Friday, April 25, 2008

Civilization Costs $$

On Wednesday night in Seldovia a young man died in a motor vehicle accident. Details are sketchy as it is being investigated. Apparently alcohol was involved and stupid choices were made. The saddest part is he leaves behind an infant daughter, but it is tragic because IT SHOULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED.

Wednesday night we saw further illustration of the slow dismantling of this city. A demonstration of the fact we can’t provide ourselves with basic public safety.

Recently, the city of Seldovia placed our one and only law enforcement officer, Andy Anderson, on an administrative leave after some allegation were made against him. This left us with coverage from the troopers in Anchor Point. A 20 mile drive and an airplane ride away. Everyone in town knows that Andy is not available to be called out and the Troopers are not going to come over at 1 am to chase down a drunk kid on an ATV. This was the case, and he is dead.

Everyone has been stupid to some degree and it is obvious to everyone the young man and his friends were being stupid. Half the town was woken up as they were racing around in the middle of the night on these ATVs that are un-muffled, light-weight, high rpm, crotch rockets. They are built for racing, not transportation.

The community has traditionally had law enforcement in town. Then we didn’t. When we failed to have an officer available, it gave these individuals the opportunity to act out their “Grand Theft Auto” fantasies, and there was no re-start button. There has always been a contingent of people in Seldovia that think we don't need a full-time officer in town: too expensive, too much for such a little town. Now we have a bunch of traumatized EMT's, the kids that knew him are traumatized, another young man is under investigation and a baby does't have a father. Civilization costs, the wild west was a myth. A myth to sell you movie tickets, wars and guns. All folks that ascribe to the NRA bullshit about an armed populace is a polite populace, are idiots. It doesn’t work that way. Seldovia is pretty well armed and no one could, would stop him. The police should have stopped him.

The deterrence of just having someone who enforces the law (even if some Seldovians think he is arbitrary at times) cannot be underestimated. I suppose we are experiencing the difficulties of many of our Alaska villages. We have failed here and as a State, we are failing these villages.


Salt said...

One aspect of this I find troubling is that the city has a contract to provide trooper services. The contract does not, to my knowledge, specify by whom the services are actually delivered. So by not providing a replacement while Andy is on leave (and not, I'm just betting, refunding part of the contract payment), isn't the city in violation of their contract? While the city is seemingly not required to provide police services to its own population ("Beyond the noted requirements for education, planning, platting, and land use regulation, state law does not require cities to provide any particular service or facility. source), this contract is a specific arrangement entered into by the city and one that, once executed, I would not think could be abrogated solely for the city's convenience in conducting its internal affairs.

On the other hand, given that the city council just voted to set aside local procurement ordinances to avoid hurting the mayor's feelings, I'm not sure we have any grounds to suppose it regards contracts as any more binding than duly-enacted law.

As an aside, I'm saddened by the view that it's up to law enforcement, not community consensus or practice holding us all accountable for a basic level of civility, to provide limits on the behavior of our children. Speaking of impoverishment, not to mention enabling...

Freshwrestler said...

I don't think it is just law enforcement that is controlling behaviors, but it takes consensus as well. It has been consensus that we have law enforcement, but the sudden removal of it created a void.

The wife and I were having a similar talk about that guy being responsible for his actions. I agree, and he ultimately was. But there always going to be people who go outside the consensus. We design roads for faster than the posted speed, because we know people are going to speed. How do we deal with them? The community could ask him to leave, but that is a little dangerous for us folks who are a little different. I believe the removal of these services wasn't very well thought out. Imagine that!

And I didn't see that issue about the vote "to set aside local procurement ordinances to avoid hurting the mayor's feelings,"
covered in the Seldovia Gasser. Strange.

Anonymous said...

This was such a tragedy. I'm sorry for your town. Fairbanks has some alcohol related problems too--especially when you mix it with snowmachining on the Chena...Come visit me at