(Juneau Empire File)

Letter: Tourism industry overran Hoonah; don’t let it happen in Juneau

I am a Hoonah tribal member and ANCSA shareholder, Juneau born and raised, and moved to my home village in 1981. I recently moved back to Juneau due to the visitor industry overtaking every local asset an 800-person town owns. ANCSA’s Huna Totem Corp.’s Icy Strait Point sell-out to Norwegian Cruise Line has left my homeland and associated shareholders destitute, homeless and landless.

Juneau Assembly member Michelle Hale’s My Turn published Aug. 2 is familiar wishy-washy type thinking that has alienated Hoonah’s original residents gutted for shabby display only. As elected officials representing voting constituents each of you holds legal power to administer authority within Juneau’s territorial range. The Assembly’s quickness to relinquish this legal sovereign obligation to taxpaying and all invested residents is weak.

The “recent court ruling for another Alaskan city has narrowed the range of information.” Really? How quickly a group of elected officials moved from a “can do” into “can’t do” – by imposing an imaginary gag order for Alaska’s capital city. The argument that “much of the (city office) rent goes to out-of-town owners” — city property-taxed owners? Alaska’s reality is that out-of-towners also come to Alaska in droves to work and take their pay back south with them. In territorial days every paid person contributed $5 towards Alaska’s education system.

It is the out-of-town big business interests must be scrutinized with clear thinking. The foreign-owned city-sized cruise line vessels pit residents, our beautiful environment and clusters of temporary jobs against each other on behalf of a careless industry. Meanwhile Juneau’s city coffers suffer as billions of dollars exchange hands between Alaska and global-based executives without thought of local well-being.

This Assembly represents Alaska’s capital city – not a vulnerable Tlingit village like Hoonah. Official thinking cannot be influenced by another city’s legal court-based business. Juneau’s leadership must be strong in the focus of voter obligations accompanied by the heavy interests of so many others upon your heads. Together we all can make a positive difference if cooperation through communication becomes a priority. Strength of mind is a leader’s asset.

Thank you for this opportunity to respond.

Wanda Culp