10 January 2007

Moving the capital

I had never given much consideration to the issue of moving the state capitol until I spoke with Rep. Mark Neuman yesterday, who's pre-filed legislation to build a new legislative hall. The key is any community over 30,000 can bid on building the hall, which means the legislature could move from Juneau. That wouldn't technically be moving the capital but I imagine it would be fairly devastating to Juneau anyway.

In general, when it comes to things I learned in grade school, I like to uphold the status quo. Just as I think Pluto should still be a planet because I learned there were nine planets way back when, I think Juneau should remain Alaska's capital because that's what I was forced to learn when I had to memorize all 50 capitals.

I don't need anyone to convince me, however, this argument is not exactly one that holds water. The funny thing is that as I was listening to Neuman, he had me convinced. I guess there's a desperate need for a more up-to-date legislative hall. And if Alaska needs to build a new one, why not build one closer to where the people live?

The most powerful argument I heard from Neuman is that it would allow more children a chance to see the legislature in action. Whenever I see a legislative body in action, I am always interested and engaged and my cynicism about politics falls away, at least for a brief while. The problem with politics today is that the media doesn't create any heroes or role models. So no one wants to become a politician and we end up with less than superior people making laws. I know many children would be bored and some would fall asleep but the idea that more people could be involved with the legislative process from a younger age is intensely appealing to me.

(The argument that a more centrally located capital would allow more people to testify before the legislature is probably true but I think people who want to testify will always find a way and committee chairs always have a way of cutting off testimony anyway.)

Yes, moving the legislative hall would hurt Southeast but I'm sure they could find ways to cope. Western Alaskans have been dealing with economic depression for generations.

Of course, in a day of declining school budgets and greater regimentation, would any teacher have the creativity to take a field trip to the new capital?


Coldfoot said...

It is interesting to note that the original capital was moved from Sitka to Juneau because Juneau had become the population center.

Made sense then. Makes sense now.

Add in the general inaccessibility of Juneau to those governed and there doesn't seem to be any reason to keep it there.

Anonymous said...

I bet if you asked most any class of school kids in Alaska (other than Juneau) you would find more have been to Hawaii (even Seattle) than to Juneau.
I have always felt that it is dangerous to have your legislators where only the lobbyists can get to them,.

First Alaskan Man said...

Murkowski’s revenge should they move to Wasilla. As you remember, he put the only “super safe” highway where every fine is doubled right outside Wasilla. I’ll bet if the legislature moved there, this would go away in a hurry. Me thinks it was the wussies slap to SP for beating him up in the voting booth.
Having an accessible legislature, and more importantly, a media accessible legislature, would be a great check mark on the checks and balances. Just imagine how much less rein the lobbyists could hold over legislators for the sake of proprietary. Can you see any legislator running around calling himself part of the “Corrupt Bastard’s Club” in Wasilla?

Anonymous said...

A desperate need for an updated building? Move the capital so more children can see it? You should have talked to some more people before you swallowed that tired horseshit and became a witless pawn in spreading that Valley propaganda.

Anonymous said...

Wow, we just heard from Juneau!!!!