Monty Hall and City Hall
By Michael McNally
April 05, 2010
Sitnews readers of a certain age will remember a once popular
game show, called Let's Make a Deal. The classic gimmick of the
show was that contestants, having obtained a prize of moderate
value, would be offered a chance to trade their prize in, sight
unseen, for what was behind door number three. The trick was,
only the show s host, Monty Hall, knew what was behind door number
three and while it could be a valuable prize the contestants
also ran the risk of losing what they had. It was an excellent
gimmick for a game show, but it is a poor way to conduct public
On Tuesday, city voters will be asked to vote on a proposal concerning
the future of the KPU Telecommunications Division. Knowing that
I have taken an interest in the politics surrounding the public
utilities here in Ketchikan, a number of people have asked me
whether I feel a sale is a good idea. They have all been surprised
when I tell them that I don't have an opinion on the subject
because I don't have enough information - the most critical information
relevant to an informed decision on the matter has been withheld
from the public by the Ketchikan City Council and the City Manager
under the pretense that informing the public sufficiently to
allow an informed vote on the sale proposal will undermine the
city's negotiating stance.
While I cannot say whether or not I favor a sale, I do have a
number of reservations about the way the debate is being conducted
and I therefore I intend to vote "No" on Tuesday's
proposal for the following reasons and urge others to do likewise.
1) I believe the case put forth for sale by the Telecommunications
Director, City Manager, and City Council has been unbalanced
and one-sided, assuming as foregone conclusions the most pessimistic
possibilities in order to justify the sale, while simultaneously
ignoring or minimizing the benefits of continued public ownership
In short, I believe the decision was made to sell and reasons
found to justify it.
2) I believe that due to the collapse of the commercial credit
market, now is a terrible time to try to sell a major asset.
Under current economic circumstances I think both the number
of potential buyers and the potential offer amounts will be less
than if the sale goes forward at another time.
3) I think further explanation is needed concerning how the proceeds
of any sale will be used, how a sale would affect employment
in Ketchikan, and what will happen to rates at the remaining
You would never agree to sell a major asset, such as your home,
to a broker whose pitch was I have a buyer willing to buy your
home for what I assure you is a very fair price, without requiring
further information. Why would you agree to the sale of a major
public asset under essentially the same conditions?
Vote "No" on Tuesday [April 6th] and tell the Ketchikan
City Council that trust us is simply not good enough and you
want the full scoop before making any decisions about the disposition
of the phone company.
About: "Michael McNally
is a computer engineer who lives in Ketchikan. He has previously
worked for the Ketchikan Public Utilities Communications Division."
Received April 01, 2010 - Published
April 05, 2010
Why Sell? Click here For All the Answers (pdf)
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