October 18, 2012 | Vol. 110, No. 42

Letters to the Editor

More borough government

To the Editor:

Is now the time for more government? It sounds like the City of Petersburg is having trouble rounding up candidates for the proposed borough Assembly. Who would be foolish enough to sit on an Assembly that is dead set on more purchases and more spending? That person would be eaten alive if he or she tried to stop the spending.

Why extend this kind of government to a huge borough area that will require more government?

Extra staff will be needed for such a large area. That will only be the beginning; there will be many more expenses. I would rather keep my money for my own retirement. Now is not the time for bigger government and more spending.

Beulah Johnson

Voting ‘yes’ for borough

To the Editor:

I would like to give my own explanation on why I plan on voting YES in December on becoming a borough.

First: I would like a “seat at the table” when it comes to decisions pertaining to the future of the proposed Petersburg Borough area. As a fourth generation born and raised Southeast Alaskan working and living here, I care about what happens in this part of the region and figure a borough style of local government will give the best chance of that.

Second: I am 42 years old and have been paying local sales tax my whole life and property tax for over 20 years and realize I could use some help. I believe a borough property tax dedicated to funding schools will free up a larger portion of my taxes to help support all the other important services we all enjoy whether I use them or not.

And that’s it.

Glorianne Wollen

Celebrate the individual

To the Editor:

I recently read an old book of essays by Tony Hillerman. In one of the essays he described contrasting impressions of New York City and Santa Fe, New Mexico by a visiting Nigerian, Cletus Xywanda.

Mr. Xywanda described New York City as a place where society transcends and man is submerged. He went on to describe Santa Fe as a place that celebrates the individual.

I was immediately struck by those words and how they relate to the present question of the formation of a Petersburg Borough. It is clear to me that those who favor borough formation celebrate society and government over the individual. Those of us who are against the formation of another level of government celebrate the individual.

Join with me in celebrating the individual by voting against the formation of the Petersburg Borough. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration.

George Cole

Keene Channel

Setting the record straight

To the Editor:

I would like to begin the process of setting the record straight regarding events that began this time last year. I must first start off by stating how perplexed I am that last week my name and news that is months old somehow became the meat of a story that had nothing to do with me, nor I with it.

I have been asked repeatedly why I have not spoken out sooner. As a Tribal leader, I felt that to do so would only perpetuate a greater division, or divisiveness amongst our Tribe. In fact, at every interview conducted with the radio station, I painstakingly expressed and asked for them to be careful how they presented their article for fear of creating more division and hurt. I also believed that by keeping my dignity and not responding to rumors and lies, that I would somehow keep a shred of my integrity. However, the quote “A lie told often enough becomes truth” seems to bare some relevance to me and I feel I must indeed challenge the lie.

Back in October of 2011, while I was the Tribal Administrator, allegations were levied against me. Unfortunately the Council at that time took employee actions, not based upon facts obtained from an investigation, but rather on the word of disgruntled employee. It is further unfortunate that the very Council members taking this action happened to resign 15 minutes later, thus never having the opportunity to see through the investigation that would have brought to light much different information than what they had originally received. What is astonishing, and quite honestly disheartening, is that these very opinions, as misinformed as they are, still somehow continue to be sought after and valued by some who wish to perpetuate hurtful rumors and misinformation.

My hope would be that some in this community may be interested to know that this Spring the Petersburg Indian Association received a thorough, independent single line audit as it does each year. The results came back this summer that the Tribe had no findings and an unqualified opinion. In layman’s terms the Tribe received an A+ on its audit for this past fiscal year. Just as a reminder, the very year accusations were made against me.

If that weren’t enough, this summer the Tribe received a short noticed site visit review from the Federal Highway Administration, the very agency who administers the Tribes Indian Reservation Roads Program, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, no doubt a result of allegations. After their review, the Federal Highway Administration gave the Tribe commendations on, “an exemplary program that could serve as a model for other communities in Alaska”. This, the very program that I was accused of mismanaging.

While this last year has been a difficult one for me, many in this community have stood by and offered their gracious support. And while I make every attempt as promised, that is to live at peace with everyone, I no longer plan on keeping quiet on challenging rumors, lies and attacks. Enough is enough.

Folks these are the simple facts, not rumors. Facts that are documented, tangible and simple enough to prove.

Will Ware

EDITOR’S NOTE: The background information published in last week’s front page story, “Jones fired from PIA,” was taken from previously published stories that were not contested at the time of publication earlier this year. Content was taken from published news accounts on Feb. 16, April 26, August 2 and a notice published on June 14, 2012.

Please prevent disenfranchisement

To the Editor:

To Lieutenant Governor Meade Treadwell:

We are appealing to you as the top state election official to intervene in the Petersburg Borough incorporation election to prevent our disenfranchisement.

We live remote in Farragut Bay which the City of Petersburg wants to incorporate in their borough. We have no mail service and no cell phones or VHF communication. In order to vote we have to make a round trip to Petersburg of approximately 60 miles over open water in a small boat. This election is scheduled in the dead of winter when days are too short for safe travel since the weather conditions are usually severe with high winds, big seas, and often freezing spray. There are no good anchorages between Farragut Bay and Petersburg in case of problems. In addition we live in tidal flats which limits when we can leave and when we can return home. In the winter we usually are either limited by ice or completely frozen in.

Based on where we live, the state has been providing us with an early absentee ballot sent 60 days before elections. However, in this election being held during the worst time of the year, there is no provision for early absentee voting.

During an interview on KFSK radio on October 13, your Director of Elections, Gail Funumii, acknowledged that the state law should be changed in the future but that she could not help in our situation. The state says our voter registration for early absentee ballot only applies to state elections and Borough Incorporation is a local election. Local Petersburg officials say they can do nothing because this election is not under local control but is set up under state regulations.

This election will affect us for the rest of our lives. We are a large property owner and this election is more important to us than in choosing any representative. Why should we be incorporated in this borough at all if we are disenfranchised in the most basic right to vote on this issue because of where we live?

Andreas F. Grauel

Ludmila Grauel

Correct information

To the Editor:

In the October 11, 2012 edition of the Petersburg Pilot, Publisher Loesch wrote an editorial pointing out that opponents of the current Petersburg Borough petition cited incorrect information to justify their opposition. Tom Reinarts and George Cole were mentioned by name. The editorial goes on and suggests that “half-truths” continue to be a problem. The editorial summarizes with the hope that future letters to the editor will maintain their credibility.

While I agree with the suggestions of the publisher, I find it interesting that the only people who have taken responsibility for what they say and what they write have been those opposed to the current Petersburg Borough Petition. The fact that the City and Borough of Wrangell added 29 local government employees since the formation of the borough is not something I fabricated. It is information published by the State of Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. If my statement that Wrangell hired 29 new employees is absolutely false as Borough Manager Timothy Rooney states, his issue is not with me, but with the State Department of Labor. When an incorrect statement about what taxes could be raised without a vote of the people was made, George Cole quickly corrected the information.

There have been false statements made by the publisher of the Pilot in his editorial and representatives of the City of Petersburg without any published clarifications and/or apologies. As an example, both the publisher and the City of Petersburg stated that State Law mandated the formation of the Petersburg Borough. These statements were being made while the City was soliciting signatures on the petition. The fact that State Law has no such mandate was not clarified until the City’s lawyer corrected City representatives during a question/answer meeting and stated it is not true. Neither the publisher of the Pilot or the City of Petersburg publicly corrected the record nor apologized for misleading Petersburg residents and those in the outlying areas.

As an example of a “half-truth” the publisher cites statements made that a personal property tax could be imposed by the Borough Assembly without a vote of the people. This is not a “half truth”, it is a fact. The publisher cannot change facts into half-truths. I invite everyone to read Article 12, Section 12.03 of the borough charter. Not only does it allow the Assembly to levy a personal property tax without a vote of the people, it does not limit it to 10 miles as it does for real property.

The publisher is correct that everyone, whether you support or oppose the borough, needs to maintain their credibility as they present their opinions. He should have gone on to say that everyone should also take responsibility for what they say.

Tom Reinarts

City of Kupreanof

EDITOR’S NOTE: Letter writer Tom Reinarts is incorrect in his statement that the newspaper did not correct published statements that borough formation is mandated by the State of Alaska. In a page one story, in answer to a direct question at a public meeting, Borough Attorney Jim Brennan said it is not mandated that the unorganized borough become organized. In a later editorial, this statement was repeated again, by the publisher on December 16, 2010.

Likewise, last week’s editorial never stated the city’s position on the collection of personal property was a half-truth. The editorial stated the city could charge such a tax now, without the creation of a borough and furthermore, did not include such revenue in their financial projections for borough formation in their petition.

Question up to Assembly

To the Editor:

Ms Riemer’s letter to the editor in last week’s paper ends on the relevant question of what will the property outside of the City limits be taxed if the Borough is approved by the voters. The City of Petersburg cannot answer that question, as the answer would be up to the newly elected Borough Assembly to decide. It will have the authority to set that tax rate as it sees fit, with input from the residents during the public budget process.

The consultants who have been advising the City on the Borough process have preliminary figures on the valuation of the property outside of the City limits and estimated an increase of revenue to the schools of about $107,000.00 assuming that the Borough continues the City’s long standing practice of making an additional contribution of 2 mills over the required amount. With the lowering of the mandatory contribution to 2.6 mills equivalent from a 4 mill equivalent, it is actually easier for the Borough to make a voluntary contribution without causing a decrease in the State’s contribution.

John Hoag

Cancer in the air

To the Editor:

This past Saturday had a great turnout of walkers and runners to show support for those who have been affected by cancer. We all have a family member or friend who has gone through this terrible disease. Some have won the battle, others are battling cancer now, and others have succumbed to the incessant march cancer can have on a body.

I lost my sister to cancer at a much too young of an age for her and her children. I have to ask myself why do so many people have this disease? If you do a bit of research on the internet, you’ll find there are multiple causes, ranging from the food we eat, tobacco, radiation, and infections.

One environmental cause that I want to bring to light is pollutants from smoke, and I’m not talking about cigarettes. I’m talking about smoke from campfires, woodstoves, burn barrels, or even from the dump fire.

A couple of years ago the Forest Sciences Laboratory did a study on campfire smoke which included fires with straight wood and fires with typical trash you see in them, such as Styrofoam cups, plastic bottles, or chip bags. The straight wood wasn’t so bad, but some of the chemicals they found in the trash smoke included benzene, styrene, xylene, furan, and acetaldehyde; all of which are carcinogenic. (http://www.fs.fed


32327/page01.htm). All of these can come from common trash, which not only gets burnt in campfires, but sometimes people burn in their stove or burn barrel. You can smell it some days while walking around town.

A second website I read referred to exposure to arsenic by inhalation is strongly associated with lung cancer, and ingestion has been linked to skin, bladder, liver, and lung cancer. One way arsenic can get into the air is by pressure treated wood being burned in stoves or in outdoor fires. The dust that settles out can contaminate food and gardens. (http://www.epa.gov/ttnatw01/hlthef/arsenic.html)

Some causes of cancer are very difficult to avoid, but this one seems simple to me, all we have to do is avoid burning trash and treated wood. Please remember that the smoke from a fire not only impacts those immediately in the vicinity, but also all over your neighborhood. I hope that some folks who read this will learn from it and change habits on what to burn in fires.

Brad Hunter

Reader Comments