News from Patrick Flynn

Journey to the Soggy City

I’m in Juneau today, having arrived yesterday, and leaving tonight.  As a co-chair of the Assembly’s Legislative committee I’m spending my time touching base with many of the Anchorage-area legislators to get their perspective on how the session is progressing and discussing some of Anchorage’s priorities.

I spent about seven years of my life working in and around Juneau and developed a great fondness for the community.  (My reference to our state capital as the Soggy City cites a legislative skit loosely based on “The Wizard of Oz” performed many years ago.)  And while it’s been a long time since I’ve been down here many of the faces, especially lobbyists and senior staff, remain the same.  Indeed, several staff members with whom I once worked are now members of the House.


When I talk to folks down here I mention half-jokingly that I’m restricting my visit to two days so as not to excessively damage the work done by our lobbyists.  Anchorage, like many communities, pays professional lobbyists to keep an eye on things, report back to us and ensure our town gets a reasonable share of the state’s capital budget.  The primary reason for Assembly members to visit is to reinforce the message that those lobbyists are representing our interests.


Two intertwined topics about which we are talking are the proposed “bullet line” to bring natural gas from the North Slope to Southcentral and the governor’s proposal to unify the railbelt electrical grid.  Both projects are important and, I think, good ideas but the devil is in the details.  My impression is that legislation on the two will not pass this year with the expectation that both will receive a great deal of attention over the interim.  The hope is that work will result in solid legislative solutions that will address the stakeholders’ myriad of concerns.  I view progress on the topics as critical – Southcentral Alaska really needs to expand its energy supply and to modernize electrical generation equipment.


What’s interesting about our state Capitol is the importance of relationships.  There are honest, and vigorous, policy disagreements all the time but knowing and working with legislators can overcome those barriers.  That’s why I feel fortunate to have spent those years here – allow me to illustrate.


In June, 2006 I was flying through Juneau on my way home from a visit in Southeast.  The group had a few hours between flights so we went downtown for dinner and, since the House Finance committee was conducting a hearing on the Governor Murkowski’s proposed Petroleum Profits Tax, I decided to visit the Capitol.  When I walked into the committee room a couple of legislators quietly acknowledged me.  Virtually all the staff and lobbyists, however, offered a smile or surreptitious wave.  My former boss, Ethan Berkowitz, who was not running for re-election, observed the activity and wandered over to mention that I could come back as a legislator.  The reason I left, to be closer to my family, was even stronger and I happily declined but it was nice to feel so comfortable after all those years.


Presuming the flight my flight isn’t cancelled (it’s snowing to beat heck here) I’ll be home soon.





This contribution was made on Thursday, 12. March 2009 at 10:38 and was published under the category Other. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

«  –  »

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.



Community councils


Local government


State government


RSS Feeds – Admin


Copyright - Patrick Flynn, All Rights Reserved