My Turn: Former mayor of Angoon speaks his mind my turn

Posted: Sunday, September 16, 2007

(Response to article "Angoon Mayor Resigns", printed Sept. 9.)

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A couple of news reports have been brought to my attention in regard to the city of Angoon. In response, I'd like to state a few facts and figures. The following is a list of the departments the city has and the percentage of collection rates from consumers, which partially explains how the economic base of Angoon has affected the city's "financial struggles."

1) The Water Department is operating at a 39.3 percent return from consumers for the service. Even at a 100 percent return by consumers; it would still be operating in a deficit.

2) Sewer Department, 39.09 percent.

3) Garbage Department, 38.54 percent.

4) City Sales tax is unknown.

5) Harbor is unknown.

6) Cable TV System, 44.88 percent.

Those figures stated, in essence, there is approximately 40 percent (or four out of 10 consumers) supporting the local utility. As I have mentioned before, in most cases, that is due to a lack of economic base in the community. If the people don't have employment, then they have no resources to pay their bills, and that is an issue that I was trying to address while I was in office.

Nevertheless, I have full support of my family, and my family knows the struggles I've been through as mayor. My daughter Edna told me, "It is pretty sad that the people are fighting so hard against each other. They should all be working together to find a solution." My daughter Doreen told me, "Dad, you did not fail." I appreciate their support, as well as support that I have received from other family members and friends.

To my dad, Frank Jack Sr., who is 87 years young, a very respected elder who was honored and given an Honorary Doctorate in ministry, I would like to apologize to him for the experience he recently went through while attending a city council meeting. At that meeting, an individual hollered at my dad while shaking his finger at him. As two council members stated, one stated, "No respect," and the other said, "He over-stepped his boundaries."

In anyone's book, and no matter what culture we are from, that is wrong to speak down to an elder. It is for this very reason that I decided to resign.

The first time I was interviewed by Mr. Skinner, he misquoted me in saying that I blamed the local economy. I am not blaming anyone, I stated the following: "That (the lower percentage rate of return) is due to a lack of economic base." Therefore, how can one blame the local economy if there is none? Second, he stated that the electrical power at the water plant was out for several days; when in fact, the plant was up and running the very next day.

We don't need to continue to look at the problem at hand, but instead, we need the community to work as a team, to be problem solvers. All in all, I wish the next administration success in increasing the percentage rate of return for services rendered.

I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve the community of Angoon and thank those of you that continue to support your utility owner. Thank you.

• Walter Jack is the former mayor of Angoon.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Walter Jack makes reference in his My Turn to an article that appeared in the Juneau Empire on June 29 detailing the city's failure to pay its electric bill. Jack said that he was quoted saying that he blamed the local economy for the loss of electricity on June 26. Jack's quote appearing in the paper read, "We need jobs here so people can pay the city." That article stated the power went off on a Tuesday, and Jack said it was back on by Thursday.

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