"I strongly oppose constructing a new capital building in Juneau, especially a slick new shrine to politicians."
- Rep. Kohring
The fine residents of Juneau have informed the rest of Alaska that they wish to present us with a brand new, plush capitol building, along with the bill to pay for it. It seems our present facility is too old, outmoded and needs replacement. So architects were hired to design a virtual palace worth about 100 million dollars. Did I say palace? I meant capitol building! Given how much talk there has been lately about moving the capital, this remarkable edifice makes great sense if you are from Juneau since others would pay the bills.
Most Alaskanís recognize this transparent attempt to keep the capitol in Juneau at their expense. For my constituents in the Mat-Su, maintaining the capital in Southeast means the continuation of a cash cow for Juneau practically forever. It means a continuation of an exorbitantly expensive place to visit, high costs to send legislators back and forth, and it means Juneau will continue as the seat of an extremely costly government bureaucracy.
I strongly oppose constructing a new capital building in Juneau, especially a slick new shrine to politicians. A shrine is what the design before us represents. I visited Washington Stateís capital last month in Olympia. Decades ago, politicians fashioned an opulent mansion, a near palace, a mistake we should be careful not to repeat. The taxpayers of Washington are forced to foot the bill, creating a huge financial responsibility. Sound familiar?
I want Alaska to stay off this dangerous path. Politicians should not be lavished with such grandeur. Instead, we should have a simple, functional, efficient, practical building to conduct the stateís business. Our present building in Juneau is slightly cramped, but does the job just fine. Thatís not to say we shouldnít vacate it though in favor of a better location.
When itís finally time to bid Juneau adieu, real options exist. The state owns free and clear two massive buildings in Anchorage, either of which would fill the requirements of a new capitol, the Atwood Building downtown and the ex fish plant off Minnesota. With some retrofitting, the Atwood could easily accommodate all offices of the Senate, House, Governor, and headquarters of the various agencies...and still have room left over.
Alaska can present Juneau with a splendid new concept. Free the city to create new and private enterprise solutions to their economy, by weaning them from the fix of big government.
Iím serious and know it can be done, because Juneau has magnificent potential. They could offer their city as a tourist Mecca by greatly increasing its presence as a wonderful place to visit. It could sell old, empty government buildings to the private sector that could turn them into productive enterprises. It could take advantage of its huge mining and timber potential and expand it fishing industry. Juneau has the ability to be free to create and become far more prolific than it is now. A pipe dream?
No. Moving the capitol elsewhere would create a new Juneau. After the flood of tears by Juneau capitol advocates, there could be a flood of new ideas, making its residents feel even better about themselves, their future, and their beautiful city.
Rep. Vic Kohring serves Wasilla and the Mat-Su in the Alaska State Legislature
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"The fine residents of Juneau have informed the rest of Alaska that they wish to present us with a brand new, plush capitol building, along with the bill to pay for it."