Initiative `ludicrous'

Posted: Sunday, May 07, 2000

While I agree that the wishes of a minority of citizens should be able to be heard, a group of only five persons being able to get a ballot initiative going seems ludicrous.

If people were locally circulating an initiative for signatures to reduce state government in Juneau by over 40 percent, the uproar here would be deafening. Yet, five people are getting an initiative going which would reduce helicopter hours three hours a day plus one day a week. Simple arithmetic shows that reduces available flight hours by nearly 42 percent.

Tourism is second in size to the state as an employer in Juneau. The helicopter flightseeing is only a portion of that, but any local who has taken the trips (probably with visiting ``tourists'') knows it is a key attraction in Juneau. In any event, why should five people be able to get any business to have to reduce its hours by over 40 percent?

Also interesting is the initiative's prohibition against spending city funds on noise studies. Perhaps they don't want to see the results. Perhaps they are afraid of then having to support the idea of using the ``little rock dump'' (old garbage dump) on Thane Road as a summer heliport.

The CBJ has a definitive study in the works. Let's let the normal process take place to see if there is a problem in the first place, and, if there is, what action should be done to reduce it.

I have been a resident of Juneau some 35 years. I remember how Juneau used to look. Tourism as an industry has rescued us from all that with about $100 million a year pumped into our economy in general and many millions more in taxes. Our quality of life has significantly improved. One third of the income to our hospital comes from tourists - who make up 5 percent of the patients. This huge financial injection permits the hospital to purchase cutting-edge medical technology equipment. We have a medevac aircraft sitting at Juneau Airport year-round, paid for by its tourist use in the summer. Six hundred thousand dollars was provided by tourists last year for improvements in trails.

While state and federal government has declined, along with mining and fishing, tourism (the most ``green'' industry you can have) has more than taken up the slack and provides income for nearly 2,000 families.

``Just say no,'' when asked to sign this unwarranted and mean-spirited initiative. Juneau is not a wilderness. It is a city with city sounds, whether from the schoolyard at recess, the cars bringing people to work, or the aircraft. They all are our lifeblood.

Jack Cadigan West Juneau

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