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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Ketchikan has been hornswoggled

By Mark O'Brien

March 10, 2019
Sunday PM

Letter to the Editor:

My brothers and I used to get a kick out of watching Saturday morning Looney Tunes cartoons and always looked forward to seeing Yosemite Sam. Hearing him say, “Dagnabbit! Ah been, I say, Ah been hornswoggled” after Bugs Bunny slipped away always brought a laugh. Now, watching the Edwards’ case play out in our school district, I have new-found empathy for Yosemite Sam’s predicament; and it is not laughable.

According to Peter Watts, author of A Dictionary of the Old West, the word (hornswoggle) originated from the tendency of a cow to wildly swing its horns from side to side until it shakes itself free of a lasso; in other words, doing a "horns-waggle."  Ketchikan has been hornswoggled when it comes to holding anybody accountable for demonstrated egregious administrative malfeasance in the Edwards case. Nobody has been held accountable. Every administrator involved slipped loose the lasso of accountability.

I have taught for thirty years in three different school districts in two states. Each and every year I had to acknowledge and sign a legally binding document explaining what would happen if I failed to report any suspected abuse. It was clear that I would be subject to termination, to loss of my teaching certificate, and criminal charges. Never did any of these thirty filings of documented warnings state that failure to report might result in voluntary retirement, resignation (at the end of the school term), or the ability to receive severance pay and health care.

Nobody has been held accountable for failure to report abuse, and nobody has been held accountable for purging personnel files of incriminating complaints. It appears as though our school board has given the school administrators the same “good ol’ boy” treatment and consideration that was given Edwards for several years. Like Vizzini from “Princess Bride”, we should all shake our heads in disbelief and say, “Inconceivable!”

If confidence in our school system is to be restored, this borough should consider holding a nonpartisan public hearing and get to the bottom of this mess. Questions regarding what was known, when was it known, who knew, and why abuse was not reported (and acted upon) per state guidelines need to be answered. Don’t reward those culpable with the ability to quietly resign, retire, or worse yet, continue to work on the public dime. Research “Pass the Trash” ( and sexual abuse issues around the country. Until more is done, the public will continue to be hornswoggled.

Related: Separation Agreement PDF

Mark O'Brien
Ketchikan, Alaska



Editor's Note:

The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.


Received March 08, 2019 - Published March 10, 2019

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