SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Giving Our Fellow Lawbreakers A Break
By Dave Kiffer


May 28, 2006

Ketchikan, Alaska - Once again, a tip of the ten gallon hat to our "fellow Amaricuns" in the Great State of Texas.

Law enforcement is making great "pinto pony" strides in the Lone Star State and we should think about doing the same.

I was reading in the national news last week that folks in Texas (particularly in the Great Empty that is West Texas) have decided that the 70 mph speed limit is too confining and that - to make the time and terrain move quicker - the new speed limit ought to 80 mph

In itself, this is not unusual. There are other big Western states (such as Montana and Wyoming) where the daylight speed limit is essentially "as fast as the goll-danged Chevy can go" because enforcement is nil.

But what caught my eye in the Texas story was that the state officials said they were only bowing the reality that everyone in West Texas drives at 80 mph anyway and moving the limit to 80 would recognize the reality and make all those "speeders" legitimate.

jpg Detour swat team

Detour swat team
Larry Wright, The Detroit News
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

This is interesting because is presupposes that the people now "speeding:" at 80 won't start "speeding" at 90 when the legal limit is raised to 80, but why quibble?

It does, however, raise the interesting point "If people aren't obeying a law they don't like, then perhaps we should change the law." Now that's an idea that I think would have serious four-wheel traction here in Our Fair Salmon City.

I've already railed against the arbitrary and capricious nature of the studded tire law, but what other laws should we be thinking about getting rid of?

Natch, some local speed limits really need to recognize the reality that no one is obeying them.

For example, does anyone really drive 30 mph on that lovely - rare- mile long stretch of straight pavement between the Coast Guard base and Tatsudas? Of course not, even with the city police hanging out by Bayview Cemetery waiting to catch the miscreants. Instead of dropping the speed from 45 to 30, we ought to raise it to 55 or 60!

Same with the similar straight stretch by the Lighthouse on North Tongass. Generations of Ketchikan youth (and not so youth) have dropped pedal the metal coming around the corner by the Rod and Gun Club and "blown the carbon out" all the way to Whipple Creek. In honor of Texas we ought to make that at least a 110 mph zone!

And most certainly there are other laws that we also need to wipe off the books.

Personally, I think the double fines for traffic violations in road construction zones need to go.

After all, that extra bit of "protection" obviously makes the road construction crews way toooooo comfortable hanging out on our highways and byways. How else do you explain the fact that they arrive each spring and happily stay until the Rains of Autumn? And then they come back the next year and do it all over again? Year after year after year?

jpg highway construction

Highway construction
Larry Wright, The Detroit News
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

Maybe, if we increased the speed limits in the construction zones to, say, 80 mph, it would encourage the road crews to work a little faster and get the danged roads done once and for all!

Another rule that we might as well change deals with actually requiring drivers to stop to allow folks to cross the streets in crosswalks. No one does it anymore, at least not completely.

Rather than stopping to allow pedestrians to cross, drivers just seem to swerve around them into the unoccupied portion of the crosswalk and continue on their merry way. Might as well make that swerving completely legal!

And in Ketchikan, you also see all manner of child restraint in cars. Car seats are installed facing the wrong way. Kids are strapped in the front seats of cars (I actually saw a state trooper driving his daughter to school that way one day!). Kids are allowed to ride on their parents laps and other body parts.

In olden days, child car "restraints" meant strapping the young ins to the hood or tying them in the back of the pickup. Some folks still think that way's OK.. Is it fair to criminalize those otherwise law abiding citizen?. In Texas, they would think it not!

One final change to the "road rules." How about making it legal to turn across traffic on a red light if no one else is entering the intersection? No one really waits when there is no other traffic (and no Smokey Bears lurking). Some of those lights (particularly the one leading to the Big Box on Don King) last forever!

The local fisheries laws could also benefit from the "everybody is doing it anyway" approach from Texas.

For example, does anyone really ever hook a fish in Ketchikan creek by its mouth anymore?

Snagging is supposed to be illegal most of the time, but when you see one of those combat fishing specialists hanging off the Stedman Street bridge actually reel a fish in it seems that it's mouth has somehow moved down to the middle of its back. At least that's where the hook usually is.

Sometimes the mouth seems to have migrated all the war down to the tail. Maybe the local salmon are evolving in a rare, yet biologically distinct, multiple-mouthed Revillagigedo Island salmon subspecies? Just like the three-headed Ward Cove cod of years gone by.

And while we're at it, what is this silly law that prevents you from using explosive devices to catch salmon. In the old days, they used to call them "Dupont Spinners" and they were the nearly as effective as fish traps. Granted, the explosions tended to "pre-process" some of the catch, but by the time the fish are in the creeks they're pretty mushy anyway.

I suppose you could argue that we don't need to change that law because not a lot of folks use the explosives in the creeks anymore, but perhaps they would if it were legal. Just the same way that everyone in West Texas will now abide by the new "more reasonable" 80 mph speed limit.

Also on the Fish and Game books is that law against shooting a black bear and just taking its gall bladder. Some folks in China believe the gall bladder helps boost male potency (as if a country with more than 1.3 billion people really needs a higher level of potency!).

So every so often we hear that some hunter has been charged with offing a few Blackies just for the gallbladders. Is that really any more wasteful than shooting a bear to put a trophy on the wall? As usual, I digress.

I'm sure I've just scratched the surface here and that there are dozens of other roundly ignored local and state laws on the books. Write in with your suggestions for the dustbin of local history. Remember, the "nays" of Texas are upon us!



Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2006

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