Juneau culture discourages civic participation

Posted: Friday, June 15, 2007

As a former Juneau resident who still seasonally works there, I must comment on the Bruce Weyhrauch corruption indictment. My bias is that I befriended this man when he revealed to me the strength of his conviction that our form of government works.

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First, let our system of justice function for Bruce. A grand jury indictment is part of that system. Grand juries eliminate frivolous and prejudice-based accusations. The accusation against Bruce has merely been found worthy of being tried in court. Please, please, I beg you, don't act like our judicially incompetent national leaders who are throwing out civilization's tested devices of justice in fighting terrorism by using only official accusations of guilt.

Second, I want Juneau citizens to face something. There's a Juneau culture of anti-representative government that discourages civic participation and encourages political corruption.

It's like this: Quality of government naturally depends on a population's degree of civic participation. Successful business owners, service professionals and workers depend on community goodwill for customers, clients and employment. Horribly, I have found Juneau citizens unwilling to express their opinions or be civically involved for fear of retribution from their neighbors, customers or employers.

Bruce is a lawyer, so when he stepped up to serve his neighbors as a representative, he naturally barred himself from opportunities to earn his living due to an obvious conflict of interest. Furthermore, as a Republican, he ended up not supporting many popular Democratic Party ideas.

Enter Juneau's culture of anti-representative government, a perversion of the freedom to associate. People antagonized by his votes or focus of attention would naturally punish Bruce by not hiring him, regardless of his suitability. Consequently, he would have lost the community goodwill necessary to acquire legal work that wouldn't create a conflict of interest. And with a family to support, Bruce could naturally get into personal financial troubles.

The time-honored method of manipulating government officials is to use personal financial troubles as the motivation to exchange government influence for covert financial help. Surprise! This is the simplified substance of the allegation against Bruce.

And guilty or not, residual prejudice will hereafter deny Bruce a decent living in Juneau.

So Juneau, who will be sacrificed next on the alter of a political culture that makes people afraid of civic participation and entraps those who aren't into acts of corruption?

Stuart Thompson


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