FIT FOR DUTY – Thirty-seven recruits graduating from the Alaska Department of Public Safety Training Academy's Law Enforcement Training Session 1802 take the oath of office this afternoon at the Sheet'ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi. The audience was told that during the rigorous 16-week session recruits lost a combined 200 pounds of body fat. The graduates will be taking law enforcement positions around the state from the North Slope Borough Police Department to statewide Alaska Wildlife Troopers to the Ketchikan Police Department. Speaker at the ceremony was DPS Deputy Commissioner William Comer, who graduated from the academy in 1985. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

November 2, 2015 Letters to the Editor

Haunted Ship

Dear Editor: I loved the Coast Guard’s Halloween Haunted Ship! Thank you all so much for putting it on every year. It is such a great community event, and I had fun planning to go and getting the food for the food drive. 

A big part of the festiveness is waiting in line on the pier, because it provides this happy and excited atmosphere where folks of all ages gather together chatting and sharing goodies from the bake sale. And it was well worth the wait, because those who decorate the ship go all out and those who haunt it were just the right amount of scary! I was frightfully delighted as my friends in front of me and behind me disappeared from my view in the dark foggy mist as I bumped into suspended buoys and waited for something scary to jump out at me causing me to scream/giggle as only a well made, well put on, thrilling haunted ship can. Thank you!

Jessica Menary, Sitka


Property Taxes

Dear Editors: Before we plan to raise property taxes, we need to do two other things. First, we have to make sure we are not wasting any money or ignoring opportunities to collect money already collectable. This involves examining city practices, such as the use of consultants, the ways we issue contracts, the existence of too many tax exemptions, and the effectiveness or ineffectiveness and equity or inequity of tax collection efforts. Second, we need to ask what the role of wealth is in the community, and whether we want to strike out against one single class, against property owners.

As a mental experiment, I’m thinking of areas I have lived in, where poverty extended about two hundred blocks in every direction. Schools and culture, other than gang culture, had to be inserted by the government. There were no high quality schools, such as in the Sitka School District. There was nothing on the order of a Fine Arts Camp. Why were these absent? I’m not much of a fan of the trickle down economic theory. Lot’s of wealth in Sitka doesn’t trickle down. It goes to  Costa Rica or Thailand for the winter. We have amenities that poor communities do not have, because we have the values and the expectations supported by the wealthy. That is what trickles down.

Sales tax is condemned as regressive. Another way to look at this, is to realize that this is a democratic tax. It applies to everyone. It is a tax that does not attack any one economic class. Those who spend more, pay more. Wealth and property were accumulated through work and savings. Sales tax falls more heavily on the poor, but as long as wages and rents are fair, a big if, the net effect of sales tax is to encourage savings.

Raising property taxes should be on the list of actions under consideration. However, we have much house-keeping to do before we lash out with tax increases. Without fixing all the gaps in our governance practices, any new taxes we raise will just pour out the holes, following all of the money that already has spilled out.

Someone told me that you can’t stabilize the ground by packing sand down a rat hole. You have to get rid of the rat.


John Welsh, Sitka

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