Alaska editorial: Relationship between governor, delegation needs improvement

Posted: Monday, October 08, 2007

Great. This is just what Alaska needs - "frosty" relations between the state's congressional delegation and the state's chief executive.

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That might be expected if the people involved were of different political persuasions.

But an all-Republican congressional delegation and a Republican governor not all in reasonable harmony for the state's interests?

That's unacceptable, especially with the anti-Alaska environment permeating the Democratically controlled Congress. Those who oppose Alaska's interests have their job made wonderfully easier when the governor isn't getting along with members of Congress from her own state.

"Frosty" is the term used recently by Sen. Ted Stevens to describe the relationship.

"Respectful" is the term used by Gov. Sarah Palin, allowing for some not-so-subtle reading between the lines.

The discomfort erupted into full view earlier this month with Gov. Palin's decision to kill the proposed Gravina Island bridge project in Southeast Alaska. The project had a heavy reliance on federal funds, but the governor believed that the money from the now-famous "Bridge to Nowhere" could be better spent elsewhere. Killing the project was the right choice, but it wasn't what the state's congressional delegation wanted to see happen. Doubly vexing to the delegation members was that Gov. Palin didn't do them the courtesy of telling them before announcing her decision to the public.

The governor needed a lesson in good politics on that one.

Also troubling is the news this week that Sen. Stevens, Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young haven't had an update from the governor since June about the North Slope natural gas pipeline effort. Is there truly nothing going on that warrants updating the congressional delegation, which is responsible for seeing that federal issues of this mammoth project work out to Alaska's benefit?

Perhaps Gov. Palin doesn't want to be seen as associating too closely with the senators and the congressman, given that each has some negative press attached. But doing what's best for Alaska means putting aside any concerns about image.

The governor and the congressional delegation need to smooth things over.

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