INTIMIDATION VS. COMPROMISE
by Ken Bylund
October 01, 2007
The rhetoric of the Chamber of Commerce/City/Borough would be
amusing if it weren't so quarrelsome; none of the "No
on Jewelry Store Initiative" articles has offered
any compromise... interesting? These bellicose claims against
the JSI range from "shutting down Jewelry Stores" [implying
they will be bull-dozed off the dock]... to open intimidation,
much spent on raising property taxes on home owners. This argument
is disagreeably dishonest and threatening, especially since the
COC owns and operates our government. The attraction to this
initiative for citizens of Ketchikan [to the JSI] have been overlooked,
ignored by an arrogant panic of them who have direct benefit
or support; they see potential for leveling off of self-interested
profit margins. Guess what? Saturation of Jewelry stores
will accomplish that anyway, and looks like we are probably
reaching that level. Existing [grand-fathered] jewelry businesses
will continue to require facelifts, refurbishment and they [Jewelry
Store Operators] will benefit from stabilizing competition.
Okay, why don't our politicians and entrepreneurs look at the
'concerns of the non-invested citizen.' Seems a bit late, but
why? The ugly plywood covered doors and windows with graffiti,
hailed by distracters could easily be resolved by investment
in real [conservatively painted] shutters; and then there is
that sense of shame at the image of our city when each summer
many thousands of strangers per day, look down on and decide,
"this is a decidedly mercenary enterprise"?
I've heard there is a strategy for high density/proximity jewelry
stores; that tourists will walk past the first store, a bit frightened
to even look in, then might glance into the second one... and
then go inside the third. Sounds like a predator vs. prey paper
that should be studied and published by some social anthropologist
or biologist [probably a done deal].
And, it is certainly not racism [another distraction];
most residents don't even know [I didn't] that East Indian merchants
own and operate some of these stores. It is about a town
and borough of honest citizens who have a sense of shame
at blatant mercenary practices - "front and center"
- representing our collective personality. Tourists are afraid
of us when they see this carnival atmosphere waiting for them
on the docks... and this is something you might sample
in a poll of [the braver] visitors coming off the gangways of
them cruise ships next summer; that number with negative views
of our image might be more if you polled them who refused to
leave the safety of the ship's decks. Think about it... but you
won't, and that's why the initiative.
A more even plan would've been palatable, such as integrated
storefronts that provided a quality bookstore [could
be run by/and support our public library], art, local
and commercial, and even a tasteful bar with a bit of
that Last Frontier flavor, like the Red Dog Saloon
in Juneau; an open air coffee shop for those sunny days
and covered area for hot cocoa when not. These are low cost planning
compromises that might considerably improve our reputation; with
that comes more respect and trust, and trust leads to interest
and positive recommendations to friends from regular folks coming
here to see Alaska. The Dockside Gallery is an example
of what I'd like to see - "in the front row "
- for our ship-bound tourists, an excellent first impression
of Alaskan culture and hospitality, and would certainly gain
significant support from local residents.
What injures our tourist market and our image, is this "whatever
the market will bear" mentality; the Chamber of Commerce
has the will, the motivation and energy to finagle loans and
draw investors but appears blind to any negatives beyond simple
gross profit... and of the inevitable saturation of this predatory
course. It isn't blasphemy or un-American to disagree with politicians
and merchants who hold strong positions, and shouldn't be dangerous...
but sometimes it seems necessary to remind them it is foolish
of them not to listen to the un-washed masses, and consider
a beneficial compromise.
North Point Higgins
Received September 29, 2007
- Published October 01, 2007
Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Your full name, city and state are required for publication.
Stories In The News