Assembly's opinion doesn't match city's

Letter to the editor

Posted: Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A public hearing on Feb. 12 addressed, among other subjects, a proposed resolution by the Juneau Assembly to endorse the proposed Department of Transportation project to build a road to the Katzehin River on Lynn Canal.

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Now there should be no question in anyone's mind that, as individuals, each Assembly member has every right to his or her own personal opinion on this subject. Having said that, individual members may not necessarily reflect public opinion. It stands to reason that good public policy should reflect the collective will of the public, and even an Assembly resolution should represent that policy.

Apparently, Assembly member Merrill Sanford doesn't see it that way. He was the member who originally introduced the proposed resolution, knowing in advance that he had the requisite five votes to pass. Nevertheless, testimony from the attending public voted 35-24 against the resolution. It's obvious that Sanford and company do not necessarily represent the will of the public. I know he can do the math on these numbers. So I have to conclude that he and the other four Assembly members who voted for the resolution do not, in fact, particularly care what the majority of the public thinks.

Herein lies the problem. This issue, as we all know, has been around for a while, and the public opinion has generally been split close to 50-50. There has never been a clear mandate to proceed with this project. Nevertheless, our egocentric ex-governor and his minions at DOT have, nevertheless, tried to cram this project down our throats using every devious trick in the book. Now five of our own Assembly members have joined the ranks of these benevolent dictators who would lead us all out of the darkness of our ignorance. Bull.

Regardless of that farce that was supposed to pass as a public hearing, there is still the recourse of the ballot box. If the public testimony had instead been in favor of the resolution, I would have had to reluctantly accept the Assembly action. It would appear, however, that there are five Assembly members who really don't care what the public's take is unless it coincides with their own personal opinion. That is just not acceptable.

Jim Bentley


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