In recent days residents of the capital city should have received a letter from the Fairbanks-based FRANK Committee requesting a contribution to help fight Ballot Measure No. 2 on this fall's ballot. If approved, this initiative would move legislative sessions from Juneau to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, or, if suitable facilities are not readily available in the Mat-Su, sessions would move temporarily to Anchorage.
In addition to moving legislative sessions to the Mat-Su Borough by 2005, Ballot Measure No. 2 proposes to repeal the FRANK Initiative - Alaskans' right to know the cost of any capital or legislative move and to vote on those costs before any move can occur.
Established in 1977, it was the FRANK Committee (which is an acronym for Fiscally Responsible Alaskans Needing Knowledge) that developed and succeeded in twice passing this so-called FRANK Initiative, a law that ensures Alaskans have the information necessary to make responsible fiscal decisions. In 1994, the second time the FRANK Initiative passed, the vote was almost 4 to 1.
It is important to note that during its 25-year existence the FRANK Committee has never taken a position on the merits of either a capital or a legislative move. Their issue has always been the right of Alaskans to know and vote on the costs. In other words, no blank checks!
So, why is the FRANK Committee asking for contributions?
A statewide poll released by the FRANK Committee on June 6 indicated that:
1) there is statewide sentiment to move the Legislature;
2) a majority of Alaskans don't realize this issue will be on the ballot;
3) two-thirds of Alaskans are against the legislative move once they realize that their right to know and vote on costs will be taken away.
A huge task confronts the FRANK Committee if they are to be successful at informing Alaskans that this legislative move is on the November ballot, and that those who put it there are determined to repeal our right to know and vote on cost. The media campaign alone will be very expensive.
The Alaska Committee's issues are different, and we have the financial resources needed to wage an effective and thorough political campaign. Here are some of our message points.
1) Moving the Legislature would be expensive and might, in fact, require two moves.
2) Because the state is facing huge operating deficits, we cannot afford to move the Legislature.
3) This ballot measure is not what it appears to be - it's really a back-door capital move.
4) Access to the capital has never been better.
Both of us want to stress how important it is to support the FRANK Committee with your dollars. We urge all residents to contribute generously; it's a crucial investment for each of us. If Alaskans understand this issue, they will defeat it. Let's help FRANK get the educational campaign rolling. Send your contributions to:
P.O. Box 33097
Juneau, AK 99803-3097
Sally Smith is mayor of Juneau. Jamie Parsons is executive director of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce.