SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



$50 Cruise Ship Tax
By Joe Johnson


September 13, 2006

My father worked in the timber industry towing an oil barge to logging camps and other cities within Southeast Alaska for 35 years. He worked his entire life to ensure my success. When the logging camps shut down he was out of work and that was hard, but at the same time he could see the times were a changin' and he supported my efforts to return to my hometown and make a living. Surviving on the very thing that would allow Ketchikan to maintain, tourism.

I returned to Ketchikan to work in the retail shops and am now in another occupation in another state with a tremendous opportunity, hoping to earn enough money to return to Ketchikan and start my own business. Hoping that I can not only open up something that will help the local tourist economy, but that can also be open year-round. The tourist economy is so important and I know that can be disappointing to some of the old timers, you are amazing people, my dad is one of you, he supports me not only because he is my father, but he has an idea of what will work, he has adapted. I cannot tell you what that took, but he realizes change is good if it allows a city to survive! At some point we need to open up our minds and allow it... it is vital! It crushes me to think of the alternative. That is my home and always will be, we need to adapt, collectively.

Believe me, if I had the money, I'd open up all the logging camps again, abiding by all the laws of replanting/replenishing etc, but I can't do that unless I am able to get up there and make some money. I'd also give the fishermen the price they deserve, but I can't do that either, unless I can get up there and make some money. If I were Warren Buffet I'd have given all my money to the loggers, fishermen and miners of Alaska, they deserve it, and I'd also make sure everything that was done was according to keeping the environment as beautiful as before, but I can't do that. I need to make the money first and accomplishing that would require serious funding. My goal was to make that money via tourism and the State of Alaska has now crushed my dreams.

Maybe I couldn't have ever done it, but gosh darn it, I was going to try and still will, I will not be deterred! Hopefully I still can, now I have another major hurdle to overcome.

I applaud Ketchikan, Skagway and all the other communities for voting this bill down. I am a Southeast Alaskan child and want so badly for it and the entire State of Alaska to thrive.

It's doubtful I'll write again but remember my intentions. I am have reformed from a logging child to a tourism child and I hope to do great things for Southeast Alaska and the entire state. Please support myself and others like me in the future, it will come back to you ten-fold.

Thank you for your time and hopefully you weren't too bored to read my entire message... I'm ready for the onslaught of replies. :)

Love your city, love your state, I do more than you can believe!

Joe Johnson
Albuquerque, NM - USA

About: Grew up in Ketchikan from age 6 months until age 13 yrs 6 months. Moved away for High School and College, graduated from Stanford University in June of 1996 and moved back to Ketchikan, due to my pure love of the city and the way of life. Worked in the tourism industry for the next 8 years, for some great people, am very sorry to see the $50 head tax pass.



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Ketchikan, Alaska