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By David Hanger


July 28, 2005

Not even the mafia busts the kneecaps of people they want to borrow money from; but the tourist industry does.  Let's see, was yesterday's announcement of significant cutbacks in Ketchikan landings next year, thereby reducing projected local tourist revenues going into next season by at least $13.8 million, intended to be just a close-in bow shot to get our attention, or were you amusing yourselves by beating the crap out of us with a baseball bat? 

You want our money, so you threaten us, bully us, and intimidate us; then you expect us to dully get off the mat and give you what you want.  You assure us we locals won't be paying a dime (so why are we voting on this?) to provide you with $70 million of infrastructure, so you can make money; but before we even blink you pull back $13.8 million from us.  How can we believe you?  How can we begin to trust you? 

I don't.  You might have gotten my support, but you did not ask for it.  You did not even demand it.  You beat me and the whole damned town down to its knees, then said, "give me what I want or else."  And before we even groveled low enough to kiss your big toe, you started taking it away from us. 

Our elections are normally held the first week of October, but no, we rig this election by scheduling for August 17 to assure that every non-resident tourist merchant can register to vote and vote while still in town.  We don't want to inconvenience them by insisting they hang around an extra two or three weeks after the end of their season, just so they can vote for a $70 million present to themselves.

This whole thing has become a bullying rush of intimidation.  Rather than seeking in the first instance to gain public approval by demonstrating the benefit of the project, the tourist industry instead chooses to threaten us and deprive us of revenue before the fact.  The one message they clearly convey is that they can cut off the money spigot any time they want to, and they have demonstrated an unbelievably reckless inclination to do precisely that just to get their petulant little way. 

Nor can our city government be trusted in this instance in any way.  Our local government has long since become a tourist concession, and it thinks like a tourist concession.  Its concern is with the tourist industry, not with the city of Ketchikan or its citizens.  So when Weinstein assures us this won't cost any local a dime, we simply cannot believe him.  He is not in charge; he is the manager of a tourist concession.  And the industry can whimsically take all its goodies away any time it wants to; Weinstein is not for a moment in charge of any of that. 

So return the contempt the tourist industry has shown our local electorate.  Vote NO on this bond issue.  They don't deserve it; they are simply not nice enough.  Return their crudity to them in an unpalatable form.  Let them understand that the citizens of this community will not be intimidated by strong arm tactics and bullying. 

Voting NO is appropriate also because our local government is jamming this, trying to shove it down our throat because of perceived timing issues.  What I see is $250,000 worth of finger docks in this picture in the Daily News.  Who is planning on pocketing the rest of the $70 million this time?   This project needs more time anyway.  The citizens of this community have the right to examine this particular boondoggle calmly and thoroughly. 

No matter whether you support the tourist industry and the new dock concept or not, the only appropriate vote on this bond issue at this time is NO.  Beating the crap out of the very people you want money from is not a tactic that should be tolerated by anyone.  Tolerate it in the first instance, and that is all you are ever going to get from these people.   Send them home with a very strong message.  Roll some heads down range to prove you get it, and then return with a more appropriate attitude and tell us what you need; but we also need assurance that you are not gaily going to trip the light fantastic somewhere else the minute we do.

Your children and your grandchildren will be paying for this, so don't be impulsive.

David Hanger
Ketchikan, AK - USA


Related News:


audioKetchikan: Listen to this KRBD story... After years of debate, City of Ketchikan residents will have their say next month on the City's proposed $70 million Port Expansion Project. As Deanna Garrison reports, City and Ketchikan Visitors Bureau officials looked to drum up support for the bond initiative at a Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday.
KRBD - Ketchikan Public Radio - Wednesday - July 27, 2005


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