SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


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 policy.

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 utilities.

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.

Michael McNally
Ketchikan, AK

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



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