Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

 
 

Editorial

 


Dave Ricke’s crew made the raising of the Fort Seward fire hall hose tower look easy Tuesday.

The tower is an impressive addition to Fort Seward and a great example of private initiative improving our town. Without government grants or funding from distant foundations, Joanne Waterman and Phyllis Sage have made their corner of Fort Seward Drive sparkle. They also earned extra credit points for having the building designed, engineered and built entirely by residents.

The borough owes a medal, or a key to the city, or a bottle of champagne to Waterman and Sage.

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It’s good that Haines Borough leaders want to get a jump on a community discussion of a large-scale mine at 40 Mile, but their recent proposal to fund “objective” information in advance of mine development is questionable and probably premature.

Not unlike efforts to fund a study to see if a heliport at 26 Mile would be excessively loud, borough leaders appear determined to take the potential mine and somehow crystallize “objective information” in a lab-like setting, ostensibly to separate fact from fiction, distill truth and remove the politics.

Were it only that simple. Decisions on projects are necessarily political and typically messy. They’re political because issues must be decided and votes must be cast. They’re messy partly because information-gathering can be unscientific and unpredictable. The fate of a project can turn on an unexpected disclosure or discovery, or the utterance of a single official.

Also, different people can interpret the same information differently. Decision-making is an organic process that happens in real time and can’t be replicated in a lab.

Finally, there’s no such thing as “objective” experts or “objective” information. Information is information. People are people. Objectivity describes an approach to reviewing information, using balance and reason. We don’t expect our elected officials to be objective. They’re human beings, with their own biases and preferences. We should, however, demand that they weigh the public’s business objectively, and to open-mindedly govern in the public’s best interest.

If it’s information about mining’s pros and cons leaders are after, they can get that for free from mine developers and critics.

“Independent” think tanks or consulting firms might be asked to review pro or con information at some point, but the time for that is still far in the future, if it comes at all. No one has yet proposed a mine at 40 Mile.

-- Tom Morphet