Civil discourse on the road

Letter to the editor

Posted: Tuesday, February 21, 2006

It probably won't make any difference, but Janet Kussart's My Turn in last Friday's Empire (Fe.b 17) just begs for a response. Her essay is a good an example of the decline of civility in public discourse. In essence, she says the governor disagreed with her views on Juneau access and therefore he is a bad guy. She also seems to support mob rule.

Kussart's recollection of the two-day hearing on Juneau access last year differs greatly from my own and that of others. The pro- and anti-road views were about equally well represented. More to the point, does she really believe that such a decision should be left to whoever shows up at a meeting? Are transportation professionals expected to base their decisions primarily on popularity from a couple of evenings of testimony?

The governor didn't do this by himself, you know. His action was essentially an endorsement of what the professionals recommended. That action was different from what Kussart wanted. It was not a crime, bribe, act of corruption or anything else that would support an accusation of deliberate deafness. The governor listened to all of what was said and did what he thought was best. Even if I disagreed with him on this point, I wouldn't condemn him for it. He just did his job.

Kussart ends with, "How loud do we have to shout 'no road' for him to hear?" Is the level of shouting how we decide important policy matters? We pro-road folks can talk loud too, but we were evidently raised to be polite and not vilify our leaders when they do other than what we want. I was very disappointed when then-Gov. Knowles shelved the road, and I said so, but I never bad-mouthed Knowles for doing what he did. He was lawfully elected, had the power, and had the right to do what he did. I didn't like it but I didn't call him a bad guy in the press and I can't think of any other pro-road person who did. This is too small a town, and state, for uncivil discourse. Let's clean it up.

Murray Walsh


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