(Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

(Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Opinion: Referendum on the Assembly

People voted against a new City Hall as an expression of displeasure…

  • By Ray Preston
  • Tuesday, November 8, 2022 4:45pm
  • Opinion

It is hard not to view the defeat of a new City Hall as a referendum on the Assembly. People voted against a new City Hall as an expression of displeasure about the Assembly’s performance (or lack thereof) on major issues. We could begin with tourism. The Assembly never has gotten serious about the problem of overtourism in Juneau. For the most part they would rather not talk about it. If there was the will the city could take control of its own docks and limit the number of cruise ships that can berth there. But that would require going against their cruise line masters. Then there is affordable housing. Here they do talk about it but that’s about all they do. They’ve been talking about affordable housing for more than twenty years with no significant results. Nothing bold. One reason seems to be an abiding fear that that if they got serious, someone would make some money. They’ve also been talking about the issue of childcare for more than twenty years. Solving the childcare problem would also require bold action, like incorporating early childhood education into the public education system. In a single stroke the tension between low wages for the workers and unaffordable fees for parents would go away. As for a new city hall, in deciding on their proposal, they rejected the Walmart building. The Walmart building, while unaesthetic, is centrally located, has plenty of parking, and doubtless could be had for a song, but it was rejected because they used criteria designed to reject it. They wanted their own monument. And there are other examples, such as the soon-to-be ill-fated gondola. There they were bold but not in a good way. They failed to look before they leaped. They will never recoup their money. I believe the vote on ballot Proposition 1 was a referendum on the Assembly. For me it was.

• Ray Preston resides in Juneau. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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