SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



By David G. Hanger


April 29, 2006

The trough feeders of Ketchikan are nothing if not a persistent bunch, thus perhaps none of us should be surprised at this bizarre boondoggle going on some ten miles south of town that without any voter approval whatsoever is trying to clip us for $43+ million in upfront costs plus annual overhead of $5 to $6 million a year, if not more. The editor of one of Ketchikan's news outlets has gone so far as to demand this item be returned to the current funding list, so this project can go forward promptly.

Watch out for this one. I like the way the organizers, et. al last summer emphasized how they had every intent of avoiding the bad experiences of Sitka where such a proposal was put to the voters, and intended specifically to avoid the pitfall of allowing the voters any say in this project at all. The con is in, isn't it? We are just going to have the state budget it as one of our priorities.

The great lie here is that if public funds are used to build this $43 million government carnival ride the tourists will pay for it all. I don't think the government belongs in the business of funding carnival rides in the first place, but, "build it, and they will come," we are assured by this dubious bunch, whose business track record is either limited or very mixed.

Yes, fans, for your $43 million the tourists will ride in buses ten miles and more south of town, will grovel in swirling masses through the portals of the "Aquarium of Dead Fish," there to revel in unique displays of stuffed fish and that rarest of splendors bureaucrats (purportedly working) behind glass. Three million dollars in annual bureaucrat salaries and so much more will be paid for by our trusty tourists. This wonder of the world will not only be self-supporting, it may yet be a guiding light for the world.

"Bureaucrats behind glass" is one hell of an idea. I just don't see why we have to go ten miles south to do it. The cruise ships dock downtown, so we could just glass up the bureaucrats' offices down there, set up booths on the sidewalk, and start collecting money from all the tourists walking by. "What are we paying for?" "For viewing bureaucrats behind glass, silly." "Oh." Should work.

With high fuel costs and such it just seems so wasteful to drive all that distance out of town to view through a window a bunch of folks not doing very much. If we glass in the bureaucrats downtown, it will be so much easier and so much more expedient for locals also to see this bunch of folks not doing very much. I'm sure we can make room for a few stuffed fish.

So if we are going to squander money ridiculously, let's do it at least efficiently. Glassing in our downtown bureaucracy is surely less expensive than $43 million; it will save incredibly on fuel costs, equipment costs, and road maintenance costs; and it will have the added bonus of allowing equal access to locals who may, of course, in time develop something of a different attitude toward a bunch of folks not doing very much. Surely this isn't the reason they want to park it so far out of town? "Bureaucrats behind glass" has the potential to be a world-class carnival ride, and locals should demand equal access. The benefits of squandered public funds should at the very least be equality in the squandering, nor should we tolerate inefficiency in the squandering of these dollars. Government funds should be squandered efficiently, and wasting all that gas is not efficient.

Once again, Len Laurence lends his name to a brilliant idea, but the name of the game with carnival rides is location, location, location. Oh, and they are normally intended to make money, not squander it. "Bureaucrats behind glass" should be downtown, and nowhere else. Remember the words of the great Tsao Tsu, "Whether to laugh or to cry is a subject for a later time." Stay tuned.

David G. Hanger
Ketchikan, AK - USA

About: David G. Hanger is a long time resident and business owner in Ketchikan.


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