Tonight, Wednesday, April 25 at 5:30 p.m., the Port and Harbor Advisory Committee will be conducting a public hearing on $400,000 in annual rate increases. Concerned harbor users need to be there to testify. For those that would testify and leave, my advice is to stay and look them in the eye while they vote on whether or not to pick your pocket. At the harbor rate hearing last Thursday, the fact that Seward has a head tax was used to justify such a tax in Homer. Seward is an embarkation port where cruise ships drop off one group and pick up another. Seward had 52 landings last year with 146,000 passengers crossing the dock. Homer is a port of call. We had 14 landings last year with 14,600 passengers. We have one tenth the cruise passengers that Seward does and the outlook is for less cruise ships coming to Homer, not more. Our visitors come and stay for a few days in local hotels and bed and breakfast’s. Our visitors get on small water taxis and ferries to visit Seldovia, Halibut Cove and Kachemak Bay State Park. My point is, that a head tax in Homer will fall on the backs of many small businesses, not a few large corporations.
The Legislature just passed a $450 million dollar bond issue for ports and harbors statewide. Seward got $10 million included in this bill. Their project was included before the bill was even submitted. Homer scrambled, unsuccessfully, to get some monies included at the very end of the session. Had we gotten monies included in this statewide bond issue, our oil wealth would have paid for the harbor projects. The Kenai Peninsula has 8 percent of the state’s population. The monies for Seward represent 2.2 percent of the statewide harbor bond. Getting our harbor included should have been a slam-dunk but our administration remained singly focused on the gasline to the point of not even asking for our share of the $450 million in harbor funding. Homer is going to get the gasline and harbor users are going to pay for it. Be there. Testify.
Mining companies are opening new mines for precious metals to make things we want, especially electronics – new computers, iPods, and of course, cell phones. Every year, all across the world horrendous piles of electronics are dumped into landfills, burying all the precious metals used to manufacture these items.
Consider this. According to a 2009 article in Science Daily, 6,000 cell phones, or one ton’s worth, contain 7.7 pounds of silver, 11.99 ounces of gold, and 286.6 pounds of copper. Roughly, one billion cell phones are manufactured annually. This is just one small electronic device. Think of all the other electronics we consume.
If all electronics were recycled, many mines, like the proposed Pebble Mine, would not be needed. By recycling all electronics we could save wilderness, reduce landfill use, protect clean water and air, and contain the toxins in electronic devices that are currently being thrown into landfills.
Homer has made a great effort during the past six Electronics Recycling Events. Get together with your neighbors and clean out your closets and garages. Bring a car load of household electronics to Spenard Builders Supply on Saturday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
We would like to thank the South Peninsula Hospital Foundation for their generous donation to the South Peninsula Hospital Diabetes Education Program. Their grant allows us to provide classes to those clients who could not otherwise afford them. Learning to manage their diabetes greatly improves patients’ chances for long and healthy lives. The SPH Foundation grant is a gift that will touch many lives in our community.
PeggyEllen Kleinleder, RN, BSN
I had the fortunate opportunity of attending Thodos Dance Chicago a few weeks ago at the Mariner Theatre. Anyone in attendance, would certainly agree that it was a phenomenal performance and I am so grateful to the Homer Council on the Arts for bringing such a professional group to our town. I had a conflict that night and almost did not go. But you know what cinched my decision to attend the performance? The outreach that Thodos provide to Fireweed Academy and West Homer Elementary students. As with many professional groups who come to perform with grant assistance from the WESTAF Foundation, outreach is a required component of the tour. I have been to many such events and never have I seen one more exciting, professional and at the same time absolutely accessible to young kids. For a full hour 300, 3rd-6th graders were completely spellbound, learning about dance modalities, engaging with the dancers and having the opportunity to watch polished performance pieces. The talk in the halls after the outreach performance was all about what they liked best, what kind of dance they would like to learn, how cool the costumes were. The kids (and teachers as well) really connected with the dancers. I bought my ticket right away.
My sincere thanks to the Gail Edgerly and Homer Council on the Arts for hosting the Homer tour, Melissa Thodos and Thodos Dance Chicago for making the trek to Alaska, and to the students for being so interested and enthusiastic. Truly a job well done by everyone.
America has failed as a Democracy. It may soon be mandatory for our cars to wear the bumper sticker, “Be nice to America or WE will bring democracy to YOUR country.”
The Federal Reserves took up residence in the U.S. in 1913, and the political elites have represented and supported only the powerful special interests groups and corporations ever since. These invisible special interest people write the country’s laws in exchange for funding the political campaigns of the “lawmakers.”
To divert attention from their failures, American elites point fingers at external scapegoats. We believe it is more scandalous for the Secret Service to be caught with (baby girl) prostitutes in Columbia than it is for our Marines to piss on dead corpses in Afghanistan or to be photographed with dead body parts. When Obama tells the news reporters “This is not who we are,” it’s actually just the opposite: “This is exactly who we are.”
U.S. citizens are continually trained to ignore government abuse. Right down to our (tax supported) city governments, we have thieves, cheaters, and liars leading us to the pits of nowhere as they reap the spoils of thievery. Church-going leaders will cheat on paying their own taxes while over taxing the public that supports them. This somehow makes Jesus a joke. The governments of this country have mocked and desecrated every component of human decency. They coerce us to pay for THEIR security while they bomb the rest of the world while in anticipation of our own nuclear reactors melt downs.
Through this so-called Democracy we have given our souls over to corporations who kill and destroy everything in ITS way. Folks, we have lost our way as human beings; 2012 is here. Where are we?
I recently wrote a letter on exported fuels by U.S. oil companies who reap higher prices paid overseas.
Another reason for our high gasoline prices is the closure of U.S. oil refineries and the movement of our oil overseas to foreign refineries, “Sunoco is closing two refineries in July 2012 in Philadelphia and Marcus Hook, Pa. Conoco Phillips announced the closing of two plants in Trainer, Pa. and Bayway, NJ, and is closing its facility in Alaska. Hess is closing the third largest U.S. oil refinery, laying off 2,000 workers and impacting 950 contractors.”
The oil companies, with profits of tens of billions of dollars each year, are closing U.S. refineries due to environmental and other government regulations and union demands. Refineries are being built in Columbia, Mexico and Brazil due to low construction and operating costs. Plus our government unconsciously promotes this construction by providing foreign aid to the countries.
Hopefully, it isn’t too late for our government and the unions to wake up and evaluate the impact of their policies and decisions on the oil refining industry. Otherwise we will continue to see rising fuel prices that could reach historic highs, including gasoline at or above $5 per gallon.
Donald A. Moskowitz
Heads, the fascists and the 1 percent win. Tails, everyone else, ie. The 99 percent, loses. Since 1981 the Bush-Reagan hard-core fascist criminals have been waging class warfare. They have done this with fascist propagandists on Murdoch’s Fascist obnoxious extremist (FOX) network, Limbaugh, the NRA, etc., together with the five fascist prostitute Justice majority US Supreme Court that gave us Bush v. Gore, Citizens United v. FEC and likely will invalidate all or part of the Affordable Health Care Act.
For anyone who thinks “fascist” is too strong a word for the sexist, racist, bigoted fanatics, see “Fourteen Characteristics of Fascism,” by Dr. L. Britt and “American Fascists” by Chris Hedges. The robber barons, fascist fat cats and plutocrats buy fascist politicians to do their bidding, giving pennies in campaign contributions to get millions and billions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies.
If you are ready to return fairness and Democracy to Alaska and the US, and defeat the fascists and their prostitute politicians, vote for me for US House on Aug. 28 and Nov. 6.
Frank Vondersaar, Candidate US House
By the end of the electronic recycling event on April 28, Homer will have recycled approximately 100,000 pounds of “stuff” over the last four years. That’s about 40 cars, piled one on top of another.
Much of that is copper, lead and some gold – metals that were extracted somewhere in the world and have now reached a mid-point in their useful life here in Homer. Fortunately, these metals can be recycled.
In fact, the U.S. currently recycles approximately 1.5 million tons of copper each year, which compares favorably to Pebble Mine’s planned estimated production of only 0.7 million tons per year. Of course, Homer by itself can’t pretend to recycle enough copper to eliminate the need for an open-pit mine in Bristol Bay, but we can do our part, and perhaps the rest of the U.S. can recycle enough to make such a mine unnecessary. So, I will be in the short line Saturday, recycling my electronics in a responsible way.
See you there.
For the second time in two years, oil taxes have prompted a special session of the Alaska Legislature. Or, to put it another way, State Senate leaders outsmarted themselves and were unable to get to the negotiating table with their counterparts in the House during regular session.
Here is what happened. In March of last year, the House passed an oil tax reform bill to roll back some of the most damaging aspects of the ACES tax increase of 2007. That bill, HB110, has since been languishing in the Senate, bottled up in committee. In two sessions it has not been given a floor vote or even amended in committee more to the Senate’s liking. Usually, amendments are how compromises get started.
Not this time. Senate leaders spent two legislative years, untold hours of hearings and big bucks on consultants coming up with a different bill that, in the end, could not draw enough votes in their own 16-of-20 super majority to pass. One reason for the failure was that their bill, SB192, was too clever by half. It had been given a ridiculously long, two-page title that prevented much compromise under the rules of the legislature. My way or the highway, in other words.
When that failed, Senate leaders who had been lecturing anyone who would listen on the virtues of going slow and being cautious, pulled an obscure bill out of legislative oblivion, grafted certain sections of SB192 onto it in a single committee meeting, rammed it through the Senate a few hours later, then sent it back over to the House for action with only a day left. To their credit, House leaders were not stampeded. Hence, the special session.
All the trickery aside, what matters most is what happens next. There is still an opportunity to get this right.
The bill that the Senate rushed over to the House has constructive relief for new oilfields, a step in the right direction. However, it is far too narrow. It leaves Alaska with a Chilkoot Charlie’s tax policy – “we gouge the other oil field and pass the savings on to you.” The private sector is generally not fooled by such trickery. Today’s new oil will become tomorrow’s old oil, in annual peril of being “reclassified” by politicians hungry for more pork to hand out.
A good compromise bill will have two simple elements to it. First, it will alleviate the extreme progressivity that causes Alaska government “take” to become confiscatory as oil prices climb. This is important. Oilfield economists know that prices go up and down over time. They assume that high profitability during periods of high prices offset losses when prices are low. Any taxing region that takes away the upside for industry will find itself underperforming, as Alaska has.
Second, a good bill should not try to skim off the vast majority of profits from existing fields. At today’s oil prices or higher, the incremental government “take” on existing oilfields is between 70 and 90 percent. That is too greedy. It reduces the incentive to invest in existing fields, which is where most easily recoverable oil lies. The old Chilkoot Charlie’s joke is just that, a joke. It is not wise tax policy.
In order to address this issue successfully, our State Senators must do what successful policy makers have always done: don’t be greedy, set aside the trickery and negotiate in good faith. The next generation of Alaskans is counting on it.
Scott Hawkins, president of Advanced Supply Chain International, an oilfield services firm headquartered in Anchorage
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