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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Reform? Reshape? Really....?

By Percy Frisby


March 09, 2020
Monday PM

In regard to the recent press conference with Governor Dunleavy and Commissioner of DOT John Mackinnon

First off we want to Thank the Governor for admitting that this self inflicted wound affects all coastal areas of Alaska and that we need a sustainable system that works.

There are red flags with your working group, the lack of experience in not having representatives from the local communities and not having anyone who has any experience running an Alaskan run shipping company.

Having what you call "other modes of transportation" will not fix this problem, you blame it on old ships, in the next sentence you admit we have had a "lack of regular maintenance" please look at the example of Washington State Ferry's and Blackball ferry and see what they have done with "old" equipment.

You finger point at the Union for the Strike this last summer, for large costs and the disruptive nature, it was your destructive budget in February 2019 that essentially ended service after September. The Strike happened at the end of July and was a "preview of some coming attractions "a clarion call to the damage you would create. Our question now is how much and how disruptive does your "Strike" cost Alaska?

You also blame the legislators but you forgot it was your budget.

The Commissioner was also making comments that lead us to realize your Administration set this up for failure with a sole source contract with Ketchikan shipyard (Vigor) by commenting "why would we send business out of State?" Experience has taught us that Ketchikan has not the capacity for 7 vessels and the workmanship has been questionable, remember the vessel they built for MatSu, the M/V Susitna and the new Alaska class ferries which are not operational and still need a lot of work to be able to work in the system. After over $160 Million we still do not have "built in Alaska" ferries running.

Mr. Commissioner we need better schedules, we ask what is your plan?? You put out an RFI and hope for Charters, that is not a plan, it' s not sustainable, Alaska gives enough to private corporations.

Finally you did not know about a letter from ANB or ANS wanting to be on the reshaping committee, the excuse was we do not want too many people on the board. Our question is if you are not working for all of Alaska who are you working for?

The system is in shambles, it was a self made disaster, reshaping or doing the same thing all over again expecting the same result is something Alaska cannot afford anymore.

Restart the System with fresh blood, new leadership, for now let's look at the root problem, ineffective and M.I.A. Management. To save potentially $700,000 a year, let's look at a reboot of organizational lines, take away the General Manager and the Operational manager as well as the Engineering manager, to save expensive overhead let's change the Deputy Commissioner to one strictly that deals with AMHS.

Move parts of the KCO and MEF offices back to Juneau so there is not a duplication of services, make DOT 3 mile staff pick up the slack to remain more effective. Have a retired fleet Captain as Senior Port Captain and one retired Chief Engineer as Senior Port Engineer to run Ketchikan out of the Marine Engine Facility, a building the State owns instead of paying rent of $10,000 a month currently.

Allow the Unions to dispatch their own people and save money, we need a Summit meeting of experts in the trenches not outsiders who want to line their own pockets and Balkanizing the fleet..

We can do better, we have to, let's not keep doing the same old thing it's costing us way too much and the shelves are empty, literally.

Reshaping the AMHS sounds great but let's be honest, a group focused on tackling the problems that does not represent Alaskan communities will make another set of problems.

The current Administration tried to literally slash the tires and shut it down without any community input. The system must be made to work again with input from experts in the field, we can't afford this "self made" disfunction with again, nothing running.

Our system is a treasure and the talk of the world and a unique advantage of the State in providing service through infrastructure to all her residents and outsiders. Please keep Coastal Alaska thriving with a system that works for all users.

Yours Truly,

Percy Frisby
Executive Director
Friends of Alaska Marine Highway System (FOAMHS)
Juneau, Alaska




Editor's Note:

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

Received March 09, 2020 - Published March 09, 2020

Related News:

Governor and DOT Commissioner Address Ferry Status & Working Group Members Announced
SitNews - February 24, 2020


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