SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



By David G. Hanger


August 06, 2006

Sam Bergeron asked me to write a piece about consolidation, probably not the best of ideas if Sam is a supporter, because I do not support this pathetic and puny effort at consolidation, and I urge everyone, accordingly, to vote 'NO'.  There is no logic whatsoever in replacing two managerial dictatorships with one.  I despise dictatorship in any form, and the council-manager form of government is intentionally designed to be a managerial dictatorship from which all political influences have been removed.  That is the intent of the form of government.  Without even comprehending that there is a history to this form of government, this consolidation review committee decided that at-large elections (read high school popularity contests) would be the method of election under consolidation.  Without election by district or precinct there is no representative democracy.

To replace two managerial dictatorships with one is not progress.  It simply allows one small group of jerks to take over everything, and, yes, it is better to have two small groups of jerks trying to run everything because they stumble all over each other all the time and make total asses of themselves in the process.  It is easier to get rid of them when they are such obvious clowns. 

The council-manager form of government is the real problem, and sooner or later people need to address that fact.  Created in 1893 as the foundational form of government endorsed by the National Municipal League, which was created for the specific and exclusive purpose of promoting the council-manager form of government, and of which the Alaska Municipal League is the state adjunct of this national body, from the very moment of its "birthing pangs" the council-manager form of government was designed to promote the "middle class ethos" and destroy the "ethnic ethos" extant in local politics.  Two Harvard professors, Banfield & Wilson, who for decades offered fervent endorsements of the council-manager form of government through their research endeavors, insured their place in hell by insisting that the "middle class ethos" was good, the "ethnic ethos" bad.  And, yes, people, it is as racist as it sounds.  All that middle class white bread ensconced as members of the local chambers of commerce will purge politics from the local political system and replace it with the "middle class ethos" of lining the pockets of white businessmen instead of lining the pockets of ethnic political hacks. 

There is a lot of Indian blood in Ketchikan, but have you ever noticed much Indian blood involved in City and Borough politics?  Oh, there's a little, here and there, but I think if you studied who occupied those positions since 1960 you will find it is at least 90% white bread.  So historically, the council-manager form of government has achieved its purpose in Ketchikan; it has kept that "ethnic ethos" out of local politics; indeed insured that for generations very few ethnics of any kind have even considered locally such leadership opportunities.  That is the specified intent of the council-manager form of government, and it has worked very well here in Ketchikan.

To insure the perpetuity of the "middle class ethos" the council-manager form of government purges the political system of all cue-giving agencies (i.e. political parties) except the one it has created to sustain the system, the chambers of commerce; and by compelling at-large elections in which all elected council members are chosen by the entire community, thereby eliminating any possibility of representative government for all ethnic enclaves of whatever sort.  Local government is thereby lily-white, the results are lily-white, and there is absolute consternation when there is any kind of challenge whatsoever to their lily-whiteness.  There is no possibility of corruption in a council-manager form of government; it is designed to hide and to institutionalize corruption, so that corruption is just business as usual.  Rather than letting failed businesses fail, thus permitting more competent business people to emerge, the local council-manager form of government with its annual wish list sustains the needs of the losers in the chamber of commerce who have never made a buck that the government did not give them. 

Our managerial dictators are presently so out of control that one of them is using the annual wish list as a family slush fund and the other one is using local government to systematically destroy private enterprise in Ketchikan.  Like most dictators he starts with communications facilities.  Now in league with Bob Weinstein and the Nob Hill Snob bunch, he's gunning to take complete government control of the only private sector industry of any consequence that is left locally.  Remember, "Government can do it better." 

The council-manager form of government is the predominant form of government in small communities west of the Mississippi River.  It is not as popular in the east.  Only a small handful of major cities operate using the council-manager form of government.  In 1972 there were only three:  Cincinnati, San Antonio, Texas, and Austin, Texas.  At the age of 22 in 1972 I completed what became the minority report on methods of election to the Charter Revision Committee of San Antonio, Texas.  That report detailed how the council-manager form of government had been used to systematically disenfranchise all ethnic voters in the city, thereby insuring a 22-year run of white bread in a community that at the time was 58% Mexican-American, 10% black, and almost 5% Oriental.  Using my report and other materials in 1975 the Federal courts compelled election by district on San Antonio, Texas, replacing the at-large system used to systematically disenfranchise the majority of voters, and Lila Cockrell was the last white bread mayor of the Good Government League which had run San Antonio into the ground for its own purposes over a period of three decades.  Now they fight like cats and dogs over scraps; there is an active press that exposes political scandal; and local democracy is rich, vibrant, and corrupt.  Henry Cisneros was the first Mexican-American mayor of a large American city, and that occurred because politics was reinstated into the political process by removing the excesses of the council-manager form of government that were in fact intended to eliminate politics from the political process.  Democracy does not function without corruption; the council-manager form of government denies reality and is inherently corrupt therefore.  Henry Cisneros was not the world's greatest mayor; his career has been very mixed because of money-grubbing (He's never worked a day in his life.) and skirt-chasing.  But those who came after him, while not as notorious, have demonstrated clearly the vibrancy and the efficiency of representative democracy.

How might representative democracy work in Ketchikan?  Let's say there's two south end council members, two north end council members, and three from various parts of the city.   Well, on the south end let's say we need a new highway.  In other parts of the community there are other needs that are clearly perceived.  Now there has got to be some horse trading back and forth to get items on that annual wish list.  If the south end reps want that highway at the top of the list, they need to deal a bit to get cooperation from some of the others.  It will be very difficult in such a system for a Borough manager's family slush fund in the amount of $750,000 to be the number three item on an annual wish list.  It will be much more difficult for the Nob Hill Snob bunch to clip us for $42 million by going offline with the local government.  There should be at least a few council members who would question such a distribution because their constituency is demanding action on some other project, inherent checks and balances. 

The incompetence of both of our local council-manager governments should be blatantly clear to everyone at this point in time.  All the elected officials are a bunch of ostriches, hiding their heads in the sand.  All this crap with Schoenbar and everything else has nothing to do with them; it is someone else's fault; they are just an elected official.  They are not responsible.  The managers that are responsible (under this BS scenario) are insulated to the point that taking responsibility for their actions is the least of their concerns.  They just don't have to be responsible.  So we burn $800,000 on an out-of-state and improperly licensed contractor; we give this McGraw clown two bites of the apple, and the local kids don't even have a place to go to school as consequence.  In the meantime the City Council laments the local 'cancer' water problem but endorses and gives Bob Weinstein and the Nob Hill Snob bunch $42 million to "capture the revenue stream" of the tourist industry and put all those ethnic jewelers out of business. 

Vote 'NO' on consolidation, and fire all incumbents at the local, regional, and the state level.  There is not one of them that is worth a damned, but that's a subject for another article. 


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Ketchikan, Alaska