A decisive Assembly should 'just do it'

My turn

Posted: Wednesday, May 02, 2001

Waffling back and forth, never really making a decision of import, doesn't get anything done.

In reading, speaking and e-mailing with Juneauites lately, it has become increasingly evident may residents are not happy with the inaction of the City Assembly. Please allow me to relate my experience - one others may have known.

A boss of mine, a long time ago, barked three words at me which helped define the rest of my life. At the time, I was working for the state Department of Labor in Juneau and my boss asked me to compose three pages of instructions on I don't remember what. I began writing, wanting to do a perfect job, but at times was unsure as I went along. Several times I went into my employer's office to ask, "Is this the way you want it?" or "Does this sound right to you?"

Something like that. The next morning, I continued writing, once or twice bothering him about my direction. Near noon, I walked into his office yet again and before I could say anything he barked at me, "Just do it!"

From that time on, I've followed his words. If an issue arose, I'd find out all I could, decide my priorities and make up my mind. If my decision was wrong, I took responsibility, coped and learned; if I was right, the victory was mine. But I'd "Just do it."

This example, of course, is overly simplistic, in light of Juneau Assembly matters, where members deal with tourist decisions involving countless people, views and issues. But might not my own experience suggest a more decisive direction: Find the priorities of those who live here and "Just do it."

To my mind, the priority is keeping Juneau a vibrant, sophisticated wilderness area, curbing tour activities. This does not mean I am against tourism. In fact, I rather enjoy talking with tourists and helping them. I am a tourist myself at times. It is the numbers which are becoming unpalatable and they are not expected to decrease. As residents, none of us wants a packed borough like some noisy, overcrowded hamster cage where animals bite and claw at each other, ruining a peaceful atmosphere for the sake for the bottom line.

Before the Juneau area is all "used up," some regulations as to tourist numbers have to be made. That's the Assembly's job. And certainly it is not an easy one. But waffling back and forth, never really making a decision of import, doesn't get anything done. Perhaps the members might pick up on my old employer's words and right or wrong, pressure or not - make some definite rulings. As my boss-echo from the past might say, "Just do it!"

Nancy Ferrell is an author and longtime resident of Juneau.

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