SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Right to speak freely to influence public policy
By Bob Claus


June 30, 2009

To the Editor;

I would like to take this occasion, the 233rd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, to honor the courage and sacrifice of our forefathers and to salute the servicemen and women currently fighting on foreign fields for our freedom.

233 years ago, we fought for the right to petition our government for grievances, for the right of freedom of association, and for the right of freedom of speech. Our uniquely American way of life is based on these freedoms.

The recent editorial in the Ketchikan Daily News "Quick, get to work" from June 23rd suggested that speaking out in a clear voice about the future of our land is extremism, and that following established procedures to comment on or to appeal governmental decisions is wrong.

This disturbing line of argument, put forth publicly and privately by elected officials, high ranking members of the federal bureaucracy, and now the local paper, is contrary to the American spirit of free debate and the rule of law.

Folks from across the economic and political spectrum, including SEACC, are actively engaged in the public conversation about the proper use and protection of the resources that belong to all Alaskans and all Americans. This conversation takes place around kitchen tables, at coffee shops, at forums like the Tongass Futures Roundtable, in front of administrative bodies, in the State and Federal legislative bodies, and, yes, in the courts.

This Independence Day, as patriots, let's take a moment to remember what makes America special ­ our shared legacy of hunting, fishing, wide open spaces, and our ability to speak freely to influence public policy about those places.

Bob Claus
Community Organizer
Southeast Alaska Conservation Council
Craig, AK

Received June 30, 2008 - Published June 30, 2009


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