Letters to the Editor
April 14th | Staff Report
Sea to Ski Wrap-up
Is there any race as unique and supportive as Kachemak Nordic Ski Club's Sea to Ski triathlon? Not that I've found. With all it's decisions: which bike to ride uphill and through slush, how to wax skis for warm snow or sand, which transition to put on ski boots and gloves ... it's an event not to be overlooked.
The Sea to Ski Triathlon culminates the ski season by encapsulating Homer's finest qualities — uniqueness. Only in Homer, can a person compete in a race that starts at the sandy beach, and finishes on top of a snowy mountainside. Uplifting!
Volunteers cheer on all the racers from point to point, and throughout the transitions. The racers themselves seem to always be smiling and having a blast, only ever propelling each other faster and farther than if they were alone, emitting what is good about competition.
At the Sea to Ski, everyone is a winner. There are so many door prizes from local businesses, bags full of shwag are literally left over after everyone's name has already been drawn. Supportive! Inclusivity — regardless of age, gender, athletic performance or fancy gear.
Did I mention the volunteers? Racers are supported in their quest from Sea to Ski without judgment and reservation — creating opportunity for risk-taking and growth.
Take a look at Ironwoman competitor Frida Renner, who took risks at the age of 10 with the community's support and belief in by her. Way to go Frida!
Living in Homer has always been a unique and uplifting experience, surrounded by a community of generous and supportive individuals. There is no place like Home(r).
Thank you Kachemak Nordic Ski Club for another great season, and thank you Homer for being the place I am proud to call home. Thank you members of our ski club for making it all possible (Derek Bynagle — event coordinator for Sea to Sk?, and thank you Homer community for being you.
The 2016-17 ski season has been incredible in Homer. Many thanks to our stellar groomers, who volunteer long hours in all weather to make world-class trails. Thank you to all of our talented volunteers who keep our ski club thriving.
And finally, thank you to our members who generously support KNSC each year to make it all possible.
KNSC Administrative Assistan?
Hoxie fundraiser a success
We'd like to thank everyone in Homer for the support we have received since our son Hoxie was diagnosed with cancer just a few weeks ago. It's not easy being away from home while he receives treatment in Seattle, but hearing of all the wonderful activities and events you have all held for him keeps some smiles on our faces.
From the "Kickin' it for Hoxie" soccer camp, to the "Surf and Ski for Hoxie" at the rope tow, you have all put in so much time and effort volunteering at and attending these events. We love seeing your smiling faces in the videos and photos we receive?Knowing we have all your support makes this difficult time a bit easier and warms our hearts.
Alan, Mindy and Hoxie?
A showing of team spirit
This past Wednesday, a group of high school and elementary students joined together to have fun practicing soccer skills, and to support a fellow teammate and neighbor.
Thanks to a flexible and willing crew, 92 elementary students participated in the fundraiser for Hoxie Parks. The mini-camp exemplified the best of what positive things our small town can do when called on to contribute. The event was hosted and supported by Homer Parks and Recreation and Homer High School.
Local businesses Printworks, Safeway, and Sav-U-More provided generous donations. Sharon Gorman, Nadya Klingel, Catriona Reynolds, Mary Van Liere, and Linda Watson greeted children and helped to orchestrate the mass of little feet. School secretaries Beth Bowe, Janet Bowen, Cindy Koplin, and Katie Countiss helped to spread the word and get kids right where they needed to be, and Jody Fica facilitated transportation by bus. The expert advice of Wendy Todd, as well as input from Don Pitcher, Mindy Hunter, Kristi Wickstrom, and Vicki Lowe all added to the success of the event.
Coach Adam Diaz did what he does best, leading a fun and organized afternoon of activity and mentoring. We offer many thanks to all of the above, especially to all of the families who participated and donated so generously. We are sending Hoxie and his family a real show of Homer team spirit.
Shay Hoffman, Amy Russell, and Melanie Dufour
Compassion or contention?
Reflecting on a childhood Easter story softened my first impulse to rage against the people pressing for a recall election and the contention that led to this action. However, I must say I feel the recall is a petty misuse of our town's budget and our tax dollars. Now to the story.
Although I was raised a Catholic as a child, one year we lived with my grandmother in Georgia and went to her Baptist church. For the Easter service, we had to memorize and recite a Bible passage. I chose 1Corinthians 13 — it remains one of my favorite verses. Even though I eventually left the Catholic church, was an agnostic, practiced Islam, was a Sufi, lived with the Black Hebrews, received Hindu initiations and am now into almost 20 years of practicing Tibetan Buddhism, the words of this verse speak to me because they embody the most important root teaching I found in every religion I practiced.
Understanding this common foundation of all religions, I'm saddened this beautiful "cosmic hamlet" has people who have fallen prey to divisive language, fear mongering and yes — outright bigotry and small-mindedness. I could continue to rail against such opinions and attempt to explain the ignorance; that is choosing to ignore all information and facts — to hold onto opinions that are safe and provide comfort or a sense of security. That's been done too much in these pages and on Facebook. After all, everyone does have a right to an opinion. But of what value are our opinions when the earth shakes violently or — even worse — disasters happen?
Now as you, whether Christian or not, (Passover has also begun, as well as spring) prepare for this joyous season, isn't it time to turn inward? Reflect on the life of a man who taught love and practiced inclusion. Why don't you consider how we can build a community of compassion, rather than continue to press for contention over arguments that would never have begun if we took to heart and practice the following words:
"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal; 4?Love is patient?love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud?5?It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking?it is not easily angered?it keeps no record of wrongs?6?Love does not delight in evi?but rejoices with the truth?7?It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8?Love never fails.
Excerpt from 1 Corinthians, 13. Source: New International Version (NIV)
Parents to government
My wife, Faith, and I created three children. As they grew, they occasionally objected to our parental authority (especially in their teenage years). As good parents, we never allowed such behavior. They would fully understand we are the parents and they are the child. They were pulled back to their natural place, as children, listening to their parents.
We the people of Alaska, created our government. The people are the parents and government is the child. Today, the government in Juneau has stood up and opposed our parental authority.
As the parents are we strong enough to drag government back under our parental control? The answer is yes. A non-violent way (As Faith and I did with our children.)
The founders gave the people a peaceful way to rein in our child called government. Article XI of our State Constitution. The Referendum process. This past January a legal opinion was rendered on whether the people could use our parental authority through the referendum process if government taxed our Permanent Fund Dividend.(PFD). The answer was a resounding YES.
There is a movement afoot to do just that. If our two legislative bodies come together and agree to tax our PFD we will drive towards placing our child, called government, back in its natural place under the authority of the people.
Understand the complexity of the process. Time to be a good parent, standup and get involved with controlling our child's bad behavior through the Referendum process. Be a good parent, get involved.
Ray Southwell, Nikiski
Some differences with Navarre
Last week, Mike Navarre, conducted a town hall in Homer on Alaska's fiscal considerations, in which he defended oil industry credits and incentives. He said that the industry was responding well and production was going up. He is termed out as Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor, and his talk concerned statewide issues. He believes that to be competitive with other oil producers we must incentivize. It has been my advantage to vote for him eight times, because he talks straight and has serves us well. He has been a top legislator and borough mayor.
His chief of staff, an expert on oil and gas development in Alaska, maintained that the state is collecting a lot of revenue from the industry, this year and every year. That may be, but we pay a lot back. Big oil companies (IOCs) charge new industry players an arm and a leg for use of existing infrastructure, in amounts greater than what they pay the state. Big oil has been found guilty of overcharging for use of the trans-Alaska pipeline and underpaying property taxes on that and other infrastructure. The settlements led by Charlie Cole when he was attorney general, and Robin Brena and Bill Walker (then attorneys representing Fairbanks and Valdez) collected billions in overdue royalties and taxes — $10 billion over 20 years in the case of TAPS. It generally takes 10 years and millions of dollars in legal expenses to make them pay. I disagree that they pay their fair share.
I agree that the state should pay exploration bonuses properly earned. The governor accepted the legislative appropriations to pay, but did not pass them along to the companies. There is a back door through which these same companies get state help; the Alaska Industrial and Export Authority puts up low interest loans and grants. AIDEA actually was the major owner of Buccaneer through partnership in Kenai Offshore Ventures, which owned that benighted jack-up oil rig that went belly-up leaving behind a trail of unpaid service companies and government entities. AIDEA has pumped billions of dollars into questionable investments such as this. AIDEA still has billions of state dollars and I think we should make them give grants and no-interest loans to the state general fund to balance the budget. Or maybe we should just padlock their doors, take our money, and give the remnant to the Alaska Department of Commerce? And use some of these funds to pay the bonuses we owe, directly, without delay.
The mayor agrees that the Permanent Fund must be inflation proofed. Unfortunately, the majority in the Legislature may not. Only the last two budgets have failed to reinvest in the fund corpus, despite the clear language in law that it shall be done. It is a clear formula that has saved the Fund from losing value. Fourty percent now in the fund (over $16 billion), is the result of inflation proofing. If there is no IP, there will soon be much less earned by investments, a death spiral leading to the loss of Fund earnings, loss of ability to pay for services, loss of Dividends. I disagree that dividend $ should be taken for budgeting.
Inflation, if it continues at 2.25 percent, will reduce the fund by at least 45 percent in 20 years. Every year it will pump out less into the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account, which is now invaded for state budget uses. Heretofore, from this account has only made transfers to the dividend fund and automatic inflation proofing. Legislators, solidly supported by the oil and gas industry, have found the chink in the constitutional armor of the Permanent Fund.
The mayor advocates for a percent of market value use of permanent fund dollars. I agree. Gov. Jay Hammond backed such an approach. There are many formulas for different percent of market value ideas. Some of these are just schemes to invade the fund. The Hammond approach, and I presume Mayor Navarre's also, would be careful to draw sustainable percentage. The Permanent Fund Corporation warns that the high draws now proposed would lead to changes in the way the fund is invested to produce short-term revenue and reduce its ability to earn. We should not let a bad form of percent of market value, like no inflation proofing, invade the Permanent Fund.
Larry Smith, coordinator,
Kachemak Resource Institute
Alzheimer's needs cure
I just returned from Washington, D.C. where I participated in the Alzheimer's Advocacy Forum along with 1,300 advocates in the fight against Alzheimer's and other dementias. For every $100 currently spent on research for Alzheimer's disease, our government spends $16,000 thru Medicaid and Medicare.
In 2017 it is estimated to cost our American society $259 billion caring for those with Alzheimer's and projected to be $1.1 trillion by 2050, not counting for all the wages lost due to caregiving for some one with Alzheimer's and the productivity of those with early onset Alzheimer's or other dementias. There are 250,000 Americans under the age of 65 living with early onset Alzheimer's. There are over 5 million people in the United States living with Alzheimer's today and 7,100 of that number right here in Alaska, along with 33,000 caregivers in our state.
Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. It is the only disease that does not have a cure, a preventative, or anything to slow it down. It kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. If we don't take action now, by 2050 as many as 16 million people will have the disease. Many families will be financially devastated and the cost will overwhelm Medicare and Medicaid.
Please visit www.alz.org/facts and consider in joining me in the fight.
Alzheimer's Association Alaska Ambassador
Why Homer is the greatest town in Alaska — it's not just halibut
Having lived here in Homer for 15 years, I am convinced that Homer is the greatest town in Alaska, maybe in the whole country. I have lived in six other states, besides other places in Alaska since 1967, and Homer is the greatest! I base this assessment on three treasures that I have found here: the people in our community, what Homer has, and the incredible beauty of the natural setting in which we live.
In Homer you find good, friendly people who are exceptionally helpful and supportive when times are hard. It seems several times a year there are major fund-raisers for folks who've had their home burned down or a family member with a serious illness. Folks are also kind to each other in small, causal ways, like opening a door for an elderly person or letting a mom and baby go ahead in the checkout line. Homer is well-known for having many nonprofits for an incredible array of interests and tasks. Huge volunteer efforts in all sectors are here to help, such as in our library, the hospital, in schools, with sports for kids? We take care of the vulnerable through Haven House, Hospice, the Food Bank, Lions Club, Salvation Army and many, many more. Gardening and farming are important here and many work toward the sustainability of our food supply in case of a disaster. Homer folks try to be self-reliant, help to do whatever needs to be done to help each other. Our people are our No. 1 treasure.
A second treasure is what Homer has become over the years. We have much to appreciate, starting with a strong city government and safety for us all because we have good police and fire departments and the U.S. Coast Guard out on the water. We have a world-class hospital and many fine clinics and medical personnel plus alternative medicine choices. Our schools are excellent and offer the charter school option. Everyone benefits from the programs and services at the library: traditional print materials, computers, literacy and youth programs, essentially all you need for life-long learning. Our Pratt Museum, Islands and Ocean Visitor Center and Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies provide visitors and residents with local natural history opportunities for learning and volunteering. For us older folks, the Senior Center is top-notch for socializing and having the greatest salad bar for lunch for hundreds of miles in any direction! Also many wonderful churches. A thriving art community, theater, music...fantastic recreation opportunities (Homer Community Recreation, ski, running and bicycling groups, the ice rink, Kachemak Bay Water Trail, and so many more).
Finally, in Homer, surrounding us all, is the most magnificent scenery imaginable: the bay and inlet, the beaches, our Spit, mountains, lakes, forests, wetlands, hillsides — a huge treasure! From the heart-stopping moment you first see it from Baycrest Hill, there can be no other thoughts besides the breath-taking sight that is before you. We are so fortunate to live here year-round and fortunate that many tourists visit here because of this beauty and the fishing and bear viewing across the way, the parks and recreation areas, and, for me also, the incredible birds here. We are very blessed to live surrounded by such beauty.
Homer is where my heart and treasures are? Homer is the greatest town — hands down. Yes, all that and the delicious halibut, too!
Vote NO on June 13
I'm greatly disappointed that the effort to recall city council members is proceeding to a vote. Recall is an extreme act, meant for removing from office before the end of a term an official for "misconduct in office, incompetence, or failure to perform prescribed duties." The recall sponsors have offered no evidence of that kind of behavior — normally understood to involve corruption, bribery, or the abandonment of duty — on the part of the three council members being attacked. Recall backers simply didn't agree with two resolutions; resolutions being the weakest kind of government action, a mere statement of intent introduced for consideration. The one they most objected to was voted down after consideration.
The fact that the city attorney and clerk found the recall petitions "sufficient" says nothing about the truth of the allegations — only that enough signatures were gathered and now voters will judge the truth of the allegations for themselves.
At the most recent council meeting, recall backers complained that people were accusing them of being mean and hateful. They wanted to be seen as innocent victims who were only expressing their opinions. No.
Expressing opinions and taking part in political activity is all well and good and part of our valued democratic process. Calling for the removal of elected officials by falsely accusing them of misconduct is something else. Recall backers have attacked the integrity and reputations of three very fine, hard-working, compassionate individuals who give so much to our community in so many ways — not just through their council service, but throughout their daily lives.
The recall is an enormous waste of time, money and energy and is destructive to the spirit of Homer. I urge Homer voters to express their appreciation to our council members and other community volunteers who give so much of themselves to serving our town in positive and caring ways, and to vote NO on June 13.