Tony Knowles was in Nome this morning. Though he didn't make time to stop by KNOM's Studio C, I did attend his lunchtime public forum. I was particularly disappointed to his comments which he gave, unprompted, on our somewhat controversial Rock Creek Mine:
We have to empower not take away local participation. A transparent process and best done by stakeholders up front. In regards to Rock Creek mine, let's make sure that the local people have an opportunity to weigh in. I think the process in some ways fell down and that's what I would encourage without giving an opinion of a yes or no on it.(I have the tape of this cut but you'll just have to trust I transcribed it correctly.)
This is such pandering. He prefaced his comments on Rock Creek by noting he supports the Kensington Mine and opposes Pebble. How come he can't take an equally strong position on Rock Creek? Is it because he doesn't know enough about it? If so, how come he brought the issue up unsolicited in his opening remarks? Is it because he wanted to curry favor with the local friendly audience by appearing to echo their very concerns? I think so.
My other problem with the comment is that it reveals his lack of knowledge of the issue. There was a public process that did solicit local involvement. I covered this process extensively (and the gold company's earlier attempts to inform the public) and heard many Nomeites express their views. Then, an influential group of folks realized the process was passing them by and started organizing because they didn't have their act together earlier.
My general wish for politics is that candidates stop being all things to all people. That's impossible. If candidates would stick to what they believe, clearly identify when they disagree with an issue (and not be ashamed of it - it's alright to have varying opinions), and not pretend to be an expert on every possible issue, I'd be a lot more interested in them.