Why is the Juneau Empire going out of its way to antagonize our Southeast neighbors and even Anchorage as well? I am referring to the Oct. 23 editorial that criticized the two bridge projects in Alaska as "luxuries" and "goodies." But the Empire went far beyond that. Ketchikan understandably has responded with disappointment and anger.
Other Alaskan newspapers have managed to write factual articles about this controversy and avoided casting stones but, for some reason, the Empire cannot. If I lived in Ketchikan, I would be dismayed about the negative national publicity about the Gravina Island bridge (much of which is hyperbole and misinformation) but having my Juneau neighbor "pile on" and beat me up over a project endorsed by two-thirds of Ketchikan voters would make me feel downright angry and resentful.
The Empire editorial has once again placed our community in the position of being portrayed as insensitive, ungrateful and just plain snotty. Ketchikan understands better than any community in Southeast that, as a region, "united we stand, but divided we fall." They've proven that repeatedly by voting overwhelmingly against capital move efforts.
All the time, effort and money that Juneau spends each year promoting neighborly relationships throughout the state and region is totally undermined by this kind of "holier than thou" editorial. Why did the Empire feel it necessary to imply that supporters of the Ketchikan bridge are greedy liars, concerned only with increasing their wealth, and that the bridge will benefit only a few? Perhaps the Empire missed this point, but more than a few Alaskans accused Juneau of the very same thing when we recently proposed a $100 million capitol building.
Some may not agree with our neighbors about how best to spend transportation dollars. But we don't build goodwill and better relationships by trashing our neighbor's projects hoping it means more money for us. That truly would be greedy. The funding for the Ketchikan bridge was decided some time ago. As the editorial writer correctly notes, "the decision is made, and Ketchikan will have its bridge," so what possible good can come from such a nasty editorial?
The Empire may have validated the sentiments of some who believe that funding for basic Alaska infrastructure needs is better spent on hurricane victims in Louisiana, but Juneau may ultimately pay a high price for such self-righteousness.