From the July 2002 Idaho Observer:
Alaska governor to close roads, kill communities for $180,000
Due to budget shortfalls that do not include the some $8 billion listed in the state's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, Alaska's governor plans to stop maintenance of some 80 roads near Fairbanks (one of which is a highway) beginning October 1. The plan will save the state approximately $180,000 by not keeping those roads open during winter snows while killing the taxpayers who live there and destroying property values. This is an emergency. Your phone calls, FAXes, emails and letters will let the Alaska governor know that his administration will not be able to kill some of his people without their countrymen knowing about it.As of this writing (July 6), the targeted victims -- American citizens and honest, hardworking folks -- have just 86 days to get this Goliath stopped. There is a counter on the website that showcases this national disaster being choreographed by no less than the Governor and his assistants.
By the Committee to Open the Steese
The counter is counting down the days, minutes and seconds left until three Alaska communities are left to die by those elected/sworn to uphold their health and well-being. This means that we -- no matter where we live -- simply MUST help our neighbors in the north before they are left to die by their elected/appointed 'officials.' This is America! This MUST NOT HAPPEN -- and yet, it WILL happen, if you and I and many, many more don't rise to this challenge. There is no time for saying I'm too busy. Winter is serious business in Alaska -- please, help these folks with your emails, phone calls, faxes, letters -- and by sending/delivering guest editorials to your local papers, worldwide, letting the world know about this horrific act being committed by those in power! The permitted length of most letters to the editor precludes this avenue of effort, but guest editorials are usually much longer and able to better 'flesh out' the story. One last note: as usual, those in power never mention the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report -- CAFR -- of which 'the budget' is only a fraction. All the posturing about 'balancing the budget,' when mega-billions are stashed -- hidden -- within the CAFR, is criminal, nothing less. Please bring up the CAFR monies when talking this engineered tragedy up to your communities around the country and the world!
Alaska Has At Least $7.70 Billion In Potential Surpluses of the Taxpayers Money it is not using.
This analysis does not, repeat does not, include the $26+ billion in the Permanent Fund, which is approximately $41,000 per capita: http://cafrman.com/Articles/Art-AK-S1.htm
Alaska Governor Tony Knowles, Alaska Lieutenant Governor Fran Ulmer, Alaska State Budget Director Annalee McConnell, Alaska DOT Commissioner Joseph Perkins, and Alaska DOT Northern Region Director Ralph Swarthout have decided that the most efficient way to balance the budget is to close 18 community airfields and stop maintenance either year-round or in the winter months on 70 roads leading to remote communities.
The Steese Highway is one of them.
Of the 70 road closures, the Steese is the only highway -- the other 69 are Class III roads. It was built with federal funds in the mid-1980s, with intent to keep it open the entire year. It serves the communities of Central, population ~135, Circle City and Circle Hot Springs. It's the one link to Fairbanks (127 miles), and the only source of food, fuel, mechanical parts, medical care and other items that we need in our day-to-day lives.
Our Alaska government, in order to save $180,000, is planning to virtually destroy these communities by closing the Steese Highway during the winter months. This road is our only land access to the rest of the state. This will severely impact the lives of the citizens. For the most part, we've lived our entire lives in these communities or have chosen to move here to find remote living with a road system. People were encouraged to move here and settle when the state had land giveaways (lotteries) throughout the years (an encouragement that exists to this day), and now that we've followed through they're abandoning us.
We have to stop this, and fast -- there's not much time left. DOT is scheduled to stop maintenance on the road on October 1, and the snows can come to the summits as early as August. If the conditions are right -- snow, wind, drifting -- the mountain passes will shut down.
Unfortunately, the five are attempting to lay the blame for this at the feet of our legislature, when ultimately it's their responsibility. They made the decision.
The Knowles Administration submitted a $356 million budget to the legislature for DOT; $351 million was approved. This represents a $23.4 million increase over last year's budget, but -- according to DOT - this is not enough to continue winter maintenance on the Steese Highway. The cut was made without any impact study or period for public comment. The citizens of these communities were never contacted. A small article that ran in the Fairbanks newspaper around June 1 was all the notice that was given.
Even more unfortunately, this all appears to be part of a larger effort to put pressure on Alaskans to allow state government access to Permanent Fund earnings, or to approve a state sales tax or a state income tax. Lately we've all been hearing much about our so-called budget shortfall or budget deficit, but in fact Alaska currently enjoys a quite healthy potential surplus -- almost $8 billion, not including the Permanent Fund.
The problem at hand
While the surplus question will be addressed in due time, we have an immediate emergency. Most of us are about to lose our homes, our businesses, and everything we've worked hard for years to build. This is what will happen to Central, Circle Hot Springs, and Circle City if the Knowles Administration does not reverse its decision:
1. Hiller Enterprises, the fuel supplier, will be forced out of business. There are no existing facilities to store the amount of fuel to last through the winter to service the power plants or citizens.
2. Central Electric and Circle Electric will be forced to shut down and turn off the electricity to the communities. Without electricity there will be no heat for our homes, no access to community water supplies, no use of life-sustaining medical equipment, and no telephones.
3. Without fuel and electricity, it will become impossible for many families to even remain in their homes. Since the advent of the road, most households are no longer prepared to survive the winter. There are no generators, no adequate fuel storage facilities, no propane lights and appliances, and no resources to buy these items or purchase 6 months' worth of food and supplies.
4. Local businesses will close: Central Electric, Hiller Enterprises, Crabb's Corner, Circle Hot Springs Resort, Central Motor Inn, as well as the ones in Circle City! Without Crabb's and Central Motor Inn in Central and the laundromat in Circle City, there will be no community water supply. People will be forced to move and their property will become virtually worthless. The schools will close.
5. Without the road, people who require medical attention will face life-threatening situations. Planes land only on a very limited basis normally, and there have been weeks at a time when they could not land at all. Circle City will lose its airfield and people will have to travel an additional 40 miles in harsh winter conditions to have access to the very limited air service in Central. Many people have major medical problems and require frequent trips to Fairbanks. With no road, no plane, and no medical help, people will die.
This issue is important to the Administration for political reasons, but to us it's a matter of life and death. Some of us aren't able to leave, and those who can't won't be able to survive the winter. The Steese Highway closure will cost human lives this winter.
We have to let the Administration know of our displeasure at their disregard for the citizens who have given them their jobs. Note this excerpt from our Alaska State Constitution, Article I § 2:
All political power is inherent in the people. All government originates with the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the people as a whole.
You can help us stop the destruction of our communities:
Volunteer to help distribute flyers in Fairbanks, and to help purchase the printing (download the flyer from the website with Adobe Acrobat Reader).
Call, fax or email the offices of Knowles, Perkins, McConnell, Ulmer and Swarthout - be polite, but be firm. Ask them to not place homes, businesses and lives in jeopardy by closing the Steese Highway.
Governor Tony Knowles
Phone (907) 465-3500
Fax (907) 465-3532
Lieutenant Governer Fran Ulmer
Phone (907) 465-3520
Fax (907) 456-5400
Budget Director Annalee McConnell
Phone (907) 465-4660
Fax (907) 465-3008
DOT Commissioner Joseph Perkins
Phone (907) 465-3901
Fax (907) 586-8365
Northern Region Director Swarthout
Phone (907) 451-2210
Fax (907) 451-2333
Contact your Elected Representatives and ask them (again, politely but firmly) why they're allowing the Administration to abandon the citizens of Central, Circle and Circle Hot Springs.
Contact Alaskan media outlets and inform them of the situation.
Tell your friends, and ask them to help as well.
We need your help; we need your voice. Even if you don't live in Alaska, you can make a difference. Together we may be able to stop this travesty. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.
Committee to Open The Steese
P.O. Box 30055
Central, AK 99730
Sample letter to Alaska Officials
470 words in body of letter/guest editorial space respectfully requested.
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
And To: your elected officials, local newspapers and ALL your friends, family and neighbors! EVERYONE must know of this, and SOON!
Five elected and appointed (non-elected) people in Alaska are in the process of crafting the certain demise of three Alaskan communities. These five are: the Governor of Alaska, Tony Knowles; Alaska Lieutenant Governor Fran Ulmer; Alaska State Budget Director Annalee McConnell; Alaska DOT Commissioner Joseph Perkins; and Alaska DOT Northern Region Director Ralph Swarthout. These five have decided that 'the most efficient way to balance the budget' is to close 18 community airfields and stop maintenance -- either year-round or in the winter months -- on 70 roads leading to remote communities. This arbitrary and capricious action, an act of terrorism by five individuals against their fellow citizens, includes the ONLY highway, the Steese Highway, that connects Central, Circle City and Circle Hot Springs to Fairbanks, Alaska, 135 miles from Central. The website for more on this is: http://open-the-steese.org/
At this website you may send a single letter to the editor/editorial to many publications at once. Also, a single email may be sent at once to ALL the Alaska Legislature:
Alaska Has At Least $7.70 Billion In Potential Surpluses of the Taxpayers
Money it is not using. This analysis does not, repeat does not, include the $26+ billion in the Permanent Fund, which is approximately $41,000 per capita: http://cafrman.com/Articles/Art-AK-S1.htm
As usual, those in power never mention the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report -- CAFR -- of which 'the budget' is only a fraction. All the posturing about 'balancing the budget,' when mega-billions are stashed -- hidden -- within the CAFR, is criminal, nothing less. There is plenty of money to keep roads and airfields open and maintained; if the light can be shone on this FACT, many lives will be spared this winter, and our fellow human beings will not be reduced to being FORCED to move into a large city against their will.
No matter where we live in America or the world, we simply MUST help our neighbors in the north before they are left to die by their elected/appointed 'officials.' This is America! This MUST NOT HAPPEN -- and yet, it WILL happen, if you and I and many, many more don't rise to this challenge. There is no time for saying I'm too busy. Winter is serious business in Alaska -- please, help these folks with your emails, phone calls, faxes, letters -- and by sending/delivering guest editorials to your local papers, worldwide, letting the world know about this horrific act being committed by those in power! As of July 6, 2002, just 86 days remain in which to stop a juggernaut from leveling hundreds of lives and three communities, their custom and culture and very existence. What if it were you, your home and community? If these actions in rural areas are not stopped NOW, the time will be soon when it WILL be you!
Miss Julie Kay Smithson
213 Thorn Locust Lane
London, OH USA 43140-8844