New Anchorage-based commissioners worry Juneau officials

Posted: Wednesday, October 11, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- Juneau lost another state commissioner to Anchorage in the recent round of cabinet appointments by Gov. Tony Knowles, prompting concerns among local officials who fear ''capital creep'' -- the gradual northward migration of state workers.

As a result of Knowles' appointments in late August, six of 14 commissioners live primarily in Anchorage.

''Their living in Anchorage creates a real problem,'' said Sen. Kim Elton, a Juneau Democrat. ''That creates some inefficiencies. It's difficult to put a number on, or a dollar sign on.''

Knowles appointed his legislative director, Pat Pourchot, to succeed John Shively as commissioner of Natural Resources; Glenn Godfrey, head of the Alaska State Troopers, to succeed Ron Otte as commissioner of Public Safety; and former Juneau Sen. Jim Duncan to succeed Bob Poe as commissioner of Administration.

Of the three new commissioners, only Duncan is based in Juneau.

Godfrey said he plans to rent an apartment in Juneau, but won't live in the capital city full-time between legislative sessions.

''I'll need to do a lot of traveling, not just to Anchorage, but to rural areas of the state,'' Godfrey said.

Pourchot, whose primary residence has been in Anchorage, said he's not changing his routine. He has lived in Juneau during legislative sessions, as Shively did, and will continue to do so, he said.

''The commissioner's going to be where he needs to be,'' Knowles said as he announced Pourchot's appointment.

Deborah Sedwick, commissioner of Community and Economic Development, said she hasn't heard any complaints about living in Anchorage since just before her legislative confirmation hearings in 1998.

''In my department, I don't think it's made one bit of difference,'' Sedwick said. Sedwick said she spends the entire legislative session in Juneau and delegates a lot of responsibility to her Juneau-based deputy.

Michele Brown, commissioner of Environmental Conservation, was criticized by local leaders last year for moving to Anchorage.

Brown said the move was best for the agency even though it caused her to spend less time with her family in Juneau.

But Elton questioned the wisdom of separating Brown from the division director overseeing the monitoring of cruise ship emissions and discharges, one of DEC'1s hottest topics.

At the Department of Revenue, Commissioner Wilson Condon is in Juneau for the vast majority of time during legislative sessions and rents an apartment here, said Deputy Commissioner Larry Persily.

''It's not like he sleeps on someone's couch here. He spends a majority of the year in Juneau,'' Persily said.

Adjutant Gen. Phil Oates of Military and Veteran Affairs is based at Fort Richardson.

Along with Duncan, commissioners who are year-round Juneau residents are Ed Flanagan of Labor and Workforce Development; Rick Cross of Education and Early Development; Margaret Pugh of Corrections; Karen Perdue of Health and Social Services; Attorney General Bruce Botelho; Joseph Perkins of Transportation and Public Facilities; and Frank Rue of Fish and Game.

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