peninsula Education Association. I miss the daily interactions with students, but I know that everything I do is focused on one mission – to improve student learning.

I do not want to strike. I do not want the disruption a strike will create, but I can’t ignore the impact of the status quo. A record number of teachers moved last year due to low wages and higher healthcare costs. Among those who left were the 2017 Alaska Teacher of the Year, James Harris, and multiple BP Teachers of Excellence.

We have always attracted excellent teachers to the Kenai Peninsula, but I’m afraid we’re losing that ability. I have two boys in our school system and I want them to get the same excellent education their older brother got. This cannot happen without a contract that will attract and retain excellent educators. Our offer to the District brings us in line with comparable districts regarding the cost of healthcare, an issue we’ve been dealing with for years.

The School Board has the opportunity to get our District back on the right track, attract new educators, and retain those of us who still want to raise our families here. They have the money and the power to stop this strike. I truly hope they do so.

David Brighton, KPEA President

Can’t support a strike

I can’t support a strike by members of the KPEA. Although teaching is a sacred calling, many teachers apparently have lost their way, buying into the false narrative that they’re special, that they’re being overworked and are underappreciated. But they’re not alone. Virtually every profession can make that claim, including McDonald’s workers engaged in their highly disciplined, precisely choreographed, and time-sensitive activity. And they do it for probably $20,000/year, less than the $24,000 medical benefits currently provided teachers whose strike mantra perhaps should be “for a few dollars more” instead of the hypocritical refrain of “kids first,” when in reality a strike will likely be exceedingly disruptive, if not devastating, to the education of the district’s thousands of innocent K-12 students, not to mention the paralyzing spin-off effect on school-associated sports activities as well as the negative effect on hapless charter schools unwillingly sucked into the vortex. A strike should have occurred in early summer.

But human hubris has no bounds. Over time each successive wave of self-proclaimed indispensable groups willing to bet everything on the margin, wantonly sacrificing its precious charges as expendable hostages, eventually finds its place. And this I can promise: 20 years from now, looking back, the best of the strike participants will be gripped with shame, shame that for a few dollars more they compromised the precious youthful values that motivated them initially to become the sacred torch-bearers of civilization.

Larry Slone

Vote ‘yes’ on borough Prop. 1

On Oct. 1, voters can change the way their borough operates, and ensure a better future by approving a managerial style of governing.

Passage of Proposition 1 would hand the day-to-day affairs of the Kenai Peninsula Borough to a professional manager, who would be responsible for overseeing the delivery of borough services and implementing the policies adopted by the elected assembly and mayor. Because he or she would apply for the job, elected officials could ensure the one they hire was highly skilled, experienced and educated in such things as public administration, business and public policy. Meanwhile, the writing of policy would remain with those elected by voters where it clearly belongs.

For a rapidly maturing borough, moving to a manager plan of government is a logical move. It would take partisan politics out of decision-making, and ensure that the office is filled, not by someone skilled or simply lucky at navigating an election cycle, but with a person hired for his managerial merits.

Under the current system, authority is placed in the hands of elected mayors who may or may not be qualified in critical managerial disciplines or necessarily motivated by the highest interests of the public. Indeed, electing managing mayors opens the office to the influence of special interests and money, and the running of operations subject to personal whims and grudges. Leaving the hiring of staff to an elected mayor also risks losing institutional memory when long-time employees are forced out and replaced by political appointees. The risk that important positions such as directors of finance and public works could be filled by unqualified mayoral appointees is a risk a mature municipality shouldn’t tolerate.

Hiring a manager would not grow the size of government, something that can easily happen with the election of an unqualified mayor, who must then hire costly functionaries, creating a new layer of expenditures atop his or her own sizable compensation package. Under a manager, the mayor’s position would not be a high-salary job, and the manager would have the necessary skills to run the borough without hiring outside expertise.

Our borough budget is roughly $80 million. If the borough was a private corporation and you were a shareholder, would you favor hiring a qualified CEO or having it run by the winner of a popularity contest?

The answer is clear. The Kenai Peninsula Borough should switch to a manager-run government system. Vote “Yes” on Prop. 1.


Hal Spence

District knew strike could happen

In response to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District saying they were “caught by surprise with the 72-hour strike notice Friday evening because this afternoon the Associations’ spokesperson and District spokesperson were communicating with the fact that the District was preparing a counter-offer that would meet the cost concerns of salary and health care” and peninsula news outlets reporting that, “The counter-offer would have potentially resulted in a Tentative Agreement, according to the district.”

The teachers have been without a contract for over a year and superintendent John O’Brien not only knew that a potential strike action was looming, but he communicated that very fact to every parent in the district on Aug. 30. So, to say that the District was caught by surprise clearly shows that the district spokesperson is being dishonest. Furthermore, some peninsula news outlets using language like, “Would have potentially resulted…” is poor and misleading writing. Better words are, “Could have resulted.” Those words are accurate and honest. Let me also ask you this, if “…the District was preparing a counter-offer that would meet the cost concerns of salary and health care,” where is that offer? Again, the district spokesperson is clearly being dishonest.

Perhaps the borough spokesperson and those peninsula news reporters should get with one of our many writing and ethics educators for some direction. They can be found in any one of our 44 public schools.

Bill Worsfold

There’s a price to pay for plastics

I have long been a happy user of all things plastic. It seems during my lifetime (I’m 68 years old) plastic products have found their way into all walks of life. I enjoy the convenience and utility of them. Little did I know that there would be a heavy price to pay for the easy product I relished.

No, I don’t mean money, at least not directly. No, I don’t mean the unsightly litter along to highways. Part of the price I am talking about is one that is taking the lives of sea creatures and sea birds. They are mistaking plastics for edibles and filling their stomachs and their young with deadly junk. This problem gets even darker as scientists are now finding that plastics break up into smaller and smaller pieces until they are micro-plastics.

These micro-plastics are getting into everything including water, soil and the flesh of animals and people. Unlike most things people use, plastic lasts and lasts. I don’t want to find out things have gotten even worse before I do something.

A long journey begins with a first step. Will you please help by voting “yes” on Oct. 1 to ban one type of unnecessary single-use plastic bags from Homer stores? Countries, states, and cities are joining the ban.

I believe the best way to predict the future is to help create it. I believe Homer’s citizens are caring people and want a better life not a sick planet.

Rev. Dan Lush

Vote ‘yes’ on Homer Prop 1

I am writing to express my concern about single-use plastic bags in the community and the upcoming vote to prohibit them. Homer is a community with many members who are environmentally conscious and care deeply about conservation. Many businesses have even taken steps to reduce their plastic waste already. Currently, 19 communities in Alaska have adopted a policy prohibiting the distribution of single use plastic bags. Why isn’t Homer one of them?

Plastic bags are detrimental to the environment. Unfortunately, most plastic bags end up in the trash. They either aren’t recycled or can’t be recycled in many places, including now at the Homer Landfill and Transfer Station. Once these bags are discarded many of them end up as litter, making their way to our rivers and ocean.

The 2019 International Coastal Cleanup, sponsored by Ocean Conservancy, reported their top 10 most commonly found items on coastlines. Those top 10 items were all made of plastic and designed to be single-use items. Plastic bags were the seventh item on the list, with a total of 964,541 bags found on 22,000 miles of coastline.

This excess of plastic waste pollutes our shores and poses a major threat to marine wildlife. Accidental consumption and entanglement is becoming more and more frequent in sea birds, fishes, and marine mammals.

Alaska is rugged, beautiful, and mostly untouched, with an amazing abundance of wildlife. We need to make decisions that will keep it that way for future generations.

Sara Faris

Quixotic was incredible

I would like to comment on the Quixotic show at the Homer High School this past weekend. I wish there were a single word to express what I feel towards this performance. This would no doubt be at homeon the stage in New York, Chicago or Paris. For us to have the privilege to see this in Homer is truly beyond words. I am but one voice, but I would like to thank everyone behind the scenes and on stage. This was the most incredible thing I have ever seen. Thank you all so very much.

Jim Nelson

TRAILS grateful for support

TRAILS, Independent Living Center’s inclusive recreation program has had a busy summer sharing great times and awesome adventures with community members of all abilities. TRAILS organized community bike rides, dip-netted on the Kasilof River, shared laughs while horseback riding in the Chugach Mountains, stained our hands blue berry picking in Little Jakolof, pulled halibut out of the bay and watched pig races at the Kenai Peninsula Fair just name a few.

TRAILS strives to make recreation as affordable to folks who sometimes live on a limited income. The people we work with wait for our fun outings every year. The only way they could afford attending is by providing them with scholarships. We could never have provided all these amazing experiences without the help from you Homer. TRAILS would like to offer a special thank you to all who have helped us provide such amazing outings like H.C.C and Homer Saw and Cycle for supporting our efforts. To the Bagel Shop and Two Sisters Bakery for feeding us quick breakfasts to get us out the door. To Homer Methodist Church for housing us. And to local vendors such as Red Mountain Marine for hosting our berry picking escapade and Alaska Coastal Marine for helping people put fish in the freezer. To Alaska Coastal Studies for helping us with transportation.

And a huge thank you to Jakolof Bay Oyster Company for donating delicious oysters for a fundraiser held at Grace Ridge Brewery. Grace Ridge Brewery has graciously donated all tips earned for the month of August. Something they do repeatedly for many other non-profits in our community. Homer is truly blessed to have Grace Ridge Brewery caring about our community. Donations such as these make a huge difference in the future of our organization. Thank you Homer.

Michael Gavillot, Program Director, TRAILS, Independent Living Center