A number of state newspapers recently carried an AP article in which Gov. Frank Murkowski's travel in 2003 was superficially compared with Gov. Tony Knowles' in 2002.
If a reader got nowhere past the first few paragraphs, he or she would have been left with the impression that Gov. Murkowski was gone from
Alaska 232 days. Intended or not, this is a totally wrong conclusion and should not be allowed to stand.
Gov. Murkowski was out of Juneau 197 days last year, which included 36 weekends. He spent 167 days in Juneau last year and 123 days in other parts of Alaska, including 59 days in Anchorage, 42 days in Fairbanks (both of which have regional governor's offices from which he
works) and 22 days in other Alaska communities.
A total of 74 days were spent out of state, of which 90 percent was on official state business.
The governor has not spent an inordinate amount of time away from Alaska. When he has traveled, it is because he knows that to get things
done requires an effort, including taking his message to many people, organizations, corporations and businesses not located in Juneau.
For example, Gov. Murkowski's travel to Taiwan resulted in the return visit to Anchorage by President Chen Shui-bian and a large group
of Taiwanese business people who are now doing business in Alaska as a result. Other business contacts in Hong Kong, Korea and Japan are now or soon will be paying dividends for Alaska businesses.
The governor has been to Texas to meet with senior executives in the oil and gas industry regarding the natural gas pipeline. He assumes that nearly 100 percent of Alaskans agree with him that construction of the pipeline would be a good thing, and that out-of-state travel is warranted to get it done. He will admit to an annual turkey hunt over the last 20 years along with an energy conference with a group of knowledgeable Alaskans in Texas, but this travel was not tacked onto a state business trip.
His travels on behalf of Alaska have also taken Gov. Murkowski to Whitehorse, Yukon; Victoria, B.C.; and Edmonton, Alberta. Our Canadian neighbors are enthusiastic about any number of mutually beneficial projects with us, including the gas pipeline and extending the Alaska Railroad to connect with the Canadian rail system, and thereby to the Lower 48. The governor's meetings with Canadian officials have been very productive and will bear fruit in the future.
In regard to his trip to Connecticut, readers should know that his wife, First Lady Nancy Murkowski, was invited to christen the M/V Fairweather, the state's first fast ferry. He accompanied her to inspect the Fairweather and to check on the progress on the second ferry, Chenega, scheduled to begin service in Prince William Sound next year.
Gov. Murkowski has been to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress and federal officials on behalf of Alaska issues, such as provisions in the energy bill and a myriad of land-use issues. While it is very helpful when top federal officials come to Alaska, as Veteran's Administration Secretary Tony Principi and Secretary of Education Rod Paige have, that is not always possible in every case. Traveling to the nation's Capitol is necessary and always productive for Alaska's governor.
Alaskans did not elect a "do-nothing" governor, someone to stay put in Juneau and not travel. From his 22 years in the U.S. Senate, Alaskans know Frank Murkowski is a take-charge-and-get-it-done kind of leader.
He is going out and making things happen, not sitting in his office waiting for something to happen.
Gov. Murkowski's press secretary
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