AMHS move is extortion

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, March 18, 2004

I read with disbelief recent articles about the move of the Alaska Marine Highway System's administrative offices to Ketchikan. While I can understand how excited the city of Ketchikan will be to have the added economic influx from 40 new jobs and the 80-120 new citizens, I am stunned that the Murkowski administration feels good about propping up one city's economy at the expense of another.

The governor wants a new capitol building so Juneau has to sacrifice 40 families or risk having the capital moved? It sounds like blackmail to me, and a risky gamble at best if the city of Juneau allows it to happen without crying foul play. If this strategy works for Ketchikan, what's to stop Sitka or any other city from doing the same thing? The next thing you know, the capital is moved without our votes and without our input.

If the city of Juneau supports this tradeoff, who pays? It is not just the families forced from their homes. It is the rest of this community. Those families will not be here to support our local business and the tax base for Juneau. The Legislature will have a fine, fancy new capitol building with all the bells and whistles. The citizens of Juneau will have higher property taxes, lower property values and vacant storefronts. Will this satisfy the legislators and their constituents from wanting the capital move? It hasn't in the last 30 years; what makes us think it will now?

This decision has been made without study or justification provided to the employees affected or the public. These are our friends and neighbors that this administration is so readily sacrificing. How many more are we willing to sacrifice before we say no to this type of blackmail. I urge the people of Juneau, our city officials and our legislative delegation to no longer keep quiet. We need to let the Murkowski administration know that government run on extortion and threats is not acceptable. After all, you could be next.

Virginia Waterhouse


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