SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


By Gregory Vickrey


April 14, 2007

My Grandfather, may he rest in peace, worked very hard to teach me a couple of lessons in life that were of particular importance to him. Papaw, as I called him, wish to instill in me a faith in God and a faith in People. Interestingly, he was associate minister of the People's Church of God in Central Illinois for a number of years, so those two lessons fit particularly well with his place in life.

I have subsequently tried and failed and tried again to carry those virtues of faith forward in my own life - knowing full well that I am not perfect but could strive for perfection, and knowing that today is another day for learning and growth. I believe that such an opportunity exists for all of us individually and collectively - and manifests itself in the decisions we make individually and collectively. And that brings me to the points I would like to raise today, regarding the collective nature and behavior of our community governments, how we choose to interact with them, and what today (and tomorrow) may bring.

1. I wonder if Citizens for Better Representation (CBR) intends to look closely at the goings-on with City and Borough Governments.

In particular, I wonder if they noticed the major financial oversight on the part of the Borough with regards to interests payments due from Renaissance Ketchikan Group? Further, does the group intend to look into the matter of the Ward Cove deal and speculate on the demonstrative trends being displayed both by the Borough and the purchaser? I have stated for nearly two years that this is a shady deal with a developer without many credentials in an area (Ward Cove) that is vital for Ketchikan's economic diversification and redevelopment plans.

And what about all the other levels and sorts of mistakes that represent trends with this body, rather than random occurrences? Will Citizens for Better Representation be looking into these? Here are a suggested few items of interest:

a. How long will the Borough wait to prioritize support for the Southern Gateway Shuttle, a dedicated ferry for cargo and passenger service to the expanding port at Prince Rupert? There are measureable economic benefits available to our community via this Shuttle, and yet when I lobbied on its behalf last year, our own representatives mentioned that the Borough had said little to nothing in support. Was that because of lack of knowledge? Or was this simply another critical "oversight"? How many years must we fall behind before we realize the potential in this project?

b. What about the unethical threats made to the School Board by Borough Assembly members to pull funding from our kids should the Board decide to remove Harry Martin, as they eventually did? I understand that a main motive for CBR is the removal of some of the School Board members, but does that motive justify ignoring the unethical (and perhaps illegal) threats should they come to fruition?

c. Is it important for CBR to search out solutions for the lack of infrastructural improvement and redevelopment on the home island of Revilla? Lots of us are fed up with having to drive on poorly maintained and poorly funded roads - especially the State and Federally funded Tongass Highway - while the Borough chases down dreams of a Bridge to Nowhere as well as Roads to Nowhere (the Gravina Access Highway, etc.) stretching from the airport to Frank Murkowski's property and to an access point for a Bridge that won't be funded for a long time, if ever. Will CBR join with all of us who are fed up and ask the Borough to change it's priorities to reflect the wishes of this community by asking for funds dedicated to real maintenance and improvements for Tongass Avenue and other areas of Revilla BEFORE speculating on Gravina? Can CBR ask the Borough and City to also take seriously development and redevelopment needs on Revilla?

d. Will CBR look closely at the dealings between the City, the developers of Berth IV, and the Army Corps of Engineers? Will they look to determine if there was any collusion on the part of the City Government and the developers? Will they try to determine what sort of nastiness went on behind the scenes in order to get Berth IV permitted? Will they take into consideration the concerns of Berth IV neighbors - concerns haughtily brushed aside by the developer and the City?

Seems to me an organization calling itself Citizens for Better Representation would be well suited to work on these types of things.

And since I have faith that Better Representation is a priority for this community, I also have faith that an entity calling itself the Citizens for Better Representation will actually serve the purpose of its name.

2. Will Citizens for Better Representation (CBR) be looking into the affairs and decisions of our representatives in State Government? Will they ascertain the influences of campaign donations as our representatives introduce bills, such as the one altering the Cruise Ship Ballot Initiative voted into law by the citizens of this great state, or the legislation that alters tobacco laws? Will CBR provide a check and balance to the system so that Citizens are driving the agendas of our representatives, rather than dollars?

With a name like that, I have faith you will.

3. Will Citizens for Better Representation be collectively supporting candidates in the local elections this October? If so, I ask for your support as I once again run for Borough Assembly. I aim to provide better representation for the entire community encompassed by the Borough. I am a citizen LOOKING for better representation, especially at the Borough level - representation that looks to serve our collective needs on this side of the Tongass Narrows first; representation that won't chase the motives of funded influence; representation that will protect the cultural and traditional values in our Borough; representation that will fulfill the promise of funding for our kids; representation that understands principles of sound economic development and diversification; representation that won't allow for the kinds of mistake-laden trends our Borough is infamous for; and representation that strives to understand and serve the needs of the entire community, young and old, with !
a passion and a sense of duty.

I have faith that you would endorse such a candidate, given your name.

My faith in People allows me to speak frankly on such topics, and I look forward to any feedback the CBR or anyone else wishes to provide.

Gregory Vickrey
Ketchikan, AK

Received April 13, 2007 - Published April 14, 2007



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