Defending Williams

Posted: Friday, August 10, 2001

Mr. Richard Steele should be ashamed of himself for his attack, in a My Turn in the Aug. 7 Empire, on one of the most respected pioneer Alaskans I have ever had the honor to meet and work for.

While Mr. Steele was suffering sniffed road dust while on a government-funded walkabout, Lew Williams worked long and hard to help see to it that family-wage jobs might be there for those Alaskans who graduate from a public school system that too often regard duck-pond-making as superior to actually teaching math and science.

I reread Mr. William's column and found it respectful to all readers, even those who might disagree. No personal attacks were made or implied. Mr. Steele, on the other hand, adopts the old "I'm right and you're stupid" attitude in his response to a respected Alaskan known for his intelligent eloquence, sincere dedication and polite kindness.

What I find especially galling about Mr. Steele's editorial is his list of what we, hoi polloi, must sacrifice in order to spare him and his elitist cohorts from the suffering of sights or sounds they find uncomfortable whilst among the bushy-tailed woodrats and rattlesnake plantain.

Lew Williams, on the other hand, has worked tirelessly in the private sector to find ways for our children to aspire to live in their own communities, raise a family and pay taxes, confident a living-wage job awaits their graduation or completion of vocational training. Lew Williams understands the need for improved infrastructure and environmentally sound extractive industries which put food on the table and fund our Permanent Fund Dividend checks.

Last time I looked, there was plenty of wilderness to amuse the taxpayer-funded Mr. Steele to hold his wine and cheese kayak soirees in. The rest of us who must work overtime or a second job just to fund our kids' soccer trips can feel fortunate that pioneers such as Lew Williams care enough to speak out and subject themselves to the Mr. Steele's self-righteous opinions.

Richard F. Schmitz


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