Letters to the editor (12/23/08)

City puts damper on holiday spirit

I can't believe the bitterness and utter lack of holiday spirit displayed by the municipality, declaring that Snowzilla had to be taken down. That two-story snowman has been a pleasant display. I'm sure many parents enjoyed the winter spectacle as their children looked on in wide-eyed wonder.

Too much traffic, the city says. Then what's next? A ban on the multi-light displays that fill up yards each Christmas season? They bring extra traffic to side streets and cul-de-sacs.

The structure's not safe? I'm sure more people get injured each year on public skating ponds than by Snowzilla.

Wait ... I see the reason now. At the bottom of the cease-and-desist it's signed, "Grinch." That explains it.

-- Brian Ross


City ruling on Snowzilla not right

I just read in today's paper (12-22-08) that Billy Powers' Snowzilla was deemed a public nuisance and a safety hazard due to the fact it creates increased traffic and is also deemed an unsafe structure.

These same city officials that ruled on this should also consider people who exhibit Christmas lights and yard displays unsafe as well as they also create increased traffic and unsafe structures. Please. I believe there is more to this than the reasons stated in the article.

-- Kenny Anderson


Thank you, American Seafoods

Many people don't know it, but American Seafoods formed the Alaskan Community Advisory Board almost 10 years ago with the goal of helping small communities with limited financial options as they struggled with meeting basic quality of life, health and safety challenges in Bush Alaska.

The program has been extremely successful by funding hundreds of requests and scholarships during this time. Awards to provide a traveling audio scope for early childhood hearing loss in the Bristol Bay area, a new Santa suit for Old Harbor, critically needed firefighting gear for St. Paul, food banks across the state, shelter funding, Bean's Café and other requests to so many other communities, villages, agencies and individuals have truly made a difference.

Thanks to the American Seafoods family for their generosity and heart by providing $500,000 to those in need here in Alaska. You know that life can be difficult in Bush Alaska, and a helping hand that takes you over the finish line to your goal is of the highest value.

-- Mayor Shirley Marquardt


Miners group stands corrected

To correct the Alaska Miners Association challenge to the ADN anti-coal editorial, the EPA application for permit to discharge process waste water is not 7 million but 7,245,000 gallons. You cannot strip mine over 300 feet deep in wetlands without dumping this amount each day into the Chuitna River. The permit also requests 144,000 gallons per day into Cook Inlet of runoff from coal storage piles.

Why concern ourselves with mere stream buffer arguments when Pac Rim Coal's intention is to completely strip mine salmon streams for the first time in Alaska history?

-- Terry Jorgensen


Cancer funding needs increase

National Cancer Institute funding is $4.6 billion and kids' cancers, all cancers, only got 3 percent. We want to change these numbers to favor the children.

This information brought to you in memory of our dear 2-year-old niece, Emma Ruth Vannatter, who lost her battle to cancer Oct. 4, 2008.

May her passing not be in vain; educate, activate and prevent.

-- Rhonda and James Baisden


Gift of love costs nothing

Even in this day of economic downturn we should not worry about if we will be able to give the gifts we feel those we care about deserve. We may or may not be able to travel to the store and lay down the cash for any brand new cars, computers or toys, but we can provide in plenty the gift that most everyone is needing and looking for. We can love one another. The gift of love for one's family, friends, and especially one's enemies can be the best gift ever delivered at the holidays or any other time of year.

This gift can be provided and delivered "in bulk" as it costs us nothing to love all of those around us, and like the joy of Christmas, it is a tradition that is wonderful to carry out into the rest of the year. So let that little light of love shine on, for it is how Jesus 2,000 years ago told us to best remember His own great love for us.

-- Will Lance


Work on Spenard Road a positive

Plans for Spenard Road should be applauded. Spenard has evolved into a dangerous thoroughfare due to our planning based only on the almighty automobile. Like many arterials, sidewalks and trails have been reduced in favor of greater traffic flow.

The three-lane solution will be a vast improvement to the current high speed four lane scenario, which has people weaving and dodging vehicles waiting to turn. The proposed middle lane will consolidate the two inner lanes and allow for queuing space for vehicles crossing Spenard into the opposite lane. Wider sidewalks will improve the safety of pedestrians and provide room for temporary snow storage and help city maintenance crews. I only wish that the new plan included intermittent pedestrian crossings at key locations. Currently pedestrians and cyclists are compelled to jaywalk due to the great distances between traffic signals.

It seems that the character of Spenard Road wants to be different than that of Northern Lights or Benson. Rather than a high speed arterial it should be a focus and amenity for the neighborhoods that define it. I have experienced a lot of changes to Spenard during the last 30 years, both good and bad. The current plan will make it safer for residents and businesses of Spenard; it's time to heal the wound which slices through the heart of our neighborhood.

-- Jae Shin


Proposed raises a bit laughable

The State Officers Compensation Commission is recommending pay raises across the board for the governor and top state officials. This panel was created by the Legislature (which may also get pay raises out of the deal), and the seats are filled by the governor. The whole plan is an avatar of efficiency and convenience.

To the officials who concocted this scheme and are presenting it with a straight face, I offer a few pieces of advice: 1) Can the smoke-and-mirror act with the Compensation Commission. If you're not willing to make raises happen honestly and forthrightly for yourselves, skip it. 2) This is an abysmal time to be begging for more cash. Giving yourselves raises when most Americans are struggling and many are out of work makes you look greedy and unconcerned about the hungry common folk. Even if this description fits you, at least try to avoid looking like it. 3) Does the governor really need a pay raise? Her current salary, $125,000, is a very nice salary. Plus Sarah gets to collect per diem while eating cookies in her recliner at home. Not a bad deal for a governor who spends half her time jet-setting about the country on her "Wonder of Me" tour.

-- Douglas Abbott


Popular vote not always right

Next month, we inaugurate America's first black president, symbolic of our nation's progress from the dark ages of segregation to a more enlightened society. Sadly, the moment we made this leap forward, we fell backward by banning gay marriage.

The subject of gay marriage and homosexuality leaves a lot of people uncomfortable and confused. These uneasy feelings should not allow the rights of the misunderstood to be trampled.

The civil rights movement started in the hearts of an oppressed people, but took its power in the higher courts and the ideals of the Constitution. How far would the civil rights movement have gone if it were decided by popular vote? Ignorance would have prevailed and we'd still be in those dark ages.

Arguments against gay marriage relate to either semantics or sacramental. Neither should override the declaration that no state can make laws abridging the privileges or immunities of U.S. citizens nor deny any the equal protection of the laws.

Marriage is essentially a legally binding and protected contract of commitment between two consenting adults. I commend Attorney General Brown of California for recognizing the constitutional travesty committed in California on Nov. 4, and thank him for his efforts to overturn it.

It's the job of the courts to be protect civil liberties when popular sentiment cannot.

-- Natalie Snyder


Spenard changes may be blessing

I do not live in the Spenard area; nor do I own or work in a business along Spenard. I do drive down this street many times a week, and have traded for years at many businesses along the route. If the proposed changes to Spenard mirror those of the new Arctic Boulevard, I am all for them. I find the reconstructed Arctic to be so much more efficient to navigate, with one central turn lane. It took about two trips down Arctic to learn the lane change patterns. I hope that the parking and delivery concerns of Spenard business owners can be satisfactorily worked out and the street redesigned and updated in the spirit of Arctic for those of us who drive through that area frequently.

-- Jeanne Ashcraft