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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

A letter to the Ketchikan community

By Rodney Dial


June 30, 2022

Friends, it’s been a while since I wrote a letter to the community. In light of recent events now seems like the right time. As many of you are aware, two issues, one involving the Borough and the other the City have preoccupied public discourse over the last two months. Specifically for the Borough, grant funding for the Ketchikan Pride Alliance (KPA) and for the City, the Drag Queen event at the Library.

Generally at this point in a discussion regarding a topic like this most feel compelled to add the standard disclaimer “I have nothing against _X_ group ”. However, as I have never written or said anything in my life against the group I am about to discuss, I see no reason to disprove a negative, or justify my right of free speech.

The Borough issue was/is as simple as this… should the Borough fund the Ketchikan Pride Alliance. That was all this issue was about. It had nothing to do with:

• Should KPA exist
• Does KPA contribute to the community

KPA has existed for years and no one (including me) has suggested that KPA and its members do not have the Constitutional right to exist and engage in lawful activities in Ketchikan. KPA has existed for years without governmental support and would have continued to exist without Borough support.

In my opinion there were several issues concerning the funding of this group; or any advocacy group for that matter. Historically, the Borough has focused grants for…ever…on groups with a primary focus on service to others. Services, that if not provided by the private sector (non profits), would need to be provided by Government, likely at a much higher cost.

Our non-profits take care of our homeless, our seniors, our disabled, our youth, etc. We have avoided, until now, providing grants to groups with a focus on themselves. Regarding KPA, everything from their grant application to their mission statement states that their focus is “primarily” towards their members. During the debate on this issue some tried to compare KPA to a group that serves the disabled. Personally I found this argument ridiculous, as anyone of us can become disabled in a moment, and will all likely become disabled if we live long enough.

Regardless, as we worked thorough this funding concern the issue devolved into an argument regarding the right of KPA to exist and the value of their actions in the community. Many, genuine and heartfelt citizens believed KPA was deserving of governmental funding and they expressed those concerns in a respectful manner. I appreciated and welcomed their comments.

The emotion of the debate shadowed what I believe will be proven to be the unintended consequences of the decision to fund this group. It’s important that the public understand that in the current grant process, once a grant is awarded it almost guarantees future funding for the grantee and in many cases increased funding.
I warned that we were opening a “Pandora’s Box” by deviating from the historical practice of the Borough and that future grant cycles would become a partisan circus, where competing advocacy groups would argue for funds. That we would cause division where none previously existed.

At this point it’s worth noting a few things: First, community grant needs already greatly exceed our ability to fund them. We have an exploding homeless population, a growing substance abuse/overdose problem, seniors who are being priced out of our community due to inflation and many other critical concerns. Funding advocacy groups of any kind diverts limited resources and limits our ability to address our most basic needs.

In the case of the KPA grant, they were requesting borough funds in part to host three events/parties and for assistance in the maintenance of their website. There was a time in our past when the public would have been livid if their tax money was being used for this purpose.

Regarding my argument that funding the KPA grant would cause division in the community… respectfully, that was clearly proven over the last two months. To my concern that we were opening Pandora’s Box with the grant process, we are already seeing evidence of that as well. Approximately two weeks into this debate the Assembly received a letter from a past Chairman of a local Right to Life Group commenting on how he would like to see funding to educate the community on how abortion ends an innocent life. I expect to see a number of “Fund me, but not Thee” arguments in the future.

You would also be surprised of the number of community conversations this has generated from those saying “I didn’t know we funded things like that?” and “Groups can apply for funding for food, events?”. My response… “Apparently so”.

In my presentation to the Assembly as to why I opposed this action, I literally showed photographs from KPA’s website, containing images many would view as pornographic or at the very least offensive. I played audio files, obtained from a local radio show, where the directors of KPA discussed placing their magazine called “Loud and Queer” which contains these images and more, into our local schools and library. I showed proof that the members of this group were involved in past protests, calls for boycotts of local businesses, were possibly violating their 501c3 non profit status, had plans to segregate merchants with pride decals, even played an audio file in which a discussion between a KPA board member and a radio host stated, that the job of Queer Culture was to be constantly pushing boundaries.

In the end the Assembly voted to approve this grant and local media censored all mention of my presentation even though I literally took the information directly off of KPAs website. We can legitimately say that on 6/6/2022, the taxpayers of the borough began funding the distribution of material in our community and schools that many would find objectionable.

As I said to an individual after the meeting, I could have shown a video of KPA drowning puppies in the Narrows and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Minds had been set in stone.

It is worth noting that I never brought religion into the conversation…not even once. There just wasn’t a need in my opinion. Had I shown the same concerns with any other group I can’t imagine a scenario in which they would have been funded. But this group and this topic nationwide is sacrosanct. I do know there was discrimination in the past regarding LGBTQ individuals and I certainly do not support discrimination against anyone. However, if you are honest about this, the hate and discrimination flow has changed directions in recent years.

I received many calls, emails, texts, etc. from citizens saying that they appreciated my efforts but that they couldn’t comment publicly because of (job, friends, family, business). Many were worried about the social shaming and on-line bullying they were witnessing on Facebook and other platforms against anyone who expressed an opposing counter culture opinion.

The last few months have been a difficult time for me and my family. The hate and vitriol directed at me for having a politically incorrect opinion has caused division in my family. I had a friend show me a facebook thread where locals were calling me all sorts of names including references to my wife being raped. KPA jumped on the bandwagon with a fundraising effort accusing me of hate.

I have never expressed hate towards them, and even offered a “Peace Proclamation” to the community in an effort for us to all get along; it really doesn’t seem to matter though as I committed the ultimate offense of disagreeing with them. Regardless, I do not hold any ill will against KPA or its members. Honestly, its not the people causing this division… it’s the Government.

Had the Government maintained its neutrality and just kept with the practice of not funding any advocacy groups…on either side…two months of division would have been avoided. KPA would still exist…just as they have for years…just without governmental support. All the benefits supporters claim this organization provides would still be there. Ultimately, government caused this division…period.

The City, not wanting to be outdone by the Borough caused their own division regarding the Drag Queen event at the Library. What many fail to realize is that the library issue for most wasn’t about “if” it was legal, or “if ” it could be held in our community. There have been Drag Shows in Ketchikan before and people understand the concept of constitutional rights. The main issue was about the Government sponsoring, promoting, and encouraging with a financial incentive.

The Library director could have had the event at the library without promoting it. Any citizen or group can make a request with the library to use the meeting room to hold…just about any meeting they want to. Had that been done, at least people would not have felt as if they were being forced to support this with their tax dollars and a level of fairness would have been communicated; as anyone can use the meeting room. However, now unless the director also sponsors causes on the other end of the political spectrum, they have introduced division into something that was not previously divisive.

The City could have allowed the same event, at the same place, with a small change and eliminated significant division in the community. Many still would not have been happy about it, but it diminishes the argument that the public library is becoming the political library. That one voice is less favored than the other.

As a result of the Library Director (figuratively) sticking her finger in the eye of half of the community we now have a group of citizens seeking to defund the library with a citizen’s initiative. I need to be clear, I am not involved in this initiative in any way, however, a few weeks ago I offered a solution to the City that may satisfy the concerns of many while still allowing the Director the flexibility to manage as she sees fit. Essentially, a way to show that her often stated words of equality to all are genuine and a way to bring fairness back into the equation. I will wait on the Cities response before I go into this idea in greater detail.

Once again, the City issue, like the Borough’s, is Government created division. The public did not start this. Government is creating division, were none previously existed and seemingly without concern transforming Ketchikan. Does it feel like we have more or less love after the last two months? We are placing our community on the same path as others, like Seattle, Portland, LA, Anchorage, etc. who have all been exactly where we are at this moment. The next phase in our march to become Seattle, will be the election of activists who will spend increasing amounts of time on social issues and less on the basics of essential government.

If it feels like these disagreements have exploded in the last year, you would not be wrong in that observation. The hyper-focus of social engineering efforts from DC has “rolled downhill” into nearly every community in this country. Personally, I believe it’s designed, at least in part, as a distraction to keep us occupied with the “cause of the moment”, to keep us quarrelling amongst ourselves, while Rome burns in the background.

Pay no attention to runaway inflation…the pending world food crisis…the upcoming pandemic (yes, it’s coming back), I would say Russia as well, but that is old news now. If we are distracted and divided against each other, we can not be united against the government. I do not express that comment in an offensive or disruptive way, but in a united way of peaceful determination to maintain what we love about our country. This is the calm before the storm friends and more are waking up to that reality by the day.

A bit of good news: I had a chance to push a proposal with the Governor recently that I and a fellow City elected have been working on. An emergency food supply for the Borough and Metlakatla. We have identified a storage location and plan to rotate food as it expires into community causes, such as the homeless populations and our seniors. Latest word is the Governor backs the plan and intends to make it happen (at no cost to us). Hopefully we can pull this off before the need.

I encourage all citizens to put aside the social issues of the moment and focus on preparing for this fall. Gas/Heating oil could easily be in the $7 or more range by the time it starts getting cold. Many will likely turn to electric heat in an effort to save money. If enough do this and our water levels are not sufficient to maintain the increased electrical load, diesel generators will be utilized. As you are well aware, this would result in a diesel surcharge, likely higher than you have ever seen.

The USFS allows personal use firewood harvesting (call them for the details). Consider a trip out on Revilla road to collect firewood if you have a wood stove, and prepare. Also consider putting away a few staples now such as rice and canned foods while the cost is lower.

We need to put aside our differences and focus on preparing to deal with the likely challenges this fall. History repeats itself with near absolute certainty. After the Spanish flu nearly 100 years ago, the next major event in our country was the Great Depression. The “everything bubble” will burst at some point… it has to. This is a town of doers, and I have no doubt that we will come together in times of need. But we must not allow ourselves to be distracted and divided.

In closing, it’s been an honor to serve this community for the last three years as Borough Mayor and through COVID round one. I will be running for reelection this fall, but apparently I have upset a number of people so who knows how that plays out. Until then, I will continue to do my best to serve the interests of all citizens and hope we can continue to show that Ketchikan love towards each other.

Take care

Rodney Dial
Ketchikan, Alaska

The comments in this letter are my own personal opinions and do not reflect any other person, group or entity.



Editor's Note:

The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.

Opinions expressed are solely those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Sitnews.

Received June 30 , 2022 - Published June 24, 2022

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