As co-owner of a small business, if I apply to the bank for a loan, I’m expected to provide financial information on the profitability of the business. Likewise, if I apply to a bank for a home mortgage, I’m expected to provide financial information demonstrating my ability to pay for the loan. The White Pass lease is no different.
The lease calls for the expenditure of millions of dollars of municipal funds and gives White Pass exclusive use of the door way to our community, yet we, the voters, don’t know if this thing, from Skagway’s point of view (as contrasted to that of White Pass), has the financial ability to fly.
It’s not that the elected proponents of this thing haven’t been asked to provide this information. As early as February 2014, when the White Pass MOU (the framework document for the lease we will soon be voting on) was presented at a public meeting, a Skagwegian asked for an economic analysis of the lease. The Port Commission has also recommended that a socio-economic analysis be performed.
Last summer, when AIDEA’s board of directors met to discuss the Gateway Project and the lease, one of the directors asked Mayor Schaefer what the revenue stream from the project would be. Mayor Schaefer referred the question to Assemblyman Henry (who chairs the assembly finance committee) who responded as follows: “We had an earthquake last month, and we don’t know when there will be another one.”
Our elected officials have refused to conduct an economic analysis of the lease. This refusal is a tacit admission that the economic impact of the lease will be negative for Skagway.
On another matter, several weeks ago I challenged Assemblyman Henry to a debate on the merits of the White Pass lease (Skagway News, July 10, 2015). As of this date, I haven’t heard from Mr. Henry, so I assume the challenge was not accepted. This leads me to conclude that the rationale for the White Pass lease, as expounded by Mr. Henry, would not survive the rigor of a public debate.
The White Pass lease is a travesty. I urge all Skagwegians to vote against this thing.
Roger W. Griffin