Let’s keep local sandhill cranes safe

For the past few weeks, Kachemak Crane Watch has been receiving reports of sandhill cranes walking roads in town that are very busy with speeding cars and near power lines. Callers are asking why cranes are in this part of town, in the middle of the street. Many callers are concerned for the cranes and noted people in the area are feeding them corn to attract the cranes to their homes.
When I have given Kachemak Crane Watch presentations about cranes and folks ask if it is OK to put out corn, I tell them corn should not be put out to attract cranes if they live near power lines, near a busy street or congested areas where cranes walk down or alongside the road, or where cranes crossing the road might get hit by a car.

It’s time for Homer to move forward

Now that summer has faded into autumn, attention turns to the work of community. My comments are based on observations and professional activities in the engineering and construction trades.
It is painfully obvious that we are faced with dwindling state and city financial resources, thus local attention should be paid to improving the existing industries necessary to sustain our community. The city should consider spending money wisely to improve commerce.

Students, educators need support of creative communities to thrive

Across the state, children are heading back to school in coming weeks as summer draws to a close. Crisp outfits and school supplies are turning up all over the place, and youth are savoring their last few days to sleep in before structure returns to at least part of their lives.
And while parents are by-and-large breathing a sigh of relief at the end of summer vacation, teachers are already back in the classroom, readying themselves for another year. Educators are an extraordinary bunch of folks. Spend a few hours in a classroom, whether it’s the chaos of kindergarten, the awkward transition of middle school or the opinionated halls of high school and imagine that as your daily existence and most of us would go screaming in the opposite direction. But educators actually enjoy trying to hold the attention of 20-plus youth day in and day out, and for that, I for one am deeply grateful.

Separation of church and state allows all to be represented

Spend as much time as any journalist does at public meetings and you will get a very real sense of how commonplace it is to see heads bowed and prayers spoken. And while most public entities, be they cities, boroughs or states, say they have an open-door policy to invocations from any group or belief, statistically, those invocations are most often given with reference to a Christian god.
That open-door policy was tested at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly this month when a woman from the national group The Satanic Temple read an invocation ending with “Hail Satan.” That didn’t go over very well with quite a few folks and protests, organized praying sessions outside the borough building and lots and lots of public testimony followed. The backlash became pointed and personal. It blurred the lines between religion and politics long after everyone went home.

Why I will vote ‘no’ on HEA exemption

In October 2016, Homer Electric Association will ask members to vote to exempt HEA from regulation by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska. On its website, HEA urges its members to vote for “local control,” to give the Board of Directors oversight of the cooperative.
On the HEA website, and in its August Courier, HEA lists three potential benefits of exemption from RCA regulation — or what HEA terms “local control.” I will address each of these three points as I explain my reasons for voting “NO” on my ballot in October.
Assurance that locally elected leaders are driving the decision making of our utility.

State operations need reductions, not Permanent Fund revenue

The benefits of the Alaska Permanent Fund shared equally have had a very positive effect. Because of the dividend program income disparity in Alaska is the lowest of any state. It provides for many low income and working class families and we have achieved a higher degree of social justice because of it. It is projected to produce $4 billion annually in four years if we protect it.
The political value of the dividend lies is also in how it protects the fund from which it comes, from wasteful legislative spending. Without the dividend program the constituency that protects the fund is reduced and fund profits can be taken for building any development, which legislators imagine. A bond issue for the $50 billion gasline? No sweat! The bonds can be paid off with fund earnings. Ports? Dams? Bridges? Here we go again.

Seaton’s win in recent election was no ‘sweep’

Interesting news article in last week’s wrapper: “Seaton sweeps primary.” Really? Let’s see, of those who voted, 46.6 percent selected Seaton, which means 53.4 percent (the majority) did not.
So, theoretically, had either Cox or Wythe been the only other choice, Seaton would have lost his bid. Which would have been a good thing for Alaska. So, no, he did not “sweep” the primary.
I did appreciate the attempt to put a positive spin on the turnout; highest in state. At 18.5 percent, it is still a dismal number — and a reflection of apathy. Those who did not participate in their civic duty have zero to say as our state slides into oblivion.

What will the city do when the bill comes in?

There are several issues that the city has to deal with. The first issue of course is the overwhelming budget deficit that we’re going be facing in a couple years.
This deficit is one that is in the making. The city has done some creative financing by a shifting of revenue from the HARP fund (accelerated roads and trails fund) taking this 1 mil property tax and applying it to the general fund. This was done a year ago and it is in place for a period of three years, so two years from now the general fund will need $1 million a year to replace the HARP revenues when they go back to the accelerated roads program.

Senior Citizen Property Tax exemption proposal benefits both seniors and public

The opinion in the Aug. 11 issue of the Homer Tribune by Pete Zuyus is one I found disconcerting. I feel compelled to offer a different opinion, concerning the Senior Citizen Property Tax exemption. And yes, I am a senior, and qualify, and have, both the 100 percent exemption that existed between 1986 and the $300,000 exemption as of 2007.
When Stan Thompson was mayor, he feared for the homesteaders who still owned their homestead lands, and wanting to protect them, he offered to the voters the option of the 100 percent exemption for residents aged 65 and older. That was a huge blessing for many, and brought many new seniors to the peninsula.

Tribal court leaders discuss banishment, baggage checks

In some villages, tribal courts have banished offenders for bootlegging and domestic violence. In others, tribal courts are conducting searches of passengers on incoming flights to stop the flow of alcohol and other drugs.
In a three-day conference this week on tribal court development, speakers mentioned these and other enforcement steps as examples of how tribal court operations are taking shape in Alaska, including some steps that would not be permitted under state and federal laws.

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