I am totally outraged that Gov. Sean Parnell has removed Dr. Gershon Cohen from the cruise ship advisory panel. Like most Alaskans, I voted for the cruise ship initiative in 2006. As a sponsor of the initiative and a scientist, Gershon Cohen is the best representative the majority of Alaskan voters could have on this panel.
Parnell has reportedly removed Cohen because he has a conflict of interest - clean water. On the other hand, the interests of the cruise industry representative (the industry's bottom line) is not disqualifying. The conclusion we must draw is that the industry's bottom line trumps clean water. Thus, we who voted for the initiative in 2006 are to have no representative on this panel because we all have a conflict of interest. Those who voted against the initiative are represented by the industry.
Last week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations, as persons, have a right to free speech and are therefore allowed to spend any amount of money to influence the outcome of elections for our public officials.
Of course, my right to free speech is limited because I don't have the same amount of money to exercise my "free" speech rights. It appears that Parnell already sees the writing on the wall and understands the consequences of standing up to the cruise industry.
I can hardly wait until the industry's corporations, again exercising its rights as individual people, apply to the Division of Elections to become registered voters. Will the corporations have to be Alaska residents or American citizens, or only registered to do business in Alaska? Can only corporations who are more than 18 years of age vote? What about those corporations who have felony convictions? Will the number of votes given to a corporation be determined by size or profitability?
I am proud of the Alaska legislators, including Rep. Beth Kerttula, who have stood up to the industry and asked Gov. Parnell to reinstate Dr. Cohen on the cruise ship advisory panel. Parnell appears to be a nice man, but does he have a spine? We shall soon know.