Letters to the Editor

Vote ‘no’ on Prop. 1

No, we do not want to pay for a new police station. We are still paying for a botched up pipeline so precariously and dangerously installed in the Baycrest Subdivision that our very lives are at risk. It is quite obvious there was no engineering report done or Enstar could never have hired a contractor to clear-cut on a very fragile eroding bluff (a contractor whose license was expired at the time of the cutting). Walt Wrede also posted a fictitious survey company online that John Sims (Enstar) told me himself they used for the survey. This is only the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to the lies, collusion, corruption and insulting answers to our questions when our properties were damaged to the point of becoming uninhabitable. Frankly, the real criminals in this town would never see the inside of a new jail cell.

What we really need is a new city manager (her contract expires this year) who truly cares about the residents of Homer instead of protecting Enstar and a public works department that will stop cutting and scraping off all the vegetation that is holding the soil together on the bluff.

What happened to all the money Enstar saved by the shortcuts they took and denials of responsibility for all the damage and claims they refused to pay?

Shirley Thompson

Vote ‘yes’ on Prop. 1

I’ll add my voice to the discussion concerning the city’s decision to hold a special election seeking voter approval for borrowing money to build a new public safety building.

I believe the current police station should have been replaced six years ago. I volunteered to help work on finding a solution to find the best location and design for both the police and fire stations. The fire station’s shortfalls were partially addressed by the Homer City Council using available funds, but the police station costs either required a substantial grant (sorry, bad timing) or a long-term loan. The cost and funding of that last effort (up to $12 million) were decided by a divided council with the mayor casting the deciding vote.

There has never been a question about the need for a new facility. While we still have a council that is fairly split on many issues, they are unanimous in this new, more modest, proposal. Absent this time are a few of the side issues that may have influenced voters in the last failed effort: displacement of existing activities, proximity to a school, an indoor shooting range, and concerns about incorporating a well-aged building.

The time needed for designing, permitting, financing and the solicitation of construction need to be started as soon as possible to meet the 2019 construction season with occupancy in 2020. Time, as they say, is of the essence.

Please make an informed vote on June 26.

Thank you,

Ken Castner

Build it now

The community of Homer has been working towards building a new police station for more than a few years. As a long -term resident of Homer and recently elected Homer City Council member, I can reflect on how far we have come towards building that vision.

I have toured the current police station and have seen the need for prisoner and visitor privacy, the lack of separate holding cells for men and women, the lack of adequate ventilation and the cramped office areas. It is pretty obvious that the existing facility is from the middle of the last century. During the tour, Chief Mark Robl explained the many ways the current building is in violation of federal laws for holding prisoners and how problematic the existing structure and systems can be when new technology is implemented. The City Council has looked at many plans with varying costs, and after extensive public discussion Council decided to fund a $7.5 million project, with $2.5 million saved from various city funds, by asking the voters of Homer to approve a $5 million bond that would raise the sales tax in the city of Homer to 4.85 percent. This would be approximately 35 cents for every $100 spent. This tax will sunset out when the bond is paid with a small tax left for maintenance. It is clear that we should move forward on this important issue. This is your opportunity to be a part of the solution. You can help our community move into the future.

I urge all voters to vote “yes” on this proposition.

Caroline Venuti

Pride recognition was in poor taste

The recent declaration made by the Mayor of Homer essentially celebrating LGBTQ exceptionality, I found to be in poor taste.

As Americans we need to celebrate the “oneness” of our laws and constitution, the inclusion and identity as we are all Americans, and equal “under the law.”

When we start identifying our differences we open the door to discrimination.

I recognize that America is a diverse country and is known for its inclusion of all people within the constitution, but I do not believe in the celebration of one group over another. My religion is exclusive to me and my God and is not subject to any other.

Thank you,

John Fenske

Thanks ‘fore’ hospice support

Last Saturday, Hospice of Homer held our ninth annual summer fundraiser, Holes Fore Hospice. We would like to thank the volunteers, sponsors, and participants who made this year a joyous success. Our thanks to The Tips Golf Course and to owners Scott and Esa Woodland for their hospitality and generous support. We also thank Safeway, Baycrest Nursery, Ulmer’s Drug and Hardware, and The Grog Shop for their in-kind donations.

We are deeply grateful to all the community-minded businesses that support Holes Fore Hospice as sponsors. (For a list of sponsors, see our ad in this week’s Homer News). We’re excited to announce we raised almost $12,000 to support end-of-life care, the medical equipment loan program, and bereavement support.

Hospice also wishes to congratulate Dr. René Alvarez for his team’s win and Shirley Forquer for her Hole in One. Our thanks to all of the participants and volunteers who joined us on a sunny Saturday to play and to support the work Hospice of Homer does. We’re able to improve the quality of life for clients who are ill and isolated because of each of you. We thank you.

Jessica Golden, Executive Director

Hospice of Homer

Student appreciates scholarship

I would like to give thanks to the Bill and Liz Johnson Education Scholarship fund and donors. It’s always amazing to see the close-knit yet small community of Homer still have so many contributors to the education of the younger generations, and I am honored to receive this scholarship for my time in college.

I will be attending Lawrence University in Wisconsin this fall in order to study education in hopes of becoming a teacher. This scholarship is focused on students entering the educational field of study, and I hope to use this money to give back to students again in the future.

Thank you again,

Elan Carroll

Writers’ Conference another success

The Kachemak Bay Campus of Kenai Peninsula College would like to extend its sincerest appreciation and gratitude to the many individuals, agencies and businesses whose generous grants, donations and in-kind support made our 17th annual Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference such a tremendous success. More than 140 writers, students, teachers, literary enthusiasts and readers from Homer as well as throughout Alaska and the lower 48 spent four days together sharing workshops, informal conversations, discussions, craft talks, open mics and readings. Another 200 members from the public and visitors enjoyed the three evenings of public readings at area venues. Participants left with a renewed appreciation and passion for the written word, new friends, new resources, new tools and incredible inspiration. For 17 years, this conference has fostered a vibrant literary community in our state and, as such, a strengthened understanding of the evermore critical role that literature plays in our complex world.

This highly-acclaimed, educational and cultural experience could not have been made possible without the significant contributions from many, including Atwood Foundation, Advance Printing, Alaska Airlines, Alaska Coastal Marine, Alaska State Council on the Arts, KBC Caroline M. Coons Fund, Barbara Baugh, Bay Excursions, Ravn Alaska, Eleanor Andrews, First National Bank Alaska, Friends of the Homer Library, Grog Shop, Homer News, Mary Hughes, Gary Klopfer, KBBI, Land’s End Resort, Print Works, Peter and Jo Michalski, Connie Ozer, Cathy Rasmuson, Karen Hunt, Lorrie Horning, Beth Rose, Deb Smith, Fran Ulmer, Peggy Shumaker/Joe Usibelli, The Homer Bookstore, Two Sisters Bakery, Tutka Bay Lodge, University of Alaska President’s Office, UAA’s Chancellor office and the Usibelli Foundation. Thank you all.

See you next year, June 14-18, 2019.

Carol Swartz, Campus Director, Kachemak Bay Campus-Kenai Peninsula College/UAA

‘Pride’ is anything but

To my former hometown, Homer;

I’m dismayed and shocked that your leadership would encourage and promote the destruction of our young people. Homer Pride Month, June 2018 does just that, doesn’t it?

For each participant in the rainbow flag, whether lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, you can’t imagine the magnitude of the tears you’ll cry, the heartache and the medical expense down the trail ahead of you. Your activities’ notable increase in medical health insurance costs to all of us is probably beyond your current radar range. I can’t encourage you to get out of your activity as soon as possible. Pride? This is anything but.


Stan Welles, Sterling

Scholarships appreciated

I would like to thank the Homer Foundation, the Tin Roof Fund, and the donor(s) for their generous contribution to my education. I am very honored to receive the Beluga Tail Nonfiction Writing Scholarship, and I am excited to see what I can do with writing in my life. I am very thankful that there are people in this community that care about the post-secondary education of students and support us so generously. This fall, I will attend the University of Montana in Missoula to study forestry and climate change acience, and I know writing will be a important part of educating people about important issues like climate change.

I also would like to thank the Homer Foundation and the Homer Community Science Scholarship committee for their generous contribution to my future education. My love of science started in the outdoors at a young age and was nurtured through the years by great teachers and the amazing opportunities our community of Homer provides, including both the dedicated people and the environment of mountains, forests, beaches, and seas. I am so thankful that this community cares so much about the lives of young people and supports us to further our education, particularly in science.

Thank you,

Andie Sonnen

Zak deserves praise

Last week, Mayor Bryan Zak took a step worthy of praise when he read a proclamation supporting Pride Month in Homer. That he had to perform this mayoral prerogative outside a regularly scheduled Homer City Council Meeting was disturbing and disappointing.

Council members Heath Smith, Shelly Erickson and Tom Stroozas claimed to have the best interests of the city at heart when they determined there was sufficient controversy attached to the proclamation that an atmosphere of confrontation was likely, and therefore a public meeting ought to be avoided. They suggested the proclamation was divisive.

Democracy is a messy affair. Sometimes issues raise emotions, even to anger. Perhaps this meeting would have devolved to that. We will never know.

Such concerns, however, are not adequate reason to have abrogated their duty to hold a meeting. Not only was it an insult to people who may have wished to testify for or against the mayor’s proclamation, forcing cancellation by declining to appear delayed other vital business before the council.


Hal Spence

How to charge Trump?

I, Bruce Phillip Chaney, want to file charges against President Donald J. Trump for crimes against humanity. I need to know how a private citizen can go about it?

Bruce P. Chaney

Thanks for showing up

Like so many others, I am sorely disappointed in our three council members, Erickson, Smith and Stroozas, who abrogated their responsibilities by boycotting the last city council meeting. They did so because the mayor was scheduled to make a statement recognizing June as Homer Pride Month. Reasons they have given for bringing council business to a halt in order to prevent citizens from voicing their opinions at the meeting on this agenda item, which did not require their vote, are hypocritical.

The saying, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” warrants their consideration. It might be time for all three to consider stepping down from the council. At the very least, these council members owe the citizens of Homer an apology and to show up in support of the LGBTQ community at the Pride march on Saturday.

Thank you, Mayor Zak, and councilmembers Lord, Aderhold and Venuti for showing up and going ahead without them.

Kathryn Carssow

Smith et al. were wrong

On Monday, 11 June, council persons Smith, Stroozas, and Erickson decided they had to take their ball and go home. They were terribly wrong. Faced with a mayoral proclamation with which they disagreed, instead of presenting their views in council, they abrogated their responsibilities and refused to attend. Their absences did not follow protocol, and because the council was denied a quorum, the main expression of democracy in our city was shut down — a dangerous precedent.

Many of us have had to face galling defeat when our side didn’t have the votes to achieve the outcome we desired. Most of us speak our minds and get back into the fray later to try to get a different outcome. Those who don’t show up do not deserve a voice. The comments those three councilpersons made to try to defend their actions ring hollow.

One justification offered by the council persons is that people said they didn’t like the proclamation because it recognized Homer Pride Month and our LGBTQ community. Not that we are opposed to the rights of that community, the councilpersons seemed to be saying, but those people should stay out of sight and the mayor shouldn’t speak of them. Trying to have it both ways never works well, and this attempt just doesn’t wash.

Another justification offered by the three councilpersons was that they didn’t want to polarize the community or revisit “inclusivity” issues that surfaced around the recall vote in 2017. The community is divided on that issue, but when this matter arises we must refer to what has happened when Homer has voted on such issues. A year ago, Homer clearly found inclusivity to be a good thing.

Is it controversial that we all possess human rights? If so, that is troubling. I support the constitutional proposition that we all are equal. I hope we all support that. Individuals in leadership positions have a responsibility to uphold that concept, even when it’s uncomfortable. Our mayor had the courage to do that, and I applaud him for it. Unfortunately, three council persons couldn’t bring themselves to stand up for one of our most important national values.

Ron Keffer

Blame belongs on Zak

In response to Rachel Lord’s letter chastising three council members, I agree that the council represents a range of diverse opinions and beliefs and that there is bound to be dissent and debate at the table. That is where my agreement with her ends. Instead of publicly blaming and chastising the three council members, let’s put the blame where it squarely belongs — on Mayor Zak.

I don’t believe the Mayor is ignorant enough to believe that there would be no reaction to this proclamation. After all, this is part of a national agenda that fits right into the national (and local) Resist Trump movement. We saw what happened when a sanctuary city proposal was not-so-innocently introduced at a council meeting. In this event, Mayor Zak acted irresponsibly in trying to involve these council members in his public dog and pony show. A wise leader would have handled the proclamation in a less volatile way. Now ugly comments about Homer abound and who knows how much more ugliness is coming. There will certainly be time wasted. The mayor and the council should be working for unity and for the good of the community, and not for division.

Susan Huber

Disappointed in Zak

After seeing the amount of activity on social media regarding Mayor Zak’s Pride Proclamation, I must voice my disappointment in the mayor’s leadership, or in this case his lack of leadership. I don’t believe that he or any of the Homer City Council members are so naïve that they were not aware of the turmoil this would create. Just as the council is split between conservatives and liberals, our town is also split. We must respect each other’s values and beliefs, and overall our community has that respect and works well together.

After the uproar of the ill-advised sanctuary city ploy I would like to believe that our city leaders would strive to knit our community together. Instead Mayor Zak decided to stir up trouble by joining the national activism agenda — activism that is driven by the #Resist movement.

Those in leadership have a responsibility to work for the good of the community. I pray that the mayor will do a better job of working together, on the city’s business, and not cause division as this has done.

Tamara Reiser

Litmus tests

Three council members didn’t attend the last council meeting, presumably because they didn’t want to cause a controversy; they “forced a meeting cancellation” (Homer News).

Here’s the controversy, and it wasn’t created by Mayor Zak, it was created by the powerful lobby against women’s health care and reproductive rights, and also by some people who seem to feel the Mayor’s proclamation is a threat to their concept of what Homer supposedly stands for.

The Republicans and others have picked up the issue of abortion to beat up issues they don’t care about, no matter how unrelated it is to reproductive rights. Because Kachemak Bay Family Planning is involved in the Gay Pride Event, the proclamation failed the litmus test of acceptability by the anti-choice movement. Others have set up the litmus test of the present political situation, the election of President Trump to ideas that don’t quite align with his Republican views about LGTBQ rights and immigrants.

Come on, Americans can withstand ideas that might not gel with their own thoughts. The Homer City Council showing compassion towards immigrants or acknowledging the rights of gay people isn’t forcing Homerites to be anything they’re not. Just because Trump got elected president, and is against women’s and gay rights doesn’t mean we all have to march in lock-step, unless we want to abandon our rights and live in a fascist state. Would this controversy even exist if this was about Puppy Pride Month?

Let’s drop the litmus tests and come to terms with the fact we live in a country that supports the Constitution, which often means being tolerant of ideas we might not agree with. So wade into the next controversy, council members, and bravely perform your elected duties. Forcing a meeting cancelation isn’t conducive to Homer city agenda or freedom.

Katie Dawson


Mayor did his job

Our mayor, Bryan Zak, did his job for our great city. The three council members who did not show for the meeting did not do their job.

They also inconvenienced some citizens who did their work preparing for the meeting and also others who had important input to share.

Homer has had many proclamations over the years. This was another special one that should not have been singled out by them. It deserved to be represented by a fully functioning council.

The last Susan Arnt, Annie Williams and I co-founded the Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic in 1983. There was a need in this area for low-cost family planning. Our goal was to prevent unwanted pregnancies and assist the clients in need.

We were able to do this with the help of Mary Lou Kelsey, nurse practitioner, and Dr. Bill Bell. They went to the caring effort to acquire an old office upstairs in the old hospital building. The volunteers who gave their time, also helping people, wer rewarded by seeing appreciative clients.

The clinic continues to grow and assist our community by providing education outreach, low cost birth control and reproductive health care by both women and men.

Aside from happily raising our two daughters, this is one of the most positive and proudest achievements for what we worked hard for our city, Homer. Again, KBFPC’s mission is to prevent unwanted pregnancies by providing education and low-cost birth control.

Mayor Bryan Zak, thank you for your intelligent leadership.

Carole Hamik


Pride Mayoral Recognition just that — recognition

I can appreciate that Shelley, Heath and Tom might not agree with a proclamation supporting LGBTQ pride, for whatever reasons they might have — there might be many. I am, however, appalled that they would see such disagreement as cause to cancel the entire public forum that is our local government. If a contentious issue were all that was required to cancel city meetings, then we would find few meetings to attend. Council-members have a microphone and ample opportunity to speak their objections throughout the course of the meeting. Stifling public comment, input and involvement in our local government in order to pretend we all agree is not what I want from my representatives. Remember, it’s just a Mayoral Recognition: A statement to give recognition to a group that has historically (and clearly still is) persecuted for being different that “normal.” Really? That’s the issue for which you want to undermine local government? Appalling.

Ben Gibson


Border family separations open old wounds

I want to express my appreciation to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska for opposing the separation of families at the U.S. border and demanding an immediate halt to this “cruel, tragic” practice. I also want to recognize U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska for requesting a more deliberate bipartisan approach to this issue.

For me and for many, many other Alaska Natives, this issue is personal and resurrects old wounds. As Alaska Natives, we suffered the kidnapping of our children who were interned in boarding schools under the assimilationist policy of the United States. We as individuals and societies continue to suffer the intergenerational trauma from being separated from our families and raised in boarding schools.

When I was six, a missionary kidnapped me in Petersburg and took me to an orphanage in Haines, where I was kept for three years apart from my family. I know first-hand the despair felt by children longing for their loved ones and the terror of being a child alone. I feel my heart breaking all over again when I see children at the border suffering the same trauma today. It breaks my heart to hear their cries.

To the Trump administration, we implore you, we plead with you, to act immediately to stop this barbaric, inhumane act of separating children from their parents and guardians at the border. This practice is morally reprehensible and will become a repeat of previous horrific American Indian policies and practices to eradicate Native cultures. We are proud to be Americans, but this practice does not represent American values and ethics.

Rosita Kaaháni Worl, Ph.D., President

Sealaska Heritage, Juneau


Council service means showing up

As a citizen of Homer, I am deeply disappointed in my three Homer City Council members (Tom Stroozas, Shelly Erickson and Heath Smith) who chose not to take the responsibility inherent in their elected positions.

It is not among council members’ responsibilities to skirt around difficult or even controversial issues that come before them. As a council member, your responsibility is to be present for, and address what citizens bring to you. Then you work through the process as a council, guiding the community through as well.

If things get tough — just don’t show up? Wow, that is some egregious example for young people to emulate in a democracy— the principle of non-participation. Relationships, families, communities and nations fail with non-participation. The bully, the loud voice, the violent prevail in that environment. The council does not just juggle money. You are present for citizen’s input, you listen to all sides, you set a tone and a direction for forward movement.

This letter is not about being for or against an issue. I just want my elected council people to show up. If you can’t show up, then please do not run for re-election. There are so many other positive ways to contribute to our community.

Please know that I appreciate your work, but you can’t do it if you are not there.

Kate Finn

Smith should feel shame for not doing his job

It seems that on June 11 someone harboring a lot of anger and hatred took it upon himself to enlist similar people from all over the state to email the city council regarding the mayor’s proclamation naming June Homer Pride Month, nonsensically linking it to support for abortion. Heath Smith, Tom Stroozas, and Shelly Erickson, forgetting that their constituents are Homer residents, panicked and conspired to force cancellation of the meeting, thus depriving a number of people, both pro and con the proclamation, of an opportunity to speak their minds and preventing testimony on a host of other issues. Consequently, the mayor’s proclamation was the only piece of city business executed that evening.

Last week a letter from Heath Smith appeared in this paper referring to “nefarious narratives” surrounding his absence from the council meeting. Merriam Webster defines “nefarious” as “flagrantly wicked or impious, evil.” It would be interesting to know what Mr. Smith believes is evil about proposing that he do his job. Perhaps he believes it’s wicked to suggest that forcing the cancellation of a council meeting amounts to dereliction of duty. Maybe he thinks it’s impious to label running away from a contentious issue cowardly. Mr. Smith apparently feels “labeled and shamed,” as perhaps he should for failing to do his job.

Mr. Smith claims to have “no issue with recognizing June as Pride Month,” but goes on to say that he hopes the city will learn to choose its words more carefully “so as not to strike sensitive cords (sic) that play a very unpleasant tune.” He wants to recognize June as Pride Month silently so as not to offend those haters who instigated the email barrage from outside Homer? If Mr. Smith has a plan to “recognize and honor specific groups” — in this case the LGBTQ community — “without challenging the convictions within others,” let him come to the council and put it on the table for discussion. That, Mr. Smith, would be doing your job.


Ann Keffer

Fund moves forward

The Educators Professional Development Fund began as a group of educators with two purposes: (1) honoring working education professionals on the lower Kenai Peninsula, and (2) a means of recognizing the myriad contributions and legacies left by those professionals no longer living. This will be a way to memorialize their career commitments to teaching and learning.

A third part of the fund’s purpose is to promote the necessity and importance of education to the general public. Lastly, and of interest to current educators, the fund will provide professional development opportunities to enhance and support classroom teaching.

To establish a fund at The Homer Foundation, the group committed to raising the requisite $10,000. Thanks to the many donor contributions, that goal has been met and earnings from the fund will be available for grants, albeit modest at first, to local educators in the near future. Professional development applications and guidelines for this new program will be available at the Homer Foundation office beginning August 1. Area schools will receive information regarding the program as it becomes available.

Please consider a donation to the fund in honor of a living or deceased educator who has made a difference in your life. Donations may be made online or by check to The Homer Foundation for this fund at P.O. Box 2600, Homer, AK 99603. If you are interested in serving on the Steering Committee, contact Elaine Grantier at 907-299-1424.

On behalf of the Steering Committee,

Elaine Grantier, Mark Robinson, Shirlie Gribble