Archive for the ‘bridges to nowhere’ Tag

Thom Stark Responds to a Reader   1 comment

LELA: Thom and I have been going back and forth about private enterprise and the role of government in utilities like broadband. Nicholas asked Thom this question:

Nicholas:  How about the general welfare? I don’t see how my tax money is properly used with grants for Chattanooga for something the government should not even be involved in.

Thom StarkTHOM:  Nicolas, that Chattanooga’s MAN was partially funded by Federal tax money is really beside the point. Congress set aside money for stimulus grants. Because of the way government fund-based accounting works, that money could ONLY be used for stimulus grants. Alaska (which is to say Sarah Palin) chose not to apply for such grants. Chattannooga, however, did so, so they got that money.t

It’s clear that we disagree on whether it’s proper and appropriate for “the government” (in this case, Chattanooga’s government) to provide Internet service. That’s been the central point at issue in the last couple of these exchanges. Lela agrees with you. I do not.

Let’s be clear here. It’s just as valid to ask why Tennessee taxpayers should be asked to pay $320 million for the Gravina Island Bridge in Alaska (yes, the 2008 earmark was deleted from the highway bill – but only because conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation called it “a national disgrace). The short answer is Congress appropriated money to pay for maintenance and construction of highways. That money was parceled out to each state according to an arcane formula that Congress uses for that purpose. Don Young and Ted Stevens “earmarked” a portion of Alaska’s share for the bridge – and then the screaming started.

That’s the way the system works. You can complain that it shouldn’t be that way, but IT IS. There’s a pot of Federal money set aside for a particular set of purposes. A state can decline to accept its share of that pot – as Palin did with the stimulus funds – but the money in the post still HAS to be spent for those purposes, because THAT’S WHAT THE LAW REQUIRES.

I’m not about to explain the logic behind fund-based accounting here, but it has to do with (believe it or not) accountability.

 

Thom Stark is the author of the American Sulla trilogy and blogs at starkrealities.com.

Thom and I come from different political philsophies, but we both agree that listening to other perspectives is an important and currently neglected American tradition.

Compromise gives Knik Arm bridge to DOT, makes KABATA operator – Alaska Journal of Commerce – Breaking News 2014 – Anchorage, AK   Leave a comment

Compromise gives Knik Arm bridge to DOT, makes KABATA operator – Alaska Journal of Commerce – Breaking News 2014 – Anchorage, AK.

Senate approves new finance plan for Knik Arm Crossing – Alaska Journal of Commerce – April Issue 3 2014 – Anchorage, AK   Leave a comment

Senate approves new finance plan for Knik Arm Crossing – Alaska Journal of Commerce – April Issue 3 2014 – Anchorage, AK.

Senate approves new finance plan for Knik Arm Crossing – Alaska Journal of Commerce – April Issue 3 2014 – Anchorage, AK   Leave a comment

Senate approves new finance plan for Knik Arm Crossing – Alaska Journal of Commerce – April Issue 3 2014 – Anchorage, AK.

A “bridge to nowhere” gets closer to being a bridge to somewhere.

Posted April 18, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Alaska

Tagged with , , ,

Does Juneau really need a highway? | PostIndependent.com   Leave a comment

Does Juneau really need a highway? | PostIndependent.com.

For the record, I’m not opposed to the Kensington Mine. Clearly, I support roads to resources such as Ambler and (in our dreams) Nome. Bjorn and I agree that the road is a bad idea, but we work from completely different foundations. Alaska has plenty of unspoiled wilderness. We could build hundreds of miles of road and still not scratch the surface of our unspoiled wilderness. I don’t except the premise that roads ruin everything. They provide access to the wilderness that otherwise would not exist and that’s a GOOD thing.

The Juneau Access Road, however, is not. It’s a 51-mile road that stops well short of providing Juneau land access to the rest of the world. It’ll be expensive to build and closed much of the year due to avalanche danger. It will make a great jobs program for the Howitzer crews.

If Coeur Alaska wants a road, the State of Alaska should work with them to build on with Coeur’s own dollars. What? Doesn’t that contradict what I said about the Ambler Road? No, because the Ambler Road would provide access to the outside world for isolated villages as well as support a mining region. Similar to the Pogo Mine near Fairbanks, this road really has no purpose other than to provide a road to the mine, unless they build the new ferry terminal, which makes no economic sense at all. If at some point, the engineers figure out how to run that road all the way to Haines and keep it open for at least 48 weeks a year, the State of Alaska and Coeur should be able to work out the access because good sense would dictate we’d write it into the original permitting plan.

Or, hey, it might just be easier to move the state capitol to the mainland where the majority of the population could access it without driving through a foreign country.

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