Malkin’s message matters

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To the Editor:

The Steamship Authority board, almost unanimously, gave their new chairman a tongue-lashing at the May 12 meeting over comments he made that were quoted in the Island newspapers. I’m sure he wishes he could rephrase some of his words and take them out of the public forum, but I hope the substance of what may have been said in frustration is not lost.

The Enabling Act, which gave birth to the SSA and should govern how it operates, requires them to publish annual financial statements within three months of the prior year’s end. SSA does not complete them until, in the case of 2018, a full year after that. Why is that a big deal?

The same Enabling Act provides that SSA can adjust their rates as needed. If they don’t have the financials, they don’t know what their rates should be.

By ignoring the need to develop up-to-date financials and using them to charge rates sufficient to, at least, break even, the board and SSA management are essentially telling the community, on both Islands and the mainland, “We don’t care, we’ll just pass on the deficit to you.” Why should the communities uphold their part of the Enabling Act if SSA can’t develop numbers to do a simple math exercise?

Very often when people focus on “how” you said something, it means they can’t argue with “what” you said.

We may not like the way it was delivered by Mr. Malkin, but the message is clear: You can’t run a business without timely financial statements. The Enabling Act recognizes that; it’s up to the SSA board to make it happen. The board should satisfy themselves on standing ground and get behind Malkin. 

Robert Morris
Woods Hole