Brochures aim to mislead voters

Posted: Sunday, August 20, 2006

I was only home for a few days from my time commercial fishing and, in that time, my mailbox was bombarded by daily, obviously expensive, shiny cards opposing Ballot Measure 2. Frankly, I kind of just ignore all this because I am aware that an industry, based out of Miami, is paying millions of dollars to an Oregon firm to promote their campaign. I sometimes chuckle that the industry can afford all this expensive advertising, all the while claiming that they will be suffering if the ballot initiative passes.

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I also do not buy the argument that visitors won't come if they have to pay an additional $50 per person. Come on, when a passenger pays several thousand dollars for a tour of a lifetime, he or she will not quibble over $50.

However the straw that broke the camel's back was the brochure that said "don't make our kids pay for their attack..." and continues with the statement that the "cruise industry pays over $43 million in taxes for schools, police, fire protection..."

Not only is this a "below the belt" attempt at fear mongering, using our children as a target, but also the information is a flat out misstatement. The cruise industry doesn't pay for our schools and police and fire protection with $43 million in taxes.

I researched this a bit with the city of Juneau and could find no such evidence to support the industry's claim and then read the Anchorage Daily News editorial which "clarified that most of these "taxes" are paid by passengers and crew for purchases of goods and services. Bottom line - the cruise companies actually paid $4.5 million in local property and sales taxes. I can't imagine the Daily News would publish inaccurate or unresearched statements and leave themselves open to litigation. The public really needs to be made aware of the cruise industry's absolutely flagrant and untruthful statements that attempt to sway community opinion by playing on people's emotions.

It makes me wonder about all the other claims the industry is making in all those shiny brochures.

Alaska's tourism industry has been good for many local businesses but let's not make the mistake of equating this with the cruise industry and Ballot Measure 2, which simply attempts to level the playing field in Alaska with other industries and what is required of them.

Richard HofMann


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