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Moving the Capitol to Wasilla?
by Rick McDonald


February 15, 2005

Senator Huggins, I'm willing to bet, is one who goes Outside and tells of Alaska's vast distances and how, like a trouper, he bucks up and tolerates the hardships of the rugged North. But after reading his letter about the difficulty of going to Juneau, I'm inclined to suspect that with the comforts of a road system and a strip malls his life has more in common with a suburbanites in Kirkland or Orange County than those living in Dillingham, Nome, Sitka, or Ketchikan. Poor guy feels inconvenienced by the vastness that makes Alaska such a great place. Sad to say, his discomfort is the best argument he makes for moving the capitol to the whine country of Wasilla.

Let's have a look at his reasoning, shall we? Excerpts from his letter are italicized.

"Do we leave (the capitol) in Juneau or move it to a place where it can serve the vast majority of Alaskans?"

Please, Senator, do tell what services the state government will perform from Wasilla that it isn't giving from Juneau? Better schools? Improved health care? Marine Highway upgrades? Far as I can tell, all Alaskans are being served from Juneau, and I'm willing to bet more equitably than if they were being serviced from Wasilla.

"What always gets overlooked when that point is made is the fact that for all practical purposes, we really have two state Capitol regions already, one in Juneau and another in the south-central area of Anchorage, Eagle River, and Mat-Su."

This is indeed a problem. Anchorage, Eagle River and Mat-Su carry on with the assumption (perhaps arrogance) that what serves them serves all of Alaska. But following this reasoning, other state capitols would move as well. From Sacramento to Albany, states understand that the whole state is best served away from the most populated areas.

"Committee hearings, news conferences, and any other legislative business that requires lawmakers to come together all takes place at the Anchorage/Eagle River/Mat-Su Legislative Information Offices (LIOs)."
So what is the problem? Apparently members of congress are able to assemble in South-central outside of session whenever you want. No such niceties in Bethel or Kotzebue, I'll bet. Again, this is an example of how the rest of the state would suffer should the axis of power moved north enabling populated areas to meet without representing the rest of the state.

The Senator's letter drones on like an Otter lost in the fog. He bemoans the cost of his trip to Juneau and the cost of moving all of his computers (laptop technology, apparently, has not reached the northern cities). His numbers are outlandish. But there is more:

"I would bet that not many Alaskans have added up the staggering long-term costs for this annual journey - but I have. It is just one more reason to locate a new Capitol building in the Mat-Su area, a move that will save the state millions of dollars in the years ahead . cutting the annual lease payment for (the Anchorage, Mat-Su, and the Eagle River LIOs) relocating the State Capitol to south-central Alaska will save the state nearly a million dollars a year just in lease payments."

Thanks for the laugh, senator. Why not just close two of the three LIO's? Shucks, they are all so close in the population center, as you say. And with the one million dollars per year savings put toward the billion dollar moving costs, we'll be back in the black in just over a thousand years! I know this is your freshman session, Senator, but please refrain should you be offered a seat on any finance committees.

Face it, Senator Huggins, Alaskans have used their calculators and twice and voted you onto a flight to Juneau. Go ahead and keep the miles and upgrades for your troubles.

Rick McDonald
Ketchikan, AK - USA



Related Viewpoint:

letter Move the State's Capital Away from Juneau by Senator Charlie Huggins



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