July 6, 2012 | Vol. 39, No. 27

Letters to the editor

The perspective of fairness

To the Editor:

Recently, several city residents in support of the borough made an acrid accusation that my husband and I are free loaders in regard to city services. For the benefit of other like-minded individuals, I wish to put this issue in perspective as it applies to our situation as residents of Farragut Bay.

We are probably the most remote of those who live outside city limits in the proposed borough. Our house is approximately a 60-mile roundtrip to Petersburg over often very rough water in Frederick Sound. Unlike those who frequent Petersburg on an almost daily basis, we come to Petersburg about every three months for 2-3 days. Harbor master records can confirm that we were in Petersburg only 12 days last year and seven days through June of this year. Therefore, it is not true that we are here “all of the time using city services.” When we are here, we pay harbor fees like any other visiting boat.

So, what are these city services we supposedly abuse? Roads? We do not have drivers licenses. Sidewalks? Guilty as charged. Library? We sometimes look at magazines but can not check anything out to take back home. Medical Center? We pay for the occasional medical services we use. Also, we use Juneau medical more. Any visitor has access to these same services.

We come to Petersburg for mail, which is a federal service and to shop at private businesses. The LIO has been helpful to us but it is a state service.

Except for those sidewalks, I believe nothing we do in Petersburg burdens city services.

In fact, I contend that we have been an economic plus to Petersburg. Our purchases here for almost 30 years have supported the local economy and resulted in a lot of extra sales tax collected by the city. When we built in Farragut Bay we chose to order the building materials through Christensen’s Lumber rather than out of state. We used Short Construction and other local contractors. We have always used Petersburg Insurance rather than an outside firm; we have maintained large Certificate of Deposit accounts at both local banks, which are used to fund loans, which benefit Petersburg residents and merchants.

Attacks on the character of those who oppose the borough for valid reasons, are close-minded and self-serving. We reject the assertion that we could not live in Farragut Bay without Petersburg. We both come from parents who lived through real adversity. I was born in a refugee camp. We do not require social support. We bought our Farragut Bay property before we even visited Petersburg. Without Petersburg we would just go to Juneau in our boat for mail and supplies.

Our detractors say that the issue is only about fairness. So let us logically examine what a borough would mean to Farragut Bay residents in the context of fairness: We would get no beneficial services since taxation alone cannot be considered a service. City services such as schools, utilities, fire and police protection are not available to us. Yet we would pay over 1/3 the property tax rate that city residents pay. To be fair, we should get the equivalent of 1/3 of city services. But we would get zero. Schools don’t count since Farragut Bay residents would have to move to Petersburg to use the school system.

In fact when asked by my husband, the Petersburg Police Chief clearly said that the police have no intention of responding to Farragut Bay, even if we could contact them and ask for help because we were being assaulted by armed intruders.

Therefore, the tax we will pay will be used exclusively for the benefit and protection only of city residents. To call that fair while accusing us of not paying our fair share for the meager services we use here in Petersburg, is hypocrisy.

Unfortunately, being a realist, I really don’t expect most people to care because they perceive a benefit to themselves. At least, just look in the mirror and own up to it.

Lu Grauel

Addressing criticisms

To the Editor:

It seems that some folks are always ready to think the worst about others. Let me address several criticisms aimed at the Volunteer Fire Dept. Since there are no photos showing couples making whoopie in the Fire Hall, let’s just drop that. It is only a rumor. As for the behavior of volunteers when off-duty, whether in a bar or elsewhere ... hey, it’s a free country. Even if I am wearing a PVFD shirt, if I am not on-duty, then my behavior reflects only upon myself, not on the Fire Dept. As for using alcohol – that will always be an issue. The EMTs sign up for defined duty shifts. The volunteer EMTs know to eschew alcohol before and during their on-duty shifts and they are very careful to do that. However, the volunteer firefighters are always on call. PVFD asks them not to respond to emergency call-outs if they have been drinking. But, of course, drinking leads to making poor choices. Please note that there is NO alcohol in the Fire Hall. As for driving while intoxicated – that is illegal. I know that the City employs people to deal with that problem. If the Police know of anybody driving while intoxicated, they can and should make an arrest. As for alleged “less than professional” actions, I know from 29 years of observing them that Petersburg emergency response volunteers are well-trained, well-drilled, well-equipped, highly motivated, and very professional in applying their skills to deal with other folks’ emergencies.

Sam Bunge

Volunteer Firefighter and EMT

Obituary

for “Facts”

To the Editor:

Modified and abridged from Rex W. Huppke, Chicago Tribune (and my apologies as well)

To the shock and dismay of reasonable people, Facts recently died in Petersburg, after a long battle for relevancy with rumor-mongering, tabloid journalism, blogs and the Internet. Though few expected Facts to pull out of its years-long downward spiral, the official cause of death was from numerous injuries suffered during an unsubstantiated character assassination of the local volunteer fire department at a public safety advisory board. Facts held on for several days after that assault before expiring peacefully at its home in a high school physics book. Facts was 2,372 years old.

Facts was born in ancient Greece, the brainchild of famed philosopher Aristotle. In its youth, Facts was viewed as “universal principles that everybody agrees on”. But in the late 16th century, English philosopher and scientist Sir Francis Bacon took Facts under his wing and began to develop a new way of thinking. There was a shift of the word ‘fact’ to refer to empirical observations. Facts became concrete observations based on evidence. It was growing up.

But those days would not last. There was a rise in political partisanship and a growth in the number of media outlets that would disseminate information, rarely relying on feedback from Facts. There was a gradual erosion of any kind of collective sense of what is true or how one would even go about verifying any truth.

Opinion became the new truth. People who already had opinions would then see in the ‘news’ an affirmation of that same opinion, and thereby ‘confirm’ that their opinion was indeed ‘fact’. Though weakened, Facts managed to persevere through the last two decades, despite numerous setbacks.

In the end, the rumors reported as news at a local advisory board meeting proved too much for the aging concept to overcome. With the passing away of the reliance on Facts, anybody can now express an opinion on a blog or at a meeting and there’s no system of verification or double-checking. You just say whatever you want to and the media makes sure it gets magnified.

Facts is survived by two brothers, Rumor and Innuendo, and a sister, Emphatic Assertion. Facts was preceded in death by his parents, Integrity and Accountability. Services are alleged to be private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that mourners make a donation to their local fire department and thank them and their chief for their service.

Gerry Merrigan

Reader Comments

(0)