December 13, 2012 | Vol. 39, No. 50

Letters to the Editor

Don’t stomp on the process

Letter to the Editor:

Ahhh, Mr. Will Ware…ever the silver tongued speaker. My comments are in regards to last week’s letter to the Pilot. You’re certainly a born preacher…. but, someone I feel is qualified to give me lectures on dignity, integrity, honor and respect? …not so much. Your self-appointed role as moral compass for the tribe, is really the true “foolishness”, here.

My grandmother, Amy Hallingstad, was instrumental in forming the Petersburg Indian Association as well as in writing the original by-laws for the organization in 1948. Her name resides on the building up at P.I.A., on the sign created by me. As many may know, she also fought most of her adult life for the betterment of her fellow Native Alaskans, throughout the state. As not to do a disservice to her legacy, I feel the time is now to speak up.

My intention would never be “making a laughing stock of the tribe”, but rather exposing what could potentially be the laughing stock of the tribe, if some don’t have the courage to step up. My criticism of P.I.A. isn’t easy for me. Collectively as tribal members we have far better things to be fighting for, than to be creating angst within. But, one can only be belittled for so long for sticking up for what they feel is right, or turn a blind eye for so long. You can point your finger as to blame others, and shout from the rooftops we are an embarrassment to the tribe for simply demanding answers that are seldom given, or raising questions on what is going on. These are concerns that could potentially ruin it for every one of our local tribal members, some 400 + strong, and all of those in the future. This is hardly a “petty” complaint. I see no need to be so offended by the fact that we bring these concerns up.

It is troubling to me you accuse concerned tribal members of viciously attacking certain board members, simply for questioning attendance of some serving on the board or letting current board members know that they aren’t following the proper procedures in making policy and decisions. And, as far as I know nothing was “choreographed” by anyone from the audience at the last board meeting. I heard no talk of it being ‘planned’ and rest assured that was definitely not the case with me.

I don’t feel that the small contingency of 4 people (of the 6 who served as board members) that exists now should dictate the extremely important issues that pertain to the whole tribe. By frequently voting on self-serving policies and actions, and together creating a ‘majority’ vote. As well as taking input from a few overbearing staff members, whose job has nothing to do with setting the guidelines there. That doesn’t seem unbiased and in the best interest of the tribe. My concern isn’t with everyone on the board. I want to commend another board member, Tina Sakamoto, for taking the reins as Board President and enduring what have been some undoubtedly frustrating times, at the helm, having very little voting power except in those situations of a tie vote by board members. Melanie Frentz also deserves respect for having served on the board for several years in the devil’s advocate role. It is certain she has taken quite a beating for not always being a ‘yes’ person.

One can’t blame other board members who have resigned in the past, for tiring of how things are run at P.I.A. or for not wanting to take the fall or be blamed for the reckless actions of some in charge at the time. Other members were simply bullied out by other board members and some staff….plain and simple. I graciously ask current and future board members to let the Democratic process work for our tribal members. Don’t stomp on the process that my grandmother, and many others who had fought diligently for decades, struggled for to allow the Native peoples to finally become able to participate in. It’s known that if people aren’t happy with those elected to represent them they are entitled to vote out those, in favor of others. That opportunity also comes into question with so many complaints about the handling of the last board election. One can only hope that isn’t the case in this January’s board elections. I’m simply asking to be fair ……too big of a stretch?

In closing of my long-winded commentary, there is no doubt that PIA does some great things for all of the community and provides employment and training for our local tribal members, and non-tribal members. It is my hope the community would also feel that way, also. I certainly don’t chastise all the employees or board members at P.I.A. as most do very good work. If mistaking in my observations about events taking place at P.I.A. as of late, I offer a thousand apologies to you and others I have questioned. At this point my conscience is at ease, confident my feelings may unfortunately be the “truth” in light of overwhelming evidence and not just rumor or conjecture as you would have those believe.

Skip Hallingstad

City has done much

To the Editor:

I live outside of the Petersburg City limits and will be voting for the borough. Instead of asking, “What more?” can a borough do; why not look at the things the City of Petersburg has already done?

When the State tried to close the Crystal Lake Hatchery, the City of Petersburg worked with the Southern Southeast Alaska Aquaculture Association to keep it open. The city provided funding and time on the board until it was on its feet and new funding was found. Yes, the hatchery benefits city residents and businesses; but do you think the lodges near Green Rocks would be doing as well if the hatchery was closed?

Speaking of the lodges, when Island Point Lodge caught fire, the trained fire department and their maintained equipment came from the City of Petersburg to help out. While that lodge was not saved, how many other lodges were? Yes, I know some funds were donated by the City of Kuprenof to pay for the harbor boat (About 8% of the cost). However, it is the City of Petersburg that pays for the equipment maintenance, insurance for the volunteers, and the training to use the equipment.

Have we forgotten how the City of Petersburg worked with the Mental Health Trust, and the Forest Service, and others to exchange the lands up Petersburg Creek? Do you really think the City of Kupreanof could have done this alone?

Paying borough taxes will keep more of my tax money local. This isn’t a dollar for dollar write-off of my federal taxes; but a higher percent than what is now cycled through Washington will stay local. I want to support our schools, the maintenance for campgrounds and picnic sites out the road (Banana Point, Green Rocks, and others), public works, the gym, the ball field, and the harbor. I know it takes more than just these fees to run the community as a whole.

I was on the City Council before the Secure Rural Schools Funding was passed by Congress. Funding from the federal government from timber receipts to support roads and schools had dropped from more than $900,000 to about $125,000. When this bill was passed, Petersburg didn’t try to spend every dime. Instead they used some of the funds to built a surplus for the school so there could be a glide path for when these funds were phased out (which could be any year now). When Congress sent Petersburg six million dollars as a part of an economic emergency package, the Council set up an economic development board and grants were made from the interest. (Grants made available to businesses outside of the city limits.) The City still has a majority of these funds and is still using them to improve our community.

The State tried for force us into a borough through a University lands bill. The City and Borough of Juneau have sent in a petition to incorporate much of the area north of Petersburg (fact, not fiction).

I, for one, think it’s time to take this next step for our community.

Bill Tremblay

Information was word for word

To the Editor:

In the Dec. 6 edition of the Pilot and in a KFSK commentary a city employee made comments about myself and CCUB to which I must respond.

The city employee indicated “I picked out what I wanted to” from my conversation with Mr. Abrams (Director of Hydro and Compliance at FERC) in order to get the answer I desired. The information I presented in my Nov. 15 letter to the editor was word for word what I asked him and his reply. I did not use names or locations as the city employee did.

I also have a witness to the conversation and what was said.

I find it unfortunate and inappropriate that the city employee chooses to put Mr. Abrams in the middle of this “he said she said” public disagreement. The mistake I made was not contacting Mr. Abrams by email, as I did with Alaska Airlines and Alaska Marine Highway also discussed in the Nov. 15 letter. Written statements with a signature are much more difficult to distort or misrepresent.

A logical conclusion to this issue is to review the FERC decision on Ruth Lake. Petersburg, Angoon and the Borough of Wrangell all competed for the permit on Ruth Lake. FERC chose Angoon over the Borough of Wrangell and the City of Petersburg who had invested over $250,000.00 in expenses trying to convince FERC that Petersburg was the proper choice.

Kenneth Howard

Keene Channel

Adopt a fire hydrant

To the Editor:

I would like to take this opportunity to ask community members to help the Petersburg Volunteer Fire Department by adopting a fire hydrant near your home. This would help the firefighters in locating and accessing fire hydrants if there is a fire at or near your home. Literally when seconds count, time spent locating and clearing a fire hydrant could be the difference between smoke damage and major fire damage.

At the present time the Public Works Department and Petersburg Indian Association try to keep up with the snow removal/ brush control on fire hydrants in the community. However, especially during times of snowfall, they have to spend most of their time keeping streets clear and safe.

You can help by taking a few minutes throughout the year to check the area around the fire hydrant nearest your home. Removing snow, vegetation and any other items that don’t belong around the hydrant will be more helpful than you can imagine, especially if the firefighters ever need to put out a fire in your neighborhood.

Jerod Cook

Petersburg Volunteer Fire Chief

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