Group wants plastic bags back in petition drive to put question on the ballot

• Petition now under circulation for signatures to put matter on ballot
By Naomi Klouda
Homer Tribune

A group of Homer people are hoping to reverse the grocery bag ban, bringing the banished plastic bag once again into favor for consumers.
All plastic bags under 2.25 mils thick that were used at grocery stores and other retail outlets were banned by city ordinance as of Jan. 1. Since that time, stores are allowed to use up their supply of the bags, but are prohibited from ordering more. It was authored by Councilmen David Lewis and Beau Burgess.
Justin Arnold, Dan Gardner and Marlina Hogdon applied through the Homer City Clerk’s office to circulate a petition for 90 days. In that time period, they must gain 230 signatures in order to place the question on the Oct. 1 general election ballot. The petition is due back to the clerk’s office by June 3.
The amount of signatures is determined by the rule that it must be 25 percent of all the people who voted in the last city election. That would be just over 900 people, said City Clerk Jo Johnson.
Arnold said there are multiple reasons why he wants to overturn the ban. The main reason is to give residents a chance at the question of whether to ban or not to ban.
“We’ve had overwhelming support. There is a 5 percent of the majority who don’t care one way or another. There’s probably 2 percent who are pro ban, but the majority, 93 percent, are for the repeal or at least for the allowance of a vote. That, rather than it being crammed down our throats by the city council.”
Chris Story, host of the KGTL program Radio Realty or Alaska Matters, took up the ban-wagon in his show last week. He likened the use of plastic bags to the use of diesel fuel inside city limits in a hypothetical scenario.
“Now he (Councilman Beau Burgess who co-sponsored the ordinance) runs heavy equipment. I object to him burning diesel fuel. There’s no reason he can’t collect bio-fuels and use those alternative fuels instead of diesel. I want him to do that,” Story said on his program last Tuesday. “Now, what if I make an ordinance that he has to re-use grease (recycled from friers in restaurants) if he operates his heavy equipment inside city limits?”
The plastic bag ban is just like that, he said. It’s enforced “behavior modification,” Story said.
Allen Janzti and Story are signing on as sponsors with Arnold et all for the petition.
“We’re going to be staging a place where people can come together and sign the petition,” Story said. They will be advertising this well in advance on the radio and in the news.
The problem isn’t just in the bag ban on its own demerit. Story worries about a laundry list of city council or administrative actions that micromanage Homer behavior.
Realtors tend to be the canary in the cave when it comes to warning others on intrusive zoning, signage or other property requirements, Story said. The code of ethics licensed realtors operate by means they should try to stay on top of ordinances in order to impart that information during property sales. In Homer, there are a lot of restrictions that then gives Story fodder for his radio program. Lately, he has been discussing the Bridge Creek Reservoir area, the source of the city’s water supply and a place where all construction must follow strict guidelines that he doesn’t believe always makes logical sense. He also has talked extensively against the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly’s proposed ordinance regulating activities 50 feet from the waterline on rivers and some lakes.
“Where do they (city council) stop when they say ‘we are here to protect the environment.’ They aren’t here to protect the environment – they are here to conduct city business, to make this an efficient streamlined city that puts the people first,” he said.
The council spends too much time “changing your behavior in alignment with a larger agenda.”
Bag-ban co-sponsor David Lewis said he doesn’t have a problem with putting the matter before voters. “If it encourages participation in the political process, I have no qualms if people want to sign and put it on a ballot,” he said.
The ban has had a good impact, he feels. “You see more people with their own bags and things like that. Some of the stores maybe don’t like it, but it’s probably saving the stores money, depending on how they are going. We’ll let the people decide.”
The Oct. 1 election also will feature two city council seats up for vote, the seats currently held by Bryan Zak and James Dolma. But the biggest problem with local elections is poor voter turnout, Lewis said.
“If it brings out more people to vote, more power to them. Whatever happens, happens,” Lewis said.

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Posted by on Apr 17th, 2013 and filed under Headline News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

10 Responses for “Group wants plastic bags back in petition drive to put question on the ballot”

  1. Gene says:

    I’ll be honest, the city council had bigger, more pressing issues to deal with than trying to turn Homer into a nanny-run community. I don’t live in the city limits, but I work in Homer. I have heard more people condem the actions of the city council than condone them. Tourism could suffer too because they may not want to shop much if bags aren’t available. It’s like not having condiments available at Starbucks when you get coffee. The city council needs to be completely replaced. The self serving, self interests they have don’t really serve the good of the people. The people elected them because they believed in them to do good for Homer. They shoved the gas pipeline down people’s throats and made it possible for Enstar to extort money out of residents or have a lien on their property. What else is the council going to ban? Plastic bottles??? We need to wake up folks!!

    • Jared says:

      Gene, I agree with you. This plastic bag ban is just a “green” fad that Beau Burgess jumped too early on. Also, I’m sure many homes are noticing how they did reuse the bags and are missing them like we are.

      I’d like a vote

    • Great Post Gene says:

      With this ballot, there also needs to be a Vote of No Confidence on the City Council.

      A City Council elected by the people of Homer, can either work for the people of Homer, or be fired. We cannot afford to wait for another regular election. We need people who believe in the Democratic process to step up and run to protect us all from this creeping fascism.

  2. Melanie Meeker says:

    Yeah to Dan Gardner, Justin Arnold and Marlina Hogdon !!! Yeah Yeah Yeah !!! I too, like all the rest of you, am a citizen of the City of Homer, and detest the manner in which this City Council dictates the way the citizens of their town are “allowed” to function. Most cities have a city manager and/or mayor who run the city, however for some strange unexplained reason, Homer has evolved into a city whose City Council “micromanages” the manager and mayor. Never in my life have I lived in a community where 2 or 3 individuals “dictate” rules of living to citizens. The terms tyrant and oppression come-to-mind. What happened to “democracy”? Everywhere we travel, when we say we’re from Homer Alaska, people respond “oh I’m sorry”. Not a very nice thing to hear when you want-to be proud of your town. Things in Homer must change. Yeah to those citizens who have guts-enough to take that leap to change it. thanks, Melanie Meeker

    • Thank you Melanie says:

      Something has gone wrong in Homer.

      What was once the best community in Alaska, is now the worst. Banning plastic bags while giving the farm away to oil and gas does not make us a liberal town. This farce is to pretend they care about the environment, when their main focus is corporate profit and money coming into their coffers to spend at will.

      We recently revisited the idea of taxing groceries while the City is pulling in all kinds of money. What did they do with the extra? Give it to the Chamber of Commerce and who knows what else.

      Almost every community in Alaska has a community center for gathering and a place for teenagers to be, except Homer. The city council won’t even consider it, other than 15,000 to study the HERC building and come to the conclusion they already wanted.

      Ketchikan has students working on their community center as a construction educational project.
      http://juneauempire.com/state/2013-04-21/ketchikan-community-center-becomes-teaching-tool

      We must work to be the community we once were. A Democracy requires an active citizenry.

  3. Bjørn says:

    The analogy in this article about disel engines is but one silly justification to attempt a repeal of a very common sense ordinance. Here is another silly analogy; say grocery stores gave away a free pack of cigarets to every adult shopper as a promotion. We all know that smoking is bad for health but are we going to create a “nanny state” and tell private businesses what they can and can’t do? Single use plastic bags are a FREE luxury provided by the retailers. This seemingly innocuous free service actually comes with a very high external cost to OUR common environment. Everyone from kindergarden age up knows this and has seen the Great pacific Garbage Patch and the images of the intestines of avian and aquatic species that mistakenly consume these bags. Grow up! Pitch in and do your part. It really is not that hard. You have just become complacent because this free service has made your life simple.
    http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/responsible-living/blogs/interactive-map-shows-plastic-bag-bans-around-the-world

  4. Bjørn says:

    The analogy in this article about disel engines is but one silly justification to attempt a repeal of a very common sense ordinance. Here is another silly analogy; say grocery stores gave away a free pack of cigarets to every adult shopper as a promotion. We all know that smoking is bad for health but are we going to create a “nanny state” and tell private businesses what they can and can’t do? Single use plastic bags are a FREE luxury provided by the retailers. This seemingly innocuous free service actually comes with a very high external cost to OUR common environment. Everyone from kindergarden age up knows this and has seen the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the images of the intestines of avian and aquatic species that mistakenly consume these bags. Grow up! Pitch in and do your part. It really is not that hard. You have just become complacent because this free service has made your life simple.

  5. just wondering says:

    Where was Chris Story on the ridiculous gas line BS?

    Why didn’t we have a vote on that?

    This plastic bag ban is the least of our problems with this City Council.

    Please-someone decent run for City Council!

  6. Yadda says:

    I agree with Chris on the diesel engine analogy. The exhaust stinks and makes me feel sick. I support a ban on diesel!!!! Perhaps we could take plastic bags and put over the tailpipes on cars/trucks that use diesel?
    Seriously, though, the City Council is a body of six elected officials empowered by State Statute and Homer City Code to represent the citizenry in decisions on their behalf.
    How can they represent the citizenry if they don’t know what the majority wants? Put it to a vote!

  7. Georgia Mario says:

    A complete waste of energy and time. The ubiquitous plastic bags are gone so learn how to live without them, whiners.

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