Legislative move would help Anchorage area, but harm rest of Alaska

What others think

Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Tempting to remember the times politicians in Juneau have acted in ways that haven't seemed in the best interests of their Southeast neighbors.

And it's easy to characterize a whole town as being one way or another. But as an eloquent local once put it, a person is more than simply the sum of his opinions. So it is with a town.

Juneau is filled with people, some liberal, some conservative -- but they all need jobs, as do we.

So when it's pointed out that ''Juneau'' hasn't supported us so we shouldn't support Juneau in its efforts to keep the capital, it's tempting.

But to spite Juneau for past unkindness -- real or imagined -- is to spite ourselves as well. In the long run, it would hurt the whole state to move the capital because of the cost.

We call it a capital move even though what is deceptively proposed is a secret-cost Legislature move. Opponents and proponents of such a move all know that where the Legislature goes, the capital is. So we'll just keep on calling it a capital move.

It's not good for Juneau to move the capital because such a move would cost the city a third of its population and $1 billion in housing equity.

It's not good for the rest of Southeast because our economy is tenuous as it is; another blow, according to Jim Calvin of the McDowell Group -- which prepared a study on a proposed move's effects -- couldn't be absorbed.

There is also the less quantifiable, but no less real, loss of political clout. If the capital moves out of Southeast, legislators have no way of ever seeing the effects of their actions in areas outside of their own powerful region.

That's not good for the state on a philosophical level. Alas, philosophy so rarely dictates politics that we'll disregard that level for the moment to talk about what does dictate political action. That's money.

Alaska simply doesn't have the discretionary money to do something simply to give more to the most powerful area in the state. And no matter how big our bank account, we should never consider it ''enough'' to be dealing a death blow to any area's economy if it's avoidable.

In this case, it's avoidable and, more than that, we would be moving the capital for the wrong reason.

The capital should stay in Juneau. The power is not moving out of Anchorage anytime soon.

-- Ketchikan Daily News

Sept. 26



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