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What is the function of local government?
by Jay Jones


November 11, 2004

I'm not sure what the borough has against Loggerville and its owner, Rob Holston, but at least he hasn't asked for handouts, subsidies, guaranteed loans, free real estate or any of the other garbage we've come to expect from local government. Now that the Borough is in the property management/real estate business (in competition with local private companies, and the State of Alaska), it has even more leverage in deciding who sinks or who swims when it comes to small businesses. What next? Will the Borough halt the auctioning of Loggerville in mid-stream and decide to keep it and look for someone to operate it in the name of "jobs" and lose money and tax revenue in the process? Or they could offer Mr. Holston guaranteed loans so he could operate Loggerville for a few months then declare bankruptcy and rip the Borough off (not that he would).

It's time for the people of Ketchikan to define/enforce just what the legitimate function of local government is. Is it to compete with private enterprise, always having the advantage of changing the law to suit its own needs, thus not really competing at all? And the ability to enrich cronies through sham subsidies in the name of "Jobs"? Or to create unneeded public works projects to enrich Assembly/Council members and their friends? And just how many "Jobs" has the Borough created anyway? The Borough can't even oversee school construction in an economical manner. But then, who needs to be economical when they have our paychecks at their disposal? If Mr. Holston loses money in his tour business he can't simply raise taxes on his neighbors or raise their electrical rates so he can maintain his ticket prices.

This town is fast becoming a two-tiered tourism town ala Jackson Hole, Vail, Sun Valley etc. with the service and seasonal workers and the individuals who can afford to own land and pay the high property taxes and the year-round cost of living. And guess what? Many of the latter are public employees and their friends. If local government really wanted to help the economy it would sell (not give away) its assets and get out of the way. Its called "Down sizing" and if you want to compete in the free market, it is something you may have to do at one time or another. If you want a viable economy, it is something that all governments must do on a continual basis.

Jay Jones
Ketchikan, AK - USA



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