April 19, 2012 | Vol.42 No. 16

Commentary

Closure of the Elks Lodge is a big loss for our community, but perhaps inevitable. Elks membership was in decline and there didn’t seem to be sufficient interest in the paperwork that comes with Elkdom.

To their credit, though, the Elks may have hit on a formula that works for the community: Burger feeds and taco nights open to the public are a great way to raise money for local groups and causes.

A better model for Haines may be a consortium of non-profits owning a local bar and restaurant. We’re a town that likes to drink and eat out, and we like to support community efforts. Why not buy a burger for little league baseball or ring the bell for Hospice of Haines?

This isn’t a radical idea. In Milwaukee, Wis., a neighborhood organization purchased a local tavern, with proceeds benefitting the neighborhood. “Diamond Tooth Gertie’s,” a community-owned casino in Dawson City, Y.T., helps fund tourism promotion efforts there.

A bar and restaurant, operated for and by non-profits, could be the best fund-raiser ever. It also could reduce pressure on the Haines Borough for donations to non-profits and ease what’s become a perpetual cycle of raffles, auctions, and dinners.

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The Haines Borough Assembly has identified a good solution for improving the process for appointing new members to the assembly when seats become vacant: Change the code to allow a bare majority vote in naming appointments.

Currently, four of five seated members must vote in agreement to appoint a new member. This “super-majority” rule doesn’t apply when voters elect an assembly member, why should it apply when the assembly appoints one?

This simple change would go a long way toward eliminating deadlocked votes that gum up appointments. As appointments are only until the next election, this process shouldn’t consume us.

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A friend recently e-mailed, asking why I was “against” the salt chlorination system at the Haines pool, following a story I wrote March 22 about the corrosive effects of salt systems particularly on metal pools, like the one here.

I replied that I wasn’t against salt chlorination; in fact, as a swimmer who used the pool for 11 years under the former, traditional chlorination system, I’m a big fan of salt. I wrote the story because there seemed to be legitimate questions about the use of salt on metal pools and fixtures, particularly in light of an expensive tank eroding away within a year and the elimination of warranties on work involving salt systems.

Whether you’re a swimmer or a taxpayer or both, we write stories to tell you what you need to know to understand public issues, and to intelligently participate in public discussion. Like many things in our lives, salt chlorination appears to have pluses and minuses.

Here at the CVN, we appreciate that citizens and public officials, even when armed with all available information, often grapple with unknowns and must make decisions nonetheless, for better or for worse.

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A reader complained last week that an obituary he was expecting to see wasn’t in the newspaper. We had written the obituary, but held it until this week for lack of space in last week’s eight-page newspaper. We didn’t have advertising enough to pay for a 12-page newspaper, one big enough to fit the obituary.

The size of your newspaper is determined each week by how many advertisements are placed in it. If you enjoy larger papers, patronize local businesses, particularly ones that advertise within these pages.

Shopping at local stores also boosts local sales tax, which helps pay for things like parks, police protection and snowplowing.

Residents who do most of their shopping in Juneau or on the Internet betray their hometown and forfeit their right to complain about what our town and its local businesses – including this one – have to offer.