By DAVE KIFFER
September 07, 2010
Toyota negotiated the purchase price with the State of Alaska last week. State officials say that other portions of the state will be for sale now that the likelihood of additional federal dollars to support them has diminished.
"Face it, we've been operating a loss for years," said Alaska Landmass Divestment Director Tuckerman B. Tuckerman. "We'd have gone under years ago if it wasn't for that 30 percent federal subsidy of our statewide economy. We actually relish this recent political sea change because it will allow us to get leaner and meaner and to be better able to compete in the new global economy."
Tuckerman declined to say what specific further landmass cutbacks Alaska will undergo or whether Alaska would eventually shrink to a size smaller than Texas and end its half century reign as the largest state.
"I can only say there have been significant signs of interest from other corporations and even some other states, for example, California has expressed interest in the Sitka and Juneau boroughs and West Virginia recently sent an inquiry about the availability of the MatSu." Tuckerman added. "If you take the 'pay your own way' strategy to its logical conclusion then the only parts of the state to turn a profit are probably the North Slope and Anchorage boroughs, and I'm not too sure about Anchorage."
Officials from Toyota of America say they accelerated the purchase process for the Ketchikan Gateway Borough because they were concerned it would lose its value as a vehicle test center if the state moved forward with completion of the various Department of Transportation road projects currently taking place.
"We felt it was important to step on the gas because its current state of discompletion meets our needs perfectly," said American Toyota spokesman Flora Pedal-Jam.
Pedal-Jam noted that Toyota has been boosting its spending on testing and safety in recent months because an unfortunate number of vehicle recalls in recent years. In one of the most recent surveys, Ford surpassed Toyota in vehicle quality, Pedal-Jam said.
"Ford, I mean, really, Ford?" Pedal-Jam added. "You and I know that's not possible but we're fighting perception here. So we had to act fast."
Pedal-Jam said it would cost billions of dollars and take years to develop the perfect test facility for Toyota vehicles. After one visit to the Ketchikan Gateway Borough earlier this month they knew they had found their perfect location.
"You know the roadways - or lack thereof - of Southern Southeast Alaska are legendary," She said. "Two decades ago, Lee Iaccoca was "this close" to turning Prince of Wales into a giant Chrysler test track. Then the Federal Government ruined everything by building big fancy roads all over the place. Fortunately, the roads in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough have not only remained substandard, but the State Department of Transportation has kept them in a perpetually torn up state for years. The populace is so used to bad roads they wouldn't know the difference if we added enhanced safety testing obstacles."
Tuckerman agreed that the Ketchikan Gateway Borough road system would be perfect for Toyota's needs.
"Best of all we can cancel the road contracts and save millions of dollars if we just leave them as is," he added. "If we keep the borough then we have to figure out a way to replace the tens of millions of federal dollars that we will need for future Ketchikan road projects. And that's just not going to happen."
Officials from the Ketchikan
Gateway Borough were unavailable to comment this afternoon.
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