Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 4:51 PM on Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Say 'No' to Measure 1; 'Yes' to Measure 2

Important issues face voters when they go to vote in Tuesday's primary election. The time to read up on Ballot Measures 1 and 2 is before you walk into the voting booth. Our recommendations:

Ballot Measure 1: Vote No.

Ballot Measure 1 would increase the maximum residential property tax exemption from $20,000 to $50,000.

Sounds like a good idea. Who wouldn't like to see their property tax bill lowered?

Unfortunately, exemptions create more problems than they solve. This measure would shift the tax burden from homeowners to others. A better solution to lower everyone's tax bill is offered by Marty McGee, the assessor for the Municipality of Anchorage, who wrote the opposition statement in the voter pamphlet: work with elected officials to limit the growth of the municipal budget or seek alternative revenue sources or, we would add, some combination of the two.

As McGee noted, Ballot Measure 1 "is not a good bargain and is not good public policy."

Ballot Measure 2: Vote Yes.

Both sides in the battle over Ballot Measure 2, which would create a Coastal Management Program, have bandied about some impressive numbers in their campaign for votes.

Those opposed to the measure have talked about the millions that will be needed to fund the program (estimates range from $2.9 million to $5.4 million). They've talked about the wordiness of the ballot measure (703 words). They've talked about the number of jobs ("thousands") that it will cost.

Those who favor it have talked about the more than 26,000 signatures they've gathered to get the initiative on the ballot. They've talked about the $1.3 million contributed in an effort to defeat the measure. (By comparison, the Alaska Sea Party has raised about $112,000 to get out the "yes" vote.) They've talked about the number of big corporations that have united against the measure. By our count 22 businesses or groups have contributed $10,000 or more to get out the "no" vote.

But one number has been absent in the debate over Ballot Measure 2: 34,000.

That's the approximate number of miles of coastline Alaska has — more than the rest of the nation put together. (Please note, defining "coastline" isn't an exact science; one number put the number of miles at 44,000.)

However many miles, it's the compelling reason to vote "yes" on Ballot Measure 2.

When it comes to coastal management, Alaska should be leading the rest of the nation in showing how best to do it. It's a travesty that it's come down to voters having to re-establish a program that once did its job well. Citizens now must step up and do what elected officials failed to do and approve a program.

Yes, the ballot measure is complicated, and that makes it a little scary to vote "yes."

But let's be clear: Alaska needs a Coastal Management Program and elected officials have failed to provide it.

Those who believe it's better to vote "no" and then demand the Legislature and Gov. Sean Parnell come up with a program have their heads in the sand. After two years of debate, why does anyone think our elected officials will be motivated to do something after Alaskans vote "no"? It's ludicrous.

Some say the measure "delegates authority to a handful of unelected Alaskans" and creates more red tape and bureaucracy.

Without a Coastal Mangement Program, however, the power is concentrated in the hands of state and federal agencies, the real bureaucracy, not the people.

Without a Coastal Management Program, the federal government can do what it wants on federal lands and in federal waters — fish farm, for example. Sure, the feds will take comments from Alaskans, but they don't have to listen. With a Coastal Management Program, approved by the feds, Alaskans have a real seat at the table. Since when did giving Alaskans and their communities a voice in the decision-making become "red tape"?

Here's what Alaskans need to ask themselves before going into the voting booth: Why are big businesses fighting so hard to defeat Measure 2? Are their voices more important than yours? Who do you want deciding what happens along Alaska's coastline?

From our perspective, there are at least 34,000 reasons to vote "yes" on Measure 2.

As always, agreeing with us isn't the important thing; voting is. We hope you will exercise your right to vote in Tuesday's primary election.