SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Stimulate not Obliterate
By Rhonda Green


December 10, 2009

I've got an idea. Instead of putting the sale of Ketchikan Public Utilities Telephone Division up on the block again, voters could vote to restructure the KPU Telephone organization.

We could start by removing Karl Amylon as the KPU Manager (retaining his City Manager position) and hire someone who really understands what it takes to operate a Telecom on a day to day basis to once again make it a profitable entity. Don't sell it because you don't understand it. Remember the days prior to the combination of the KPU & City Manager positions (the money saving tactic before he was awarded so many bonuses for doing a such a great job)? Looking back wasn't the KPU Telephone division profitable then? We actually had a Manager that came from a Telecommunications background. One who understood what it took to create revenue in his/her field. Why did we let that slip away? To save money, or was there already a plan to part out the Telephone Division with a quick sale? Hindsight being 20/20 I guess we have an answer. If you wanted your company to prosper why would you hire a fast food manager to oversee constructing a multi million dollar highway project? Who in their right mind would do that?

I'm not saying that Mr. Amylon is a terrible Manager, far from it. He is a very intelligent man. The thing that I question is the reliance he placed on the Manager below him. The one whom he looked to for day to day operations. How many times did Telephone employees plead with Karl Amylon's office to take a look at what was going on in the Telephone Division? Managerial reports looked good? Maybe things weren't as they seemed? If you believe everything you read in reports without understanding what it is you're reading, how can you make informed decisions? Were there exaggerated claims of what this new technology possessed? Unrealistic expectations as to what this technology would bring us? Pie in the sky figures of rate on return? No matter what the answers to these questions, the end results are clear. The damage is done, cleanup on aisle 3. Stop the madness! More work, less revenue - what's next? Funny you should ask.

Now Mr Amylon with recommendations from Van Abbott are lobbying to the Council to cut permanent positions from the Telephone Division Staff including a telephone apprentice with less than 4 months to complete his apprenticeship. A great guy, born and raised in Ketchikan with plans to stay here. He is Telephone's future, and the replacement for the retiring workforce. A woman with 23 years with the City/KPU, Warehouse Assistant, widowed, Mother and Grandmother, 51 year resident. The OSP Manager, married, father of two, employed for the last 13 years. All productive and hard working Employees.

Ask yourselves, why are they suggesting layoffs when they've recently added several positions and there is so much work to be done? My suggestion, if you need the extra money, trim the fat, start by getting rid of the Contract Engineers who they can do without! Yes, the people who live in other states. Train the workers you have and let them do their jobs. That's they were hired for. They have the aptitude to succeed!

Council member Marty West had a valid point (excerpt taken from the Ketchikan Daily News) "West questioned the need for three marketing managers at KPU Telecommunications, when the division has chosen to lay off an employee who installs the lines that the marketing managers sell. She said that didn't make sense, because the division would be decreasing its ability to follow through on what it's advertising to potential customers." Brilliant! I m glad someone on the Council is paying attention.

While we're at it, let' s take care of the City/KPU 90 temporary employees. It's a known fact that the City/KPU relies heavily on temporary labor. They are all excellent workers. Men and women living in the City/Borough (not transient workers), some who have been employed for close to 5 years. No health benefits, no retirement -- disgusting. But look how much the City is saving by not having to pay for benefits. What kind of a boost would it be to our economy if these temporaries were full time employees? Would it help them with qualifying for home loans, or car loans? More spending locally? Let's stimulate the economy!

Rhonda Green
46 year resident of Ketchikan
Former KPU Telephone Employee
Ketchikan, AK


Received December 10, 2009 - Published December 10, 2009


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