Alaska editorial: Juneau, relax about the capital move

Posted: Thursday, December 07, 2006

The following editorial first appeared in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:

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Given past capital move attempts, it's easy to imagine how some folks in Southeast might feel about Gov.-elect Sarah Palin's choice to hold her inauguration in Fairbanks.

After all, if the people of this area had fought off eight statewide campaigns to take away a big piece of our economy since statehood, it's a good bet that people here would be sensitive on such a subject as well - especially if the governor-to-be was a sponsor of the last initiative.

But our state has come a long way since that 2001 capital move initiative, which was defeated at the polls, and so has Sarah Palin. She was mayor of Wasilla then, and it's not surprising that she would have supported the idea from that position as an economic benefit for her home turf.

But now she holds a statewide position, and her view must be broader.

If it helps, most people in this town, which just hosted its first-ever inaugural, have long been opposed to the capital move.

Our state always has better ways to spend money than on what would be a costly switch, and in recent years the Legislature has become more accessible than ever because of technological changes that allow people from across the state to listen and watch many major hearings and meetings via the Internet and cable TV.

Wherever it is located, our capital will always be physically inaccessible to a large portion of this huge state, but the improvements in electronic communication have gone a long way toward connecting all Alaskans.

Juneau is our capital city, and it should remain that way.

And, if we were to find out that the new governor had indeed just used our city as an "anywhere but Juneau" inaugural location, you can bet we would not take that well - at all.

But that just doesn't seem to be the case.

We really can't know much, yet, about how our new governor plans to conduct business, but from what we've seen so far it's awfully hard to believe that choosing Fairbanks for the site of an inaugural in honor of the statehood anniversary is some sort of veiled snub of Southeast residents.

This governor promises to do things differently, and planning the inaugural in a different way to honor the founders of our state was a fantastic gesture.

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