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Evening out the playing field

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, August 17, 2006

I've been bombarded with glossy brochures urging me to vote no on Ballot Measure 2, Cruise Ship Taxation, Regulation and Disclosure. The brochures say that voting no will protect local businesses. I disagree.

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I have been a professional artist in Alaska since 1981. My wife and I sell our work in locally owned galleries throughout the state. We have seen a big decline in the sale of our work due to unfair business practices by the cruise lines.

Cruise passengers are given a list for each port telling them in which stores to shop. Accompanying language implies that you will be cheated if you shop in stores that are not on the list. Most of the shops on the list are corporate jewelry stores.

To get on the list, stores must pay a hefty percentage of their sales back to the cruise lines. Most locally owned businesses cannot, or refuse, to pay. Why should local businesses be put in the position of having to pay a kickback or risk having the cruise lines blacklist their business? This is nothing more than a protection racket and it should be illegal.

The cruise lines want a piece of every dollar spent by their passengers. They have tilted the business playing field so steeply that it has become increasingly difficult for local, family owned businesses such as ours to compete.

If you want to support local businesses, vote yes on Measure 2.

Rob Goldberg

Haines



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