Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 3:43 PM on Wednesday, August 1, 2012

When government, people work in sync great things happen




Government bashing can be a favorite pastime. It doesn't matter if it's local, state or federal government — government is a non-responsive, nonsensical, bureaucratic wasteland of red tape, so the government-bashing game goes.

Now and again, however, things go right with government and those things should be noted.

Take, for example, three stories on today's front page: FEMA revisions to flood insurance rate maps for the Homer Spit, real work getting under way so a gas line from Anchor Point to Homer can be built, and the construction of a new track at Homer High School.

All of them are examples that government works best when the people are involved and persist in letting government know what their needs are. In other words, it may take some work, but the success stories show time and time again someone in governmentland is listening.

It may not seem so at first.

The FEMA map revisions are a good illustration. When earlier changes were unveiled last summer, a floodgate of criticism was opened. Fortunately, Sen. Lisa Murkowski heard what Alaskans were saying, agreed with them and took their case to FEMA. The most recent revisions are being praised by the city, those affected on the Spit and Sen. Murkowski.

The Anchor Point-to-Homer gas line is another example. It has taken a lot of work by a lot of people — including many in local and state government — over a lot of years to get the project this far. Now, surveying and permitting work on the line has started. There's a good chance the project would not be happening, however, without the persistence of those who thought easy access to natural gas could help the economies of southern Kenai Peninsula communities and didn't give up their vision.

And, what about the track? When the borough officially condemned the track to all use, lots of people — again, including many in government — mobilized to find a fix. Now a new high school track is nearing completion.

It's no secret: Government works best when the people it serves are involved in its many projects. And when things are working the way they should, people do feel heard and served by government and they do feel like they can make a difference. The changes to the FEMA maps, the gas line and the track are good reminders of that.

* * *

Perhaps, however, you think government can do more or do what it does better. Then, now is your chance to step up and make a difference. The filing period for city and borough offices opened this week and goes until Aug. 15. Kudos to those who wasted no time in letting voters know they plan to run. If you've never held an elected position, maybe you want to consider starting with a service area board seat. There are lots of openings and it's a good way to get an inside view of some of the hurdles government faces in its efforts to serve the people. If you've ever toyed with the idea of getting involved, then ask yourself: If not me, who? If not now, when?

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