SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Buttinskies, tax dollars, bridges, and more...
By Tyrell Rettke


August 03, 2007
Friday AM

After reading several letters from some folks from down south in the "real" world I finally felt compelled to write here and interject my opinion, as well as point out some facts.

The first thing I'd like to discuss is the "buttinskies" as they have been called. I don't particularly like this pseudo word, especially because it sounds like some poor fellows last name, but more so because it has such a negative connotation. I think that outside opinions are healthy to any discussion, even if they are invalid because of lack of understanding. They give an opportunity to inform people who are passionate enough to comment (publicly in this case) on a subject, as well as those who might not have otherwise realized the true nature of the beast at hand. In this case it seems that a gal (Patti Brady) from Missouri, and probably others who have not posted here, have a few misconceptions about Alaska, Alaskans, and Ketchikan in particular. Those seem to be:

1- That Alaska is trying to get bridges and projects that it is not entitled to.

2- That Ketchikan and its citizens are tourist trap setting money grubbers intent to ilk every last dime from your pocket.

3- That someone from a few thousand miles away can determine if a bridge to Gravina Island (Please, can we grow up a tad bit, everywhere is somewhere) or anywhere else in Alaska is needed, or not needed.

4- That reading one source of information about a community and yelling on the internet will make you heard and correct.

1: Most people see the price tag for these bridges that Alaska was approved for and gawk and throw fits because the figures are seemingly huge. They don't stop to consider a few things. For starters, Alaska has only been a state since 1959. That's less than 50 years! Missouri, by contrast, was added to the union in 1822, 185 years! This means that most other states (Hawaii the exception) have had much more time to collect these funds and have their infrastructure built, mostly at federal taxpayers dollars as well, than we have. Some will say that "Alaska should wait, just like the other states had to", but this is quite hypocritical because these same people will gripe about the cost of fuel, lumber, copper, iron, precious metals, fish, and ever other resource that Alaska has, and can not hope to economically harvest, without said infrastructure. Not only that, they will want said resources now, as the entire western civilization has become an instant gratification nation. Basically, if you want the resources that this state has, we need ways to get it to you. This includes bridges, roads, airports, harbors, and many amenities that residents need. (No people, no workers, no goods)

2: Some people read about the head tax that was passed this last fall, and see articles and letters about jewelry stores and bans there of and think that these are representative of the entire population. For information purposes, the Head Tax failed in SE Alaska, the area that receives the bulk of the cruise line passengers, but we are a minority in the state population, and the large populations (relative to us) in the interior of the state where able to outweigh us and get the initiative passed. So please do not put the blame for that item on those of us in SE Alaska. Also regarding the jewelry stores, they are not locals, for the most part. They nearly all leave the town, along with their sales people, at the end of the season. It is unfair to compare the few local shops and tours that are owned by people who do stick it out and stay the year here with those who pack up and leave. There are many accusations to be flung around, from illegal to immoral, but it is not representative of our town, I assure you. We, as a population, are generally hard working, level headed people. We pay taxes, phone bills, mortgages just like you, and we don't expect anyone to hand us anything. In fact, our town more than most can claim this, due to our long heritage of logging and fishing, jobs that are thankless difficult and require a different kind of mindset to push through the endless toil and get the job done. Those that are (Or rather were, for the most part) are generally not the type to ask for anything that they didn't earn. So please, before you judge a group of people, try at the very least meeting some of them.

3. I don't pretend to know the needs of a place that I have never visited. If I was to formulate a hypothesis on such a thing, I wouldn't base it off of information provided solely by any group with an agenda for or against such a project. I am not going to say here whether or not a bridge to Gravina is needed or not needed. The point is this: You are entitled to your opinion, yes. (You are a tax payer, just like me, I might add) But your opinion is, as Don Hoff so eloquently adds to the end of each of his letters, just that. Your Opinion. It is not fact, law, rule, or in anyway binding. This is for everyone to realize, not so much those posting theirs'. There is no need to attack someone's opinion. And even if there were, attacking with calm calculated and factual statements will always be more effective than quick (and sometimes dim) witted remarks, or attacks on a personal level. And, as stated before, seeing someone's opinion in writing, especially on a forum such as SitNews, gives those who are more informed on a subject a perfect opportunity to impart more knowledge in someone who is a "foe", if you will, and possibly enlighten them into an "ally".

4: I would like to end with a wee bit of internet etiquette. For those who may be new to "speech" on the internet, When we use proper capitalization and punctuation, it is inferring a calm speaking voice, with italic script being used for putting the intended emphasis on words or lines (Including sarcasm, which I would Never resort to using.) Capital letters can also be used for adding emphasis in a sentence, but more often than not, it should be used to emphasize a rising in the voice. (Remember please that type and text is for all practical purposes the same as speaking aloud.) Putting an entire sentence in Capital letters is equivalent to yelling. So, when you put an entire letter in capital letters, effectively you're shouting your opinion. This is also referred to as ranting. If you can imagine someone coming up to you and yelling at you about, oh let's say abortion, since I haven't seen a letter on that here before, how likely are you to even register what their opinion on the matter is? Not very. This is the same on the internet. It is tacky and appears unintelligible. It is childish and quite annoying. Most people who read online for any amount of time tend to automatically block such things out and move on to the next item.

In closing, I would like to refer to the comment that the letter writer would not be coming to Ketchikan because of the various letters and comments she had read. I am quite sorry to hear this, as reading one source and basing an entire belief off of it is never a wise thing, and in this case I think it is a great disservice to that person because the letters they are basing that opinion on are not necessarily representative of the whole. Remember that the squeaky wheel gets the oil. People are much more willing and bold when they are upset than when they are complacently happy. It also makes me sad because it reminds me of how dependant we have become as a community on the tourism industry. This one person was probably a hundred, or a few hundred dollars that could have been in the pocket of a local business person. It reminds me of how, ten years ago now, people who didn't know the place, the people, or the way things really were, squeaked their wheels and managed to put an end to a centuries old industry. It also reminds me of the dangers that are facing and now starting to upend the remaining heritage industries we have left in this state (fishing and mining).

Thanks for playing along, and remember, this is my opinion only, and should be taken as such, as well as with at least one grain of salt.

Tyrell Rettke
Ketchikan, AK

Received August 03, 2007 - Published August 03, 2007

About: "Local for 17 years, Tax payer, concerned citizen, and a ninja pirate."


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