Alaska editorial: Capital move talk distracting

Posted: Friday, January 19, 2007

This editorial appeared in the Anchorage Daily News:

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Granted, if you were starting from scratch with a choice for Alaska's capital city, you probably wouldn't choose Juneau. No rap on the lovely Southeast city, but it's far from where most Alaskans live and off the road system.

Geographic logic says a state capital should be more easily accessible to most of the people.

But the capital is in Juneau, along with several thousand employees and more than a dozen state-owned buildings. It's been there for 100 years, and moving the Legislature and the rest of government is an expensive proposition that doesn't guarantee better government.

And while no scientific surveys say so, it's a safe bet that a costly capital move is not high on the list of most Alaskans' priorities - not when roads and schools and troopers and prisons and municipalities can't get all that they need.

Unfortunately, Republican Rep. Mark Neuman of Big Lake wants to keep the issue alive and has filed a bill to allow communities, including Juneau, to bid for the job as host to the Legislature. The idea isn't new. Nor is it going away. This simmering debate comes to a boil and a vote every few years, dating back to at least 1974.

Alaska has bigger priorities right now - a gas line, public employee retirement liabilities, public safety, public ethics and, yes, the dreaded, unfinished business of a fiscal plan.

Rep. Neuman's bill should get its due - referral to about six committees and a session-long wait on a cold back burner. Don't even let it simmer.

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