Buttinskies, tax dollars,
bridges, and more...
By Tyrell Rettke
August 03, 2007
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
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
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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