I’m sure by now most of Homer knows that the Homer writer’s conference was one of the first things to get the chop when the Koch brother spawn, Gov. Mike Dunleavy, took the budget reins based on his election year lies.
I was in on the first three writer’s conferences when we were just coming up with the format — before it became the wildly successful, nationally known phenomenon that it has been for the last decade. Because of the Homer writer’s conference (and a bunch of other now unfunded groovy artistic endeavors) our town landed squarely in the middle of “that” map — picturesque sea side hamlet of forward thinkers-writers, philosophers, musicians , potters, painters, poets … the place everyone wanted to visit, live, experience, emulate. Funky, funny, erudite, diversified, adventure hungry, fishy … you know, all that stuff that defines civilized evolved society and is the first to go if it comes down to oil companies taking a cut in their welfare payments from the state. But as with the University, the Alaska Humanities Forum, the Pioneer Homes, the Alaska Marine Highway System or — God forbid — any and all environmental organizations like Cook Inletkeeper, when radical right Republicans take charge things begin to break.
So here we are.
We have a governor who totally deceived the voters to get elected then set about destroying the life’s work of a generation.
I remember fighting the feds for the oil leases in lower Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay in the 1970s. I remember fighting to protect land across the bay in the 1980s and then Gov. Tony Knowles squaring off with a brilliant high school senior, Rob Robl, in the 1990s over the same issue. And in the blink of an eye we were betrayed by Dunleavy, and today Hilcorp is seismic testing off our shores.
This governor will cheat and connive to make Pebble a reality regardless of the cost to our economy and way of life. He will build a road to Ambler, open the whole of state lands to fracking, all the while ignoring the science of climate chaos exploding in front of each of us. He will insist we take on the financial burden of billions to move the Capitol to Wasilla so his home boys can make a killing on real estate. And he will penalize any Alaskan who disagrees or defies him just like he did when he tried to manipulate the judiciary by withholding funding.
What kind of leader will not even consider cutting oil subsidies at a time of fiscal hardship? One point two billion in annual subsidies! Instead he throws pioneers into the street, cuts winter road service, cripples the university and statewide education, eliminating programs like the swimming pools in coastal towns that keep the next generation safe. Eliminating the citizen initiative requiring cruise ships to run a clean operation. Denying climate change even exists, thereby killing any chance of mitigation or adaptation.
Alaskans — whether Republican, Democrat, Independent or Bull Moose — deserve better.
The blowback from this governor is about to hit. He is well funded and prone to whine. He took a spin on the East Coast this week and entertained Fox with his tales of leftie obstructionists. But since when do Alaskan politicians run to D.C. to grovel* and pout? Since they were owned and operated by Outside interests, that’s when.
Alaskans need to recall this chump. His corruption is beneath us.
Once that’s done we need to take a clear-eyed, honest look at exactly how we intend to fund a sustainable, artistic, adventurous, visionary future.
*grov·el: to act in an obsequious way in order to obtain someone’s favor.
Shelley Gill is an author, naturalist and Alaskan living in Homer.