SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Open Meetings
By Michael Spence


May 03, 2007

Too bad for them. The world is run by those who attend the meetings, Saddam Hussein said at the last meeting of the Supreme Council, at which it was decided that he would be the only candidate running for office as leader of Iraq.

It's true. The world is run by those who attend the meetings. The tricky part, if you are a Ketchikan taxpayer, is perhaps to determine WHICH meetings to attend. In Alaska, legislative bodies are bound to follow the Open Meetings Act, which requires that governing bodies NOT meet and decide issues of public importance outside of publicly announced meetings where their constituents have an opportunity to either attend or be informed of their agenda.

In a small community like Ketchikan it is unavoidable maybe that some luncheons and informal gatherings will be attended by civic representatives. Those representatives might develop opinions and make decisions that should have been put into more open debate. It is up to them to have the conscience to put the issues that have long term consequence to constituents and taxpayers on the public agenda. It is after all, upon the taxpayers that the burden will ultimately fall .

This is not just a matter of law. History and science have shown that larger groups make better reasoned decisions than individuals or small cabals of like-minded people.

Prioritization of highway spending from public funds is an issue of major implications to the taxpayers and residents of Ketchikan. The decision whether to make Gravina Access a priority for highway spending should have been given to the taxpayers of the community. The only ballot ever given to Ketchikan voters on this issue was AFTER the priority had been decided.

We are several years past the time when that decision was made. Jobs were temporarily created, but Ketchikan is still shrinking. The economy is less diversified than before. The road system that residents of Ketchikan use daily is more broken than ever. And we are still paying for building roads on Gravina.

Michael Spence
Ketchikan, AK

Received May 02, 2007 - Published May 03, 2007



Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.


Send A Letter -------Read Letters

E-mail the Editor at

Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska