Commissioner says she supports director's move to Anchorage

Posted: Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A plan to move the Senior and Disabilities Services Division director's office from Juneau to Anchorage originated in the division and not at the level of governor or commissioner, according to the commissioner overseeing the division.

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A plan for Division Director Rod Moline to move his office from Juneau to Anchorage raised concerns among some lawmakers and others about high-level state jobs leaving Juneau.

Commissioner of Health and Social Services Karleen Jackson this week said those fears are unfounded.

"It was something that Rod brought forward, " she said. "He raised it as something that he would like to do."

Moline said earlier the decision had not been imposed from above, but he did not specify how it came about.

Jackson confirmed statements by the governor's office that while Gov. Sarah Palin gave her approval for the move, she did not initiate it.

Jackson said that with the vast majority of the department's employees already in Anchorage - 88 compared to eight in Juneau - it made more sense to have the director there.

Jackson is one of the commissioners who lives in Juneau herself and relocated from Anchorage when she took the job under former Gov. Frank Murkowski. She remained commissioner under Palin.

Jackson called the city's status as capital "unique and very important" and said neither the loss of Moline's position or anything else made her concerned.

"I personally don't think we need to be frightened about the capital moving," she said. "Juneau is the capital."

Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, said she was concerned about additional jobs leaving Juneau. She said she was planning to work with the Alaska Committee's Win Gruening to develop baseline date on how many state employees, especially top managers, are located in Juneau.

Jackson said that with the amount of the state's population located in Southcentral, however, it was important to have some managers there as well.

"We really do have to have folks where the people are," she said.

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