Real input, not false gestures

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, April 01, 2004

Last year, many cities in the state as well as the state Legislature passed amendments asking the federal government not to pass the Patriots Act II. Those actions signified Alaskans' strong sense of fair play and devotion to true freedom.

Unfortunately, this is not the tenor of the Murkowski administration when it comes to the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Suddenly moving the administrative headquarters to Ketchikan and never saying how much the move will actually cost, and at the beginning of the high-use summer season, is counterproductive and mean-spirited. Everything this administration does with the marine highway is aimed at its demise. This administration wants roads because state road projects make a lot of money for construction company cronies and provide temporary high-paying jobs.

Not coming to the table for union negotiations for the new fast ferry that may well delay its introduction on the high-yield Juneau-Skagway and Juneau-Haines route is suicidal. Or is it a slow strangulation?

The Murkowski administration wants the road from Juneau to Skagway, and no number of public meetings or votes or opinion polls or city resolutions against the road has deterred it. Setting the ferry system up to fail, however, would leave no alternative.

The new fast ferry M/V Fairweather will cut the time of the older ferries in half to three hours and will make travel faster than the travel time estimated for the Juneau-to-Skagway Road. So why build a road?

And why spend $47,000 to scrape off the home port name of Juneau on some ferries in order to make the new foster home, small town port feel more a part of the Alaska Marine Highway System? We already do. We love it, we use it, we know the workers on the ferries. They are our friends and neighbors. The blue canoes are already a welcome sight when they chug into our harbors.

Don't give us cake to eat at some stupid reception, Frank, give us the mode of transportation we want. Give us our freedom back.

Dimitra Lavrakas


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