A governor should listen

Posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2002

In 1995 Sen. Murkowski introduced a bill that would have made logging the dominant use of the Tongass and required the Forest Service to provide 2,400 timber jobs no matter what the cost to others who depend on the Tongass, like fishermen, tourism and recreation businesses, and hunters.

I didn't like the bill, but what I liked even less was Sen. Murkowski's total unwillingness to listen to Alaskans about their very real concerns. With short notice, Sen. Murkowski called a hearing on his bill in Washington, D.C. People spent thousands of dollars of their own money and took time away from their fishing and tourism businesses to fly back to D.C. on a redeye to testify.

But minutes before the hearing was to start, Sen. Murkowski canceled it because he didn't want the concerns of Southeast Alaskans to get into the official Congressional Record.

He wasted everyone's time, but it got worse. Several days later, Sen. Murkowski flew to Juneau. More than 200 local residents met him at the airport to ask him if he would give them a hearing. He again refused to listen to Alaskans. Ultimately he accomplished nothing because of his unwillingness to listen.

Excluding the voices of Alaskans isn't the way to get things done. Pointing fingers and attacking people for their legitimate beliefs may work in D.C. but it doesn't work here. We need a governor who is a leader, a governor who will listen to Alaskans and work with everyone to find reasonable solutions people can live with. Fran Ulmer is that person.

Hank Lentfer


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