PUBLISHED: 1:52 PM on Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Alaskans need to get backbone
I first arrived in Ketchikan in 1978 thinking Alaska was just a minor stepping stone in my career and that I would soon move on. My plans were changed by the quality of the leaders of the state I met such as Oral Freeman and those I observed such as then Governor Jay Hammond. It was patently obvious that these were honest and sincere leaders who knew what was important for Alaska and had their priorities straight.

Years have gone by, Governors and legislators have come and gone, Mr. Freeman and Governor Hammond have died, and I believe Alaska has changed for the worst. The people and children they thought to protect are no longer protected. Fear mongering is used to create dissension and disharmony among Alaskans to further priorities developed by giant corporations with international interests and national political parties who could care less about the needs of Alaskans. Decisions by the voting public between candidates for office are between bad and worse. The Administration of the state is made by greedy or inept officials that were selected not for ability but for subservience to the Governor. Millions are spent by the Legislature to talk things to death or to decide by political power instead of finding what is truly good for Alaskans. Our police and teachers are underpaid and their benefits are cut; Jails are overflowing; and the Legislature passes more laws to protect people from themselves.

This state is used like an old fashioned colony. Our natural resources are being taken at the lowest price. Almost no industry is being developed to manufacture finished goods from our own resources. It all goes out of the state to either the lower 48 or to other countries. Alaskan's have to buy the finished goods made from our resources and shipped up here at the highest of prices. It's time Alaskans got some backbone and told the Oil Industry, the Mining Industry, the Timber Industry, the Tourist Industry and the Fishing Industry that this is our natural resources and if they want to continue to do business here they will pay for it and do it under our regulations. They will manufacture or cause the creation of manufacturing finished products here. If not, they can leave. Don't worry, the resources won't go away; they will just become more valuable. Don't let them fool you, they need us as much or more than we need them.

Recently, our governor finally allowed us to see the draft gas pipeline contract he has been working on with the oil companies. If he has his way, Alaska will give away most of its ability to tax oil and gas, allow the oil companies to begin building the pipeline whenever they want, back out without penalty, run the line through Canada instead of Alaska, delete the reserves tax, and basically do whatever they want, pay as little as possible, and laugh all the way to the bank.

Isn't it time that Alaskan's wake up and elect people who truly wanted what is best for all Alaskans? Shouldn't the next politician who said, "all bets are off" be thrown so far out of office that nobody could find him? Isn't it time that the people of Alaska stopped listening to politicians telling them lies as to what they were going to do for them and just told the politician what he/she had better do for Alaska in order to keep that elected job?

And if we do get quality elected individuals, isn't it time we paid them a salary equal to their value to this State? This administration has damaged our young people's education and senior's financial stability and tried to give away our natural resources all for the "all-mighty dollar". Its time for Alaskans to dust ourselves off, grit our teeth, and take our state back.

Jack Marshall