No reason to peer at signatures

Letter to the editor

Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2005

I am dismayed and disappointed the Northwest Cruise Ship Association has chosen to challenge the signatures gathered for the cruise ship initiative, i.e.: Responsible Cruising in Alaska. The sponsors and supporters of this initiative exercised our right as Alaska residents to request an initiative be placed before the voters. It is designed to be proactive, rather than reactive to fuel spills, refuse, and the discard of pollutants hazardous to our marine life, shore life and streams.

Mr. Shively of Holland American Line states the initiative is designed to punish the industry. I beg to differ with him. The oil companies, auto industry, outboard motor companies, mine and miners, railroads, fish processors, three wheeler companies, helicopters, airlines, private yachts, etc., all are subject to pollutant standards and taxation. How many more times do Alaskans have to hear the cruise ship industry say "oops, sorry?" A case in point is the Juneau harbor spill of 2002.

I quote Mr. Hansen of the Northwest Cruise Ship Association, who says "given the thin margin (of signatures) we feel it's important that we consider all possibilities." The facts are, signatures checked by our election office and certified by Lt. Gov. Leman on Dec. 17 prove they are bonafide signatures collected above and beyond the number required to render the initiative valid.

Mr. Shively says election scrutiny is becoming more common and he goes on to use the Washington state election recount as an example. This is Alaska and an Alaska initiative process, not an election. Why would the initiative sponsors, signature supporters, or myself, for that matter, forge signatures on an issue critical to the waters that provide us food, recreation, beauty and sustainable habitat? It would make sense for the cruise ship industry and Mr. Shively to spend their time, energy and money on ensuring the cruise ship industry does not have another "oops-spill."

I stand behind the integrity of the initiative, the individual who gathered signatures, and the signatures gathered. I believe that in the end Mr. Hansen and Mr. Shively will owe all of them an apology. I am sad the cruise ship industry and Mr. Shively seem to believe profit is the bottom line.

Barbara C. Lewis


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