Lawmakers' inability to get to Juneau not cause to move capital

What others say

Posted: Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Those people who want to move the capital because they say Juneau is ''inaccessible'' are whining again.

In one case, an Anchorage lawmaker whose plane was diverted because of weather was absolutely (if unintentionally) comical as he arrived for the 24th session of the Alaska Legislature.

''Of all the people, they should have made damn sure that we got in the first time,'' Sen. John Cowdery is quoted by The Associated Press as grumbling after arriving in Juneau (in time for the opening gavel). ''It's a bad taste in your mouth to start the session.''

Note to God: No bad weather when this servant of the people is scheduled to fly.

No one likes to be on a plane that overheads. Travel that doesn't go according to schedule is indeed a pain; we're sympathetic to the plight (though grateful that Alaska Airlines doesn't let such self-important nonsense pressure it to fly in unsafe conditions.)

But sometimes travel plans go awry.

Changes in plans happen to all of us — even when we are traveling for life-and-death emergencies, when we have little choice in the matter. As we recall, none of our legislators was dragged to Juneau — they ran campaigns begging voters for the privilege of going there.

Nevertheless, some of them will be at it again this year, complaining about inaccessibility and trying to move the capital again — no matter how many ways the voters say no, and no matter how expensive such a move would be.

Fellas, the problem is not that Juneau is difficult to get to.

The problem is that Alaska is five-time-zones large and legislators have to travel great distances to run the government — no matter where the seat of government is.

Let's imagine for a moment that the capital was moved to, oh, the Anchorage area. The same weather that kept poor Mr. Cowdery safely in Sitka could just as easily have stopped all of Southeast's lawmakers from arriving in the ''accessible'' new capital.

The difference is, some of the Anchorage gang wouldn't care whether Southeast was there. Our absence might make some votes easier.

Fact is, if they didn't have to come to Juneau to write the rules by which the rest of us live, some legislators wouldn't even remember that Southeast existed.

The problem doesn't have to do with Juneau's accessibility. Any place in the state would have the same problem for those who don't live there. Weather ties all of us up sometimes. Frankly, with their numbers, the good people of Anchorage don't need still more power over the rest of us.

The capital should stay in Juneau.

And airlines should keep putting safety, not a state senator's perception of his own importance, first.

— Ketchikan Daily News,

Jan. 12

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