My Turn: Hey, Mulder, where's Scully?

Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2002

I've known Eldon Mulder since he was an aide to Sen. Bettye Fehrenkamp in the '80s and I think he's a great guy. But his recent opinion piece, "Who should be Alaska's next governor?" reads like something out of the X-Files.

Eldon clearly lacks what the television X-files Mulder always relies on: Scully's cryptic no-nonsense analysis of reality.

I'm not suggesting that I'm Scully. Far from it. This gubernatorial race has me feeling more like Alice in Wonderland and here's why.

For 25 years I have owned and operated two businesses in Skagway, the Red Onion Saloon and a related tour operation. For a quarter of a century I've been paying taxes, making payroll, and in general toughing it out in a highly competitive industry, upholding that fine old American tradition of making money and promoting a healthy economy for my community. So just when I should be proudly donning my Republican credentials, having evolved from a foot-loose, fancy-free child of the '60s to a capitalist, I find myself confused by the current gubernatorial race, where up is down and down is up and the Republican candidate apparently thinks he can spend his way out of a fiscal crisis. All I know is that it never worked for me in my business.

According to our Alaskan Mulder, Murkowski will wave his magic wand and fix a myriad of problems including, but not limited to the urban/rural divide, the timber industry, the oil and gas industry, the gridlock in the legislature (Wow, that would deserve prime time!) our schools, the university, the mining industry, etc., etc. Exactly how he will do this is unclear. In a recent debate Murkowski made reference to "mindset" as the secret weapon that will close the fiscal gap. Now that's way out there with the best of Fox Mulder's paranormal musings.

In a time when the state of Alaska is confronted by the specter of a billion dollar fiscal gap, Frank is proposing super-projects that will cost mega billions. According to our Alaskan Mulder, Frank will work closely with his good pals Stevens, Young and Bush and the federal dollars will just sort of appear. My question is, if he couldn't make them appear as a member of the U.S. Senate, how will he do it as governor? And, since federal dollars can't be used for repair and maintenance, how does Frank propose we pay for the upkeep of all these new projects when we can't afford to keep the roads we have now open in the winter?

Like the X-Files, it's mysterious and unexplained and leaves us scratching our heads. I suppose there is a place and time for dreaming about the unknown and the impossible. But I think it's TV and not a gubernatorial campaign. Like Scully, Fran may not always tell us what we want to hear. But she's willing to ask the tough questions and consider the tough answers. That's good enough for Jay Hammond and it's good enough for me. I'm voting for Fran. And if Scully could vote, I'll bet she would too.

Janice C. Wrentmore of Skagway and is a former lobbyist and legislative aide.

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