Unintended consequences

Posted: Friday, March 14, 2008

While Rep. Mark Neuman, R-Wasilla, may intend House Bill 54 as a means of moving the Legislature to his home district, he has stated that any community, Alaska Native corporation, or commercial business could apply to provide a legislative hall. He may not realize that at least two large complexes are available right now and would need little modification to house the legislators and their staff. The complexes could easily accommodate the state supreme court, as well.

One complex is located on Adak Island in the Aleutian chain. It is the former Navy air station. It has beautiful housing (884 units), a functional airport with twice-weekly 737 service, a port complex, and hundreds of buildings. The former commissary and exchange buildings were located in a medium-sized shopping mall that, with little modification, could function as legislative chambers. A former submarine listening center could house the Supreme Court justices and staff.

According to the 2000 census, there were 316 residents in Adak, many of whom could provide logistic support for the legislators and staffers. While winds can reach 100 miles an hour, winter temperatures at Adak are much warmer than that of Anchorage or Mat-Su. The Aleut Corp. could easily prepare a bid for Neuman's legislative hall that would be hard to ignore. The citizens of the state could rest assured that there would be little to distract legislative sessions in Adak.

The other complex is the former U.S. Air Force Forward Operating Base at Galena. While it does not have the number of buildings that Adak possesses, certainly some could function as a legislative hall. There would also be barracks and family quarters for the legislators and staff. Adequate electrical power won't be a problem when Toshiba Corporation completes the new nuclear power plant. Both communities would benefit from the income and jobs that the legislature would bring much more than Anchorage or Mat-Su. As in Adak, the legislature should be very productive in Galena because there would be fewer distractions than in the Rail Belt.

Rick Currier


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