Right decision sometimes contrary to public voices

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2002

Patrick McGonegal's My Turn (Thursday's Empire) implies that voters should decide critical issues facing the Assembly. We should all remember that we do not have a democracy, where the public votes on every issue.

Related Column:

My Turn: Let Juneau voters decide

We have a democratic republic wherein we elect decision makers and trust them to make decisions based on all the information available. The democratic republic form of government is required by the Statehood Act, the Alaska Constitution or both. In this form of government the public has the right to be heard. The decision-makers have the obligation to listen and to consider the voices of the public. However, the decision-makers, in this case the Assembly, have the obligation to make decisions based on the total information made available and their own evaluation of the issues being decided, even if the final decision is contrary to the public voices.

While it is true that the recent road vs. ferry vote indicated a slight advantage for the ferries, the actual vote was between a road and "improved ferry service." Where is the improved ferry service? It should be clear to one and all after the recent legislative session that improved ferry service will be hard to come by as such improved ferry service requires increased spending for operations. Increased spending for operations requires 100 percent state funds as opposed to capital funds for either ferries or roads, which usually require only 10 percent state funds to match 90 percent federal funds. We were lucky to get the ferry operating funds to maintain service in the last session.

Having served on both the Assembly and the Planning Commission, I can attest to the fact that a large number of vocal advocates all saying the same thing does little to sway wise decision makers who must take into consideration all of the information available and make decisions in the best interest of the whole community. The City and Borough of Juneau is fortunate in that all Assembly members I have been privileged to see in action are working for the best for the community. They differ on what is best, but they are sincere and take action appropriately. To those who belittle Assembly members because of their positions on issues I say, run for the Assembly yourself!

Roger Allington

Bellevue, Wash.

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