October 25, 2012 | Vol. 39, No. 43

Letters to the Editor

There are 2 sides to every coin

To the Editor:

I’ve noticed some things other boroughs have done that have drawn attention to themselves.

Wrangell’s hospital board recently were called to task by a resident for a possible Open Meetings Act violation on Sept. 19, after walking out on people attending the board meeting to go on a guided tour of the facility out of the presence of the public in attendance.

Mat-Su is trying to sell their $80 million fast ferry which was supposed to transport commuters from Anchorage to the Valley. It’s never even been used, nor are there facilities for it to dock, yet the borough has had to foot the bill to maintain the ferry at $88,000 a month.

I also hope Petersburg Cold Storage finds a way to raise more money. It would be a shame to see such a large building sitting there idle. I would be an eye sore and a huge waste of money.

George Curtiss

Mitkof Highway Resident

A review of Election Procedure

To the Editor:

Last Sunday Don Keonigs and I visited Grauels on our way out of the Farragut River. They told us about their complaint concerning their inability to vote by absentee ballot in the upcoming Borough election. I told them that other than being able to blame the State for the election process, as opposed to the City of Petersburg, I had never looked at the election procedures, but promised them that I would do so. This response is based on my personal review of state law. It is not being made in my capacity of the newly appointed City Councilor.

The election procedures for approval of a Borough are set out in state statute and have rigid timelines. After the Local Boundary Commission informs the Director of Elections that the Incorporation Petition has been accepted, the Director has 30 days to issue an election order. AS 20.05.110(a). The options for and procedures of conducting an election are set out in AS Chapter 15.

AS 15.20.800 gives the Direction the discretion to conduct the election by mail which includes a provision that the ballots are to be delivered by “non-forward able mail.” However, a voter can provide the election division with a different address. AS 15.20.800(b)(1) I would urge all voters who will be gone during the voting process through the 18th.

The ballots are going to be mailed on Monday November 26 and must be postmarked by December 18th. In person absentee voting will be available at the Petersburg City Clerk’s office during office hours from the 3rd of December through the 18th.

By way of contrast, the statutory procedure for an absentee ballot in a regular election has a 30 day window for obtaining and casting a ballot which is 15 days before or after the election day. S 15.20.061(a)(1)(2). However, there is an exception for voters living in a remote area to request a ballot 60 days in advance. AS 15.20.082(a).

Assuming that the ballots arrive at our office boxes on the 27th, that allows us 22 days to vote. Frankly, it doesn’t appear to me that the difference between 22 and 30 or even 60 days is significant, as the Grauels’ concerns about the weather and risks of winter travel remain the same. On a personal note, since Grauels told us who has the key to their post office box, Don will contact that person and, weather permitting and our boats running, we will pick up their mail and deliver it to them so that they can vote in this election.

John Hoag

It’s the money

To the Editor:

If you look through the wrong end of a telescope, you can make a penny look as big as a basketball. Or make a $200,000 special appropriation look as small as the period at the end of this sentence.

Back in 2006, when we said this borough proposal was about money, the city fathers insisted we were wrong and bandied about words like, “progress, future, safeguard, influence, etc.” Well, it turns out it is all about money after all. Your city manager is worried about Petersburg being financially solvent 5 years from last July. Your city finance director is worried about the budget if the borough proposal fails. Your mayor says it is about the money.

Finally, we get down to talking about what this borough proposal is all about money. But, it is a special kind of money they are talking about. They are talking about Government Money. Government Money comes from taxes. Taxes come from you. Government consumes wealth while private enterprise produces wealth. This Big Government borough proposal will consume wealth rather than producing it.

Your councilpersons have been looking at the unorganized borough through the wrong end of the telescope. Instead of seeing the residents of the unorganized borough as a solution to Petersburg’s financial worries, they should see the unorganized borough itself as a solution. For example, they could start promoting the tax-free area as a lure to attract retirees. Many of us outliers are retired and all we bring to the area is money. Think how much money would flow into the local economy if 150 retired couples were attracted to this area. Most of us retired couples spend $10,000 to $20,000 dollars in Petersburg during the 8 or so months we are in residence. That would be a $1,500,000 to $3,000,000 annual shot in the arm for Petersburg businesses. And all of the money they would bring in would be new money.

Along with the new money would come new business opportunities. New construction jobs would present themselves. Sales and service of skiffs, chainsaws, and other equipment would double. The demand for more lumber, groceries, rubber boots, and other goods would have inventory flying off local retailers’ shelves. How about a rural fuel delivery service? Maybe a small security company to check on cabins when the snowbirds are gone for the winter? You can think of more possibilities than I but the end result would be wealth production.

Councilpersons, turn your telescope around and take in the view of the big picture. It is breathtaking. The best part is that you do not need a special appropriation to do so.

George Cole

Keene Channel

Wall of Fame

To the Editor:

Petersburg City Schools has a reputation for graduating outstanding young people. Faculty, parents, and community members often have conversations about former students and their outstanding accomplishments. We would like to celebrate those accomplishments and have them stand as an inspiration to our current students. We would love hear about degrees achieved, research projects, and major life accomplishments. If you can contribute information for our “Wall of Fame,” please contact Rachel Etcher at retcher@pcsd.us or 772-3860.

Rachel Etcher

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