By Eric Muench
October 30, 2006
Many commentors have shown how Ketchikan Gateway Borough consolidation will cost rather than save us money, how the only positions to be eliminated will be elected representatives of the people, how the public will lose the right to vote on new taxes, and how consolidation benefits only the State administration in Juneau and special interests in Ketchikan.
But there are even more important reasons to reject consolidation. It is bad for Alaska and for any free society that values self government and local self determination. Consolidated government is central government. Under it no area of the borough - not the city or Meyers Chuck or even remote Hyder - could ever again form or keep a local government to determine its own policies. And the charter's promise of service areas is a sham.
The old Soviet Union had a central government and it had Provincial and Autonomous Republic governments. But if these pretenders at local governance dared to displease Moscow their mayors and governors would be fired and replaced by more compliant stooges. That is exactly how a consolidated central government would handle service area board members. Under consolidation they would all be appointed and replaced at will by central consolidated government rulers, not the Communist Party Central Committee in our case, but by realtors, chamber of commerce and professional politicians.
Saxman has been granted immunity from inclusion in a consolidated borough government. Its residents argued that its heavy federal funding depends on a Native majority and besides, it has a unique culture and wants to govern itself. Good for Saxman. But what's good for them is good for us all. The rest of us also want to keep some measure of freedom and self governance.
Let's keep alive the American tradition of local self determination and reject centralized consolidated rule.
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