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Dec. 2003

I pondered the many things to include in my year-end Commentary, & after a few revisions & many interruptions, here it is finally. One of the most exciting years in many years is about to come to an end on December 31, 2003.

On the local scene in Anchorage, Alaska, we saw the continuation of the liberal Anchorage Assembly's unrelenting assault on the freedoms of its citizens & the business community. When 2002 ended, the people of Anchorage got a slight reprieve through a compromised land use ordinance proposal but the liberal majority on the Assembly was still able to get its teeth into property owners' rights & land decisions when it comes to limiting certain development on certain size parcels. Then there was the condo site ordinance that essentially did the same thing -- more restrictions rather than going after improper developers using existing regulations instead. Let's not forget about the sign ordinance, as now the Assembly & municipal government are in the business of regulating the size & types & content of business signs. When will this crap end? Not yet, as Anchorage voters elected a liberal mayor over two moderate-conservative candidates AFTER the Assembly changed the election rules RETROACTIVELY (at least in time for this election rather than a FUTURE election 3 years hence like most local election laws are done) so that the normal requirement for a run-off was RAISED, so that the liberal candidate (WHO LOST TWICE BEFORE AGAINST A SINGLE CONSERVATIVE CANDIDATE) won by a PLURALITY rather than a MAJORITY. Then the new mayor & assembly tried to possibly BLACKMAIL the voters into a SPECIAL ELECTION (this same bunch was previously against special elections DUE TO THE COST, they say) to see if the voters wanted a special FIRE HYDRANT TAX in order to keep 23-24 fireman positions on the books & filled instead of being cut from the budget, rather than getting rid of the fluff & waste in city government spending. When enough outrage was vented, the new mayor relented & withdrew his proposal. Yet the assembly passed the largest city budget ever -- at least $18 million dollars more at than last year -- with the largest "tax increase" (from USER FEES mostly) -- ever put on the backs of the property owners (tax payers) & user fee payers! But that's not all! As this issue goes to "press", the mayor, the municipal tax assessor (appointed by the mayor), the municipal attorney (appointed by the mayor), & the assembly voted to CHARGE FEES FOR APPEALING YOUR PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT & VALUATIONS & if you are LUCKY enough to win your appeal then you get your fees returned. Even the liberal Anchorage Daily News (for once I agree with them after many many years) produced an editorial written on Dec. 21 ("Property Tax Appeals") that wanted this new process overturned, writing about "...undue roadblocks in the way of citizens who seek to exercise their basic American right to petition for a redress of grievances." HELL MUST BE "FREEZING-OVER". As part of this latest affront to the people & property owners of Anchorage, the 19 member appeals board (they are appointed by the assembly because of their expertise in tax, property, & real estate matters) "resigned" in protest of this new ordinance, leaving the municipal assessor & the assembly IN CHARGE of property valuation & tax assessment now. SPECIAL THANKS GOES TO LOCAL TALK RADIO HOSTS RICK RYDELL & MIKE PORCARO FOR GIVING THE VOTERS IN ANCHORAGE AN AVENUE TO VENT THEIR FRUSTRATIONS AGAINST THIS TYRANNY! We can only pray that next April 2004's local elections will turn out some of the stupid liberal assembly members & return a more balanced assembly before the people of Anchorage (notice I no longer CAPITALIZE the nouns of "assembly" & "mayor" in my sentences as long as this present bunch of bunglers is in charge -- they don't deserve it!).

On the state level, our new governor has an interesting approach to the so-called fiscal gap. Gov. Murkowski's first step was ending the seniors' Longevity Bonus Program before calling for other more important cuts. His political advisors blew this one. Sure maybe the seniors are not "entitled" to this monthly benefit -- a drawback to the days when Alaska was flush with oil money -- but this could have been phased out instead of being eliminated so soon. He replaced it with a "means test" program instead, further insulting the seniors with a REAL ENTITLEMENT PROGRAM. Why not get rid of the "hold harmless" clause connected with the PFD dividend program first so that our dividends are larger instead of subsidizing the welfare recipients (who would then see a 1 month reduction in their federal payments because they & their families got a PFD dividend from the state)? That's a better priority than cutting senior money first! While Gov. Murkowski courageously found other ways to cut while increasing user fees on business license applications, etc. (that really hurt the small businesspeople as yearly license fees rose from $25 to $100, for example), he didn't increase corporate taxes. Instead of promoting an ALL-ALASKAN NATURAL GAS PIPELINE, like the voters overwhelmingly approved in the preceding fall general election, he has been promoting a pipeline through Canada, just like the BIG OIL COMPANIES (mostly British Petroleum) wanted. Hell, Canada did not support our efforts in Iraq, they have been a conduit for terrorists coming into the US (besides Mexico), & their liberal leaders despise Pres. Bush & our "conservative" Congress. Unless Gov. Murkowski changes his tune on the pipeline issue, I believe he has probably violated his OATH OF OFFICE to the people of & the state of Alaska, as the natural gas is owned by the people of Alaska collectively (per the state constitution), not the energy companies. His approach to the budget is a mixed blessing.

On the national level, the fun & surprises didn't stop, either. There was finally a discussion of some unconstitutional aspects of the Patriot Act (#1), just as Patriot Act II was being debated. There are more possible evidences of a conspiracy (if not to plan then at least to cover up) both a federal involvement in 9-11 and/or its inability to halt the tragedies that fateful day. While Congress tried to get to the bottom of it, the administration STONEWALLED. Why, Pres. Bush, why? But Congress is not the angel either. They allowed themselves ANOTHER pay raise while the economy fluttered before slowly getting stronger. Let's not forget about the LARGEST BUDGET DEFICIT IN OUR HISTORY, under a supposedly conservative Congress, OVER & ABOVE REAL NEEDED MILITARY & DEFENSE SPENDING, as local pork barrel projects got connected with NATIONAL SECURITY SPENDING BILLS. Attorney General John Ashcroft went on a national stump promoting his Patriot Act(s) while community after community passed local resolutions against unconstitutional provisions of the first act. Then we had Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge saying, to paraphrase, that illegal aliens into this country should now be given full citizenship. Unless Mr. Ridge, a Republican, either retracts that statement or apologizes for it, then I believe HE SHOULD IMMEDIATELY RESIGN, as he is VIOLATING HIS OATH OF OFFICE. Among the many celebrity deaths this year was the dynamic country & rock musical artistry duo of husband & wife team Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash, just months apart. Let's hope their music will outlive the almost 50 years of it since his first single from the Sun Studios of Memphis, Tennessee. I think it will. Some things won't last however.

On the international scene, one thing for sure didn't last. The regime of dictator Saddam Hussein of Iraq was toppled by the U.S. led coalition of armed forces in April, less than 1 month after the bombing & invasion began. He went into hiding until his "spider hole" was discovered in December, then he pleaded to negotiate with our soldiers while he held contact lists of local terrorist cells & nearly $750,000 in US dollars converted from the bank accounts he & his now dead sons stole from the Iraqi people before he fled Baghdad. Soon afterwards, Libya dictator Khaddafi quickly announced his intentions to allow international weapons inspectors to review his own stash of WMD -- weapons of mass destruction. Let's hope the dictators of Syria, Iran, & North Korea will also follow suit. Let's hope that these & other ills that are pervasive around the world will end in 2004.

Yes, 2003 was one exciting year. For my website, there have been many on-going improvements & there will be a slightly different functional look for 2004 that will still allow for your interactivity but at a more timely approach FOR YOU & less time consuming efforts for me. Just stay tuned for issue #29 near the end of January 2004 for this new virtual reality for FREEDOMWRITER.COM. HAPPY HOLIDAYS & MAY GOD BLESS!

Freedom Writer

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