Oil prices should not determine spill prevention

Among the many lessons learned from the Exxon Valdez oil spill was that it was almost inevitable. “Success bred complacency; complacency bred neglect; neglect increased the risk—until the right combination of errors finally led to an accident of disastrous proportions.” (Alaska Oil Spill Commission 1990.)
To combat that complacency, Congress created Regional Citizens Advisory Councils. As long as oil is moved, explored or developed in the waters from Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound it will be subject to citizen oversight to protect those and nearby water bodies. Congress recognized that regardless of advances in oil spill prevention and response there will always be risks.

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.

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.

The Alaska summer of a terrier who befriended a horse and challenged whales

Our little white dog Posy found her calling this summer when she began defending us from whales.
Humpback whales have kept people entertained all around Kachemak Bay this summer. At our cabin near the head of the bay they show up some days as if they are swimming a circular route and our beach is a regular stop.
This has happened a couple of times before over the years, but not often. In past years, we might be playing cards after dinner when the sharp “whoosh” of an exhaling humpback sends chairs flying back and we run down to the beach. When whales depart, we have to figure out whose turn it was in the game.
Now there is a new way of knowing whales are around. Posy goes bananas.

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