SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Rebuttal to "A Bright Future"
By Rob Skinner


August 29, 2007

I would like to address Mellanie Isner's "A Bright Future" of August 20 in Sit News where she requests me to stop making unsupported comments. If I was making unsupported comments I would stop and apologize to all involved but I'm not. At the meeting I stated that I personally have received over 100 emails, calls and letters supporting the chambers position on the Jewelry store initiative, and many more have come straight to the Chamber office. This was true then and it hasn't changed. For more than 2 months I plead with the letter writers (both publicly at Chamber meetings and in private) to hold off on sending them in as I truly hoped for a resolution of cooperation between CKF and the Chamber and thought that this initiative would bring more harm than good to Ketchikan. I've shared several of the letters and sentiments with members of CKF privately (some with horrible implications of racism solicited at our own docks) and I along with other chamber members others were told that those sentiments and letters would be shared with the others in the group at that week's meeting. We were encouraged on several accounts that CFK was meeting and that a cooperative amendment was being worked out. What a surprise to hear that you all have never organized any official meeting nor ever met with any size group that could be considered a quorum. Many of these letters of opposition to your cause have been published in local media sources and voiced on the radio, two months in a row Ketchikan's Chamber Board has voted unanimously in opposition, several other groups have refused your request to back you, how much more substantiation do you need?

Mellanie, while I disagree with you, I really enjoyed the comments you made at the meeting on the 13th and feel you are honest about your own motives for being an initiative sponsor. I truly have no issues with you or most of the initiative sponsors personally, although there are some in your group whom have strayed far away from being honest and forthcoming. I must say though you are confused about things you report I said ­ Never did I say on my radio show that 50% of the sponsors pulled out, I personally don't even know half the sponsors. I must assume you were busy and not listening well or heard that from someone else and they used their artistic license to put words in my mouth. I have stated and will continue to point out that in fact several of the original initiative sponsors have said they wish they never got involved. One even stated at the meeting you and I attended that if they had foreseen the effects this initiative that they would have not been involved but felt they were too far down the road to turn back now. While I disagree with any assessment that says I/You can't change our mind and or actions at any time, this person was very wonderful and I have had personal contact with, and hold them in the highest regard.

In your closing comments you state you were insulted that I characterized the CKF's motives as being bigotry, hatred and racism. Again you are misleading the readers with statements I did not make. I reiterated on this week's radio show and will do so again here ­ the results coming in from this initiative have racial implications representative of comments and letters coming in a variety of mediums. I cannot and have not said any of you are racist. I'm simply the messenger that brought attention to you that letters have been written and people are feeling attacked because of their race. Did you even hear how some of the Jewelry stores owners in attendance felt? How can you all just scoff at their feelings? If you were listening to the callers this week or if you reference any one of nine or so letters to the editor in the last two weeks you would see and hear reference to racism and hatred littered throughout. I did not write these and don't know most of the people that did. You and others need to quit deflecting these misgivings back on the Chamber and me personally. One of your ringleaders knew about these letters weeks ago and again said they would be shared with your group. We all found out at the meeting you had never heard about them before. Part of my frustration comes from the initiative sponsors' blatant disregard for the results they have created. I'm with you 100% on the planning issue ­ we need some, and I'm sure that will bring some heated debate as well but I'm saying this as public as I can ­ I did not make this a race war, your initiative did. When the ACLU, local lawyers and whom knows else gets involved refer back to what I've been warning you about for 3 months and then ask yourselves ­ was it really worth it.

The community has a chance to work together for a better Ketchikan, the assembly is on board, the Chamber is as well and I will personally work with them regardless of the outcome of this vote. Speaking of which, after our meeting another of your initiative sponsors told some of us that hung around that they knew it would not go anywhere even if it won the vote. That it would be challenged and probably be defeated in court for a number of reasons, one it being unenforceable. And if the money the borough will have to spend fighting this isn't enough the assembly itself will likely reverse the call in two years time. Mellanie, if you need support that this really happened call some of the others in attendance as it's apparent I hold your word and honor in higher regard than you hold mine.

I will admit freely to this - One of my greatest strengths and to my own discredit my greatest weaknesses is my passionate way, and to anyone whom feels offend I openly apologize as the intent to hurt someone is never in my heart. I will not however back off the truth and I will carry the torch for those whom think like me but are not in a position to do so. This town has been hard on folks in private business who have spoken out. Even now there are those in the ranks boycotting my business, treating my wife poorly and casting me personally in a light that does not exist. My guess is that Peter Bolling doesn't equate any of that to hate or bigotry in any way. I'm sure he like some of the initiative sponsors, will just disregard the "fact" that the recent McDowell report that came out stated that one of the greatest problems still facing Ketchikan is "Racism". May I state clearly, the people from McDowell never asked my opinion on the matter. Peter points out that Dima and Arteaga are of a minority race, I don't care what race they are and don't know if they are racist or not, but Peter, you don't have to be white to be hateful. I will not cease being who I am for those of you so small as to resort to some of these tactics. I'm honest in my dealings and my conscious is clear. Mr. Bolling's public attacks and Mr. Arteaga's private assaults really have little affect me, it hurts my family more but they know some of this comes with the territory. I won't let anyone live rent free in my head but I would invite Peter to come out to our meetings or listen to my show so you could actually know what your talking about. To there dismay, we are having the best August ever at the dealership and the Chamber has gained 12 new members and lost one during this mess. I will continue to serve this community the very best I can so our children will have a place to be proud of when they take the reins.

By the way Peter, I have 5 more children coming through the school system. My oldest tagged you as his favorite teacher. I've been a guest speaker in Mr. Ortiz's class and he says you are one of the best teachers he has ever known. I hope we can work together in their development. Here is a promise - I'll be watching you closer than you seem to be watching me, because I do love those kids. I look forward to the day when Ketchikan stops hindering business and puts its combined energy and resources into the issues we can agree as apposed to the 5 or 10% of the things we disagree on. Remember, the only thing the Chamber asked for on this issue was to remove the attack on any particular business and the sponsors told us time and time again "It's not about Jewelry stores it's about planning"!


Rob Skinner
Ketchikan, AK

Received August 28, 2007 - Published August 29, 2007

About: President of the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce

Related Viewpoint:

letter A Bright Future By Mellanie Isner - Ketchikan, AK

letter Racism? How silly. By Peter Bolling - Ketchikan, AK

Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:

letter Webmail Your Opinion Letter to the Editor



Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.


E-mail your letters & opinions to
Your full name, city and state are required for publication.

SitNews ©2007
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska