The cruise ship bullies have prevailed, though it's bad for those of us who are still on the playground wondering where our lunch money went, and how do we go home and explain what happened.
The cruise ship passenger tax is only a small amount, you might say - but it's the principle involved. The cruise ship industry said if you don't play our game our way, the consequences will be dire at the very least!
As Jack Cadigan so poignantly mused in his recent Juneau Empire My Turn published April 19, only 52 percent of the people voted for the head tax. He even said it was discriminatory, though most taxes are discriminatory in nature because they are applied to something specific. I pay property tax because I own a home. We all pay sales tax when we make a purchase. It's not rocket science.
If you look at the fine print of airline tickets and rental cars, you'll find a lot of tax categories. Look at your utility bills, they're full of little taxable items.
Whatever happened to the "will of the people?" To me, it seems like the will of the people - and what the measure represented - were callously cast aside out of fear of the bullies and their henchmen. Even Gov. Sean Parnell took part in this scheme, as he acquiesced to the cruise industry's strong-arm tactics on his recent visit down in Florida.
Rather than a "good faith" showing to these entities, it was a clear message to voters that our wishes (and votes) don't matter. Rather, the nebulous threat of fewer visitors, fewer dollars and lowered profits for the T-shirt vendors, jewelry stores and seasonal shops that mysteriously disappear with the last ship.
It is a hard job to balance the business of tourism in a community where the impact of its presence is dramatic - often overburdening the streets, public safety services, the hospital and public restrooms - against the reality that we live in an area that is steeped in rugged beauty, adventure, historical drama, geologic and geographic wonder.
We want to share this wonderful place with those who visit, but in 2006 the people spoke and made a decision. Now we have been cast aside by lawmakers' "good faith gesture."
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