Story last updated at 2:54 p.m. Thursday, September 26, 2002

Change at top supported
As a longtime Alaskan, I have been most disappointed at the general decline of business opportunities and fiscal health in our beloved Alaska during the Knowles/Ulmer administration. Commercial fishing, timber, and the petroleum industries have all suffered during this period, and, of course, the service providers to those industries have declined severely also during this period, causing the yet further decline of large numbers of non-government jobs statewide.

The only increase in activity noted by myself is in nonprofit entities, government workers and tourism. In addition, this administration has done little to take advantage of the fast-growing cruise ship industry, which is bringing more than 700,000 visitors to Alaska this and every year. Some coastal communities tried to implement a small tax themselves, but perhaps the state should have stepped in and demanded a head tax, as many places around the world already do. When we are talking about the budget shortfalls in Juneau, it would seem to me that these funds would go a long way toward offsetting the deficit. Alaskans are giving many considerations to this booming industry with very little benefit in return. I challenge any Alaskan to make the Seward-Vancouver cruise and try to find an Alaska resident employee aboard, Alaska products used or sold aboard (very little) or a documentary shown that presents Alaska business in a positive light.

These cruise ship companies use their own hotels, buses, outside employees, Canadian supplies, tourist shops aboard ship and ashore, in most cases leaving little opportunity to Alaska businesses and workers. We must remember it would be in this industry's interest that Alaska remain undeveloped, and they do have the opportunity to create 700,000 ambassadors for the environmental far left each year in this one market alone.

This could, at least partially, explain the bad rap our fishermen, timber industry and proposed ANWR development have been receiving in Washington.

I believe it is in Alaska's best interest to support the Murkowski-Leman ticket for governor-lieutenant governor. There is no doubt in my mind that they will bring new and innovative ideas to our state government. It really is time for a change.

Michael Rasmussen, Kodiak

Editor's note: As part of his proposal to address the state's fiscal gap, Gov. Knowles proposed a cruise ship head tax that would have generated $20 million in revenue. His plan received no consideration in the Legislature.