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Credit where it's due

Posted: Sunday, April 01, 2001

Thumbs up to George Davidson...

...outgoing director of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce. George deserves a big thank you for his service during the past 15 months when he came out of retirement to fill in at the helm of the Chamber. George, ever the gentleman, has moved the Chamber forward during his watch. Good luck, George. Hopefully, retirement will take hold this time and you'll be able to shake the moss off your airplane.

Thumbs up to a very successful abandoned and junk car round-up.

On March 17, 754 orphaned car carcasses sailed out of Juneau on a barge. This is shining example of a government plan that worked. Dan Garcia, the city's environmental zoning inspector introduced the scheme which saved the city a lot of money and also made a huge impact on the esthetics of our town. The drive vastly exceeded Dan's goal of 200 junk cars.

The CBJ normally pays between $350 and $400 for each abandoned car it has to remove. For the "round up" the cost for towing, stripping tires and shipping was a total of $125 per car. We owe a big show of gratitude to Dan, the CBJ Assembly and staff, Channel Corp., Glacier Towing , and Shaub-Ellison Tires. Also a thank you goes to all who participated by paying the $50 towing fee. Many paid for removal of vehicles left by other, thoughtless individuals.

Thumbs up to Gold Medal.

Each year at this time Juneau is infused with basketball fever as players and fans from around the state come to enjoy a truly monumental sporting event. There's a lot more going on here than basketball as players from all walks of life put community pride on the line in a contest that is uniquely Alaskan. To the Juneau Lion's club, players, sponsors, officials, fans and all who make our basketball visitors welcomed in Juneau ... two great big thumbs up!

Thumbs up to discussion of a shorter legislative session.

The group of freshman and sophomore representatives investigating the measure raise some strong arguments for a more compact session. A number of other states have shorter sessions than Alaska's 121 days.

The Wyoming Legislature meets for not more than 40 days in odd-numbered years in General Session and for approximately 20 days in even numbered years for a Budget Session. South Dakota conducts the state's business in an annual 40-day session. Kentucky for the first time this year injected a 30-day session between its traditional 90-day biennial sessions.

Many Alaska legislators, especially first timers, become frustrated with the slow, unproductive pace of the first half of the session. A shorter session would require a greater sense of urgency and allow for far less posturing and lobbying.

A House State Affairs subcommittee this week considered four proposed constitutional amendments, all of which would reduce the length of the session. Rep. Lisa Murkowski's amendment calls for the state budget to follow a two-year cycle, noting that more long range planning would need to come first.

There are many extenuating factors to examine before deciding on the merits of a shorter session, however, the efficiencies of short sessions are well proven in other states. A shorter session may look pretty good to our state legislators if they are going to be moving into a vacant Wal-Mart building in Wasilla as suggested this week by Mark Chryson, a sponsor of the petition to move the legislature from Juneau to the Matanuska-Susistna Borough near Anchorage.

Thumbs down to the legislative session move initiative.

Speaking of moving the legislature to Wal-Mart, the authors of the petition, Uwe Kalenka and Mark Chryson along with the Alaska Independent Party are one step closer. On March 23 they filed an application with the lieutenant governor's office for an initiative petition to put their proposal on next year's ballot.

If the state approves the application and the group collects about 29,000 signatures, voters will decide whether to move sessions to the Matanuska-Susistna Borough near Anchorage. At a time when money to fund so many worthwhile state programs is in short supply, it is pitiful to see attention and resources directed to an initiative that is so wasteful.

Kalenka of Anchorage, the sponsor of last year's failed ballot initiative on capping property taxes statewide, believes Juneau is politically, an inappropriate seat of government. "It does not send the proper message to the rest of the nation" about what Alaska stands for, he said after a recent visit to Juneau.

Chryson is working hard to sell us a pig in poke. He has identified several vacant store shells in Wasilla that he thinks might be good locations for our legislators to meet, however, his petition calls for the session to be held in Anchorage if a suitable location can't be found in the Mat-Su Borough. Imagine the fun the media will have if our legislative sessions are moved to a repurposed Wal-Mart. The slogan "Every day low pricing" will take on a whole new meaning. So far the group is all hat and no cattle when it comes to offering substantive details.

Don Smith



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