SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Facts, not opinions
By Joel Galli


April 08, 2007

The time has come to drop all pretenses. An issue has arisen in our community that has caused a large rift. I speak of course of the recent release of Superintendent Martin by the Ketchikan school board and the public response. The issue has grown much larger now due to opinionated persons allowing their own beliefs to skew facts.

One such fact is undeniable: the school board has yet to show any cause for the firing of Supt. Martin. Under normal circumstances, it would be in poor taste to outline a person's shortcomings in front of a public body. Circumstances during the recent school board meeting were not normal, however, due to timing. Had the board made the decision they made nine weeks later, after the end of the school year, things would have been much different. Since the board found it necessary, and apparently imperative to remove Supt. Martin from his position so suddenly, the community has every right to know the cause of such and abrupt action. Neither I, or any of my laymen associates have been given any explanation as to the reasons for Martin's firing. If there is cause, show us! If there are legitimate concerns about his job performance, tell us!

Another undeniable fact: most in the community (myself included) were not present at the key events on which this firestorm is based (most notably the school board meeting during which Martin was fired and the Chamber of Commerce luncheon where School Board President Dave Lieben was a guest).

We only know what we have been told by the media and those present at the aforementioned events. I'd like to comment on a response to the happenings at this week's Chamber lunch. Mr. Peter Bolling (once my American Government teacher and a man for whom I have a great deal of respect) stated in a recent opinion that Chamber member Rodger Stone's comments were "entirely uncivil and unprofessional, and they merit an immediate apology." I would also encourage everyone to read the April 5 article in the Daily News on this meeting because it quotes Mr. Stone as saying that a recall is '"an expensive proposition for the borough to go through"' and that if the board members involved '"were really truly financially responsible, you would submit your resignations right now and save the borough that money for the recall election."' The article continues, "applause followed his comments." Mr. Stone was obviously appealing to Mr. Lieben in terms of cost and budget because that was the entire message of his visit. Mr. Stone was in fact offering a solution to multiplying budget issues both present (paying Martin's salary and another Supt. simultaneously) and future (an expensive recall). According to the article, there was enormous consensus in the room if "applause followed his comments."

I must disagree with Mr. Bolling in stating that Chamber President Robert Skinner's comments on Chamber representation are "patently ridiculous." I have been to one chamber meeting thus far and have come to this conclusion: these people are our community. These people are not members of some secret society or "big boy's club." They are extremely diverse in their interests, job functions, political stances, and opinions. I know this because I know these people both personally and professionally. I must say that there is no body I know in Ketchikan that better represents this community's constituents than the chamber. This wide range alone supports Mr. Skinner's comments. If Mr. Bolling is concerned that the range of opinion is not enough, let him join the chamber and voice his!

To change directions, perhaps a recall is necessary to clear things up. If our school board fails to provide reasons for removing Mr. Martin, the public has no choice but to believe there is no legitimate reason. If the board fails to tell the public why they did so nine weeks before the end of school, the public has no choice but to believe that they are hiding something. If they cannot defend their positions to their constituents, their constituents cannot defend them. And if the public does believe that the school board needs "a different direction in leadership," they will do so with the abruptness and publicity they deserve.

Summed up, welcome to politics. We all have a right to our opinions, but none of us can be wrong. I can only hope that through all of this, we remember, not the majority opinions, but the facts.

Joel Galli,
Ketchikan, AK

Received April 08, 2007 - Published April 08, 2007


Related News:

Chamber questions Lieben By EMILIE REAUME - The topic Ketchikan School Board President Dave Lieben was scheduled to speak to the Chamber of Commerce Wednesday afternoon about was the Ketchikan School District's program-based budget. But that wasn't all he talked about. - Read this Ketchikan Daily News story (Subscription required)...


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Ketchikan, Alaska